Fire-resistant Building Methods

I told Rod (from Australia) I’d post this in case anyone knows of fire-resistant building techniques.

Dear Lloyd,

…I wonder if you could point my attention towards any particular places where innovative building technology  is available for public access.  In particular, my concern is towards establishing a demonstration project of methods of building bushfire resistant, low cost, sustainable houses in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

   It would be good to know of any similar projects in other places. Australia, like California and other places in the US, has a perennial problem with bushfires, and the possibility of building with stabilised earth and other high thermal mass materials seems to be worth demonstrating again. 

Around 1980, I designed and built some structures along these lines, and one of these changed Australian standards. It seems to me that no one has really taken an interest in such pragmatic building unless they can see great profit to be made. Just before that time, Australia had what was called the Experimental Building Station, which was one of four centres of research into the use of earth as a building material worldwide, but of course, our government at the time scrapped it,  to sell the land.  Now that land is occupied by corporate offices, such as Microsoft.

   Just in case you are interested, I will attach a recent photo of one of my house designs from that time, which was intended for fire resistance. I look forward to hearing from you whenever you can respond.

Best regards Rod Yates

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

4 Responses to Fire-resistant Building Methods

  1. I suppose he has already googled things like

    home construction wildfire protection

    if not, go for it..

    Mike W


  2. Plastered straw bale (with the proper roof) has a great reputation for fire resistance. Individual straws burn, but strawbales smoulder because of the lack of O2 on the interior of the bale to sustain a fire. Add a plaster coat to keep the exterior from scorching and the fire resistance goes way up. One picture I remember is of the aftermath of a california forest fire that swept into a settled neighborhood. The houses were completely distroyed, but one lone plastered straw bale used as an experimental garden bench by the home owners was left untouched. Needeless to say, they decided to rebuild with plaster strawbales. Good Luck.

  3. Stone and lime mortar. Old methods. Innovative again because of changing enviroment. Natural, sustainable, fire proof. The best of luck with your good work.

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