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

| 6/19/2009 4:43:00 PM

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 .

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.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters