Warmth and Integrity- Why Faswall

TVirginia Faswall Farm home

In a nutshell, my experience working with Shelter Works as well as building with Faswall was excellent, exciting, fulfilling and rewarding. My story with Faswall is long and I encourage anyone considering building with Faswall to thoroughly read my testimonial.

I built a house, 12 years ago, when we lived on Maui. It was a simple house, no heating or cooling, lots of humidity, rain, rot, mold, etc.

When we moved to the North West and decided to build again I was very sensitive to climatic issues related to long term structural integrity and the comfort we would experience as a family. Even though I had built before I was not an expert, nor did I have the money to hire a General Contractor to build my house. One thing I did have on my side the was prior experience of building and living in my own home. It was a very satisfying and rewarding process.

As my wife and I considered what type of home to build, design wise, we also had to decide what to build with. Since we were thin blooded from the tropics, our number one requirement was WARMTH. We also had and still have deep interests in economic viability (can we afford it), low toxicity, low environmental impact, longevity of structural integrity, energy efficiency, ease of building, aesthetics, uniqueness, on and on.

Sometimes we sat back and thought our list of requirements was not realistic. As we continued our designs, re-designs, re-re-designs I kept asking questions of builders, reading building books and wondering what type of materials to build with: timber frame, stick frame, straw bale, manufactured, Rastra, etc, etc , etc.

In my universe I had firm wants with the materials I was going to use: no drywall, no foam, no plastic vapor barrier, no crawl space, no glass insulation with formaldehyde.

One day I ran in to a farmer friend here in Chimacum who did some neat, thoughtful construction and just built his own house. So I asked Keith if I could come over and pick his brain, trade him a box of apples for some information. He showed me his house, which was built out of Rastra block. It was very nice. As we were talking he shared some of the things he did not like about the Rastra: the walls don’t hold screws well, foam in them and the blocks weighed about 80 lbs each. Je went on to tell me there was this really interested product called Faswall that was now being produced in Oregon. When he was considering building his house, Faswall was being produced on the East coast and it was cost prohibitive to get it here. If he was building right now, he would buy Faswall in a heartbeat.

Luck was on my side because a local family was building with Faswall, the first ones in the neighborhood. So I called them up and went to have a look. The person was a first time builder and shared with me how great the Shelter Works people were and how easy the product was to work with. I ended up helping him stucco his place a few months later.

Armed with my list of wants I called Shelter Works and started asking questions, lots of them, The fine folks there took ample time with me and answered my questions. I have worked in customer service for 30 years and can appreciate it when someone takes the time I need to get my answers. After all, I am about to invest my life savings!

As it became clear to me that Faswall and Shelter Works was the way I wanted to go, my wife and I scrapped our design and did our last re-design using Shelter Works suggestions which helped lessen our materials usage and save some $.

In our situation we decided to build two separate single story structures: a 1,200 sq ft house and a 1,000 sq ft office. Both structures are poured slab with in floor heat, 50 year metal roof, stuccoed outside and plastered inside.

Once our design was complete, Paul with Shelter Works helped with our take off (block count), we placed our order and away we went.

Everything went great. Our blocks came right on schedule, block counts were accurate, telephone support was available and the material quality was very consistent.

I was very surprised how fast the structures went up. Once the slabs were poured we began stacking blocks. It took four of two weeks to stack, brace, plum and pour both structures. Each building took 5 days from start to finish which included laying all the electrical conduit and building all the door and window bucks (opening supports).

We recently applied the exterior stucco and the plaster inside the house. I love the fact that we have deep window sills inside because it has a straw bale look and feel. We have over wintered in the smaller building and the heat retention has been great. We sit inside as the NW winds howl in the winter but we are cozy and feel safely contained in our strong and sturdy home.

People come by and marvel at our place. It is simple in design but people really love it and ask about it often. I, for one, am happy to tell people about it because I really feel that we made the right decision in many ways. There is not another material I feel would serve us better in the long run.

I am working to get some good photos of our place so people who read this can see some of what I am talking about. I am also happy to chat with anyone considering building with Faswall.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it is helpful.

-Rob Story

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