Build a Straw Bale House: Energy Efficient and Earth Friendly

With today’s focus on earth friendly, energy efficient living, the Straw Bale house is rapidly rising in the ranks of sound structures that promote the Green way of life. Acceptance has been slow coming, but now many states are listening where the issue of cost effectiveness and energy efficiency are concerned. For a number of years they’ve been establishing a foot hold in New Mexico, Arizona and other South Western states.

There are two basic styles of construction when building with Straw Bales. Load Bearing Straw Bale Construction is where the straw bales carry the weight of the roof. The bales are stacked in running bond fashion, similar to a brick wall. The roof is attached to a roof bearing assembly, an example would be double layered 2×6 top plate running the full length of the wall. This structure must also be attached to the foundation, usually with long rods. The rods bear no downward load, they just secure the roof and walls to the foundation, which is usually a concrete slab.

The other option is a Non-Load Bearing Straw Bale Construction. With this type of structure the framework, similar to post and beam construction, would support the weight of the roof. With the frame and roof built, you fill in the open spaces with straw bales.

In both types of construction the bales are PEGGED together, using re-bar rods, or long wooden dowels. During construction electrical wiring and pipes for plumbing may be inserted within the straw bale walls.

When the walls are in place, a moisture barrier is installed. Followed by attaching a wire mess and continuing on with stucco as the final coating.

This is the basic steps involved, but each area of the country will have their own particular codes and requirements that you will have to follow. As with any other structure you will be required to have building permits and inspections to assure you are meeting sound engineering practices.

Tucson AZ Straw Bale code requirments is a good starting point to to familiarize yourself with precisely what is required in Straw Bale Construction.

Longevity of a straw bale house is as good or better then any standard wood frame structures. With walls approaching 18″ in thickness you will have a very warm, quiet structure that will feel cozy and comfortable.

Straw Bale homes fit well into an off grid lifestyle. Using simple materials and building methods you can have a home to be proud of.

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