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Building with bales of straw has become almost mainstream in some parts of the country, especially in the Southwestern United States. Many localities have specific codes for strawbale construction, and some banks are willing to lend on this technique. Straw is a renewable resource that acts as excellent insulation and is fairly easy to build with. Care must be taken to assure that the straw is kept dry, or it will eventually rot. For this reason it is generally best to allow a strawbale wall to remain breathable; any moisture barrier will invite condensation to collect and undermine the structure. Other possible concerns with strawbale walls are infestation of rodents or insects, so the skin on the straw should resist these critters.
There are two major categories of building with strawbales: load-bearing and non-load bearing. A post and beam framework that supports the basic structure of the building, with the bales of straw used as infill, is the most common non-load bearing approach. This is also the only way that many building authorities will allow. While there are many load- bearing strawbale buildings that are standing just fine, care must be taken to consider the possible settling of the strawbales as the weight of the roof, etc. compresses them.
Erecting bale walls can go amazingly quickly, and does not take a lot of skill, but then the rest of the creation of the building is similar to any other wood framed house. In fact strawbale houses typically only save about 15% of the wood used in a conventionally framed house. The cost of finishing a strawbale house can often exceed that of standard construction, because of the specialized work that goes into plastering both sides of the walls. The result is often worth it though, because of the superior insulation and wall depth that is achieved. Definition source:Â www.greenhomebuilding.com
Relavant links to check out:
Â www.Strawbale.comÂ - One of the biggest names in strawbale construction, Andrew Morrison, has arguably the best site in the US for strawbale education and resourses. I own most of his videos and can show them upon request.Â
Amazonails Strawbale Projects - Pics of very large and small strawbale structures.
Bale on Bale Construction - I met Dave Lanfear a few times, does great work and is a local company (Buffalo). Â Â Â Â Â Â
www.strawbalesystems.com - A good friend and local strawbale building expert, Dave Vail has helped in the construction of 13-14 homes in the NE United States.
R - Value of Strawbale Walls - Great article on the science behind these walls made of straw and plaster.
Strawbale Home Construction Instructional Video - Very well produced and is the first video in this list for a reason, check it out!
Houses of straw - the rediscovery of strawbale building - Great video from Germany showing how strawbale is working for them.
"THIS NEW GREEN HOUSE" - A 10 minute video that gives a more in depth view into strawbale building and narrated by experienced bale contractors, good stuff!Â
The Benefits of Strawbale Construction - A quick & effective video.
Strawbale house built by single mom for $50,000 - A great story on how she did it, what the costs were, time lines and what to contract out, great video.
Be sure to check back to this section and our calendar as we will be hosting a few strawbale demonstrations this year!