The Straw Bale House: Designing and Building with a Resource-Efficient Material

The Straw Bale House: Designing and Building with a Resource-Efficient Material

Author(s): Athena and Bill Steen, David Bainbridge, David Eisenberg

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

Paperback: 320 pages

ISBN: 0930031717

ISBN-13: 978-0930031718

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The Straw Bale House: Designing and Building with a Resource-Efficient Material

by Athena and Bill Steen, David Bainbridge, with David. Eisenberg.

Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1995.

This is a comprehensive 300 page manual providing a broad overview of straw bale construction, and its related components. Loaded with over 250 black & white and color photos, illustrations and sample floor plans, it profiles a large collection of straw bale houses. The book contains a brief history, benefits and concerns, basic considerations (including passive solar), a how-to for bale wall systems, and options for foundations, floors, doors and windows, roofs, and wall finishes.


Get a leg up on the first Little Pig with The Straw Bale House, your guide to inexpensive, durable, earth-friendly construction that will stand up to much more than the Big Bad Wolf. Authors Athena Swentzell Steen and Bill Steen founded the Canelo Project, which promotes innovative building; David Bainbridge is a California restoration ecologist; and David Eisenberg is an alternative-materials builder who pioneered straw bale wall testing. Between them, they have encyclopedic knowledge of their subject. The book is comprehensive, broadly covering why and how to build with straw and then focusing on the details, which are both intellectually and aesthetically delightful.Beside being cheap, clean, and lightweight, straw also provides advantages like energy efficiency and resistance to seismic stresses. For the nervous Martha Stewart types, there are scads of black-and-white and color plates of strikingly beautiful interiors and exteriors from New Mexico to southern France. Both new and experienced builders will appreciate the clear, simple instructions and diagrams, as well as practical explanations for dealing with building codes and insurers. The Straw Bale House shows us advantages so numerous and dramatic that you’ll wonder why we ever moved on to sticks and bricks. –Rob Lightner


Using plastered straw bales as building materials for a home may not sound stable or long-lasting, but these can be used for a variety of purposes from adjacent buildings to entire houses, can be used with relatively little experience, and have many attributes; from super-insulation to cheap construction. Applications are more useful for the Southwest region but ideas may transfer to other U. S. locales. The book’s price tag seems high for a paperback, but this goes in great detail on a subject which is fairly understated in most construction or homeowner’s guides. — Midwest Book Review

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