Hello everyone! Today's blog (and the next few ones) is going to be a bit different! We're going to be talking about building with straw bale today!
Because starting this weekend until the next weekend, I'll be in Monticello, Utah, building a house, from foundation to roof, with straw bales!
Now I know you're thinking, "no way. There's no way you can build a home out straw bales and make it look nice."
My dear, sweet, friends.
Yes. Yes you can.
In fact straw bale homes are all over the world and very popular. Some of those old, historical, gorgeous cottages and homes you see in Europe? Straw bale. That's right! Straw bale homes have stood the test of time and when kept up properly, last indefinitely!
(image source: natural building blog)
If you go to the permaculture resources page on my main website, I have a whole section dedicated to straw bale and I'd hate to rehash a ton of really well written, well researched, blogs. But for those interested, here's a quick list of all the pros of straw bale homes and why you should consider making your home out of it.
-Extremely Fire Resistant
-Earthquake Resistant (like, seriously resistant)
-Allows you to breath non toxic air as there's no chemicals leaching from insulation in your walls
-Crazy good insulation (leaps and bounds higher than the best fiberglass/standard insulation)
-Good soundproofing (thanks thick walls!)
-Creates cozy nooks to sit in (okay, this is just my own personal bonus to this list. Lol)
As you can see, things you want in your home in a rapidly changing and heating up world are all addressed in this type of home! When researching for cons (and yes, I did look!) the number one thing they said was "water." That's it. The major concern is your straw bales getting wet before you close them in with earthen lime plaster.
There's a little concern for extremely humid places as the walls do breath moisture in and out and if it's too humid, it could end up not able to get the moister from the air out of it fast enough and begin to rot. So straw bales in the tropics? Maaaaybe not so much. Straw bale homes in the south and midwest? Go for it!
And best of all, when you build with straw bale not only are you not using tons of trees to build your house, you're also keeping hundreds of millions of pounds of CO2 releasing into the air through burning the straw each year. How awesome is that!?
Homes aren't the only thing you can build with straw bales, by the way! You can also build chicken coops, walls, hot tubs (yeah, you heard me, hot tubs), and sheds. Really, the skies the limit!
(Strawbale & cob chicken coop. Image source: here)
(strawbale garden wall. Image source: here)
Also, contrary to popular belief, straw bale homes don't have to be tiny, charming cottages or the angular squares of adobe-style homes so famous in New Mexico. Nope! You can make them extremely modern looking and two storied if that's your style--and all you have to do is google 'modern straw bale homes' and be amazed!
If you're wondering if it's even legal to build them--yes it is! In fact, through the hard, tireless work of advocates, builders, researchers, scientists, and many others, straw bale houses are now permitted in the United States as of 2019 (straw bale built with stick in frame--aka, non-load bearing) and 2021 (straw bale built as loadbearing--i.e. holds the roof up and doesn't rely on wooden frames).
Now, I'm a permaculturist, which means that I want to make sure that I don't just make my garden work with nature--but my home and my life too. I'm so excited to be taking this course, because it's one step closer to achieving my dream of building my own straw bale house and also incorporating this building method into the designs I'll create in my Foodscaping consulting business!
The great thing about green building is that it's usually a collaborative effort ranging from help from family and friends to volunteers, and even community members that hear about it and want to help! Green building really brings people together and encourages us all to really look at what we're living in, breathing in, and raising families in. And more than that, to learn new skills you can carry with you and try yourself!
So I hope you look forward to this Straw bale Series as much as I am!
I'll of course be taking tons of pictures and writing down all the information I can, and posting videos as I can, when I can. I'm going to a remote place with very little internet, so there might be a delay here and there until I get back home. But hopefully you can find the little video clips on my Instagram page, Three Moons Cottage!
If you have any questions about straw bale, cob, or building eco-friendly homes, please leave them down below and I'll answer them to the best of my abilities!