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Cost Advantage

Strawbale buildings can hold a cost advantage over conventional types. However, it has to be kept in mind that building a house is always a costly project, whether you are using strawbales or other materials. It is impossible to avoid expenditure, especially when you build to last, consider comfort, meet building codes and standards and aim to attain a good resale value.

You may be able to save some expenses on the actual strawbale walls. They are comparably easy to build, making it possible to put up your own walls and engage the help of friends and family for the wall raising. The more owner-builder and volunteer involvement is possible and available, the greater the cost savings can be.

With strawbales you also need less timber for framing and no further insulation material is required for the bale walls.

All other construction costs (e.g. foundation, floors, roof, windows & doors, electricity, plumbing, bathroom, kitchen, internal walls, ceiling, etc.) are about identical to any other building system therefore, the choices you make concerning labour, materials, details and finishing will determine whether or not you are able to build within a certain budget.

But, because the most frequently asked questions seem to be:

  • How much will it cost to build a strawbale house?
  • Is it cheaper to build a strawbale house?

We have provided a rough idea of building costs in the table below:

Average costing AU$ Unit Comments
$1800 – $2000 per sqare metre (m2) depending on design, details, owner and/or volunteer involvement, choice of materials and many other aspects

Please remember: The focus of strawbale building is not to spend less money, but to maximise the efficiency and energy savings of the finished home, to create a healthy living environment, to reflect sustainability and to leave the smallest possible footprint on the earth with the construction of our homes.

For more on this please check out the article Is it cheaper to build a straw bale house? that was published in “The Owner Builder” magazine issue 166 August/September 2011.

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Healthy Choice

Strawbales are a healthy choice. They do not contain the paints, chemicals, glues and toxins most manufactured building materials embody and which often have a negative effect on health, especially for people with asthma and allergies.

Combined with clay and lime renders and natural paints or oxides to finish the structure, strawbale walls can breathe and provide a natural, fresh and healthy living environment.

The thick walls seal out noise and carry a sense of quiet, silent and timeless peace, much needed in our often noisy and stressful lives.

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Energy Efficiency

One of the leading reasons to choose strawbales over other building materials is their high level of energy-efficiency. This is due to the exceptional insulating properties of the bales.

Insulation values are commonly expressed as R-values. Please see comparism of R-values between conventional wall systems and strawbale wall systems in the table below:

Construction R-value Comments
conventional wall system 2.0 to 3.5 depending on climatic conditions, building code regulations, building material and type of insulation
strawbale walls 5.5 to 8.5 depending on widths, type, quality and density of strawbales and on how the bales are stacked

Combined with a well-designed passive solar system strawbale houses require very little energy to keep warm in winter and cool in summer.

Note: In most American literature regarding straw bale building, the R-values for strawbale walls are stated to be between R-30 and R-48. This is misleading as they use a different calculation system for their insulation values compared to the system used in Australia.

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