Stucco and the garage door

The back side of the house

Now that the main sheets of drywall are up, it it possible to start stuccoing the outside of the house without worrying that the pounding of drywall nails will crack and knock off the stucco. About half of the first layer of stucco (called the “scratch” coat) is now on the house.  The strawbale library is also getting its scratch coat.  Soon it will blend in and be indistinguishable from the rest of the house from the outside (the removal of the big blue tarps will help with that!

The front side

scratch coat on one wall of strawbale

The other exciting thing is that you can see from the front picture that the garage door has been installed.  It, like most of the exterior doors, came unfinished because no one will put a clear coat finish on an exterior wood door because they don’t want to warranty the finish – even if the door is installed under a large overhang and is protected from direct sunlight, or is North facing… so we have been finishing all the exterior wood doors ourselves as they come in.

The garage door in place

Natalie helping us finish the garage door

3 replies
  1. Jesse Johnson
    Jesse Johnson says:


    First, I have to say how excited I was to see Catherine’s TED presentation about this project. Second, I feel almost bursting with things to say that I know I won’t get it all out. I’ll try to make this short.

    I’m writing you because I connected with your presentation in so many ways. I consider myself a geek. I’m a young guy with a family and I have been looking for a way to build an effective energy-efficient house. I want something that looks good (ie, not a mud hut), but that I can still feel good about. My family needs room to upsize (we have two young children and I work from home, so we need more space) and what I see from the pictures here and the TED presentation look really intriguing. I have not gone through the whole site as I just found it tonight, but I will be doing some reading.

    Can you tell me if you worked with professional builders and architects who do this, or did you do most of the planning and construction work yourselves? It looks like you did (and are still doing) a lot yourselves. I see you have to clear coat the exterior doors, and in a post from January I saw you were having a “strawbaling” party. If you worked with a builder that you would recommend, I would love to get in touch with them.

    For what it’s worth, I live in Northern California, and I believe you are in the Bay Area, correct? If you are having an open house or another work party where people can help you for a chance to learn about the place, I would love to know about it.

    Look forward to hearing from you in the future. I will be checking back to this site and hope to see some updated pictures.

    -Jesse in Auburn

    • Catherine Mohr
      Catherine Mohr says:

      I put a “contractors and contacts” section in the side bar, so you should be able to find information about most of the people we have been working with – good luck with your project!

  2. mikeyd
    mikeyd says:


    Enjoyed your TED talk. Concerned that our retrofitting of homes is significantly more wasteful than either voluntary or involuntary poverty. I suppose I am speaking of living in the smallest dwelling possible.

    Glad you used some straw bale technique. My personal dream is to distill construction down to the most primitive methods, including the aforementioned bails. I live in a rented trailer due to unemployment and find that somewhat liberating. I keep energy use at a minimum and consume as few resources as possible.

    Believe me, in my previous incarnation(s) in the biz world, I have flown prodigiously, wasting untold MWhrs of energy. I wish you and your family good luck in all your endeavors, and continue to build bridges to understanding.


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