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Straw Bale Houses

Apr 8, 2008
Straw bale houses offer many benefits to their residents. But maybe I'd better explain first what these houses are. These beautiful buildings are constructed of bales of straw, which are kept dry by being covered with a plaster on both sides of the bales. Often a wide overhang is used on the outside of the home too.

Most commonly, the house uses a post-and-beam framework as the basic structure and then the straw bale house has the bales used as infill. This construction method is called "non-load-bearing" because the bales themselves do not support the load of the roof. In many localities, this is the only approach that building authorities will approve.

In contrast, a "load-bearing" straw bale house has the roof resting right on the straw bales. This requires care in construction so that the weight is properly balanced. This method is more ecological, as it uses less wood.

This method is simpler for beginners. It is amazing how quickly those straw bale walls can go up! Still, after they are in place, there is plenty more work to do.

Straw bale building is probably most popular in the southwestern desert states of the US, but it is now being done in many other places too. Building codes exist that directly address the specifics of straw bale construction, and some banks will make loans for straw bale houses.

So what are the benefits of living in a straw bale home?

1. Insulation: With its thicker walls providing excellent insulation, a straw bale house stays more comfortable year round, cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This saves considerably on energy costs. Of course, this savings continues, year in and year out, and so it will make a real difference in the cost of living in the home.

2. Renewable resources: When we say that straw is a renewable resource, we mean that it can be grown again and again as needed. An added bonus is that it is grown pretty much everywhere so you do not need to pay high transportation costs. As sustainability in construction is becoming more important to people everywhere, this factor is becoming more important in how people choose to build. Another plus for straw bale houses!

3. The experience of living: Straw bale houses tend to be beautiful, with their thick walls and handmade aspects. The walls make the inside of the house very quiet, with outside noise coming in much less than in a conventional house. The plasters used to cover the bales are lovely, often natural tones.

In conclusion, straw bale houses are not only lovely but they are also earth-friendly. People with little or no construction experience can do much of the work themselves. Of course, anyone who has built a home will tell you that building a house is a big project, but eventually the work is done. Straw bale houses have a lot going for them.
About the Author
If you think you could to make a strawbale house, visit Rosana Hart's website on straw bale houses and her Squidoo page on load bearing straw bale houses.
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