Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Straw bale!

I have been researching like a nutter! It's what I do when I get onto a great idea or goal. I waste spend all of my time glued to google researching the heck out of a topic that I've just recently discovered. This week that topic is building with straw bales!

Lyndon and I have recently been chatting about living in a shed on our land before we build. That way we can start prepping the veggie patch, chook pen, fruit trees, etc early on and start reaping the benefits quick smart. We would then look at building our house. This would allow us more time to save for the house while living on the property, rather than having to stay living in the city longer while we save. It would also give us the opportunity to get to know our land, the way the sun crosses it, the weather patterns, the layout, before we build so we can incorporate all of that info into the design of the house.

So.... living in a shed. Right. Well I'm no princess and think I could handle living in a shed for a few years. It would have to be insulated though at least. We were then looking at different options for sheds to have on our land and the costs involved. The shed part is easy, making it liveable is the harder part. We then thought 'why not build the shed out of straw bale!?' That would give us practise before we build our house out of straw bale, and would leave us with a great little art/craft studio/guest retreat once we've built the house. It may be a little bit more expensive but will be much more usable and blend in with surrounds a lot more.

This is the basic design we found on the web that we think would suit:

Doesn't that look sweet! So cute! We'd extend the living area bit some more enough for 2 lounges and a small 2 person dining table. We were thinking the total dimensions would be about 10x7m and a bit taller to allow for the loft bedroom.

There are some great examples of Australian strawbale homes on the web and I have been excitedly trawling through all of their websites and blogs.

A lot of people building straw bale houses offer for people to go and help out, giving them experience in the process. I thnk this is a great idea and would certainly look at doing this to learn the trade!

I'd like to know if any of you have had experiences, or know of anyone else that has, with building with strawbales. I'd love to hear your tales, the good, bad and ugly!


  1. We are currently looking at buying a block of land in a town 300 kms away. It is 2 acres in size and would be where we could retire in the future. We are looking at putting up a shed, (a big one that we would use after the house is built), putting a wet area in it and getting a cheap caravan to live in inside the shed. No real definite's yet though. Where we are buying, there are a lot of people living in their sheds while waiting to build.


  2. When my husband and I get out dodge, we too want to build a straw bale house. I've read a lot myself and if you need any book suggestion I think I have at least 10 on my shelves worth reading. Such a neat way to build, no?

    Stephanie :)

  3. haha, so glad I am not the only one who does this! Straw bale is definately the way to go -unless you feel like making a helofalotta mud bricks! I once did the design and costings of a straw bale home right down to the tap fittings and composting loo! -when I get something in my head I run away with it. Many people in my (extended) family lived in sheds on their properties before building - the best benefit is that you can then build your house with passive solar design specific to your property in mind. The single biggest issue I had when designing the house we're going to (eventually) build is not going overboard - its so easy to get swept away with home renno catalogs and websites that soon enough you have your very own macmansion -just made out of straw instead of bricks! With this in mind, I decided to commit to having the house no larger than the current QLD'er that we live in as eliminating wasted space is a huge part of eco design as well.

    Oh, crap, I think you’ve got me inspired again…I must dig out those plans and review them just a little….

    Where abouts are you thinking of buying land?

  4. Oh great to see lots of people in the same mindset!

    Tania - sounds like a great plan! We did think about the camper/caravan idea but we will probably be in the shed for a few years before our house so thought I would lose my mind if we were in it for that long!

    Stephanie - if you could pass on those book suggestions that would be great! I have 3 on hold at the library that I'm waiting to come in, so that will keep me busy this weekend!

    Bianca - You are nuts! Haha, no thats exactly what I would normally do (the costings, etc) I just don't know that much about it to be able to cost it out! We are certainly being mindful about keeping the house simple and trying to not get carried away. We were thinking maybe a pavillion style with the different pods (bedroom, living and kitchen, etc) connected by decking....hmm not sure still tweaking the house design. But the shed/mini house/studio design is sorted! Hehe. Would you mind letting me know where you got all the costing info from? I do love the idea of living on the property for a while first to get to know what passive solar elements we can incorporate into the house - makes sense getting to know then working with the elements. We are looking at all areas from Sunshine Coast hinterland around to as west as say Blackbutt then down to about Esk. I'm actually going as far as looking at the regulations of each Council area to see what they allow in terms of having the two houses on the land and all of that, because we might be able to rent out the smaller studio (that we'll initially live in) as a holiday home type thing. Phew so much to research!


  5. This sounds so exciting. SO exciting and right up my alley. My Mum has experience making mudbricks, but not sure about strawbales - I will ask her. She is BUSTING to have a go at building a home. Alas we're not in the position to buy even a speck of land.. But I will ask her for you!

  6. I know absolutely nothing about straw bale houses, so I can't contribute intellectually to this discussion, but I do think the dog (I think) on the mat in the picture is cute! Sam xoxoxoxox

  7. I think a straw bale shed is a great way to go. If you build something that you will use later as an out building - maybe for your chooks, a workshop or even guest accommodation, you'll be on a winner.

  8. That home is so cute! I'd love to live in something that size. Imagine the freedom from stuff! Have fun planning and dreaming. I just found your blog today and am looking forward to following your jorney :-)

  9. Kimberly

    We didn't go the strawbale route nor the cob house. My husband was too worried about rodents with the strawbale (we are surrounded by grain fields) and the cob house would require too many hands (which we didn't have) and, with the wind that constantly blows over the land, the clay would blow away - transport costs of sand / clay etc are exhorbitant too!!

    But we did stay in a caravan whilst we were building phase 1. (Large kitchen/lounge/bedroom-all-in-one with side bathroom. It more than served our needs, although there were some chilly mornings LOL. We never thought about housing it in a shed! Perhaps 0oC inside could've been avoided?! :-)

    Admittedly, we didn't stay in the caravan all the time, only when we managed to get to the farm for a 3 - 7 day escape. But with a shed you'd be able to rig out a cooking area - out of the elements :-)

    And you're quite corrrect - live on the land a while - it's the only way to find out the pro's and con's of all your ideas.

    Good luck - I'll be following your journey :-)

  10. I like the concept, however; a word of warning: I know of a strawbale house which was an "experimental" project and was not completed quickly enough. During the extended time it took to complete it, it was inhabited by all sorts of little creatures. (It continues to be rodent and insect infested.) The weather also affected the integrity and shape of bales. The walls show quite a bit of "character" - they are rather irregular.
    All to simply say: if you're going to do it, be sure to do it right.


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