The Straw Bale House

The Straw Bale House

4.06 (154 ratings by Goodreads)
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Imagine building a house with superior seismic stability, fire resistance, and thermal insulation, using an annually renewable resource, for half the cost of a comparable conventional home. Welcome to the straw bale house! Whether you build an entire house or something more modest-a home office or studio, a retreat cabin or guest cottage-plastered straw bale construction is an exceptionally durable and inexpensive option. What's more, it's fun, because the technique is easy to learn and easy to do yourself. And the resulting living spaces are unusually quiet and comfortable.The Straw Bale Housedescribes the many benefits of building with straw bales:

super insulation, with R-values as high as R-50
good indoor air quality and noise reduction
a speedy construction process
construction costs as low as $10-per-square-foot
use of natural and abundant renewable resources
a better solution than burning agricultural waste straw, which creates tons of air pollutants
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 204 x 254 x 21mm | 794g
  • White River Junction, United States
  • English
  • Index; Bibliography; Illustrations, black and white; Illustrations, color
  • 0930031717
  • 9780930031718
  • 151,446

Table of contents

1. A brief history

2. Benefits of straw-bale construction

3. Common concerns

4. Working with straw bales

5. Bale walls

6. Windows and doors

7. Foundations

8. Roofs

9. Floors

10. Interior elements

11. Finishing bale walls

12. Other uses for straw bales

13. Designing the straw bale house
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Review quote

"Using plastered straw bales as building materials for a home may not sound stable or long-lasting, but these can be used for a variety of purposes from adjacent buildings to entire houses, can be used with relatively little experience, and have many attributes; from super-insulation to cheap construction. Applications are more useful for the Southwest region but ideas may transfer to other U. S. locales. The book's price tag seems high for a paperback, but this goes in great detail on a subject which is fairly understated in most construction or homeowner's guides."--Midwest Book Review
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About Athena Swentzell Steen

Bill Steen is a photographer and collaborative builder who is especially interested in combining building techniques with community-enhancing approaches to design. Athena and Bill are co-founders of the Canelo Project, through which they conduct ecological design and construction workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. They live in Canelo, Arizona. Visit Athena and Bill's Blog, The Canelo Chronicles at

David A. Bainbridge first worked on community design, passive solar heating and cooling, building codes, and solar rights at the innovative design firm Living Systems. He described his first water-wall solar home and the Village Homes solar subdivision in Solar House Designs in 1978. Founder of the Passive Solar Institute, and recipient of the ASES Passive Pioneer Award in 2004, Bainbridge consults on a wide range of residential and commercial projects and has completed several solar projects on his own homes, as well as co-authoring The Straw Bale House (with Athena Swentzell Steen and Bill Steen), and Passive Solar Architecture (with Ken Haggard). He is currently Associate Professor of Sustainable Management at the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management. He lives in San Diego, California.
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Rating details

154 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 36% (56)
4 39% (60)
3 20% (31)
2 4% (6)
1 1% (1)
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