The Petitt home, Vista, CA – 2009-10

The Petitt residence is unique in many ways.  It is a steel post and beam structure with straw bale infill.  It features a photovoltaic system, stained concrete floors and countertops, recycled lumber partition walls, a greywater and rain catchment system, and solatubes for daylighting.

The owners, James & Josie Petitt had dreamed of a straw bale home for many years.  They decided to try a steel frame design.  During the approval process for the house, the engineering requirements for the steel framed changed, requiring a much larger steel frame than they had anticipated.

The Petitts wanted to be hands-on and to use their home building as a form of community building.  They hired Simple Construct to run straw bale raising and plaster workparties.

It proved to be quite challenging to fit the bales around the imposing frame.  But with the help of many volunteers and a lot of cob, the walls were raised.

This building is the first in the City of Vista (northern San Diego County) to receive permission to use clay plaster on the exterior.  Many volunteers participated in applying the base and second coats.  The finish coat is a clay-lime mixture applied with a steel trowel.

On a tight budget while raising two small children, the Petitts managed to see their dream home take shape.  There are still a few things left to finish (some plaster on the inside and the landscaping) but they have moved in and are living happily in their new home built by so many dedicated hands.

The Petitt’s home received some press coverage from the local media:

pictures from thePetitt’s workparties can be found here

architect /designer: Audrey Ruland, Ruland Design Group
general contractor: owner-builder

straw bale design consultant: Bob Bolles
straw and plaster: Simple Construct (& many volunteers)