Questions Most Frequently Asked About Straw Homes
Is it cheaper to build an environmental home to a conventional home? There's no straight answer... Here are some key points. Yes it's cheaper if you build it yourself and owner build, because you're doing all the labour. If you're getting tradespeople or a builder to build it then the answer is no. It will cost around the same. Because you're paying them to build it for you just like a conventional home.
If you get someone to design and construct it will be far cheaper because they've done it before and can tailor the home for you with very little expenses on design drawings. But don't forget, you will have huge savings in energy efficiency for years to come because it is specially designed for the Australian summers and winters. The homes also save huge amounts in carbon emissions & carbond footprint, fossil fuels, material usage and the materials used are better for you, the country and the environment. So for around the same price as a conventional home, you're saving in the long run and saving the world!
Termites - Just like other hollow walls,
termites can pass through the walls to get to where they want. Which is why you
home must be built as per the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and local
authorities. The most environmentally friendly method is to have a 100mm of the
side of the slab exposed to allow visual inspection for any white ant trails.
There are other methods using chemicals, physical barriers or choosing 'ant
proof' materials for construction.
Council approval - Most councils these days are aware
of environmental homes. If given the correct information and CSIRO fire test
results, councils have little opportunity to question drawings if they meet the
BCA and you supply this information to them.
Fire & fire zones - Fire tests have been carried out by
the CSIRO which show straw bale homes to meet the BCA. Many straw homes have
been built in high fire zone areas if the render meets certain criteria.
Insulation - Straw bale walls have an R rating
of 10 - 15 so their insulative qualities are equal to that of building
insulative codes in the Scandinavian countries. Ensuring you have the best
insulation in your roof and floor is therefore critical.
Picture hooks &
hanging - The
render if applied correctly is able to hold hooks driven into the walls
supporting up to 30kg. If you wish to support heavier objects we recommend that
you plan ahead and fix timber to the walls before rendering. This is also the
technique used to attach kitchen cupboards and built in wardrobes
Height & width of
walls - Are
ideally drawn to a standard straw bale size of approximately 350mm high, 450mm
wide (500mm with render) 850mm long. For ease of building it is best (but not
essential) to make window and door openings to bale sizes.
Straightening walls - Is an easy task. Some clients
prefer to have non straight walls however straightening your walls is as easy
as hammering bales into place then using a whipper snipper or hedge cutter to
trim the walls straight. Smaller discrepancies can be filled with cobb (a clay
and straw mix) or render.
Render- we recommend that internal walls are
rendered with a clay based render and that external walls are coated with a
lime based render. We do not use cement renders due to their brittle nature but
some builders do use these materials.
Rodents & pests - Can be present in the building
process, however if the walls are rendered correctly they will be no more of a
problem than in a conventional home.