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We design. we build. we know them both.


We're a green design/build firm 

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We design. we build. we know them both.


We're a green design/build firm 

Sustainable by Design, Healthy in Construction

Strawbale retreat cabin--a green roof white with snow

Design

We believe that a good design takes the qualities of the site and blends them with the needs and aspirations of those who will live there.

Niche in strawbale home using fired clay tiles and mineral pigment paints and plaster.

Build

We love natural materials that are healthy from start to finish, and are good for the community and ecosystem.


 
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Energy, Health & Natural Environment


We design buildings that are healthy for you and the environment. When we build, we do it with care for the land.

Energy, Health & Natural Environment


We design buildings that are healthy for you and the environment. When we build, we do it with care for the land.

Nature is Healthy in the home

Nature is Energy-Efficient

We love natural materials that are healthy and natural, and we specialize in sustainable design.

Sustainable design begins with taking advantage of natural conditions. We design in many different locations and environments, and work with the sun, shade, breezes, water, natural habitats and man-made features of the site. 

Don't build your house with poisons. Whenever possible, we use natural, non-toxic and renewable materials, locally sourced.

We find our inspiration in nature, both in how nature adapts to climate and conditions, and in the exquisite details, textures and colors of the natural world.  We bring nature indoors, in light, fresh air,  color and textures. 


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Participation & Collaboration


Participation & Collaboration


Design and construction are collaborative, and they begin with you!

 

Father & Daughter at a bale raising

Teamwork

 

Good teamwork results in the best possible building experience.

Skillful Means works with a network of engineers, consultants, specialists. We partner with skilled workers and accomplished tradespeople in the community.

Mixing mud for a straw-clay wall, learning new skills

Pouring a colored slab at a retreat center in Northern California...

Bale Raising

 

"A little help from our friends"

A unique and wonderful aspect of strawbale building comes when it's time to stack the bales. We encourage you to invite your friends, neighbors and complete strangers to come and help make your house a home.

Bale raisings bring everyone together.


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Strawbale


People love strawbale buildings, they're fun to make and great to be in.

Strawbale


People love strawbale buildings, they're fun to make and great to be in.

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"Sustainable buildings nurture every aspect of human health--
during their production, during their occupancy and use,
and when they are no longer useful."

strawbales make sense....

  • They are a waste product of agriculture, and are cheap
  • They require very little energy (and fuel) to produce
  • They are natural and non-toxic
  • They are excellent insulation
  • They store heat (and cool) in thermal mass
  • They don't break when shaken (in earthquakes)
  • They don't burn easily
  • They are naturally rich in texture, light, and shadow
  • They easily biodegrade when their useful life is over
  • Kids love them
 

HGTV visited one of our houses...watch the video

 

A different kind of building....

One great features of building a strawbale house is being able to invite friends, family and complete strangers to come for a short while and help build your house.  Natural building with straw can be thoroughly enjoyed by young and old.  Here's a slide show of a recent strawbale work party.

 

music: "My Family"  Daisy May and Seth Bernard


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Experience


Experience


We've Designed Or Built More Straw Bale Projects Than Anyone In California

  • Founding Advisory Board Member, California Straw Building Association (CASBA)
  • Code & Testing Committee, CASBA
  • Authoring & Review Committee, strawbale detail book, CASBA
  • Review Committee, International Residential Code, Strawbale Appendix
  • Licensed General Contractor, 30+ years

Wood-frame homes, additions & remodels

commercial and Civic projects

tiny cabins

rammed earth

SIP panel

Grey water recycling

Solar electric

geothermal

Earth plastering, floors, straw-clay

Energy-efficient framing

and just plain wood framing
 

We Know Them All From Start To Finish.

 
 

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Hire Us


Hire Us


Hire us for...

  • architectural design

  • general contracting

  • specialty sub-contracting

  • workshops & instruction

  • consulting (with architects, engineers, contractors & owner-builders) 

 

We travel.