Strawbale building is a radically different approach to construction. Pioneered in the USA over a hundred years ago and established in the UK in the 1990s, the technique is now entering the mainstream – used by firms who see its value in terms of cost-effectiveness, ease of installation and energy efficiency. Straw has great loadbearing qualities and provides super-insulation at an affordable price.
This book is for self-builders as well as for people working in the construction industry. Strawbale building is accessible to many people who are normally excluded from the construction process, and provides immense opportunity for creative fun, enabling you to design and build the sort of shape and space you’d really like.
Building with Straw Bales explains, in straightforward and common-sense terms, the principles of strawbale building in the UK climate. It covers design principles, the different types of foundations; how to raise walls, stabilise them and protect them from the weather; and how strawbale buildings can easily meet Building Regulations requirements. This fully revised and expanded edition includes new sections on natural plasters, a detailed analysis of how straw performs with humidity, and an extensive resources section.
Spiral House: this inspiring loadbearing two-storey spiral-shaped house was the first of its kind in Europe, and is based on sacred geometry. It was built by its owner Norita Clesham with Barbara Jones, Bee Rowan and over a hundred volunteers, most of them women, with carpentry help from Willie and Gerard McDonagh. Begun in 2000, it was completed in three years.
Photo: Bee Rowan
Assington Mill: Story Hut: this simple but effective story-telling strawbale hut at Assington Mill in Suffolk has car tyre foundations, a rammed chalk floor and a thatched roof.
Photo: Rae Parkinson
Chapter 1 - Why build with straw bales?
Chapter 2 - Affordable houses with low environmental impact
Chapter 3 - Strawbale building techniques explained
Chapter 4 - Bales to build with
Chapter 5 - Bale plans
Chapter 6 - Safety and tools
Chapter 7 - Cement-free foundations
Chapter 8 - Roof and fittings
Chapter 9 - Wall raising
Chapter 10 - Windows and doors
Chapter 11 - Plasters and renders – lime
Chapter 12 - Plasters and renders – clay
Chapter 13 - Planning permission
Chapter 14 - Building Regulations
Appendix 1 - Humidity in strawbale walls
Appendix 2 - Frequently asked questions
Appendix 3 - Resources and research
Appendix 4 - Construction drawings
"Explains the principles of the system in straightforward, common-sense terms. All the essentials are covered, including design, foundations, raising and stabilising walls and how straw bale buildings can exceed Building Regulations requirements. There are also new sections on natural plasters, the effect of humidity on straw bales and an extensive resources section."
"The essential guide to straw-bale building."
"A perfect balance between hard facts, sociological context, and beautiful images... Get yourself a copy of Jones' book, and buy one for a friend"
"All you want to know about in situ strawbale building construciton, explained in one easy-to-understand book" – Tim Yates, Technical Director, BRE Ltd, and Peter Walker, Director, BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, University of Bath
The Author: Barbara Jones FRSA is the founder and director of amazonails, the leading UK company for strawbale design, consultancy and training. She has pioneered techniques for use in the UK climate, including the use of traditional lime and clay plasters. Awards won by amazonails buildings include the Grand Designs Eco-home of the Year in 2008 and the East of England Sustainability Award from the RICS in 2009. Amazonails’ website is www.amazonails.org.uk.