Archive for the ‘Straw Bale Construction’ Category

Semmes and Company’s Solar Energy division, Semmes Solar, is currently installing photovoltaic panels on this strawbale home in Atascadero as the project is nearing completion. Maximum state rebates are obtained during the house contruction from the New Solar Homes Partnership program. 

The summer has hit and this house is staying incredibly cool inside thanks to the use of straw bale, high insulation and plenty of thermal mass. This home was also built with the use of our ‘Mobile Solar’, solar powered generator keeping electric bills low now and into the future.pv4

Here are before and after shots of the simple detailing that goes into the finishing of the interior of a straw bale home. The lines are soft and warm as is the feeling of the house upon completion. The floor is stained concrete, some paint and furniture and this room is ready to move into.



Strawbale workshop at North County Meditation Room was just completed last week.  We had a great showing of volunteers at the workshop and were able to get all the bales in place during the one day workshop.  Thanks to all that were able to come out and help.



After a long rainy winter this strawbale is ready for plaster. Doors and windows as well as all the mechanical are installed.

Note the shelving on the right side, it is recycled lumber from the historic Wineman Hotel renovation. This material was originally milled over 100 years ago and has been brought new life as finish material for this project. Imagine if you will the plaster along the straw wall running right through, between the shelves the continuing along the back wall as opposed to standard built in book cases.



We are starting a new straw bale home in Atascadero. Concrete is down, walls are up and trusses are being stood. Stay tuned for information on an upcoming Straw Bale Workshop. These workshops are kind of like old fashion barn raisings and are always a lot of fun.


This hilltop Strawbale Home in Atascadero is now complete and the owners are enjoying indoor climates in the low 70’s when temperatures outside are exceeding 100 degrees with no air conditioning.


book shelves and a window chest This is an example of Semmes & Company’s use of locally harvested and milled wood. This is a set of book shelves and a window chest in the library of a straw bale house nearing completion in Atascadero. The wood is from a Sycamore Tree that fell on a local ranch and was milled in nearby Santa Margarita. It was constructed by one of Semmes’s & Companies finish carpenters.

Nice Log work

Nice Log work

This Atascadero home has been scratched, browned, & dry walled since this picture was taken. No matter what stage this straw bale home is in, the incredible log work will always be a significant addition.



Jessica Steely, Turko Semmes, and Tom Moore

The first pig built his house out of straw …”Though he gets a bad rap, the first pig was wiser than popular folktale would have us believe—and Semmes & Co. is living proof that, huff and puff though they may, the big bad “wolves” of global warming would never blow down their expertly eco-built straw bale homes.

Constructed with rice straw, a waste product of California agriculture, these homes are not only thick and sturdy, they are insulated, energy effi cient, and use a renewable resource—qualities that made them a must for owner Turko Semmes who has devoted his career to self-sustaining homes. After working with local solar architect Ken Haggard in 1978, and later witnessing the devastation of timbering in Canada, Semmes turned to resource-conserving building methods, including passive solar and solar panels, and did not look back.

In the 20 years since, Semmes’ projects have grown as much as his repertoire of sustainable building practices due to the growing demand for effi cient homes with lasting value. “People see that they can have the house of their dreams (within reason) and still save energy, conserve resources, and have a healthy living environment,” says Semmes. He now offers Pneumatically Impacted Stabilized Earth (PISE), a mixture of concrete and earth, and Insulated Concrete Forms (polystyrene block product fi lled with reinforced concrete), which provide structural integrity, energy effi ciency, and insulation, among other options.

“The variety of green building expertise, combined with their renewable energy projects and efforts to share information put them at the top of the list for green builders on the Central Coast,” says judge Megan Birney, while readers pointed to their dedication to recycling and reducing waste.