Ten Years Later:
Strawbale in the Building Codes
). The State of Nevada had recently passed a mandate requiring local jurisdictions to permit strawbale buildings, and California had approved voluntary guidelines that could be adopted at the local level. On January 1, 1996, the County of Napa, California, adopted that state’s strawbale building guidelines, becoming the first government body to officially adopt a strawbale building code. The next day, the City of Tucson and County of Pima, Arizona, adopted one that had been in development there for more than two years (and upon which the California guidelines, along with most subsequent strawbale codes, were based). Later that month the State of New Mexico approved a draft of Standards for Non-Loadbearing Baled Straw Construction, which was adopted into its state building code in 1997. Over the next half-dozen years, strawbale codes were adopted in many California jurisdictions, as well as in parts of Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Nebraska, and the entire state of Oregon. The alternative materials and methods clause in the model codes, and now in the International Code Council’s International Building Code® (IBC), has always been an open door to strawbale, but “having it specifically included in the codes gives it much more credibility in many people’s eyes—including building officials, lenders, and the insurance industry,” Martin Hammer, a Berkeley, California, architect who has been working with strawbale codes since 2001, told EBN. The move toward codification does seem to have improved the perceived legitimacy of strawbale. Getting permitted is much less difficult than it once was, even for the significant percentage of permitted strawbale structures built in code-enforced areas that have no specific codes for strawbale in place. ...