April 30, 2011

Considering Types of Homes - The Straw Bale House

When done right this type of home is extremely efficient with an R value of around 28!  From the outside most of these homes don't look any different from other homes. The construction can be very versatile to any design whether traditional or contemporary.  What I love about these homes are the deep window sills where you can sit and relax and take in the view.

Our major concern with the hale bale building structure is the bales being very porous.  If moisture were to get trapped in an air pocket we can see how mold would grow rapidly. According to this article it should not be a concern if the bales are properly compacted.

Being that we are in the northern climate we need to heed words from articles like this one at Green 3D Home. Quoting the article:

"The major disadvantages of straw bale construction are rot and infestation. Rot is the result of improper moisture control. In arid regions, moisture isn't much of a concern but in northern climates, special attention should be paid to controlling moisture seepage and infiltration and also removing moisture from the walls."

I found another very informative .pdf here that lays out some ways to prevent moisture problems and stucco cracks for those who desire to overcome this issue.

The more I read the more I see that the straw bale home is doable and very efficient. I just watched a YouTube video of a single mom who built a 1200 square foot straw bale house for $50,000 with only a few projects hired out professionally. (i.e. the roof and plumbing)  She gave a very positive report of the home after 7 years. I would really like to hear more tried and true stories, but the way in which the homes are constructed has only been around about 17 years with the first permit handed out in 1995 in Arizona. Straw bale homes were built prior to 1950. I would like to see or hear stories of how these homes have held up over the years.

We have ruled this type of construction out.  The risk of getting moisture into one of the pockets of air could create a very costly problem, especially in our northern Michigan climate.  This is a risk we don't want to take on.  Another factor is that we desire to  maintain an organic/natural lifestyle and I'm sure bug friends would feel the need to make their home in our bales and we would not desire to use chemicals for our sake.

Pretty soon we will be sharing our desired building structure, but I want to give a good thorough look at green building structures and share our reasons why we are not choosing these alternative options for building our home.

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