Straw Bale Houses: Greener Homes for the Future

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PostFri Jun 22, 2012 11:40 pm » by Flecktarn


Surely most of us will be very familiar with the bedtime story of Three Little Pigs. While we all know that the ending of the story saw to it that the "third little piggy" won with his strong brick house, the first little piggy who made his house with straw was on the right track to making a more environmental-friendly house.
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Back in the 19th century, Nebraskans were having a difficult time looking for lumber with which to build their houses, because the area was mainly grasslands and plains. They decided to make use of what resources they had and used straw bales to build their houses, churches and schools.
The construction of modern-day straw bale houses starts out, of course, with lots and lots of straw bales. After the grains are harvested and stripped off from the stalks, the stalks are dried out and bundled up into straws, which in turn are used as cattle food, bedding, fuel and sometimes weaving material. Straw that is bundled forms a straw bale, sometimes bunched up in cubes or in cylindrical shapes.
Cubed straw bales are more ideal for building a house because they're easier to stack up on top of each other, giving more structure to the house. The actual skeleton of the house can be structured with lumber. If you’re going for a “greener” way, you can use bamboo as your frames because bamboo can be easily be regrown. Plus, bamboo is light, sturdy and adds architectural beauty to any house.
Straw bale houses that have lumber for structure and straw bales as “infill” fall under the non-load bearing type, while houses that don’t have lumber frames are called load-bearing. Load-bearing houses are more popular because they are sturdier and support the weight of the roof better. But, the more important thing to remember when building a straw bale house, is that the straw bales are kept very very dry, or else they might decompose quickly.
After the lumber and straw bales mold the house, plaster is applied to both the exterior and interior side of the walls, to give more strength and durability to the house. You wouldn’t want your straw bale house to fly all over when the storm comes, would you? The plaster also makes the house less resistant to fire and water damage. Below is the finished straw bale house designed by Carina Rose.
ImageStraw bale houses are generally well-insulated, keeping your family warm during winter and cool during the hot summer days. The walls are also thicker and stronger, not to mention more sound-proof, because of the shape and width of straw bales. Straw bale houses also take less time to construct. Plus, you use up 15% less of lumber.
Although building a straw bale houses involves cheaper materials such as straw and sustainable lumber, it can cost just as much as building a conventional house because you also spend your budget on the foundation, roofs and the plaster. But you can save money by not hiring expert carpenters and construction workers, because piling up straw bales can even be done by a five-year old.
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PostSat Jun 23, 2012 4:27 am » by Mydogma


Good post, straw rocks but is higly unlikely to be a highly implemented thing as anything beyond a square box needs a load of engineering and when lumber is used as a loadbearing wall then we are really just saying using straw as insulation is a good enviro choice..its actually in essence a stick framed house that takes longer to build and has its hazards as you have noted and some. Straw isn't the best thing to use as insulation as you have to ensure moisture content prior during and after its construction, mineral wool is natural and resistant to fire and moisture...so as romantic as the straw home is, it has its limitations and will be more difficult to sell then a super insulated wood structure, a tipical house uses a dozen trees that are easily at or near the end of their lifecycle and harvestable every fifty years..so build a superinsulated wood house and plant a dozen spruce and your grand kids can build another in fifty years..that's sustainable..and when they tear your house down in a hundred years they can burn the wood to turn it into heat btus to release the stored carbon and turn it into energy(biomas)...win win..
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PostSat Jun 23, 2012 4:46 am » by Mydogma


Hemp also a winner as insulation..let's hope it makes it to shelves in northamerica...
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PostSat Jun 23, 2012 11:52 am » by Flecktarn


ever see the homes made out of used tyres or waste plastic bottles they were awesome with great insulation property's
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PostSat Jun 23, 2012 8:14 pm » by Mydogma


Flecktarn wrote:ever see the homes made out of used tyres or waste plastic bottles they were awesome with great insulation property's

:cheers:
absolutly and great use of a waste product in doing so...i tried to talk my wife into it but would have no part...i think its smart...and if we could get the masses to live in their old tires that would be cool...or third world housing...
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