tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2179
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Build a house with hay?

For years, farmers in my area baled their grass in large, round bales which had no use other than to feed farm animals.

Recently, they have started baling in large rectangular bales. They really are large, requiring some kind of equipment to move around. The neat thing about the square bales is they can be stacked really high in barns with no lost space between bales. The farmers tend to stack them in the field also forming large, flat; walls of hay.

I am curious if anyone has ever constructed a home with the exterior walls made of stacked small hay bales enclosed inside sealed walls to prevent moisture getting to the hay and rotting it. I think there would be some amount of compression of the lower bales over time, but it should provide good insulation in summer and winter.

The number of people on this forum who have an environmental conscience is why I am asking here.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I just did an Internet search on the phrase "straw-bale construction." There are a ton (relatively speaking) of sites dedicated to this method of building. Building codes in several countries have approved straw-bale construction for residential or commercial use, or both.

Great question! :D

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I don't know about hay, but straw bale houses are a well recognized construction material. I think straw is tougher, woodier, higher C:N ratio, than hay, so less prone to breaking down.

Here's a website about straw bale house construction:

https://www.solarhaven.org/NewStrawbale.htm

The straw is plastered inside and out with adobe, stucco, etc.

straw bale houses are cheap, super insulated, extremely energy efficient, don't require cutting down trees, very earth friendly option.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

cynthia slid one in there, while I was working on mine! :)
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Charlie MV
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 11:48 pm

When I watched "Braveheart" it looked like every single house in it was built of hay with a bit of mud.

Didn't the three little pig build one too?

thanrose
Greener Thumb
Posts: 716
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:01 am
Location: Jacksonville, FLZone 9A

Yes, but theirs was just piles of hay and it succumbed to a sudden wind as I recall.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

:)

The article I linked mentions the big bad wolf and straw houses...
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2179
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Okay,

I've been reading some of the links. Very interesting. Now I am wondering if it is time for me to build a larger shop or something. Not gonna build another house yet, but it does intrigue me. Now I will be thinking about where to obtain materials like concrete and rock rubble at no cost for the foundation.

In one of the links, the guy built a straw bale house and then obtained used/recycled single pane windows. I don't know why, but the single pane windows seems to defeat the purpose of the straw bales. I guess it is just a trade off to keep the cost down.

I read up on the composting toilets / non electric / water free. They look pretty good, but I've found over the years that nothing is ever as good as it looks at first glance. One of the toilets was described as not requiring electricity, but it did have a 12 volt vent fan. I wonder how he did that with no electricity.

I would like to build something using as much cheap or free materials as possible. It seems if you want modern conveniences like green toilets, hot water, and a minimum amount of electricity (solar panels); it gets pretty expensive. I also have some difficulty getting past the fact that to live life with a minimum carbon footprint is expensive.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

tedln wrote:...

I read up on the composting toilets / non electric / water free. They look pretty good, but I've found over the years that nothing is ever as good as it looks at first glance. One of the toilets was described as not requiring electricity, but it did have a 12 volt vent fan. I wonder how he did that with no electricity.

I would like to build something using as much cheap or free materials as possible. It seems if you want modern conveniences like green toilets, hot water, and a minimum amount of electricity (solar panels); it gets pretty expensive. I also have some difficulty getting past the fact that to live life with a minimum carbon footprint is expensive.

Ted
I have a question in to a major vendor of non-electric wares about the "fan" question. There is a hint in the product description that it works on the temperature differential, but why then would it be calibrated to 12 volts? Why not describe it as "variable speed" or something?

I'll let you know when I hear back from the vendor. It might take a day or two, though.

As to the hot water, a Trombe wall (start saving the plastic one-gallon milk containers) will heat a lot of water in the Texas sun, esp. if it's against a stable backdrop. "Passive" solar, esp. low tech, can be less expensive than the whiz-bang solar panels and all. There are also systems I've seen described, although I have not purchased the books, for bicycle-generated power. Kind of like an exercise bike but it charges a battery, I think? Surely someone on THG will know what I'm referring to.

Cynthia

User avatar
Lesli
Full Member
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:16 am
Location: Spain

I would love to build one of these cob houses......[url]https://www.edwardscobbuilding.com/[/url]

DH draws the line at a composting toilet however.

specgrade
Senior Member
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:35 am
Location: Ohio

Bob the Builder built one for Spud the scarecrow.
Be good...if you can't be good, be safe!

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:43 pm

Human watt power

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3b_fGUnaFE


Eric

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2179
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: North Texas

DoubleDogFarm wrote:Human watt power https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3b_fGUnaFE
Eric
Wonder if something like that would hook up to my rocking recliner? Be a shame to let all this motion go to waste.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!



Return to “Non-Gardening Related Hoo-ha and Foo”