I have stood inside straw-bale homes and admired the strength and beauty of the walls; they are also great sound insulators and just give a feeling of stability and safety. Still, I wondered, would they be durable? free from moisture? aren't they better for the Southwest? So I was glad to see the article in today's Herald-Times by Carrol Krause, about a local use of straw bale construction on a large and beautiful addition to an existing bungalow. The homeowner-builder, Keith Romaine, sums up the benefits:
"Straw bale construction is more efficient, it’s local, and it’s something I thought I could do myself,” Keith explained. “Aesthetically, I really like the thickness of the walls. And I really like the color and texture of the clay surface. It’s like Venetian plaster.”--Keith Romaine, in Bloomington Herald-Times
The insulating value of straw bale is much greater than conventionally built walls. The materials are cheap but the building method is labor-intensive. This makes it better for the competent do-it-your-selfer. Since this has been a very cold and brutal winter, and the addition has performed very well, this case of straw-bale has definitely overcome my doubts about the utility of this building method.
Photo Credit: Carrol Krause