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Home » Do Straw Bale Houses Make Sense in Australia?

Do Straw Bale Houses Make Sense in Australia?

The designs and plans of Australian homes has been heavily influenced by the weather and climate, as Australia often experiences bushfires, heavy winds, and destructive weather. 

Designing a home using straw bales is a smart way to build a substantial house while saving money on construction and utilities. 

Straw bale homes use only eco-friendly materials and are sustainable, contributing to their recent popularity. If appropriately designed, straw bale homes can last at least 100 years. It is also possible to owner build a straw bale home, whether it is an average-sized home or even a tiny home.

Multiple resources are available to help you learn how to build your own home of straw bales. These six straw bale house companies can walk you through how to create your own home while also providing tips to build your own custom-built home or build your home using one of their tried and true designs.

Straw Bale

Straw Bale is one of the best companies that can help build straw bale homes throughout Australia. Their mission is to empower people to build healthy, stunning straw bale homes. They provide instructional resources. 

You can watch their 16-day e-course for free and check out their “how to” videos, which cover building the foundation, framing, plastering, and bailing. They have plans available for straw homes for you to choose from and will work with you to develop your dream straw bale house. 

Their house plan designs allow you to save money by not needing to hire an architect, who will charge you between 5 and 20 percent of the construction cost for your finished custom home design. 

Planning your straw bale construction through Straw Bale will enable you to have your house plan almost immediately, without needing to wait six months for the plan to be drawn. Some of their straw hay bale house plans include these unique designs:

  • Siskiyou Cottage
  • Sierra Verde
  • Olympic Isle
  • Desert Sunset
  • Columbia
  • Cascade Cottage
  • Modern Farmhouse
  • Lost Hill Farm Cottage
  • Vine Hill Cottage
  • Wee But ‘n’ Ben
  • Chalk Hill Cabin
  • Eco Family 1500

Overall, Straw Bale offers the highest quality resources to help you build the right straw bale home for you. 

Viva Homes

Viva Homes Homes is a great choice to help you build your custom straw bale dream home. Finding a straw bale house building team can be challenging to find a straw bale house building team that offers upfront quotes and a fixed price contract. 

Viva Homes builds in NSW and ACT, and ships straw bale panels to Victoria and Queensland. Before shipping to Tasmania, South Australia, or Western Australia, they must look into it.

It is helpful to have a fixed-price contract to know exactly what you are getting and how long the process will take. Not all companies can give you quotes or fixed-price contracts because they are unsure of their costs. Viva Homes will provide you with estimates and the actual price of what it will cost to build your green straw bale house. 

Their designs are modern and contemporary and are highly sustainable. Since Viva Homes has years of experience, they have the design and building techniques to offer you the most affordable and quality custom home. 

They offer the “Viva system” to ensure you get what you deserve. Their system includes:

  • A fixed price contract with a set time frame
  • A six-year guarantee on craft and the longevity of your home
  • Various designs to choose from
  • Ability to create a custom design
  • Their “dream team” will give you everything you want in your straw bale home
  • The entire building process is based on a plan
  • The Viva wall system ensures you get what you pay for while also protecting the earth
  • Systems are certified by CSIRO and engineers to supply you with the best results

Viva Homes also teaches building courses on how to build your straw bale home. The courses help ensure your home design and build is done correctly. Their courses give plenty of information and are practical from start to finish. All materials are natural and eco friendly. 

AusBale

AusBale is a professional group of people in the building industry, along with owner-builders, researchers, and other interested people, who share the same experiences and knowledge. AusBale is a group for like-minded individuals to join that are interested in building straw bale homes. 

They understand using straw bales in construction and know the fire resistance, moisture, and load bearing of straw bales. AusBale promotes the art and science of strawbale building. 

While they are not responsible for building the straw bale home of your dreams, they are available to help along the way and provide you with all the knowledge of what it takes to build a house made of straw bales. 

They cover everything from the design and suppliers to hydraulics and energy resources. You can become a member of AusBale if you are interested in building a straw bale house. Your membership includes the following:

  • An annual subscription to the Owner Builder Magazine 
  • Corporate members receive a listing on their professional page,  a subscription to Owner Builder, a weblinks listing, and access to the photo gallery
  • Access to the AusBale Members Only website with support

AusBale will help you understand the specifics of straw bale homes and why they are sustainable. It is a helpful resource if you are interested in building a straw bale home.

Glassford

Glassford has more than enough experience in building a straw bale home. The owners live by their own advice, as they have lived in a straw bale home for over 22 years. They encourage others to live in straw bale homes because of the fantastic benefits. 

They use a method called SITUPS, which stands for a super-insulated tilt-up panel system. They have successfully created multiple buildings using the SITUPS method. Glassford builds straw bale wineries, commercial buildings, and homes in Australia while also constructing new and sustainable ways of building. 

One of their projects, the Rutherglen straw bale project, was nominated for the 2022 HIA Northern Victoria Green Smart Sustainable Home award and the 2022 HIA Northern Victoria Custom Built Home award. They won both categories

If you are interested in building a straw bale home, Glassford is an excellent choice to help build your new home throughout Australia. They use only sustainable and eco-friendly products and will adequately construct your home according to your custom design.

Anvil Straw Bale

Anvil Straw Bale uses the Anvil straw bale method to help you design your straw bale home throughout Victoria. They understand that building your own home can be challenging, but it is also rewarding. 

With over 30 years of experience, Brian Hodge developed the Anvil straw bale method to teach others how to build their homes. Their online course is full of information and can teach you all you need to know about building a straw bale home. 

Besides the construction process, their videos cover how to understand engineering and constructing design, permit applications, how to build a foundation, and much more. Anvil Straw Bale can help someone with no building background understand how to make a home using straw bale. 

After 30 days of working on their course, they will refund you 100 percent if you find it helpful or are unsatisfied. You can also attend their practical workshop to learn how to build a structural straw bale wall, as they are held several times a year. Anvil Straw Bale is highly recommended because anybody can use the tips from their course to build their own home.

House of Bales

House of Bales has been working with others to construct and build straw bale homes since 1997. House of bales builds, consults, and teaches using straw bales as a building medium. They will fully construct your straw bale home in the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, and the southern suburbs. 

They will consider constructing in other areas, but it must first be discussed. House of Bales offers contract wall construction and subcontracting to other owner builders or builders. They will supply and install the straw bale walls anywhere in South Australia and work in New South Wales, Queensland, or Victoria. 

If you are interested in working with House of Bales to build your new straw bale home, you can go over packages for owners, builders, and designers to further understand the building process. House of Bales holds workshops to teach others how to build straw bale homes, and they also discuss the history of straw bale home building and how it is better for our environment. 

What is a Straw Bale House?

A straw bale house is homemade using straw as a primary structural element, or it can be used for insulation. A straw bale home can also be built using a straw bale as both the main element and insulation. Straw bale houses are constructed by stacking rows of straw bales on a solid foundation. 

The foundation must then be sealed using a moisture barrier or an outer plastic layer. Usually, straw bale homes have thick walls, which aid in lowering your energy bills year-round. Straw bale houses were built almost a century after baling machines were invented. 

These homes must be rendered to protect your home from pests, rain, and fire. While the construction of straw bale homes can be labour intensive, it is simple overall, and anyone can do it once they learn how.

Benefits of Straw Bale Homes?

There are many benefits of having a straw bale home. These benefits include:

  • They contain fewer toxins than using conventional materials
  • They use a renewable and fast-growing agricultural byproduct that is wasted otherwise
  • Straw bale homes are highly insulated, which lowers heating and cooling costs
  • Reasonable cost per square foot, depending on the building method you choose, which is typically very economical
  • Straw bale homes can be customised to your individual needs, whether your needs are creative or practical
  • Long term affordability
  • They are eco-friendly

Drawbacks of Straw Bale Homes? 

While straw bale homes offer benefits primarily, there are also some drawbacks. 

  • Permitting issues, such as getting a permit to build a straw bale house, can be challenging
  • Unconventional so that local inspectors may be unsure about straw bale construction
  • If not properly constructed, there can be gaps between the bales, harming the energy efficiency
  • It is labour-intensive to build a straw bale home
  • There can be structural movement since straw bale homes are built using a stacking technique

Frequently Asked Questions 

These are some frequently asked questions regarding straw bale homes. 

How long will a straw bale house last?

If built correctly, a straw bale home is designed to last at least 100 years. When the house’s life cycle is complete, the core material can be returned to the earth if rebuilding is necessary.

Are straw bale houses safe?

Straw bale houses are safe, and they are more fire resistant than traditional homes. They do not become damaged due to inclement weather and are well-insulated. 

The only potential risk can be the structural movement of the home since straw bale homes are built using a stacking technique. However, you will only run into structural movement issues if the house is not constructed correctly.

Is straw bale construction cheaper? 

Straw bale homes are around 5 percent less expensive than constructing a conventional home. The cost per square foot is cheaper than it is to build a traditional house in Australia.

Can you build a tiny straw bale home in Australia?

Yes, you can build a tiny home made using straw bales, just like you would with a larger home. A tiny home made of straw bale is exceptionally eco-friendly, and utilities would be next to nothing.

Do straw bale houses rot?

Like most organic materials, moisture is needed for straw bales to rot. If the bales are kept dry, it is unlikely that they will decompose and rot. A straw bale house that is constructed properly will ensure that moisture does not get in and cause the bales to rot.

Do straw bales attract mice or other rodents?

Straw bales do not attract mice, but hay bales do attract them. Hay bales are more likely to attract rodents looking for a warm place to nest. Rodents are generally not attracted to straw, especially if it is dry and contains no moisture. 

Final Thoughts

Many options and resources are available to help you construct your straw bale home. Building your dream home is possible; these companies will make it happen by using their designs or your own custom-built design.