Week One: Load Bearing Straw Bale House

First day on site
Timbers installed for the windows
Timber noggings in place for extra support
First corner going up
Moving along the wall building up the top plate
Front wall top plate done and some temporary supports in place
Using 24″ clamps to help fix the timber in straight
Our new DeWalt circular saw making light work of cutting the OSB
Fixing the OSB up into the 8×2 timber
Almost half the top plate completed
800mm cleats to join the lengths of 8×2 together
Nearing the third corner by thursday
Onto the last corner before working over the steel plate
Checking our width to make sure we’re square before installing the last section
Top plate completed, just the extra noggings to support the roof trusses

An important week for Hawkland as we are on site working on our first straw bale house under our new company. Being involved with these key stages of the build is important to minimise problems in the near future. Whilst individually we have worked on many straw bale projects over the last few years with Strawbuild and other companies, this marks our first build that we have been involved in from the start of the timber construction right through to the straw bale installation.

Our previous work installing straw bales helps us to understand the best way of optimising the timber frame as we know what aspects can hinder us further down the line. This knowledge and ability to bring the carpentry in house allows us to control the process right from the start ensuring a high quality build and optimal detailing.

It has been a long week for Chris and David working in Oxfordshire with our client Darren, whilst Julie was working in Wales clay plastering and helping to install a roof extension on another straw bale house (who will then join us later in the second week). Our goal was to get the top plate, permanent 4×4 timber posts in place and all the temporary supporting posts constructed by this weekend. A tight deadline (as there was a lot of head scratching and discussions over some unique design details) but with some long days and hard work we were ready for the arrival of the roofing team on Saturday morning.

The house is an appropriately sized chalet bungalow built using straw bales, timber, lime and clay in the majority of the construction. For the plinth wall the client has built with Thermalite, Foamglas blocks and lime mortar to form the cavity wall which is then infilled with recycled Geocell foam glass gravel.

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