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Straw Houses

Discussion in 'Earth and Environmental Science' started by SatNavSaysStraightOn, 11 Feb 2015.

  1. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn Well-Known Geek

    I remember seeing a build on one of those custom design/build your own houses a number of years ago that built a house using straw bales. It fascinated me because it was so environmentally sound, not the obvious fire hazard you might expect it to be and also unbelievably well insulated. The idea really appealed.

    Well now the idea is going commercial and the first commercially available houses are now being built for sale..

    www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31156579

    The houses are clad in brick so look conventional and the straw is treated to be fire resistant and I'm guessing some kind of mould/fungi resistance must be added as well...


    _80827254_thermal-image.jpg
    "Thermal images show how traditional brick house walls (left) lose more heat than a straw bale building"

    I personally would love to have one!
     
  2. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Great idea, lets hope it gets used a lot in the future.
     
  3. sidevalve

    sidevalve Well-Known Geek

    How thick are these walls ? How long do they last ? Brick can last 100 - 200 years [there are tudor buildings still around after 500 years. How waterproof are they [REALLY] ? How proof against mice/rats/fungus/mould ? After 10 - 20 years.
    If they are just going to be used as insulation then they lose most of their 'green' advantages. Sounds like another idea that doesn't quite work.
     
  4. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    How cheap are they to repair would be another question. Building out of straw is not a new thing, we have been doing that since before bricks were invented. I doubt they will last longer than bricks but I bet they are cheaper and easier to repair.
     
  5. I like the idea too. I think they are a great idea and the numbers work.
     
  6. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn Well-Known Geek

  7. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn Well-Known Geek

    This site answers some of those questions

    www.strawworks.co.uk/faqs/

     
  8. sidevalve

    sidevalve Well-Known Geek

    Do not get me wrong here - the idea sounds ok but straw can and will be eaten - bricks not so much. Rats will eat electrical insulation, lead, wood infact almost anything but they do tend to draw the line at brick. The straw does not 'contain' any creatures but after ten years or so what might be moving in ? They may not eat the straw [assuming nothing ever grows in it] but they can live in it and in doing so what damage will they cause ? Plastered walls are fine so long as EVERY inch is plastered and that includes between floors and in lofts/roof spaces etc. Repairs have been mentioned but how exactly and the very fact that it is mentioned is odd. Of course once again the wall must be 100% sealed. The article mentions houses that are 'well maintained' but to what level ? By the average jo public or by a dedicated 'straw bale' supporter ? Again houses lasting 100 years - please our house is over 80 ish so I could expect it to need renewal in 20 - 30 years then ? I'm afraid the reason why brick [and slate] have endured is that they are pretty 'green' once built, after all a life of 100 - 200 years aint bad. Further they are suitable for mass housing on a large scale not experiments one a one off basis by enthusiasts. There were many new ideas in the twenties and thirties but very few lasted and many that did turned out to be disasters waiting to happen.
     
  9. SatNavSaysStraightOn

    SatNavSaysStraightOn Well-Known Geek

    I'm guessing you have never lived in older houses then?

    I have and you share the house with whatever wants to live in there. My last place was shared with bats (which are a protected species), wasps, mice, bumble bees (just don't ask, but they were ground nesting ones who found an alternate home), birds and hornets. That was just the roof space. The walls were home to more house mice. You live with it and accept it.

    The 300 year old farmhouse I lived in in the lake district we shared with anything and everything including field mice. They are also a protected species. You are not allowed to do anything to trap or capture them, or interfere with their life in any way. You live with them. They lived inbetween the stones that made up the dry stone walls of the farmhouse. They roamed freely... Any home in the plaster, any hole they chewed in a floor boards was access into the house and they are and chewed what they wanted as and when they wanted to. They can climb walls (as can all mice) will chew through plaster and if a brick is in their way, they find another way in. They can dig under walls and any cracks in concrete is ruthlessly exploited.

    A 'modern' house I lived in in Woking had issues with ants... Every summer they would swarm inside the house. They lived in colonies in the lawn and under the nice dry warm house... They roamed the kitchen work surfaces and generally made a nuisance of themselves. That was bricks and mortar.

    Where I live now, rurally, is also bricks and mortar, slate roof, well insulated. We have rats, mice and birds living in the roof space. Every spring and summer I have been woken every morning to chicks wanting feeding not more than 2 for away from my head in the wall space...

    I fail to see what the problem is of straw kind with bricks and plaster board. These problems already exist in bricks and mortar houses that are not modern.

    But I have never personally known any other way. I think the only house I have lived in that didn't have something living in the walls was a tin shack and that definitively had things living in the roof!
     
  10. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    some brick buildings may last hundreds of years but it's not all. Every building may and probably will need maintenance.
     
  11. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    http://www.academia.edu/5439665/A_C...IRONMENTAL_ECONOMICAL_AND_ENERGY_PERSPECTIVES

    "The embodied energy of a building material itself is the total energy required to produce it; depending on the material, it could include the energy needed for growing, recycling, extracting, processing and transport. Embodied energy of straw bale is 4kW/m3 and embodied energy of brick is 1462 kW/m3."

    that's a big difference!

    "Straw bale houses rendered with loam and lime have demonstrated excellent results in terms of fire and earthquake resistance, heat and sound insulation values - (almost ten times as much as wood and bricks), energy efficiency, and they require minimum maintenance"

    "The main concerns are moisture, insect and rodent problems which may occur when attention is not paid to detail. As for every building method, straw bale construction needs special attention to detail. One of the most crucial details is selecting and applying appropriate plaster - a difficult task. The plaster must allow sufficient moisture transport through the wall components and also prevent intrusion of foreign objects such as insects or rodents while ensuring fire safety. If the plaster is applied appropriately, the mentioned problems are avoided."
     
    SatNavSaysStraightOn likes this.
  12. classic33

    classic33 Veteran Geek

    We have a secondary school which has had a large part of it constructed using this method.
     
    amusicsite likes this.