Straw Bale Tiny House

Written by Andrew Morrison

Sunset Cottage straw bale houseOver the years I have seen the interest in tiny homes grow and grow, including straw bale tiny houses. During that time, one thing has been consistent, the design and detailing of the non-straw bale structures. I would imagine that many of you have seen an image of a tiny house on a trailer by now. Wood siding, gable roof lines, tiny front porch, you know the look. The buildings have charm, to be sure, yet they tend to carry a similar look for the most part.

I have been party to several straw bale structures that could certainly fit the description of straw bale tiny house. For example, the Mountain View Cabin is only 200 SF of interior living space. Even smaller, the Sunset Cottage has its 200 SF measured on the exterior. There’s also the Applegate Cottage which boasts a whopping 570 SF, not including the sleeping loft. All of these structures have their place in the world of tiny construction, but I found a new one during the Montana straw bale workshop.

Tiny Straw Bale HomeThe owner Dale explained to our group that the structure we worked on will be used to build cabinets and wood kayaks, yet none of us could let go of the potential for the building as a home. At 470 SF, the organic shape lends itself to a feeling of open space and comfort. There is ample room for a bathroom, kitchen, living and sleeping areas, and several long bench seat options as well. The high ceilings help open the space up and make it feel bigger than it really is. I think that if Dale was allowed to (he is restricted by local building codes from building another home), he would gladly leave his existing home and move into this amazing space that we created together.

Tiny Straw Bale HomeIf anyone ever wondered if living tiny is possible while living in a straw bale structure, wonder no more. There are several options available to you for a straw bale tiny house solution and your imagination is the only limit of what might be possible. I would not suggest that one build a tiny straw bale house on a trailer as that would simply be difficult to make work due to the thick and heavy walls; however, if you plan to build on the ground, straw bale is a great option.

You get a building with superior insulation value, soundproofing, and fire resistance AND you get something that looks and feels unique and natural. I am a firm believer in loving the space in which I live. I think you will find that loving a straw bale structure is easy to do, and it will love you right back! How will it do that, you might ask? By keeping you warm, cool, quiet, and calm within its walls. I hope you will take a few minutes to look at some photos of straw bale homes and consider what might be possible in your own tiny bale abode.

straw bale workshop group photoWhat’s more, building a straw bale home, whether it be a straw bale tiny house or a “regular-sized” home, is a lot of fun if you get together with others to do it. Each year I work with several hosts around the world on their projects and bring in a workshop full of fun and interesting people. The experience we all share is one of connection, learning, sharing, and growing friendships. I hope you will consider joining us at a workshop soon so you too can get connected!

Want to learn more about straw bale houses and how to build one? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 16 Day Straw Bale eCourse! Find out more HERE.

23 Responses

  1. About to embark on this adventure, our plans are similar – strawbale post and beam approx 55sq/m not incl loft, skillion roof – except that it is for a family of five. I’ll keep you posted as to how we go in the actual ‘living the dream’ stage. It was initially intended to be a granny flat alongside our ‘regular’ size house however we tossed and turned over the size of the prospective debt and just couldn’t do it. So here goes…. (ps thanks for sharing your experiences – it is the perfect balance of practical knowledge and inspiring dreams-into-reality)

  2. You lucky folk in the USA! Here in the UK we not only have to cope with high prices for tiny plots of land with building consent, we also have backward and hidebound planners, although if you are rich you can have ‘things’ like The Gherkin and The Shard, but they want all houses to look the same. They don’t like rendered walls next to a brick-built neighbouring house, or roofs facing the opposite way.

  3. hi greetings from New Zealand! re buildig on trailers have seen a nice structure built here by a commercial ‘bale builder’ on a truck chassis to get around permits with very overhung walls on top of deer fencepost floor joists a very nice little art studio ! & also seen on trademe … our version of ebay advertised by same builder a couple of strawbale camper trailers so it can be done but fair call not to recomend it to the inexperienced keep up the good work would love a chance to do one/some of your courses Willie

  4. Hi Andrew!

    We are hoping to host a workshop in a few years when we retire and can develop our northern California property. I’ve been looking at the Applegate, but this new one looks great. I wish you had more pictures…

    Best wishes,

  5. Hi Carol. I will be posting more pictures of the structure in the next few weeks. The host is going to send me a disk with a ton of photos. He has also promised to send me pictures of the structure when it is complete and I will post those as well.

    I will have the plans available for people to purchase as well should someone want to build their own version of the “home.” I’m not sure when I will get those posted to the site, but I can make them available before they post if there is an interest.

  6. Narel, I hope you will keep us posted on your progress. In our experience, the initial transition to tiny was difficult, but the long term experience has been fantastic.

  7. Hi Andrew,
    I have been a fan of the strawbale for many years and have been keeping up with you via your website. It’s my dream that one day I will be able to build a LITTLE strawbale retreat in the hills of Arkansas, my home state. (These small cotteges are perfect for what I what to do).

    I know that you’ve done builds in Arkansas before, how big a problem is the humidity when it comes to keeping your structure dry and free from mold?


  8. Alberta, Canada….In my area, rural county planners will not permit a single story dwelling of less than 750sq.ft. The monstrosities currently being built in this area border on the absurd. Thankfully, I am surrounded by forest and don’t have to look at them on a daily basis!

  9. Keeping the structure dry is always a priority. With proper design and construction detailing Arkansas can be a fine location for a bale home. I would recommend an energy recovery ventilator as well to help draw out excess moisture.

  10. Hi Andrew, I enjoyed the photo’s of your own small straw bale home a while back! I have been a fan of yours for years now. I have owned 5+ acres of forest, in Northern Idaho for 15 yrs now. I have learned so much from you :-)… I plan to build a straw bale art studio on it some day and live in it!!! I thank you for all the years of info. You have fueled my day dreaming and planning… I hope to be one of your work shop’s some day.

  11. Hi Andrew

    Christchurch New Zealand. After loosing our home with the earthquakes we are looking at building a strawbale home. Can you recommend anybody here in New Zealand?

  12. Andrew,

    Do you have any more photos from this project? Also do you have the floor plans?



  13. Hi Nathan. I don’t have a lot more photos from these projects. There are three different structures laid out here and they each have different, yet simple floor plans. If you have one in particular you are interested in I can see what other details I have for you.

  14. Hello! I love the look of the house with the skillion roof! Is it possible to get the plans for that design?

  15. Hi, Andrew–I have followed your strawbale letters, pictures and information for several years. I love the concept and would love to live in a small strawbale house here in south Texas where it is so hot. I’m 79 and have limited income, so it’s only a dream but nothing wrong with dreaming, right? I’ll continue to follow you and admire what you are doing.

    BTW, would a yurt lend itself to strawbale construction? Just a thought.

  16. Reality starts with a dream. You could build a straw bale yurt; however, you would need a more substantial frame (or no frame) to make it work well. In other words, either load bearing or with an adequate frame.

  17. Hello, Andrew! I was wondering if the additional photos and plans were ever made available for this “home “?

  18. Hi Lia. Not yet. I have some photos of the Applegate Cottage, but I have not updated them yet. Just a few have made their way to me. Hoping for many more as LOTS of people have built this great home. 🙂

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