Building Codes: Getting Approval for Straw Bale Homes

Written by Andrew Morrison

international code councilI receive a ton of questions about building codes and whether or not a certain state covers straw bale construction in their building code. Here’s what I recommend you do to find out whether or not your state has a building code for alternative construction and what to do if they do not.

1. Buy the code book for your state. You will need the code book no matter what structure you build, so you may as well buy it now. Use the following site to research what code book is required in your area. http://www.reedfirstsource.com/codes/index.asp

2. Once you have the code book (make sure you get any local or state addendum to the code book when you order it), check for an alternative building section.

3. If there is nothing for alternative homes or straw bale in particular, then call your building department and let them know you plan to build an alternative home and that you intend to use approved building codes from another state or an engineer for the design.

4. You may need an engineer, but you may be able to simply use a state recognized code like the one in Oregon. Of course the code in Oregon is different than the details I show in my straw bale videos because it is outdated; however, you can use it as a base and then move forward from there.

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Hello Andrew, I’m just the road from you in Klamath Co. I have 4 acres up on Bly Mtn. Pass that I’d like to build a small strawbale house on.How can I get a code book? Klamath Co. is very republican and not too friendly to off gridders because that can’t make any money off us. Any help with contacts over here you know of? I am in Mesa Az. for the winter. Will be on my property the first of May. Don’t think I can build till the summer of 2016 or 17. Thanks, Larry

Hi Andrew. My partner and I are planning to purchase a property in the near future and build a post & beam strawbale home. There are alternative building provisions in our provincial building code (British Columbia), plus we have a copy of the ASRi “Straw Bale Alternative Solutions Resource” to assist us in meeting those codes. We’ve been studying your book, “A Modern Look At Straw Bale Construction.” The International Straw Bale Building Registry also indicates that there are a number of strawbale homes within the region we hope to build, although from what I can tell not all of… Read more »