Straw Bale Design
Building homes out of straw is not a new idea. Pioneers, having no other construction material readily available, built homes out of straw in the late 1800's in the Sand Hills area of Nebraska. Using more advanced techniques in the 1980's, Strawbale construction began its current revival which is still gaining momentum.
Straw is not hay. Hay is harvested as food for animals whereas straw is the (previously) unused stem of the plant. Straw is generally burned, thus adding to global air pollution. Aside from the unique building properties of straw, there is an important ecological aspect to recycling it.
In 1995 New Mexico considered Straw Bale construction to be experimental and issued a limited number of construction permits, while considering how to develop building codes for it. By 1996 Straw Bale was upgraded to alternative status with an unlimited number of permits available. It should be noted that Strawbale plans still require an Engineers' stamp of approval in New Mexico.
Unlike the Nebraska style homes, where the roof load bears directly on the strawbales, New Mexico code requires that the roof be supported by a post and beam system. The straw acts as infill and insulation between the posts or columns.
Once erected, the Straw Bale walls are usually plastered and stucco coated. The result is a home with ~R50 wall insulation. These homes give the thick-walled adobe look, they buffer outside noise extremely well and are relatively easy to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. Straw Bale construction is reasonably straight forward and is an excellent choice for the owner / builder.
Design is proud to announce the recent completion of one
of the largest Straw Bale residential designs in New
Mexico. This home (shown below) is in excess of 4000 sq.
ft. and was designed to be owner-built near Abiquiu, New
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