A little over a year ago, John and I attended a straw bale construction workshop taught by Andrew Morrison of Strawbale.com where we learned to build an actual straw bale home by . . . well . . . building one! We spent a week raising walls, prepping for utilities, installing windows, and plastering. It was an amazing experience that really got us excited about straw bale. We had pretty much decided before we went that this was the route we wanted to take, but after actually participating in the building process, we decided that this was definitely what we wanted to pursue.
We get a lot of strange looks when we tell people we are building a straw bale house. People probably assume you are going to be living in a big pile of straw, which is obviously not the case! Our house will be timber frame with straw bale as the insulation (similar to the photo below). You can build a load-bearing straw bale home (where there is no other structural system besides the bales), but that's not the route that we're taking. Once the straw has been installed, it will be plastered to seal everything, creating a stucco-like look.
(image via Mother Earth News)Straw bale homes are not only beautiful, but their construction is better for the building's inhabitants. Because straw is a natural material, it doesn't contain the harmful substances that fiberglass insulation, for example, contains. Straw is a great insulator, which will make our house far more energy efficient than a conventional home. And it's just downright beautiful! You can check out more photos and a plethera of additional information on straw bale here.