We, and some friends, spent a very enjoyable weekend at Tibshelf with our clients, Steve and Rashida starting work laying the first straw wall for their new house. Steve and Rashida had already prepared the plinth walls and Geocell Foam Glass sub slab (a material that is leftover from making glass and that acts as hardcore, insulation and damp proofing) as well as the ground floor timber frame. The design is a timber frame infill system rather than a load bearing straw bale house based on a system developed by Andrew Morrison in the US. Several hundred straw bales harvested from just outside Matlock had been delivered to site a week before and were ready to be prepared and fixed into place.

After a morning of finish site preparations and learning how to split and retie bales we got on to the first bales. Naturally the first bale was laid by Rashida and tamped into place by Steve – a very emotional moment for everyone. We then had the honour and laying the next bales and starting to form the first room in Steve and Rashida’s new home.

Great fun was had by all and we leant a lot over the weekend. Despite being a uncommon building technique relatively, straw bale construction is a brilliant self build method. Although care is needed, as with all builds, the skills required are not complicated, the bales naturally knit together to form a wonderfully insulated structure, and if satisfyingly quick to progress.

After two days we have 4 courses of bales in place and secured in one wing and everyone was keen to get back to do more. This was helped by the wonderful food prepared by Rashida and her sister!

We will be going back again to help. Do get in touch if you want to come and help. Watch our weekend progress below….