Retrofitting a Home With Straw Bale Construction, Part 1


| 4/24/2014 4:16:00 PM


I live in a home that now has very thick, slightly undulating walls, and deep window wells where my wife grows beautiful plants. It is incredibly energy-efficient: It’s warm in winter and cool in the summer, and my gas and electric bills are a fraction of what they used to be.

My house has a new electrical grid, but even though I’m not an electrician, I could do much of the work myself. And if you look at it today from the outside, you’d never guess that 15 years ago, it used to be just another old, falling-apart, high-energy-use house which looked like all the others on my block.

That’s because I live in a house that I retrofitted with straw bales.

Building houses with straw bales isn’t a new concept at all: There are homes in Europe constructed with a mixture of straw and mud that are 1,000 years old, and straw houses began popping up in the U.S. a century and a half ago. As I’ll explain, I’ve been building straw houses for a while. But taking an existing house, and stacking bales around it, that was something I’d not heard of before experimenting with it myself – and liking the results so much that I began doing it for other houses.



Here is my journey.



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