Straw Bale House in the City, Part 1: Designing to Code



Photo by Ziggy Liloia

The Straw Bale in the City 3-part series walks readers through the codes, costs, and construction of a straw-bale build on a non-rural property. Part 1 covers issues with building codes and managing expectations of city inspectors. Part 2 looks at straw bale design through the lens of a test wall, while in Part 3, readers learn the density and moisture considerations that can plague straw-bale construction without proper planning while also covering costs of this project.

Recently, a developer contacted me to build a straw bale “spec” house in the city limits. She had contacted me, because the company I lead had built her family’s high-performance home and she knew my reputation. She also knew that I had drawn a straw bale house before.

The developer asked me what I had learned after dealing with the building officials on the first straw bale house that I had drawn for another client.

Referencing Building Codes for Straw Bale Building

When I drew the first straw bale house, I had spent a considerable amount of time researching straw bale construction and also the building code book’s section on straw bale construction. Michigan’s building code book has an entire chapter dedicated to straw bale construction and is very specific as to what the code allows.

3/29/2019 12:47:38 PM

Helpful article, however a follow up citing sections of the Code book could be helpful to those following in your footsteps. I have written on the subject of straw bale post frame homes as well:

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