Building with “straw” has grown in popularity for several reasons. Straw bales are like bricks and built in the same manor only you’re using a 14x16x36 bale. This translates into a small home being built in a few days. Bales provide a great insulation, are healthy and are inexpensive.
American settlers travelling westward through Nebraska were forced to find alternative materials to build their homes due to lack of trees for lumber. Straw was readily available and cheap. So in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s they came up with a straw built home strong enough to support for a roof. The “Nebraska” style home is being revived throughout Europe.
Natural or Green builders are recognizing the many benefits straw bale homes offer. What are so attractive are the insulating properties of R-30 to R-45 and reduction in cost to produce and transport.
Design factors to consider are protecting straw bales and walls from moisture during construction and sturdy bracing. It is very important to keep the straw dry to prevent mold growth prior to applying interior and exterior wall finishes.
Contrary to what most believe straw bales when once plastered do not harbor insects and other pests nor is it prone to being a fire hazard. There have been several ASTM tests performed to test for fire susceptibility and safety with outstanding results.