Thursday, June 21, 2012

Straw Bale Workshop

Between baseball season, pregnancy fatigue, homeschooling, and home building, I'm obviously far behind on my posts. Not that I have any rule on how often I have to post on here. But anyway, I'm going to gradually try to catch up, at least with my pictures (because pictures are easy). Anyway, a couple of months ago K took the boys to a workshop to learn how to build a straw bale house. This is something we had researched a lot and were seriously considering for our own house, but I was still a little nervous about the whole idea, not knowing what we would be getting ourselves into. So when I found out about the workshop, I signed up K and the boys so they could learn hands on what it would be like to build a straw bale house and then K and I would have more information to make a decision about whether or not we want to build our house with straw bales. After attending the workshop we decided that we need more time to plan for that type of construction. We would need to be very careful about choosing high quality straw, and locating the straw could turn out to be quite time consuming. We also live in a county that requires building permits, so we would have to get some sort of engineering plan to meet building codes. And finally, although it may not be completely necessary, we don't have a tractor or any tools. When you're building a house with cash, money disappears. Fast. Time is also an issue. We have to figure out some sort of house for us to live in since we can't live in an apartment for the rest of our lives. It takes a lot of time to build your own house, and K does have a 40+ hr./wk. job. He also committed to assistant coaching A7's baseball team this season, and goes to J12's games as well, so time is scarce. Straw bale construction is definitely something we will consider doing in the future though, because straw bale homes are gorgeous and have numerous benefits (if they are properly constructed). Anyway, regardless of whether or not we ever decide to build with straw bales, I'm glad they got to have the experience of building a straw bale house. It was very fun and memorable for K and the boys. They learned a lot of new things, met interesting people, ate good food, and had the “fun” of tent camping for an entire week! They brought home several ticks, and I even had a scare with A7 thinking that he had a tick borne illness since they removed several ticks from him while camping. A week or so after they got home, he started vomiting and having other symptoms associated with various tick diseases, so I took him to the doctor and had them take his blood...just to be safe. Fortunately, I think he just had the stomach flu.

Here are a few pictures that were taken from the workshop.

Before doing any work, they spent several hours in "class" learning techniques and about the construction process. The blue tarp is covering the straw bales to prevent them from getting wet. Wet straw is very, very bad and can lead to mold. Fortunately, it rained the first night they were there and after that the weather was beautiful the entire week!

This is where the first layer of straw bales will be placed. The nails are there to keep the straw from moving around. I believe the rocks have something to do with moisture prevention, but I don't completely remember how it works.

They decided to move all of the bales into the house so they would be at an arms reach while they were building the walls. There's J12 on the left, carrying a bale.

They set A7 up with a hammer, nails and wood. He loves that kind of thing! Definitely my kinesthetic learner!

My awesome husband!

This is the house after most of the bales are in place. Looking good!

I don't know what to call it, but these little wall cut-outs look really neat when the house is complete. They're basically a little built in shelf that you can put things on, like a sculpture or vase.

The house with windows.

The interior.

Here's K plastering an exterior wall.

They didn't complete the house at the workshop. They finished the straw and some of the plastering, but the homeowners had a lot of plastering left to do themselves. Apparently the plastering is very time consuming, but it looks so beautiful when it is all finished. I can't wait to see the "after" pictures!


  1. That is cool. You should drive out with us to my parents' sometime,,,they are building a cob house. Very, very slowly,lol.

  2. Straw bale houses are really cool. There's one around here and we got a tour. I'd worry about mice. If they get in, they would have the house eaten in no time.