Since “The Three Little Pigs” is the story everyone conjures up when told “we’re building a house out of straw”, it’s only appropriate to cover that subject right up front. Here are some facts to keep in mind:
- Yes- loose straw around a construction site is extremely dangerous, and there have been SB structures which burned down because a cigarette or torch got things started. The first rule, then, it not to leave straw lying around as you build!
- A SB (strawbale) wall, when properly built, is actually a stressed panel. This means it is two strong durable layers of some kind of plaster held together by the strawbales in the middle. This kind of panel is so strong that a house can be built using load bearing strawbale walls. For a variety of reasons we are using strawbale infill (and a post & beam frame) instead.
- I have read that in one fire rating test, a blowtorch was placed on one side of a SB wall, pointed at the plaster. As it ran for two hours, the thermometer placed on the other side of the wall rose exactly zero degrees. Would you put a torch on your wall for hours? 😮 Actually, we won’t either, but this test blows the fire safety myth right out of the water.
Hope this helps! In our next post, we’ll answer the “but what about bugs in the walls?” question…