Building your own house is never an easy venture. That said, becoming an owner builder and building your own straw bale home brings with it a sense of accomplishment to which nothing can compare. There is something in each of us that drives us to own a home- to provide shelter and protection for our family.
There are two reoccurring comments I hear from straw bale owner-builders, almost without exception. The first is that building a home is the most challenging and often frustrating thing they have ever done. The second is that to build your own straw bale house is an experience that has been more rewarding and fulfilling than ever imagined. Certainly it brings with it more personal growth and sense of achievement than anything else they have done before. In reality, an accomplishment that deserves a major position on any resume.
So is it really possible for just anyone to build their own straw bale home?
The answer is categorically yes. If you are rational and have the physical capacity to lift the required materials, you can build your own straw bale house. The information in this website will give you an overview of what is required to get started. Beyond that, we run an online course which covers everything you need to know about building a straw bale home. We also offer phone consultations, when you get stuck.
Another service we provide is our straw bale workshops, which are held several times a year. These give you a practical, hands-on, idea of what it’s like to build with straw bales. Additionally, you get an opportunity to see a finished (or semi-finished) straw bale house, and ask us any questions you have face to face. We strongly recommend completing both the practical workshop and the online courses before endeavoring to build your home, as we give you vital information you will need to make planning decisions.
Ask yourself the follow questions before becoming an owner builder
If you answer ‘no’ to question 1 or 2, I would strongly recommend that you give very serious consideration to your options before you start to build. Bear in mind that while building your own straw bale house is rewarding beyond words, it is inappropriate to go ahead blindly. The other questions, however, are just to prepare you for the realities of building, as it important to manage your stress levels.
1. Do you have the physical capacity to lift a bale of straw? Each straw bale weighs 16-20 kilograms, and you may need approximately 300-500 of them.
2. Do you consider yourself a rational person? Building a house is the most rational thing you will ever do. In short, it is all about cause and effect.
3. Are you a good communicator? You will have to negotiate with suppliers, contractors and probably the building inspectors. To clarify, getting upset and shouting doesn’t achieve anything in the building industry.
4. Are you willing to ask for help? To be a successful owner builder you will have to acknowledge your inadequacy and need for help. Many times throughout the construction of your home you will be unsure of what to do next. It is imperative that you seek help rather than to press on and make mistakes that might cost thousands to rectify.
5. Do you have the financial capacity to see the job through to the end? When building, particularly for the first time, there are always hidden extras. Make sure that you have the capacity to cover the extras. I would also strongly recommend that you allow a minimum of 10% over and above your estimated costs to cover the unavoidable, but don’t use this allowance as an excuse to be sloppy in your costing of the job.
6. Are you generous? Owner builders who are generous themselves, find little difficulty gaining assistance to lift the heavy beams, lay straw bales or spread render.
7. Do you enjoy a challenge? Building your own straw bale home is the most challenging thing you will ever do. For the average Joe, it’s like climbing Mt. Everest. However, you will never forget the elation at the view from the top of the mountain of completion. The difference between building your own straw bale home and climbing Mt. Everest is that you get to live in that victory for as long as you choose.
In conclusion, you can never fully prepare for a venture as big as building your own house. But with the information we provide, we have every confidence that you can make a home you’ll be proud of. Remember, nothing worth doing is ever easy.