We spent a busy but pleasant weekend with our Clients, Steve and Rashida, continuing the build of their new straw bale house in Tibshelf, Derbyshire. As well as their family, we were joined by our friends Yomma, a student from De Montfort University Leicester, and Mike, himself a former self builder.
Since last year when we first spent a weekend on site starting the build, Steve and Rashida have erected the external timber frame for the whole house and finished the straw bale infill on the ground floor as well as fitted the windows. One of the ground floor wings has now even been rendered internally to create two beautiful spaces they can already enjoy. The heat recovery system feeds and electrical first fix are both all on their way too.
On the first floor the roof is on place, insulated and made weathertight. Our job this weekend was to continue with the straw bale infill. The workforce was a mixture of old and new timers to straw bale build but the joy of this form of construction is how fun it is and how easy to learn. Soon everyone was able to mark out bales for notching, retying and splitting bales and compacting the new walls to ensure a firm and warm construction. And if anyone wanted a break, there is always plenty of straw to sweep up and bag to become animal bedding – nothing goes to waste.
After two days we had got up to the fourth course of bales with only a last fifth course needed before the main walls are complete. Still plenty to do but the milestone of laying the last bale will be coming up soon. We will be back again to lend a hand as well as enjoy the amazing lunches and snack served up to the hungry workforce!
For anyone wanting to explore straw bale building more, Straw Works in the UK is a great starting point. The house at Tibshelf is a timber frame infill design based on the methods and guidance of Andrew Morrison in the USA. For a more overall starting guide this article from Home Building is an interesting read. And, of course, also do get in touch with us!