How to Construct
a Straw Bale House
DESIGN - PLANS - CONSTRUCTION PICTURES
ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES - HOMES OPEN FOR VISITING
BUDGET- REFERENCE MATERIALS
- Two bedrooms
- One and a half bathrooms
- Living room and dining area
- Enclosed kitchen
- Wheelchair accessible (3' wide doors)
- All natural, nontoxic materials used (primarily recycled)
- Square footage: interior (1025), exterior (1200) (not including 36" roof overhangs)
- "Load-bearing" design (see below)
PICTURES OF ALL PHASES OF CONSTRUCTION
Suggested Plans and Budget for Building
a Simple 480 sq. ft. "Starter" Straw Bale Home
or Guest House
- $15 per square foot to build
- ultra energy efficient
"Straw Bale Houses-An Evaluation"
by The Big Bad Wolf
"Well... no way could I blow down that hay house.
No matter how hard I huffed and puffed and huffed".
And by Jim and Mindy
THE BIG PLUSES:
- STRONG - like a fortress particularly after the bales are plastered, but even before (we would never have known from inside our straw bale that the winds we got one summer when we first started to build reached 85 mph)
- SUPER INSULATED and therefore highly energy efficient - warm in Winter, cool in Summer -- big savings on the utility bills
- QUIET - a stillness and peacefulness like no other house
- INEXPENSIVE TO BUILD -a truly affordable house if you have the patience and time to do a good deal of the work yourself and/or with the help of friends
- DEEP WINDOW-WELLS - some of the best on the planet for potted plants and cats and curling up to take a nap in
- EARTH-FRIENDLY - living as we do in a world with increasingly scarce resources, doesn't it seem the sensible and responsible thing to do to build a house with a waste material which is typically burned in the fields after harvest rather than cutting down more forests to build a wood-framed house -- which is in fact less energy efficient, less comfortable, and more expensive as well!)
A FEW POSSIBLE MINUES:
- BANKS ARE LESS LIKELY TO LEND MONEY on a straw bale house, however this is rapidly changing, see sbregistry.greenbuilder.com/mortgage.straw for a list of financial institutions which have now loaned on straw bale homes
- A FEW CRANKY NEIGHBORS may view your house as "unconventional" if not downright disreputable (see PROBLEMS-PROBLEMS for our troubles with these attitudes and also the unfortunate results of not thoroughly understanding local zoning and building code regulations)
- SOME LOCAL BUILDING CODES may not permit the building of a straw bale house or may impose expensive, time-consuming requirements
"LIST OF STRAW BALE HOMES
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC TO VISIT"
(741 in the United States - a total of 1612 in the world as of August, 2013)
"Straw and Clay" by Frank Meyer
(mp3 - 3.5 mb)
This wonderful song was composed by straw bale builder and folk singer, Frank Meyer, in 1995. It has been sung at many a straw bale wall raising ever since. It says better than we can what buiding with earth and straw is all about.
(Used by permission of Frank Meyer, Thangmaker@aol.com -- buy the CD!)
BOOKS ON STRAW BALE HOUSES
All seven of the books listed below cover slightly different aspects of straw bale construction. If you are going to build a straw bale house, most if not all are really necessary as they compliment each other in important ways. If we HAD to choose only two, it would be "Build it With Bales" and "Serious Straw Bale". A subscription to "The Last Straw Journal" is also highly recommended.
"The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes" by Athena and Bill Steen: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2001.
"Build It With Bales - Version Two" by Matts Myhrman and S. O. MacDonald: published by Out On Bale, 1998.
"The New Straw Bale Home" by Catherine Wanek: Black Range Natural Building Resources, 2003.
"Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climtes" by Paul Lacinski and Michel Bergeron: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2000.
"Straw Bale Building" by Chris Magwood and Peter Mack: New Society Publishers, 2000.
"The Straw Bale House" by Athena and Bill Steen: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1994.
"A House of Straw" by Carolyn Roberts, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2002 - an inspiring journal of how a single mom with two teen-age boys built their own straw bale house.
"The Last Straw Journal: The International Journal of Straw Bale and Natural Building" - the most authoritative articles written on straw bale construction, published quarterly, a gold mine of technical information for the serious straw bale builder, back issues are a valuable reference library and are still available for purchase by the individual issue