Straw Bale Construction

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Ecologically friendly, fire resistant and energy efficient. There’s no worry of a big bad wolf blowing these straw houses down! Heating and cooling in a natural way are all part of the design of these “green” homes. Straw houses are strong, super-insulated, and an economical option to the usual materials used in home building.

The price of building a straw bale house can be the same or slighter higher, depending on what plastering method is used, as other methods. A reduction in energy cost and a higher comfort level make the straw bale home a good choice. Designers are often willing to let the consumer bring their own plans or opt to use the plans available. For the do-it-yourself types there are workshops they can take to learn how to design and build their own structures. Workshops teach how to purchase the bale, construct and techniques for plaster application. Hands on learning that not only tells you how to build with straw bale, it also shows you how by having you help build a structure.

Mortgage companies, once reluctant to loan to the straw bale house builder, are beginning to come on board as are insurance companies. Still, some companies have issues with the idea of a house made of straw. Policies have been canceled by insurance companies that have no knowledge of how the houses are built. Fact is the straw bale house stands less of a chance of catching fire than a wood structure. A safety test done on plastered bale walls proved a well made home could withstand temperatures over one thousand degree Fahrenheit before showing signs of damage. A well made home can last up to one hundred years. The International Straw Bale Registry has resources for those seeking lenders and insurance companies that are willing to work with the straw bale builder.

Straw bale home have been around for some time. The technique was used in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the plain states. Design and size varies from cottage to as large as you want. Styles of building are either post and beam or “Nebraska” where the roof is held up by the bales. The bales are anchored to each other with wood rebar or bamboo. A less desired option is using mortar between bales. No matter what the method the walls will be thick with deep set windows. Timber frame construction can use straw bales as infill, but the price of the building will be higher. The straw bales are covered with poultry wire and then stuccoed. Adding wiring and plumbing is done in the process of building, eliminating the need to drill holes in the structure afterwards. Expanding a straw bale home is easier than a traditionally built home.

If you want to build green then a straw bale house may be the ideal choice for your next home. Not sure or worry what it will look like? A quick search on the internet will help you learn more.

To see actual straw bale buildings from around the world go to: http://naturalhomes.org/ecohouselist.htm?strawbale

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