Strawbale Buildings

Straw is the dead stalk material that is left after wheat, oats, rye, or other grains are harvested. It is used mainly for bedding for livestock, mulch for gardens, or allowed to rot back into the soil. It is not at all like hay, is not a living product and cannot be used interchangeably with hay. 

There are two types of straw bale construction, load bearing and nonloadbearing. The latter is the most popular type of building project and the easiest to finance and get permits for. Basically in a nonloadbearing construction a post and beam frame is erected and the straw bales are used as infilling material to create walls. All of the weight of the structure is supported by the post/beam framework and this means a very sturdy, long lasting building.

Nonloadbearing construction is when all of the weight of the roof and structure is supported by the bales. Over a period of time the weight can compress the bales and cause structural problems. Even so, there have been many projects created by this method which are still standing and structurally sound. 

The benefits of straw bale construction are many. It is a sustainable material, which means it is very earth friendly. Certainly low cost is an attractive benefit.

Once the house is up and stucco applied it is much like any other home. The energy savings will be huge because of the superior insulating quality of the straw, and upkeep with be simple. At this point research seems to show that termites don't like straw bale construction, a big plus for the homeowner.

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