Straw bales as a choice in new housing is distinctly different from virtually all new products developed to enhance the efficiency of home construction from a structural, energy, environmental or cost efficiency perspective. New building products are often developed by large companies through research and development, then marketed, branded and patented. Straw bale, and its applications in house construction, is a grass roots technology, developed by small builders, home owners and ‘do-it-yourself-ers’ exploring a means of providing housing that is cost effective using local, renewable materials for energy-efficient, healthy homes.
Testing in Canada by CMHC and other housing certification agencies in the United States (with ASTM testing) have confirmed and quantified the many exceptional qualities of straw bale construction such as fire resistance, insulation properties, and sound attenuation. The technology is not propitiatory, brandable or patentable by any individual or company. It is a building material available to a broad range of potential home-owners.
Straw bale construction can engage the home owner and community. The raising of a straw bale wall in a properly constructed frame is a ‘low-tech’ procedure. With professional and experienced supervision, the average home owner can quickly master basic baling techniques such as stacking bales, re-tieing, installation and sewing of stucco wire, and the application of cement-lime stucco. This creates a personal connection with the construction of a home, both for the owner and often other family members, friends and the local community.
This ‘hands on’ experience is created by offering workshops led by one or two experienced individuals that can last from several days to a week or more that allow anyone with an interest in straw bale construction to participate and learn both basic and more advanced techniques.
Many of the homes we design are for owner-builders. The baling workshops are an integral part of the ‘house raising’ experience. We design homes that allow home owner involvement at a number of levels. Workshops are often led by Habib John Gonzalez of Sustainable Works, Inc., resident straw-bale workshop expert and a part of our integrated approach to straw bale building design.
We invite any potential homeowner thinking of having their home designed and possibly building their own home to contact us.