Strawbale Construction

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Strawbale Construction

Postby pressy » Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:56 pm

I have read a number of posts recently that have stated that strawbale construction is very expensive. I am perplexed as to why this would be the case. The construction method sounds quite simple and straightforward.

Can anyone enlighten me please?
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby jdaley » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:51 pm

the labour component is very high and the good quality straw is also in short supply for animal feed
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:27 pm

jdaley wrote:the labour component is very high and the good quality straw is also in short supply for animal feed


Actually straw (wheat, barley, rice, etc stems, after the grain has been harvested) is very low in nutrients, one of the reasons it is good for strawbale building. Lucerne hay is what's generally used for animal feed, and it is quite expensive. It's much higher in nitrogen and breaks down more readily than nitrogen-deficient straw, so it's not really what you want in your walls.

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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby stegner00 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:26 pm

I watched a show wherein they featured a man building a home out of straw. Obviously, it costs less though it took more time to build as he was doing it himself. It looked really beautiful though. You wouldn't have thought it was made out of straw.
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby billrule » Sat May 15, 2010 1:19 am

Nearly every cheap building material ends up being a bit underwhelming when you actually add up the costs. This is due to the basic truth that thecost ofthe major building material is actually only a pretty small part of the actual cost. If (example only) straw is only 1/3 of the cost of brick for the same wall area, and the quote for bricks was half the total cost of the house, the saving is only 1/6 , and in reality, the REAL cost of bricks is going to be far less than 50%, so the saving is also proportionally less. That being said, strawbale is good enough to be worth paying for even if it isn't a low-cost material.
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby Red » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:20 pm

If you build it yourself in part or full you can save 50% of the costs. This is true for any method though.

Straw bales pay for themselves several times over in the lifetime of the building just through good energy management. They are generally easier to repair than other methods and have been tested to level 9 earthquake with both vertical and horizontal ground movement. Few brick homes would survive an 8.

I guess the main point of straw bales is that you can build it yourself. The walls are easy until you have to do the render...

One day....
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby KathrynGordon » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:13 pm

Straw is in demand for dairy farmers as they feed it to calves to help their rummen (stomach lining) develop. Straw is essentially a waste product for farmers and a surprising amount still burn it after the crops are harvested. Cost of straw is also determined on the season the farmer has had.... if the crops were good then straw is plentiful.

My suggestion is to place an ad in a agricultural newspaper offering to buy baled straw and you might be surprised at the response. Those farmers who are not close to dairy areas may not have a market for their straw and therefore not consider baling and selling it.

You should be able to pick up small squares from between $4 and $6 per bale plus cartage costs for delivery.

Also, your walls can be raised a lot quicker with straw bales if you get a group of friends in for a working bee over a couple of days with the builder overseeing it. This is opposed to sometimes months for brick (rain delays etc). There are some great companies out there offering advice and short courses.

The only reason I can see that this method of construction is expensive is because the builders see it as a niche market and charge accordingly. Do some more homework and you'll be surprised at how affordable these buildings can be.

Straw bale houses are a passion of mine and I'm hoping to build one in the near future. I've been researching this topic for years. Hopefully we will have our own good crops on the farm this year and it might even take place early 2012!
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:33 pm

Welcome to the EM forums Kathryn :)

We are building a large straw bale chook house here at the moment, although construction has come to a halt due to the wet weather over the past 3 weeks. I sourced the barley straw from less than 10km away, back along our road towards town, where a large crop of barley is grown each year, and they bale the straw.
We went with load bearing walls, and the roof is on already, and we have sourced, and got our hands on, most of the windows we plan to use- re using 2nd hand windows cuts the cost dramatically.
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby variflex » Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:01 pm

I recently watched an episode of grand designss which featured a house being constructed of strawbale,
I thought it was a brilliant option although can't offer any more than that, Might be worth hiring the DVD and having a watch yourself
Anywho goodluck with it all and please keep us posted if you go ahead with it
Cheers
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Re: Strawbale Construction

Postby pressy » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:02 pm

Thanks everyone for your input. Yes I did see the Grand Designs show plus a few others that have dealt with straw bale, and I have decided that this is for me. Sometime in the future when I am able to move from the city out to a more rural area where I can afford more land, this will be the construction I will choose.

I have in mind building a number of connected round pavillions in stages over a period of time, starting with the "services pod" comprising kitchen, dining, small lounge and a bathroom. My wife and I would sleep in the lounge area while we were building the other pods, bedroom for us and other guest accommodation as well as a larger lounge/entertainment pavilion. Sounds idyllic doesn't it?

One day!!
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