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What Does it Really Take to Build a Straw Bale Home?

6/19/2009 4:43:00 PM

Tags: Straw bale building, Natural building, Plasters, DIY home building

Have you ever thought about building your own house? How about building it with straw bales?

There are a lot of benefits to using this natural building method. First, straw bales provide terrific insulation. They’re also an all-natural material, and it’s usually easy to find a source near you. Finally, building with straw bales can save you money because it doesn’t take a lot of training or special equipment. That means it’s possible to do most of the work yourself.

But that’s the catch: It’s a lot of work! So it’s inspiring to hear from people who have actually done it and built their own straw bale house.

If you're interested in straw bale and looking for inspiration, check out this great video from Carolyn Roberts showing how she built her own straw bale home. For more information on the house, you can also visit Roberts’ website and check out this Mother Earth News article, A House of Straw.

Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .

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Post a comment below.


7/4/2009 9:18:53 AM
We are just finishing up with building our house. And yes it is true that you do not have to have a building permit in some areas. Here in Iowa it will vary by county. It is harder in counties that have unleashed the development boom. However you do have to have a permitted and inspected septic system. We live by a very small town of app. 200 people in town you will need the building permit, outside of town you just need the septic permit.

Criss Kraus
6/28/2009 12:03:09 PM
I have helped build with strawbale and yes it will depend on the codes/permits needed for where you plan to build. However, the really good plans for these types of home usually require 1/4 to 1/3 less wood depending on type of foundation, the number of stories, the pitch of roof needed and yes, what the building codes in the area require. If you are looking at building with 'tire pounding' rammed earth - check out Taos Earthships. I'm too old for that. I myself am planning a hybrid of strawbale for insulation and load bearing with an inner 8" framed rammed earth for thermal mass. Single story, crawlspace foundation and a steeply pitched roof, as this will be in "big snow" country. The plans so far call for 1/3 less wood for the structural frame than a conventional home of the same size and style.

6/26/2009 10:27:27 PM
JRS, You don't need a building permit everywhere. Out in the country side of Missouri, no permits.

6/26/2009 2:34:55 PM
Oh please. What it "takes" is approval and a building permit from your local building inspector -- and you ain't gonna get that in most places in the U.S. I would love for the two people who left comments saying they have done this -- and anyone else who has -- to explain exactly how they secured a building permit to build with straw bales.

6/24/2009 8:57:54 AM
We are building a straw bale in Calif now, the house wses almost as much wood as a stick built house but the insulating factor is 10 times as good

6/19/2009 10:26:02 PM
I've done that. Now I'm working on building a tire house.

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