zaph

the house of straw

11 posts in this topic

i started reading a book last time i was in wa on how to build a house out of straw. it looked like a good idea.

does anyone else know about the house that straw built?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, but Kevin Macleod from Grand Designs builds a little studio out of it in this snippet from an episode.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXNVem3o-Og

The end result is quite attractive, and he seems to think it works well. Looks a good option for self build, but might be a bit labour intensive, and lack enough precision to be a viable option for large scale commercial use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're not that interesting construction-wise, you just need something to keep the straw bales rigid, and the outside and inside has to be properly rendered to keep moisture out of the straw. I'd imagine the straw bales themselves would have to be dry before you even start. The critical part is making sure the straw is sealed enough to keep insects and vermin out. I'm not sure how they do this exactly, maybe fine mesh vents or something.

Fantastic insulating properties, no thermal mass to suck in heat in summer, and you're making the house out of something grown not mined so its a renewable resource.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're not that interesting construction-wise, you just need something to keep the straw bales rigid, and the outside and inside has to be properly rendered to keep moisture out of the straw. I'd imagine the straw bales themselves would have to be dry before you even start. The critical part is making sure the straw is sealed enough to keep insects and vermin out. I'm not sure how they do this exactly, maybe fine mesh vents or something.

Fantastic insulating properties, no thermal mass to suck in heat in summer, and you're making the house out of something grown not mined so its a renewable resource.

The vermin aspect is important. The only strawbale building I remember in any detail suffered from rats and mice so badly that I think it actually started to list because so much straw had been gnawed away.

I have no idea how to overcome the problem, but I'd be really interested if you do find out. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The vermin aspect is important. The only strawbale building I remember in any detail suffered from rats and mice so badly that I think it actually started to list because so much straw had been gnawed away.

I have no idea how to overcome the problem, but I'd be really interested if you do find out. :rolleyes:

Use Pink Catts insulation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend who built a house from straw bales. I helped with some of the wall raising and it was quite simple and really quite fun. As mentioned before, the tricky bit is getting the render correct.

My recollection is that they used a mud render with human hair (sourced from a bunch of the local hairdresser's floors) mixed in - I think this is to help provide some binding structure to the render but I am not entirely sure.

I remember talking to one of the experts that were there for the wall raising and they were saying the render has to be breathable so the interior walls do not turn to compost, and although cement style renders had been tried in different parts of the world, they did not provide enough breath-ability and caused issues in the end.

The insulating properties are fantastic, Most of the thermal massing they have in their house consist of tiled floors on concrete that get the sun during winter months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend who built a house from straw bales. I helped with some of the wall raising and it was quite simple and really quite fun. As mentioned before, the tricky bit is getting the render correct.

My recollection is that they used a mud render with human hair (sourced from a bunch of the local hairdresser's floors) mixed in - I think this is to help provide some binding structure to the render but I am not entirely sure.

I remember talking to one of the experts that were there for the wall raising and they were saying the render has to be breathable so the interior walls do not turn to compost, and although cement style renders had been tried in different parts of the world, they did not provide enough breath-ability and caused issues in the end.

The insulating properties are fantastic, Most of the thermal massing they have in their house consist of tiled floors on concrete that get the sun during winter months.

Human hair??

I know they used horse hair - for the binding characteristics, as you say - but I have never heard of human hair being used before. You'd need a fair bit.

The horse hair originally came from knackers yards, I think - used to be a bit of a cottage industry, as it was used for mattresses and sofas as well at various points in history.

How did your friend's house stand the test of time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone see this one on grand designs? A woodman's cottage with straw bale walls and a "cruck" construction design. Amazingly this guy has some kind of sweet deal whereby he can not only live in the woods but make a living from the woods. He gets to "work" the woods. Go figure. Half his luck I say. He burns charcoal and that is a job that requires to burner to be on hand 24+ hours. I caught the majority of the show but didn't hear the full circumstances but it's probably some clandestine old english law. There is a penalty though. From memory he has to pull it down if he leaves. He may have the option of passing on the land house his offspring. Interesting though how a job which was probably regarded pretty poorly can now be viewed with such envy. :o

Edit - sorry forgot the link.

Edited by staringclown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone see this one on grand designs? A woodman's cottage with straw bale walls and a "cruck" construction design. Amazingly this guy has some kind of sweet deal whereby he can not only live in the woods but make a living from the woods. He gets to "work" the woods. Go figure. Half his luck I say. He burns charcoal and that is a job that requires to burner to be on hand 24+ hours. I caught the majority of the show but didn't hear the full circumstances but it's probably some clandestine old english law. There is a penalty though. From memory he has to pull it down if he leaves. He may have the option of passing on the his offspring. Interesting though how a job which was probably regarded pretty poorly can now be viewed with such envy. :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Human hair??

I know they used horse hair - for the binding characteristics, as you say - but I have never heard of human hair being used before. You'd need a fair bit.

The horse hair originally came from knackers yards, I think - used to be a bit of a cottage industry, as it was used for mattresses and sofas as well at various points in history.

How did your friend's house stand the test of time?

My friend used to get hair from all the local hairdressers - ended up getting quite a lot if I recall.

As to test of time, I haven't actually been to their house for a while so can't really say. Last time I was there it was probably about 5 years old and no problems, but that is hardly ancient :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now