Straw bale houses – inexpensive, well-insulated, do-it-yourself

What building material would you use for a house? Wood, obviously. Metal, maybe.

What about straw bales? Hey, they’re rectangular, they’re pretty solid – but, really, straw bales??

There is quite a little cottage industry (no pun intended) surrounding straw bale construction. It turns out that straw bales as a construction material are energy efficient, sound proof, fire resistant, and most of all, environmentally responsible.
Why environmentally responsible? Well, the straw bales are a byproduct of grain crops, they are the stems of the plants baled up. Living in a farming community in Alberta, Canada, it was a very common sight to see farmers in the fields baling their straw and scooping up the bales to bed the cattle and insulate garden plants from frost. So you’re using something that would have been produced anyway, instead of wood cut from forests.

To build a straw bale house, you build a concrete foundation, then you put up frames for the doorways. Then you stack up the bales to create the walls, using steel rods to keep them straight. The roof (not straw) goes on top, straddling the walls. Putting plaster over the straw gives it an adobe look. For the story in pictures, click here. Make sure you visit all 4 pages.

The other claims are quite interesting. Straw bales apparently provide excellent sound insulation, because they are so dense. Even stranger, the density of the bales provides good fire resistance, because a spark of fire inside the wall can’t get any oxygen. What the longevity of these houses are, I don’t know. I’d also wonder about their ability to withstand high winds, etc.

I find straw bale construction very compelling. I have to admit that I’m probably not the type of person to build a house myself. But I’m intrigued with a construction material that is environmental, cheaper and has other advantages.

Author by Daryl Kulak