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BahamaMama

Strawbale build

Has anyone done one - I saw that Vegplot mentioned one in another thread.

We are thinking very seriously of doing one in about 4 years when our circumstances will have moved on. It has gone past the initial hare-brained scheme and onto initial research.

Is anyone prepared to share anything they have learned so far? All the stuff I have read would suggest it is too good to be true - relatively cheap, sustainable, instant insulation, attractive finish etc etc. What are the downsides?
vegplot

I have a lot of material and some experience. I'm going to be launching a site soon with more info but for now visit http://www.strawbalefutures.org.uk/

I'm happy to discuss straw bale build on DS as well and I think there was another thread somewhere.
Bulgarianlily

As soon as I get up from this computer, I am off for another happy day putting the earth plaster on mine. Very relaxing work if you take your time.

Lily
vegplot

The upsides certainly outweigh the downsides. A quick but not comprehensive list

+ Uses natural, local (in most areas) materials
+ Excellent insulation
+ Breathable
+ Durable
+ Excellent fire resistance
+ Cheap
+ Easy to build
+ Low skill level required
+ Good sound insulation

- Requires new knowledge for best results
- Life and durability dependant on build quality
- Doesn't like cement (this could be a plus point)
- Lime or earth rendering is labour intensive
vegplot

Bulgarianlily wrote:
As soon as I get up from this computer, I am off for another happy day putting the earth plaster on mine. Very relaxing work if you take your time.

Lily


Do you have any more information on this project?
BahamaMama

Thanks for the info - I will have a mooch around the link this evening. We are hoping to build in the south of France so our thinking is that the hotter dryer climate will help with the durability of the build, it will be lime rendered to keep the critters out and I hope it will provide the insulation we need for the blistering summers and very cold winters - can anyone confirm my thinking on this is along the right lines?
vegplot

BahamaMama wrote:
Thanks for the info - I will have a mooch around the link this evening. We are hoping to build in the south of France so our thinking is that the hotter dryer climate will help with the durability of the build, it will be lime rendered to keep the critters out and I hope it will provide the insulation we need for the blistering summers and very cold winters - can anyone confirm my thinking on this is along the right lines?


To keep insect and 'critters' out you may need to fix fine wire mesh to the underside of the bottom wall plate (which is often a ladder matrix you make from timber).

To even out diurnal temperature variations a lime render will act as a high thermal mass but you can increase its effectiveness by building a high thermal mass structure inside the home such as a stone wall or some other feature. Thermal mass work by absorbing heat in the day and releasing it at night.
marigold

Wasn't there a Grand Designs programme about a straw bale build in France?

Yup, here it is.. http://www.strawbalefrance.com/
vickersdc

Straw bales in France...

Our plan (BahamaMama and I) is to construct a house with an upstairs and a downstairs - now I'm really in to doing a timber framed building and using the straw bales as infill, rather than just straw bales.

One of the reasons (apart from the fact that I love timber framed buildings) is that I'd need some convincing to build an upstairs using just the bales - one of the things that concerns me is the amount of compression there would be with all that weight on the 'ground floor' bales.

So, for me, has anyone done a straw build with an upstairs - and has anyone done a timber-framed home using straw bales as infill?

Cheers,
David.
marigold

Ben Law's house has two stories, doesn't it?

Rachel's House does too http://www.strawbalefutures.org.uk/Rachelshouse.html
vegplot

There's aren't that many load bearing 2 storey straw bales houses in the UK but there shouldn't be any problems with load bearing as long as the bales are as dense as possible to start off with. Ideally you should just be able to get your fingers under the strings. We're planning a one and a half storey load bearing straw bale building. Once compressed the fibres in straw bales don't tend to want to move around under compression, they will support quite heavy loads.

If you're building with infill you will need to compress the bales using straps to ensure rigidty in the structure.

Bulgarianlily

Here in Bulgaria we have the first strawbale house to get going, we found no problems with planning as long as it wasn't self supporting, they are quite used to timber frames with infill, so we are just swopping the local adobe brick which is traditional for strawbale. We have a 35 sq metre round house with reciprocal roof, now receiving it's earth plasters inside and out, and another 35 sq metre bookshop which will have two cordwood walls, one light straw clay and one light straw woodchip, with a living roof.

We have a larger building planned for next year.

Earth plaster is labour intensive but not as hard to do as cement render, being lighter and easier to work, and far more enjoyable.

Lily
vegplot

One of the biggest hurdles in the UK is not planning, as they don't care what the building is made of, but building inspectors and building regulations. I wasn't aware of this until recently, but you are not obliged to use the local authority buildings inspectorate you can use a private firm to do the job. One such firm is JHA Innovation who specialise in enviromnetal build projects such as straw bale. They are familiar with the materials you may want to use, much more so than the avergae local authority building regulations inspector.

http://www.approvedinspector.com/
RichardW

How does that work for the fees? I guess you still have to pay the council fee (on top of the planning fee) & then pay the company as well?

Justme
vegplot

Justme wrote:
How does that work for the fees? I guess you still have to pay the council fee (on top of the planning fee) & then pay the company as well?

Justme


I've not progressed that far Embarassed
Nick

Sent to me as part of a mailing list. Dunno if anyone's interested.

Quote:
Our dear SB sister. Caroline Barry is once again opening
her SB home to all.
Caroline has battled planning for years to keep her lovely house, and
has had to rebuild it twice due to planning enforcement and then an
arson attack.

Well worth a visit if you can.

Bale on
Chug

OPEN DAY
Visit the house rebuilt in May 2007
Car tyre foundations
Timber frame
Strawbale walls, cordwood & wine bottles
Recycled doors & windows, interior

Saturday 28 June 2008
11am 4pm

Other interests -
Eco friendly shop
Avalon Fair Shares
Transition Town Glastonbury
Parrell Community with Hamish Miller info

further info/contact
Barton Road, BUTLEIGH, Somerset BA6 8TL
Tel 01458 850243
Email: carostraw@phonecoop.coop
Web: http://www.carolinebarry.org.uk
BahamaMama

Mmmm - very interesting and not too far. Thanks for the info.
shadiya

We are hoping to build a single story loadbearing straw bale building in August. We were going to run it as a course with Amazon Nails but not sure we can afford to, so may just take the plunge and do it on our own, as my partner is a builder and has done a course with Amazon Nails. We'll probably try and find some volunteers to come and help so if anybody's interested I can post details when we've got a plan? I'm more of a cob person myself but for straw bale fans, it should be fun and would certainly be good experience, hopefully not too much of the " and here's how not to " kind!
vegplot

shadiya wrote:
We are hoping to build a single story loadbearing straw bale building in August. We were going to run it as a course with Amazon Nails but not sure we can afford to, so may just take the plunge and do it on our own, as my partner is a builder and has done a course with Amazon Nails. We'll probably try and find some volunteers to come and help so if anybody's interested I can post details when we've got a plan? I'm more of a cob person myself but for straw bale fans, it should be fun and would certainly be good experience, hopefully not too much of the " and here's how not to " kind!


Where are you based?
shadiya

We are just outside Oxford.
vegplot

shadiya wrote:
We are just outside Oxford.


PM me when you're ready to harvest some volunteers.
Bulgarianlily

Just popped in to say I am now living in my strawbale house and very happy with it. Lots of small finishing bits to do, but it is a lovely warm space, and a delight to be in. It is a 35 sq metre round house with a roof window, one large and tall room with a bathroom sliced out of one segment, the bed is on a platform above the mini office. The plastering took ages due to the poor lumpy bales I had to use, but looks wonderful now.
vegplot

Bulgarianlily wrote:
Just popped in to say I am now living in my strawbale house and very happy with it. Lots of small finishing bits to do, but it is a lovely warm space, and a delight to be in. It is a 35 sq metre round house with a roof window, one large and tall room with a bathroom sliced out of one segment, the bed is on a platform above the mini office. The plastering took ages due to the poor lumpy bales I had to use, but looks wonderful now.


Please post some pictures. Would you be interested in featuring the build on my new web site (yet to go live) ?
nettie

Upping this as we are considering a straw bale build for our studio - they run strawbale building courses at Assington Mill and the students will build the walls and do the rendering for free, we just have to pay for the materials, and get the base, roof and windows/doors done ourselves.

We already have a base (which needs extending a little, and insulating), the finished building will be about 7m by 3m.

If it's not too cheeky a question how did the costs pan out for those of you that have done it?
Bulgarianlily

Not counting the land (six decares for 14 K pound) I think we have our house for about 7 k sterling.

I am not very good at sorting out photos, dont have any program which seems to want to reduce them. Glad to talk to anyone about building, our next building (frame up and roof on) is going to be cordwood and light clay woodchip.

Lily
tahir

Cordwood looks really cool. It's not hard to resize pics, what kind of computer (Win/Mac/Linux) are you on?
vegplot

nettie wrote:
Upping this as we are considering a straw bale build for our studio - they run strawbale building courses at Assington Mill


We did our straw bale course at Assington Mill.
Bulgarianlily

I will have another go at photos after I do a quick dash to Sofia tomorrow.
nettie

vegplot wrote:
nettie wrote:
Upping this as we are considering a straw bale build for our studio - they run strawbale building courses at Assington Mill


We did our straw bale course at Assington Mill.


We live next door Very Happy Am off to see the owlry and the art studio later in the week.
vegplot

nettie wrote:
vegplot wrote:
nettie wrote:
Upping this as we are considering a straw bale build for our studio - they run strawbale building courses at Assington Mill


We did our straw bale course at Assington Mill.


We live next door Very Happy Am off to see the owlry and the art studio later in the week.


Owlry under construction...

nettie

If only the sky was always that blue around here!!! Anne has been round to measure us up and we have discussed the design, I'm rather excited Very Happy
vegplot

We had a week of glorious weather, every day was like that. May time I think it was.
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