The Williams House



Diligent worker Mark Sowers with owners/designers/self-contractors/builders Randy and Francy Williams.


The house. Code-approved, load-bearing. Near Frederick, Maryland.


The concept of "appropriate overhangs" was well understood; and these could have gone even bigger to even better effect.

What's with the mottling on the wall? That's a lime-sand-clay scratch coat; there was some shrinkage cracking, and they fixed those cracks with a subsequent, better-ratio'd mix. No biggie, far's the plaster is concerned; and for those concerned about aesthetics, it'll be covered by the finish coat.



The plaster-recipe-test-wall, an extremely important part of getting away from soulless cement-based ready-mixes and using Mom's Own. Each patch and layer is a different mix and/or technique.


A person can (and should) try dozens of different variations before deciding on the one they think is going to last the longest and look the best.


Likewise, an interior test wall with different mixes over various substrates.


The house is fairly typical of most things that visionary, optimistic people like about strawbale. It's loadbearing, simple, relatively small, appropriately-designed for its climate, has thoughtful and clear-headed people working on it who did copious amounts of research, etc.



But it takes it an inspiring step beyond many others, incorporating some "Yes-In-My-Back-Yard" systems. This photo ain't much to see yet: it's a frame for solar water heating panels to supply radiant hydronic and domestic hot water.


The household graywater runs to this cistern in the partial basement, automatically pumping outside in batches to lush evapo-transpirative "fingers."

The blue stuff in the foreground is the cotton insulation used in the ceiling: shredded blue jeans.



Poop and other degradable solid wastes head for this small Clivus Multrum. The composted end-product (heh-heh) is a safe and excellent fertilizer.



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