Straw bale homes have a character and style you will love.

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 different techniques.

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 environmental.

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 quote

bee@strawbuild.org

+44 (0)7736 904186