Vista Family Builds House Made Of Straw

Petitt Family Lives In 1,800 Square-Foot House With Walls Of Straw

A Vista family told 10News they are living in their environmentally-friendly dream home, which is partially made out of straw.

The Vista home is 1,800 square feet and has everything an environmentally-conscious family would want, but a closer look at the walls reveals the home's true beauty.

"These are living walls," said home resident Josiane Petitt.

The walls are "living" because they are made of all-natural and toxic-free straw.

"Then on top of that, [there] is hand-applied plaster," said Petitt.

It took Petitt and her husband and about 50 volunteers two years to build the straw house. 10News also toured the home when it was still under construction about a year and a half ago.

The home's straw walls are considerably thicker compared to ones found in a typical house. The straw walls are 23 inches instead of 6 inches thick, making it more fire-resistant than most may expect.

"It's like a phone book. In a phone book… individual pages would burn but the entire book won't because the oxygen can't get in," said Bob Bolles of Sustainable Building Systems.

The home also has many eco-friendly features. South-facing windows and solar tubes in the kitchen and bathroom ceilings bring large amounts of light into the home. Their solar system generates power for their entire home and they haven't had a power bill since September, when they moved in.

"We even generate excess power to the point that this year we might make a few hundred dollars off our electricity," said Petitt.

They saved thousands of dollars more by reusing old cabinets, granite, bathroom tiles and even a huge sink they found on the side of the road. Their ceiling insulation is made of old jeans.

Eventually, they will put a top layer of plaster on the straw walls to give it a more finished look.

"For now, it's raw, it's beautiful and we still like it," said Petitt.

The house itself cost $250,000. With the cost of land, grading and permits, the total came to $650,000.

"In San Diego County, there are about 60 known permitted straw bale homes," said Rebecca Tasker, who is the co-owner of Simple Construct, one of the first licensed contractors authorized to build this type of home. So far, they have helped build six straw bale homes in the county.

For more information about building a straw home, Simple Construct is holding a workshop in North Park as part of Olive Branch Green Building Supply's ongoing Speaker Series.

Click here for more information.

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