early baling machine
Early Baling Machine

Straw Building is Hands On Building.  Everyone can get involved. Straw-Bale construction began after the advent of baling machines in the last quarter of the 19th Century. The first houses were built by settlers in Nevada. The walls were load-bearing then, just as they will be in our building today. There is no need for a frame because when the bales are compressed they become rock solid. Each member of the family contributed to building the house.

Ordinary people can lift bales into place. Ordinary people can cut them to size, trim and pack them. Ordinary people can operate the jacks, working as a team to lower the roof. Ordinary people can apply lime render, and even more so, clay plaster, which is used internally. These traditional finishes are slower drying and more forgiving than modern cement or gypsum ones.  Ordinary people can build firm foundations – especially if they are formed using car tyres and pea shingle.

All ages, sizes and shapes can be part of a team and receive on-site training – including small children, the elderly, and those with special needs. Barbara Jones of Straw Works (formerly Amazonails) has over 20 years experience in this approach and is internationally acknowledged as one of the foremost practitioners. Of course, not every aspect can be done by non-specialists. The expert guidance of Straw Works will help us make the right choices as to what tasks we can successfully and safely complete.

Hands On Building Means  the community is built up as well as the edifice. It also means a reduction in costs, as long as things go according to plan.  That’s why hands on building always has to be done in partnership with people of experience.