Two story straw bale house in Heathcote Victoria

You Can Build a Straw Bale House

Welcome! We are here to give you the confidence to know that you can build a straw bale house!

Here are some recent articles you may find interesting:

Problems or challenges

Problems or challenges. Many would say we had a big problem with the incorrect location of our meter box, however this conjures up all sorts of negative emotions. Did this create a bunch of problems or challenges? The term problem ...
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Challenges with Meter box location

Challenges in building

I have just visited the site of our new home in Inglewood. This is home number 20 for us so many would think that we are well prepared and that nothing could possible go wrong, but this is not true ...
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The site of  our new budget built straw bale home

Budget built straw bale

We have a new project about to start in Inglewood Victoria. This is to be a budget built straw bale home where we will run straw bale workshops. We have chosen Inglewood as it is a dry climate which is ...
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energy efficient straw bale design

Building an energy efficient straw bale home

Here is an article that I recently wrote for The Owner Builder Magazine, it is about building an energy efficient straw bale home. It discusses new building standards, the orientation of your building and the effects of double glazing. Click ...
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Sub-contracting is a solution for time poor owner builders

Time poor owner built straw bale

Time poor Many of our clients are time poor but have found it extremely difficult to find a competent straw bale builder. I think being time poor is now part of our every day life so how can you get ...
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Straw bale construction is one of the most intriguing methods of building that I have had the pleasure to be involved in. This form of building is without a doubt one of the most forgiving systems of construction, and is consequently an ideal medium for the owner builder.

Straw Bale House Building Workshop

There is nothing more inspiring than to see people rise to the challenge of building their own straw bale house. This environmentally friendly construction method dates back over 100 years, and with our new technology and materials the straw bale houses built today will last even longer. We want you to have the confidence to venture into one of the most rewarding ventures of your life. To be a part of that process is counted as a privilege.

We will help you discover your hidden ability as we strip away the facades and myths to reveal to you a clear and rational method of building your own straw bale house. From the ground to the roof, we will guide you all the way through the process of building your own home. Green building with straw is financially and emotionally liberating. To live in the peaceful atmosphere of a straw bale house is incomparable. Before you begin to build, make sure you go and stay in a straw bale bed and breakfast facility. It will inspire you, giving you the motivation to rise above the challenges and put downs of people who say you can’t do it..

We will guide you to the people that will make the journey possible. Draftspeople, engineers and building surveyors who will help you bring your dream to reality. People that will work with you rather than against you. For those of you with limited budgets we will show you how to provide your family with affordable housing. In 2005 one of our owner builders built a 10 square straw bale house for under $23,000. Imagine living free of loan payments. No millstone tied by the bank around your neck. We will advise you of new straw bale developments, help you locate the hard to get equipment and supplies associated with straw bale construction.

Whether you are going to build a mansion or the most affordable housing controlled by strict budgets, we are here to help.



  1. Marco Groot

    Hello Brian,

    Just a quick question for which I have not been able to find an answer in your book, how much compression (as in what size does a 35cm high bale compress to) can I expect with your polyester compression strapping method (I’d like to end up with 3m high load bearing walls)?


    Marco Groot


      Straw bales are a magnificent building material as they provide incredible insulation, are easy to lay and are probably one of the most environmentally friendly building products, particularly given that straw is actually a waste product from a cereal crop. When the straw is baled the machine used will be adjusted periodically to try to minimize the variation in bale density, however you are always going to get some variation in density.
      When we compress a straw bale wall with standard good bales we would expect to get about 7% compression. At 7% we have negated the potential of the bales settling over the next couple of years under load, and yet have not reduced the thermal efficiency of the bales. If you compress the bales too much you will flatten out the tubes of straw and consequently loose a heap of insulation benefit as it will become a solid mass rather than a wall with lots of little air pockets.
      I can hear you saying, but what is a good bale? A good bale is one that is tightly packed and has never been wet. If you open up a bale you can smell mould and sometimes even see white or black spots on the straw where mould started and has not stopped growing due to the drying of the bale overtime. It is extremely important that you do not use bales that have any sign of mould as it is highly likely that the mould will be reactivated once it is in the process of building and living in the house. Good bales will have a sweet smell rather than a mouldy smell. Given that some moulds can cause incredible health complications, this is something that should be steered well clear of. The easiest test for the density of the bales is to lift the bale up by one string. If the string does not come off the bale then it is a reasonably tightly packed bale and would be good for building.
      Obviously my preferred method of compression is the orange woven polyester strapping which has a breaking strain of 1,100 kg. We use a standard tensioning tool used for plastic or polyester strapping to tighten the straps. It is important to put a joining buckle on each side of the wall so that you can compress the bales from both sides at once so that you don’t twist or bow the wall during compression. There is an expensive version of the compression tool that is purchased by timber yards and people doing a lot of work at very high tensions. The tool that I recommend is about half the price and is more than capable of doing a couple of houses.
      When building a load bearing straw bale building, where the weight of the roof is supported by the straw bales alone, you will be tempted to compress the bales so as to get a level surface at the top of the straw bale wall. This is understandable, but a big mistake. It is imperative that you compress your bales so as to get consistent compression and ignore the resultant variation in the height of the finished wall. If you compress to height and then add the weight of the roof and ceiling, it is highly likely that the load above will cause further compression of the bales not yet appropriately compressed and as a consequence you will get a dip in the roof. Then when you put on the fascia and guttering you will have a big problem trying to get the water to flow uphill where the straw bale wall has dropped.
      Once you have finished compressing the straw bales you will need to pack up the top boxing so as to create a level pitching point for the rafters or roof trusses to be fixed onto. Sorry to be so long winded but I didn’t want you to accidentally get yourself into a sticky situation. So to get back to your question, if you have a wall 9 bales high the relaxed height of the bales will be about 3115mm less 7% = 2928mm. You then add the bottom and top boxing which will increase the wall height by a further 180mm resulting in the approximate wall height of 3,108mm. Remember this is not an accurate height calculation as it is totally dependent on the original density of the straw bales.

  2. Marco Groot

    Thanks for that comprehensive reply

  3. Erik Christiansen

    Hello Brian,

    Is the 7% compression specifically for loadbearing strawbale walls?
    That’s about 170 mm compression on 7 x 350 mm courses, whereas some references talk about 50 to 75 mm compression for a “single storey”. That is beginning to sound a bit light on in comparison to your more solidly strapped down wall. Maybe 7% isn’t achievable with fencewire and gripples?


      Hi Erik,
      The 7 % compression is generally what we get with the woven polyester strapping, however this obviously depends on the bales that you are working with. We had one job a few years back where the client told us that they got closer to 10%. He told me that the bales had been supplied by a friend. With friends like that I guess it saves having enemies. I am not a big fan of fencing wire and gripples. Apart from the cost there is the issue of metal fatigue in the fence wire. I had a cherry farmer attend one of my courses about 5 years back who informed me that he had used wire and gripples extensively throughout his farm to support the trees. He went on to explain that if he was to take hold of any of the wires he had installed and give it a couple of good tugs the wire would snap at the gripple. At the time he was gradually working through his property replacing all of the gripples.

      I trust this helps and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

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