straw bale house owner built on a shoestring

Simon built this house for his family around 2002. He’s a lovely fellow, and a skinflint with a dislike of cement. He tried not to use any in his house and almost succeeded, the concession being a thin sliver of render instead of tiling the bathroom floor. The house cost $20 000. Everything was second hand except the straw bale walls, pole frame subfloor, roof insulation, some electrical & plumbing and hardware.

I didn’t design this house, he did. I lent a hand building. At a working bee with friends & family, I was distracted by a bloke using my power saw to show off to his girlfriend. I trod on an unsecured decking plank and took a trapdoor drop down one storey and rolled at high speed down the steep hill. No harm was done other than Simon almost had a heart attack. It was my fault, you should take responsibility for where you tread and not assume someone else has made it safe.

The embodied energy (energy used to manufacture the materials) and general resource depletion is very low in this house. The load bearing straw bales use a small amount of fuel to harvest and transport. The render is clay mixed on site. I don’t remember if there was a lime coat. Almost everything else was second hand, consuming only the energy involved in transport when used second time round.