Speaking of houses built with straw bales seems inevitable that the story of the three little pigs appears, pessimists wonder if the walls are really strong to support the roof - or could become a terrible fire risk. However, it is proved that houses with straw walls instead of bricks are equal or safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly.
Building straw houses represents an alternative to conventional construction with a result of great comfort, environmental friendliness and an affordable price. The straw bale construction is not limited to single-family homes, it is also suitable for projects such as offices, garages, studies, etc.
A well built home with straw bales can save up to 75% on heating and cooling costs. In fact, in most climates, installing air conditioning is not necessary to keep the house cool all summer, even in a Mediterranean climate such as Mallorca. With this type of construction saves money and natural resources.
Walls built with straw bales provide excellent acoustic insulation having a superior sound absorption compared to traditional materials. This will be especially important in homes of the city and urban environments where noise pollution is higher.
Although it may seem strange the houses of straw bales are approximately three times more fire resistant than conventional homes.Straw bales due to compaction contain little oxygen and thus are resistant to combustion. In addition, because of straw bales are covered with a mortar, this property is even greater.
A building with straw bales helps the sustainability of the planet in many ways. For example, straw is a waste product that is burned or composted in standing water. By using straw rather than eliminate it, we reduce air pollution or consumption of water, two factors that impact on environmental conservation. Needless to mention that water is one of the natural resources that we have to protect and save more in Mallorca.
The use of straw as insulation means that standard insulation materials are removed from the house. The insulation of standard fiber glasses usually contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. While other insulating based on plywood than contains glues, have waste gases that may leak into the house over time.
here are multiple options for finishing walls, although the usual options are: lime, clay or plaster. Each of these materials has its pros and cons, but they all require specialized application by a proper professional. When choosing a finishing material, you should pay attention to durability, easy maintenance, breathability, flexibility, strength, ease of application, cost, embodied energy, and aesthetics. Of these all factors the most important are the breathability, embodied energy, and durability.
Pests does not represent a real threat. Once the walls are covered with lime or stucco, there is no way that insects or rodents can enter into the bales. If they could still get them is almost impossible to move because of the density of straw bales.
There are thatched houses built in the 1800s in Nebraska and Europe. The straw bale houses have consistently resisted bad weather and wind in Wyoming, as well as major earthquakes in California. Many architects and engineers consider straw bales as a building material ideal for areas of seismic risk.
In 1921 a straw house was built in Europe by the engineer Feuillette that is still inhabited to this day, you can see in the following link Feuillette House
With current techniques both plumbing work and electrical installations are performed without any complications and is completely safe.