Building of house draws volunteers

An owner said she got the idea for the house during a recent trip to South Africa.
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) -- A 400,000, four-bedroom house being built with straw and clay is attracting dozens of curious people who show up and volunteer to work.
In addition to friends and relatives of owners Gus and Jan Kious, architects, builders and environmentalists have come from as far as Michigan to tie bales and mix mud.
Chas Kikel, an architect from this Cleveland suburb who was stacking and tying bales of straw on Saturday, said he had read about straw-bale and clay building but had never seen it done.
"This has great insulation capacity, and it's all natural, so we're not hurting the environment," he said.
The Kiouses are building on the lot next door to where they now live on a street lined with 90-year-old homes of various classical styles. They plan to sell their current home when the new one is finished.
The straw-bale house, the first in Cuyahoga County, has a wood frame that was modified to hold the 14-inch-thick bales of straw. The bales are tied to vertical bamboo sticks attached to the frame and will be coated inside and out with clay mixed with lime and sand for strength.
Jan Kious, a nurse and social worker, said she got the idea for the house during a recent trip to South Africa, where she was raised.
The couple serves lunch to the volunteers.
Chuck Cavano of Westlake said he came to work on the straw-bale house because he's interested in building one for himself.
"Now that I'm here, I better get my hands dirty," he said.
When asked how he got so much free labor on the project, Gus Kious, a doctor and president of Huron Hospital, said, "We just put the word out and all the weirdos came out. They all want to be part of this weirdo revolution."

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