When I posted on Twitter that I wanted to find out more about the durability of straw bale building, one of my not so helpful friends said that he had just read the story of the Three Little Pigs to his kids and that I should interview the first one.
Far from a house being blown away by a passing wolf, my concerns with straw bale building are mainly to do with moisture. It would seem that if water gets trapped in the bales, your house will rot in a very short space of time. This scenario appears highly likely in my head anyway.
Then I have the feeling that the structure will be more susceptible to fire than a conventional brick and block property. Add to that the rodents that might like to snack on the wall from time to time and I’ve got a few issues! If you live in a straw bale house you’re probably shaking your head right now over how little I know.
I have visited one straw bale house in Kent that was nearing completion and it did feel wonderful inside. Although it’s hard to pin down exactly what it was, there’s just something very appealing about a home that oozes natural materials. The self-builder on this project had been very particular in using what was available to him in his immediate area.
Another thought that I harbour is that building with straw bales is going to be cheap. Of course, it does have that potential, but as only about 15% of the build is the walls then clearly it’s not going to be an all out bargain.
That’s why in my latest podcast I interview Mark Saich from Green Building Solutions. He has over 25 years of experience in the construction industry and has been involved with straw bale building since 2000. With bales being a waste product that is plentiful, of low impact and a great insulator, I needed to find out more about whether I should be considering this approach.