We built this page specifically for those of you pursuing straw bale house, and it includes info on building code, fire ratings, answers to concerns about moisture, and more!. But, if this topic is new to you, we strongly recommend that you visit our straw bale main page first, and then dive back into the information on this page.
How We Can Help You: Learn the skills you need to work on your own project at one of our hands-on workshops. Check out our upcoming Upcoming Workshop schedule here. We also offer Consulting and a unique set of Building Services to help you with your specific needs.
Our Straw Bale House
Starting in the fall of 2015, and finishing up in the spring of 2016, we’ve put together a detailed blog following our process and progress building a straw bale addition to local building code in the Southern Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.
Your Success with Straw Depends on the Building Details
We’ve put together an article to outline a range of considerations to take into account when building with straw. The details include windows, bottom and top of wall, framing intersections and more.
Straw ale workshop gallery – Highlights some of the projects we’ve worked on through workshops over the years.
Released Aug 2013: the BC-based Alternative Solutions Resource Initiative has just released its first technical white paper in support of leading alternative building materials and methods. Their first document is on “Straw Bale” construction.
8 Alternatives to Drywall – A Natural Builders Perspective – even if you are building with straw bales, you probably aren’t going to want to use bales for interior walls! This article outlines several of the options available, and are not only applicable to straw bale homes, but more conventional homes as well.
Test Results From Video:
2-Hour Fire Resistance of a Non-Loadbearing Wall w/ Cement-Stucco
A 10 ft x 10 ft non-loadbearing wall constructed with 7.5 pcf rectangular wheat straw bales stacked in a running bond pattern, clad on each surface with 17 GA stucco netting and 1″ of cement/stucco, produced, assembled and tested as described herein, successfully met the conditions of acceptance in ASTM Method E119-05a Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials for a fire endurance rating of 2-hours.
1-Hour Fire Resistance of a Non-Loadbearing Wall w/ Earth-Plaster
A 12 ft x 14 ft non-loadbearing wall constructed with 7.5 pcf rectangular wheat straw bales stacked in a running bond pattern, clad on each surface with 1″ of earthen-plaster, produced, assembled and tested herein, successfully met the conditions of acceptance as outlined in ASTM Method E119-05a Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials for a fire endurance rating of 1-hour.
For more information visit the Ecological Building Network at http://www.ecobuildnetwork.org.
Clarifying The “Breathing Wall Concept” – a must-read article on air-exchange as it pertains to various earthen wall assemblies, and how the term “breathable” is riddled with misconceptions. Earthen walls are, however, excellent at attenuating short spikes in humidity and, by design, are better able to handle moisture that gets into the wall than a conventional vapour-based assembly.
Straw Bale in the News:
Musings of An Energy Nerd: Straw Bale Walls (July 29, 2011) – a good introductory article on straw bale construction from the folks at the Green Energy Advisor. Discusses building types, construction tips, window details, wiring and plumbing considerations, plasters, and code issues.
U of S lecturer builds cheap, green straw house: construction prohibited within city limits (Mar. 16, 2012) – news article on Bert Weichel, a University of Saskatchewan geography and environmental studies lecturer, who embarked on a journey of building himself a home just south-west of Saskatoon using straw bale construction.
Straw Struck! Building with bales has some surprising natural advantages, and BC is catching on (Aug. 9, 2013) – article from The Tyee about straw bale building in British Columbia and its use in the Orofino Winery.
Mike Jones Talks With Dirt Craft About His Straw Bale Home Journey – we worked with Mike Jones and his family on their timber frame straw bale home in Saskatchewan. Dirt Craft ran a number of workshops during the construction of the house, and consulted on recipes for their earthen plaster system, and worked along side Mike and his family & friends to stack bales, prep the walls, and apply plaster. Being located in Saskatchewan, there was ample straw and clay available for their walls, plasters and floors, which made use of these locally available materials and yielded beautiful results.
Podcast with Architect & Straw Bale Builder
Interviewed on the Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann, Bob Theis talks about his experience as a natural builder, and where straw bale fits into the bigger picture.
How We Can Help
Learn the skills you need to work on your own project at one of our hands-on workshops. Check out our Upcoming Workshop schedule here. We also offer Consulting and a unique set of Building Services to help you with your specific project.