Jul 152010

The Wolf Not Only Blew the Straw House Down

These days when anyone mentions possibly building their house out of straw most everyone’s first reaction is to think of the horror which happened to the straw house in the three little pigs. In this day and age the population has been following the second pig’s advice and building out of wood but they fail to remember that this house faced the same demise as the one of straw. It is time to look to the future and unconventional ways of construction to help not only the current builder but their possible children as well.

The average house owner looking to build their next house is most likely uneducated of all possible construction options. With the house market as hot as it currently is, people are looking to end up with the perfect house and money left in their pockets. Straw is currently the least popular building material yet it is the most economical – both initially and in the long run.

Build Your Dream Home for Less

Depending on where you plan to build the price of a straw bale ranges from $1.00 to $3.00 versus the average cost of wood which can range from $4.50 to $5.50. A basic two thousand square foot house requires about three hundred three-wire (standard) bales of straw, average cost of which would be $1000. Straw bales are not only more inexpensive than wood but offer many other positive features including energy efficiency and simplicity to build any type of structure.

Straw bales offer an insulation value of R-50 which is comparable to a wood frame and fiber glass insulation which offers R-12 to R-20. What does this mean to someone just beginning to consider building? R value means a great deal to anyone especially Martimers who never know what kind of weather to expect. R-value, put as simply as possible, is the ability of a material to resist heat flow and the greater the value the warmer or cooler you are. To the money wise: the higher the R value the lower your heating bill is. The consideration of your R value will certainly benefit your pocket books but what about costs before you move in?

Cost for labour decreases depending on the amount of people you know that are willing to help. Building with straw bales is as simple to an adult as building a lego house is to a child. It is basically a matter of stacking bales on top of one another in the shape of the structure you want to create.

Everyone Is Doing It…Well, Everyone SHOULD Be Doing It!

There are plenty of resources to look to while constructing your new home, unfortunately they may not be local but with the progression of technology this as not as difficult as it once was. All over the world enthusiasts are researching the benefits of straw building and most are willing to answer any questions you may have. The great thing is that if the researcher does not know the answer he/she will be interested to find out for you.

Researchers have already discovered the sound benefits of building with straw as they absorb sound much more effectively than dry wall. The thick walls also allow for an unordinary benefit of a thick casing around every window which would allow plant enthusiast to fill their approximately twelve inch wide windowsill with beautiful plants. For those without a green thumb imagination can fill the shelves with whatever the owner can think of.

The downfalls of building with straw include the absence of knowledge and popularity of it in the Maritimes. Unfortunately local banks, which are serious money sources for any builder, may have heard very little about the new method of building so tend to be quite skeptical when lending money to unheard of projects. When approaching any financial institution, as in all situations, make sure you are prepared with research, presentation of the research, resources and confidence.

Bank Support at Minimum, Let’s Teach Them a Few Things

Banks tend to appreciate knowing the public views of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation towards building with straw. Make sure you approach the bank prepared to beg, in a professional and civilized manner of course, to have them back you up financially so that you can in turn support your local farmers. Your plea, if given any difficulty, should include your helping the environment as well as worldwide research. Questions you’ll surely be asked include risks of fire when building with straw. You can smartly advise them that the only real danger is during construction where common sense precautions have to be taken when working with straw and wood. Once built a straw bale house is commonly sealed with stucco and becomes an example of an almost fire proof building.

Building a house of any kind is definitely a time and money consuming task and shouldn’t be thought of lightly. Planning and researching should be the very first step into building your dream home or any other structure. No option should be overlooked especially when money is concerned. No matter which pig you follow in the footsteps of, your fairytale is up to you and, in the Maritimes, a big bad wolf should not be a character in the story you write.

Habitat For Humanity

To help the world we first need to help ourselves. Pepsi Canada has allowed us the opportunity to receive a $100 000 grant to get this project started. Sounds like a lot after I said how inexpensive building with straw is? Well, it’s not only for us but to teach others.

With this money we’ll be able to document our progress to teach Habitat For Humanity a different way of offering more. With their funding and donations they can buy a lot more strawbales from local farmers (helping the local economy), easily and quickly put up more houses and be of renewed interest for more volunteers. They can start their own strawbale building revolution and you can help.

Simply go to Pepsi Refresh Everything and cast your vote today and everyday until August 31st to get us a win!

Thanks for doing your part!

Sarah Butland