has anyone built with strawbales?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Dahc, May 23, 2006.

  1. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    Has anyone built with strawbales? If you have pics or links, I would love to see some of this stuff. My wife and I have wanted to start a strawbale house and are interested in what others have done this way.
     
  2. triana1326

    triana1326 Dances in moonlight

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    I second that request for info. My DH and I will be building one in VT in the spring of '08.
     

  3. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

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    Oooh! I can't wait to hear the responses here. I've researched strawbale for so many years, and hope to build 'someday'.

    niki
     
  4. RollrXGirl

    RollrXGirl Member

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    Yes, I built a strawbale house (with the help of others) in Northern California a few years ago. It is not a difficult process but it was very helpful to have the help of a couple of experts on-site helping us with the process. The house we built was approximately 700 sq. feet and took us about a month of working Mon-Friday. Unfortunately I can't locate the pictures of the structure online to show you but there's lots of great books out there that have pictures and explain how to do it. I would also suggest maybe taking a workshop before starting one on your land. Do a google search for strawbale building workshops and you should be able to find one in your area. If not, please feel free to email me and I can suggest some good ones that are in different parts of the country.

    I adore strawbale buildings and would build one again in a heartbeat but just be aware that you will not be able to ever get traditional financing on a structure such as this. Banks look unfavorably upon strawbale construction even though they are sturdier and more fire-retardant than "normal" buildings.
     
  5. GoatsRus

    GoatsRus TMESIS

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    check out Mother Earth News Issue #214 (February/March 2006) they have an article on Straw Bale Building.
     
  6. Gresford

    Gresford Well-Known Member

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    Did you finance or was the cost differential enough that you were able to pay cash? If you financed, what type of lending facility did you use?
     
  7. RollrXGirl

    RollrXGirl Member

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    The farm we built the house for (I was doing this for college credit organized through a non-profit) paid for all the materials out of pocket. It was far from expensive for all the materials and of course, the labor was free! I'm sure it cost less than $3,000 for everything. We got the windows and doors from a scrap yard which cut down on costs but still looked great. The straw bales themselves aren't expensive and the posts we used for support beam we cut down some pines and stripped them ourselves - on site.

    Regarding financing, there's not many choices out there. If it's looking like it's going to be a large project you might want to see if you can find a private mortgage or maybe a subprime lender that has an open mind. Good luck!
     
  8. SolarGary

    SolarGary Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    I've assembled (I think) some really good links on strawbale construction here:

    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SolarHomes/constructionps.htm#Straw Bale

    For very detailed and very hands on, the Red Feather book is really good. The home they build in the book is a fairly simple one, but they take you through it in great detail, and pass on many time saving hints.

    You might also take a look here to make your stawbale home a solar strawbale home :)
    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SolarHomes/solarhomes.htm

    Gary
    www.BuildItSolar.com
     
  9. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    I did originally intend to build a strawbale house, but the fact that I do not have enough cash up front (i.e. need financing) nixed it.

    To get financing and make the inspectors happy, I needed engineered drawings ... so that meant I would have had to pay someone to draw them up and help with the construction and all that. Just getting that was going to be several thousand dollars - for pictures.

    There is someone not too far from me who has neat designs and great buildings ... but in the end, it was going to cost me far more to get straw bale up and finished than it was going to cost to do a package home (not modular, but one where the walls are all put together in a factory in smaller chunks, and then shipped here and constructed into a house). I did do passive solar design, and am off grid except for natural gas. Big up front costs, but lower operating expenses in the long run.

    Be sure to check out code requirements and that in the place you are going to build. If they are lenient, then you can probably just do your thing, and it'll be awesome! I do love straw bale homes.

    I do hope to eventually build a straw bale guest house on my acreage, when I can just do it a bit at a time and play with the technique.
     
  10. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One of my sons works for a fellow that builds energy efficient housing, and they have built a number of straw bale homes in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Lots of labor, need to pay close attention to some details of construction (that is why people have hired this crew to build their homes), and very low heating costs, even in cold climates. If we ever build another new home, it will probably be a straw bale home.

    Next time I see my son, I will see if he has any pictures that I can point you towards.
     
  11. cindyc

    cindyc Well-Known Member

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    If you need proof that straw bale housing is not a fire hazzard for the codes guy... Howard Switzer, who is an architect/engineer here in TN, has done a burn test on it. It has a 4 hour rating, which is better than conventional homes. You might contact him about using the burn test results, or other questions relative to strawbale if you want. Can't find his number right now, but if you google Howard Switzer you will find him. (I think that is how I found him.) We went out and saw his bale house that he is building for himself last spring.

    Cindyc.
     
  12. raymilosh

    raymilosh Well-Known Member

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    Howard Switzer and his partner Katy conducted strawbale construction workshops and earth plaster workshops at my next door neighbor's house. (The house is rubble trench, foswell block, timber frame, strawbale, earth plaster, earth floor (yet to be completed) and passive solar.
    The house has been through the North Carolina building code process.
    It's not completed yet, but it is dried in and it has been heating and cooling itself pretty well despite not being complete.
    Some pictures of the construction are here: http://bhfarm.org/timberframe2.htm
    I'm one of the people in one of the pictures. Howard is the fellow with the long white hair.

    I just read that Howard is running for governer of Tennessee, so he may be too busy to help with construction. http://www.tnimc.org/feature/display/15950

    Basic rules about constructing a house to last (including strawbale houses): A house needs good shoes and a good hat.
     
  13. cindyc

    cindyc Well-Known Member

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