FREE STRAWBALE HOUSE PLANS
Skillful Means is making READY-TO-BUILD plans available with no design fee
to anyone who lost their home in the 2015 wildfires.
We want to encourage everyone to rebuild with sustainable, fire-resistant and earthquake safe materials and design. These houses are both energy efficient and fire-resistant, designed to meet California Building Codes and the Wildland Urban Interface fire standards, but we want to offer them to anyone affected by the fires in the Northwest, as well. To adapt a plan to a local site some engineering and design work may be required, at standard fees. We're offering more plans as we make them ready and through the generosity of our clients. Check back soon, and if you're interested in a particular design, let us know!
If you would like to build one of our houses, but did not lose your house in a fire, contact us about purchasing plan sets. We will apply a portion of the cost of the plan sets will go toward helping others rebuild.
This simple house was designed with one large and one small bedroom, plenty of south-facing glass and abundant overhangs. A guest unit (14' x 17') and garage are under the same roof, connected by a breezeway entrance that funnels cool breezes through the house in the summer. Built in the hot Central Valley of California, the building is comfortable without air conditioning in summer and is heated by a wood stove. The main house is 900 square foot interior, and the entire building measures 72' x 34'.
Green Roof In The Foothills
The foothills of Northern California are warm in the summer and cold in the winter, and many face to the beautiful views to the West. The back side of this house is set three feet into the ground for cooling, and the green roof contributes to passive cooling, so that the house is comfortable without air conditioning. The house features space for a gourmet kitchen, a dining area and a large living room with open beamed ceiling. There is a master bedroom and a bed nook, for visitors, off the living room.
This weekend getaway feels both cozy and roomy, with a bedroom downstairs, a spacious loft above, and a generous main living room and kitchen. The walls are gently curved, following a hillside, and the roof curves at an angle designed for solar collectors. The two-story strawbale has curved exterior sofits to deflect winds and embers in the event of a wildfire and a gentle cove at the ceiling. The building is easy to build, using a simple post and beam approach with plywood gussets to shape the soffits, and is engineered for interior earth plaster.
A House For All Seasons
This two-bedroom house is designed for energy efficiency, light and space. In the living/dining area a bright open-beam ceiling is illuminated and ventilated by a cupola and abundant southern windows. The house is surrounded by four porches for outside living - a large 'outdoor room' for dining during summer evenings, a trellised porch on the south for winter warmings, and porches at the mudroom and main entrances provide places to sit and shed jackets and boots. The main bedroom has an open gable ceiling and a large, luxurious bathroom. It is 1,830 square feet.
House for a growing family.
Originally designed as a compact house with two small bedrooms and a full bedroom suite upstairs, the plan was expanded with three more bedrooms as the family grew . The house features light and views in all directions, a large living/dining area with a cathedral ceiling and cupola (center), the original two-story bedroom wing (left) , and the ground floor bedroom addition (not shown). The original house was built by the owner. The kitchen, attached to the living room has views of the yards in three directions (right). Built in hot, humid rice country, the house needs little cooling, and is heated by a wood stove in winter.
This simple plan, designed for owner-builders, features dynamic spaces, plenty of light, and a living roof. The large dining and entertainment spaces can be expanded with porches on the north and south, and a third bedroom could replace the living area at the southwest corner. The wood-framed south wall could be designed to open up completely in a mild climate. (Click the title for more information). It's 1,970 square feet.