Week Three & Four: Weather Proofing and Straw Bale Installation

Bales being delivered from the farm just round the corner.
Holes drilled for the sharpened hazel poles in the timber noggin, with foam glass insulation filling cavity and inbetween the sole plate.
Moving up from the second course to the fourth course of bales before we then strengthen the walls with long hazel poles.
Bales installed up to the fourth course along all the walls.
Giving the hazel poles a sharp spiked end to help pierce through the bales.
Rob Walker (left) of Strawbale Building UK (SBUK) giving  Darren (right) a hand.
Moving up to the fith, sixth and seventh courses.
Experimenting with some old methods to help guide us when lowering the roof on to the bales.
Roof successfully lowered and now we’re using the trucker straps to compress the bales.
Using a water level to check the level the roof.
An ancient but very useful tool for checking levels quickly and simply on a larger scale.


We are back this week to continue our work in supporting Darren on his straw bale home in Oxfordshire. Having done a lot of work on straw bale houses in Australia Darren is bringing his knowledge back to the UK to build his own home.

Hawkland have been involved from the start of the carpentry to the installation of the straw bales. After the long two weeks spend building the frame and installing the roof Julie worked on for a third week. Throughout this time Julie and Darren worked long days to get the roof fully weatherproof, including the gable ends and scaffolding sheets wrapped round the walls. Further work was done in securing the timber baseplate to the Thermalite blocks in the foundation, picking up and delivering the straw bales, drilling the holes in the noggins for the hazel spikes and other preparation work that needed to be done before the bales could be installed.

Whilst away for other work Darren cracked on with installing the bales. By the time David was back on site he had got up to the fourth course of bales along the majority of the walls. The pressure was on as they had 5 days to get the walls reinforced with hazel poles and the rest of the bales installed before the rest of Hawkland turned up at the weekend to lead on lowering the roof and compressing the walls.

The fixed point of the large steel beam added a level of difficulty to the process but everything went as smoothly as expected, with a few areas needing adjusting the next day once everything had settled. A great benefit to bales is the flexibility they offer when working with them. If anything need adjusting, its usually very stright forwards and problems can be solved very quickly.

As with most self build projects, Hawkland has been involved in a specific part of the building stage and now step off site to allow Darren to continue at his own pace. We will no doubt pay a visit in the future to see how it’s all going and if needed will happy help on future elements of the build.


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