Archive for the ‘Advanced Framing’ Category

The CASBA Annual Conference that encompasses all things Strawbale is coming April 21-24, 2016 in the beautiful setting of the California Corrizo Plains. Click here to find out all the event information. And remember to bring your good camera!


by Paul Rose

While concrete has become the go-to resource for most all structural mass paul-roseprojects, Rammed-earth provides many more attributes that are aesthetic, thermal and structural. We use Rammed-earth methods in several ways:



Pneumatically Impacted Stabilized Earth (PISE), which is similar to a “shot-cretOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe” application on a swimming pool. Stabilized earth is applied under great force to a one-sided formwork and around the re-enforcing steel. This leaves a smooth finish on the form side, with a course granular texture on the outside.


Conventional Rammed-earth, is installed between two forms and hydraulically impacted with tam01Earthen Prodping machines. This style leaves a finish that is smooth on both sides with a layered pattern similar to sedimentary stone. Both of these styles achieve a compressive strength of over 600 pounds per square inch.


Watershed block is a formed block similar to the common concrete block, but has a very 02Earthen Prodlow carbon footprint, and a dramatic visual appeal. These blocks come in a number of different colors and textures, fitting into the conventional structural mindset of many engineers. Watershed block requires less labor and specific knowledge for correct installation than PISE or conventional rammed-earth.


Much research has been made into where these materials originated and their future use.  Concrete has one of the largest carbon footprints in the construction industry, and is not a justifiable solution as a long-term product.

This article about the Egyptians’ method for building the pyramids is recommended for a new perspective on this old material.

As the art and form of building has changed over the years, we at Semmes and Company Builders, Inc. would like to help you build a lasting project for today and tomorrow.



This Coast Range home is just about ready to have the windows installed.  This small residence is super insulated with double studs that make no contact from the inside to the outside. When you take an infrared photo of this home no studs will show up and in general it will be blue……………..These walls will have an R value of 38 with no conduction except at the openings! Keep your eyes here to see how this project progresses.


This guest house in the coastal hills of SLO County is now ready for stucco and drywall. The sprayed in foam insulation is sure to keep it warm and cozy for those chilly winter nights and cool and comfy on those warm summer days.

The airfoil inspired barn in the north county is nearing completion. The siding/roofing is being installed and interior finishes are underway. We’re looking for completion this summer.june-11-2-cropped