We can help you design and build beautiful and
functional buildings with straw bales, in any one of a variety of
methods. We have tons of experience, both in building and running
training courses over many years on many building types with
On-site Training courses
We would generally recommend that you elect to
reduce both your build costs and build-time, whilst enhancing your
experience of the whole process through having us run training
courses on your build. Indeed we would highly encourage this
holistic win-win! Your build offers a great training platform for
those that want to learn, (hands-on training on a live build site
offers the very best training environment for aspiring
self-builders) whilst your walls are constructed to highest
quality - through attention to detail, speed and a great deal of
fun! Contact us for more information on hosting courses on your
build site - we offer guidance and support in all aspects.
Straw bale building Methods
There are various different methods of building super-insulated
wall systems with straw bales, and we can discuss the benefits and
comparative costs of each system with you before finalising your
plans. We can provide a ‘contract build’ quote - when Strawbuild
will construct specific elements of the building, and/or we can
arrange to run training courses on your build, no matter what
technique is selected:
Loadbearing: A system where the compressed, two string bales take
all the loads in the buildings, both dead load (static loading)
and live (people, snow loading etc). No framework is required! The
bales are capable of taking great load under compression. We have
built several 2 storey load bearing buildings in the UK and
Ireland, with building control approval, including Local Authority
social housing. The vagaries of the weather in the UK & Ireland
usually requires that we erect a roof first under which to build,
which is temporarily ‘propped’ until the walls are installed,
followed by the lowering of the roof onto the walls which are then
pre-compressed, levelled and held in position. Some of the
advantages of a load bearing system are what can be a relatively
fast build process (with many hands), and the avoidance of an
expensive timber frame.
Infill: Usually a timber post and beam or some other type of frame
building, where the compressed straw bale walls offer insulated
stabilized wall panels. One of the advantages of this type of
design is a ready roof under which to build - although provision
must be made in the designs for stabilisation of the walls.
Hybrid: Usually a mixture of different techniques to take account
of design considerations.
Wrap: A great solution for much of our poorly insulated housing
stock: strawbales on edge, ‘retrofitted’ as external insulation.
Extremely efficient for insulating thermally massive block or
brick walls. The bales on edge are fixed tight, raised up on a
small, insulated plinth wall, and finished with lime render or
timber cladding. Watch the heating or cooling requirements of the
building fall dramatically!
CUT: ‘Cells Under Tension’ - a technique working around small
dimension timber framing, where compressed 2 string bales are
‘squashed’ firmly between uprights and the strings cut, enabling
the compressed straw to expand and fully fill the space between
the upright timbers. Each course of ‘CUT’ bales are fixed hard in
place with horizontal small dimension timber.
French Dip: A method designed to speed up the first stage of clay
plaster, whereby the internal and external faces of the bale are
‘dipped’ into wet clay slip in advance of being placed in the
wall. Works well in warm French weather but the clay increases
of the weight of the bale significantly; worth bearing in mind if
building a large building.
Why build with straw bales and natural plasters?
Straw, lime and clay work astonishingly effectively together to
create high performance, durable buildings. The materials are
readily (often locally) available, affordable, natural building
materials and have been used in construction for literally
thousands of years. The great insulation value of straw bales and
the thermal mass of clay and lime plasters combine with good
design, to offer a contemporary building system that significantly
reduces the energy required to heat or cool your building. Minimum
to zero heating or cooling needs in extreme cold or hot climates!
This is particularly important in the face of fossil fuel
depletion and escalating energy costs – financial and
These materials are very low in embodied energy and are carbon
negative – they lock up carbon into the walls of the building for
its lifetime – better than carbon zero. Designed and constructed
well, they will outlast most industrially produced construction
materials, and are biodegradable or can be recycled at the end of
the building’s life.
The internal clay or lime plasters are natural humidity
regulators, thereby creating healthy, stable indoor environments,
keeping optimum levels of humidity for human health. They also
provide excellent thermal mass - operating like a ‘storage
radiator’, storing heat (from good placing of windows to collect
free winter sunshine in solar passive designs, or from heat
sources) to storing cooler temperature air in the summer, again
from good passive solar design and ventilation.
External lime renders or lime stabilised earth renders provide
permeable but weatherproof finishes for the walls - similar to the
functioning of a gortex jacket - which allows moisture vapour to
travel through from the inside, whilst protecting the outside from
the larger molecules of water / rain.
Altogether a combination of local materials which when put
together well, in good passive solar design, can offer very low
impact, energy efficient building options for weatherproof,
healthy and durable spaces that save money over the lifetime of
the building through reduced heating (and cooling) costs. The
questions are not why build with these materials, but why not
build with them?
Contact us for a
+44 (0)7736 904186