Most of us know the tale of the three little pigs. The first two are undone by a large lung capacity bearing wolf that blows away a house of straw and sticks only to be undone when faced with a brick one. The third pig must have kept up with his hot water probably be contacting an Gloucester Boiler Servicing company like the ones at http://www.hprservicesltd.com/gloucester-boilers/boiler-servicing-gloucester/ because the wolf ends up in a pot of boiling water at the end. The moral of the tale being make sure you build your house out of firm materials and with the possibility of wolves being introduced back into the Scottish Highlands the use of straw seems like an unwise one. Or is it? The pig’s problem appears to be that it used strands of straw as opposed to bales. If Pig one had used straw bales he would have been on a much firm footing as we shall see.

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On the face of it straw provides a more than adequate protection from the elements. They also provide a very solid base for installation as they retain heat inside in the winter and repel it via absorption. It is also a very long term option despite what you might think. Straw bales houses can last up to and beyond 200 years. So why aren’t we using this material more? Experts in the field will tell you that we have an obsession with bricks and mortar but in this day and age of limited aggregates perhaps it’s time to reconsider some alternatives to the humble brick.

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There are 4 ways to use straw as a building material.

  1. An infill with a timber frame. Here the straw is only used for insulation purposes and also as surface for the adding of plaster.
  2. The buildings structure is made from the straw bales and they act in a load bearing capacity. A frame is not needed in these circumstances.
  3. Using a prefabricated combination of timber and straw panels
  4. If you want to have a lot of windows then a hybrid of the first three maybe required.

It’s not as if there isn’t an established set of buildings. An experimental development in Leeds has just gone up that utilises all of the benefits that straw brings it is used primarily as a wall around the frame structure of timber. The building of straw bale home is just like any other build program. An architect plans out the design first and utilises the techniques above to build the structure. There is no end to the levels and window use you have if you work on the timber frame. The straw bales once complete are clad with plaster and it’s impossible to tell the difference between that and standard rendered mortar. Straw, welcome to the future.