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Home > Example Homes > Sustainable Straw Bale home

Sustainable Straw Bale home

Home Details

Year built
3 bedroom(s), 2 bathroom(s)

A commitment to a sustainable lifestyle has been a driving force behind the build of a straw bale house in the Dovedale area, near Nelson. The owners chose straw bale because of its insulation properties, the potential for quirky architectural features and the wish to build a healthy home for their growing family.

The couple started out with a wish list of features which they whittled away at to get the specifications to the required level within budget. The ground floor of the house is straw baled and naturally well insulated. The upper floor housing the children’s’ bedrooms, office and children’s lounge is gib and plaster, so to achieve energy efficiency throughout the home they went for above code insulation of R2.7 in the walls and R3.6 in the ceilings. Heating is provided by a single log burner in the downstairs lounge but the excellent passive solar design of the house means it stays at a comfortable temperature all year round, despite heavy winter frosts.

The house is well lit with eco-bulbs, except for those fittings on dimmers, and the heated towel rails are on timers.

Solar water heating is boosted with a manual switch when required, and water use is managed with low flow satin-jet showerheads, a front-loading washing machine and well-policed shower timers for the children.

The household survives on rainwater and efforts have been made to maximize catchment from roof areas. A grey-water diverter takes waste water to fruit trees, and water is collected from showers and taps as it warms up, for use in the vegetable garden.

The kitchen features a well designed cold-room that is strewn with garlic, herbs from the garden and last season’s pumpkins.

The straw bale walls provide insulation from the day’s heat and the upper and lower shuttered air inlets channel cool air in and warm air out to keep stored produce from the fast developing fruit and vegetable gardens at optimum temperature.

The house features natural timbers in abundance, with wonderful interior and exterior Macrocarpa beams and trunks, untreated Douglas Fir framing and a recycled hardwood door and feature windows.

The kitchen benches are Green Pine and Lawson Cypress. The peeled support posts in the living area combine with the soft edges of the plastered straw bale walls and window recesses to give the feeling of being in a comfortable and very organic family home.

Quirky features such as the outsized imported hardwood front door and an internal window make this home very personal for the owners, who bought the window long before the house foundations were poured. The truth window shows the packed straw inside the plaster walls and is a great reminder of the building construction effort.

Views in all directions of bush clad hills and snow-capped mountains draw the eye from the slowly developing landscaped grounds and the vegetable and fruit gardens. Children’s bikes on the lawn and the family dog complete the picture of a lifestyle home that exemplifies sustainable living with comfort, warmth and a wonderful ambiance.
By Caroline Crick, Eco homes and interiors writer/photographer.

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