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Build A Gorgeous, Affordable Straw Bale Home

Written by Andrew Morrison

If you have ever wanted a gorgeous, yet affordable straw bale home, this is the design for you. I work with people from all over the world who are looking to build their own dream straw bale home. One thing is always a concern: the cost. I know that times are tough for a lot of people these days when it comes to finances and building a home is a large undertaking to be sure.

It doesn’t matter if you live in Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, or anywhere else on the planet, housing is still a major part of the cost of being human. How to build a house for yourself that fits within a budget is always a challenge and one thing that ends up being lost very often in that process, is the architecture. After all, it’s cheap and easy to build a box.

Andrew Morrison and Friends in Front of a Straw Bale WallMany of us don’t want to live in a box though. In fact, we want to live in something that has style, clean lines, and architectural interest. That’s not to take anything away from a simple design, as I also love simplicity and believe there most definitely is a place for it in home construction. For me, however, it’s simply not what I want. Because of this, Gabriella (my wife for those of you who don’t know her) and our friend Chris Keefe (Organicforms Design) have come up with a great design for a simple and affordable straw bale house that has a fantastic “curb appeal.” Take a look for yourself…

Sketch of the Applegate Straw Bale Cottage

We really want to start putting this plan out there in the world because we believe it fills a real need for “human-scale” housing. There is so much in the way of large housing out there these days. You know the stuff, 2000sf, 3000sf and bigger. Some call them McMansions. Some even dare to call them Green construction because they use reclaimed kitchen cabinets or some other detail. The reality is that a home that size is simply full of wasted space in most cases, if not all.

Do you really need a home that big? I doubt it. It’s true that I don’t know what’s best for you, but I can tell you that smaller spaces take less energy to live in, less time to clean, less cost to build, and less time/effort/money to maintain. Sounds pretty good to me.

The affordable straw bale house shown above is roughly 770 sf. The main floor is 570 sf and the sleeping loft (one of two bedrooms) is 200 sf. You can check out the floor plans HERE and learn more about the design there if you want. Wouldn’t you love to have an attractive house with a simple and functional floor plan on your land while maintaining little or no mortgage to speak of?

It often seems like we, at least here in the US, work harder and harder each year to make more money to pay for the details of our lives. The problem is, that the details of our lives get more expensive each year too. Why? There are lots of reasons, but building a house bigger than you need is a great place to start looking. Look at your money situation. Where do you spend the most money each month? Your mortgage/rent? Your food costs? Your car? Chances are that the single biggest expense you have is related to your house.

And it’s not just the mortgage/rent payment. It’s the utility costs associated with the home. Take a look at the numbers and then consider what you can do to make a change. Consider building a smaller house that’s super efficient. An affordable straw bale home is just the answer you need for both initial construction costs and long term “life cycle” costs of the home. Chances are that will make a big difference on your wallet and, more importantly, the joy and free time you experience in your day to day life.

Build Smart. Build Small(er). Build Efficient. Enjoy Life…every day!

If you’re interested in really learning how to build with bales and you want to have perhaps one of the best weeks of your life in the process, then come to one of our workshops. We ALWAYS have a good time and you will gain the confidence to build your own house too. CLICK HERE to see what workshop locations and dates we have available this year!

102 Responses

  1. HI Andrew,
    I live in North east Texas and am really looking for a small cob “cellar”. I just need some place to store produce because our summer lasts from April to November. Without that I have to refrigerate everything. Is this possible in this climate. We usually have very little rain July and August so I think construction wouldn’t be much of an issue. Just wondering about temperature and humidity. Thanks for any advice.
    Tammy McKinney

  2. Hi Tammy. I am not an expert in cob construction as I focus on straw bale construction techniques. I would have no problem building a straw bale cold storage (root cellar) but don’t have the expertise to tell you about how cob would perform in that situation. You may want to contact Conrad rogue at http://www.HouseAlive.org and ask him. Best of luck.

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