Strawbale House

Building Progress of Our Strawbale House

Archive for the ‘Pictures’

Published February 19th, 2011

Started with the Balustrading

Today I started with the balustrade on the front of the deck. I am using recycled hardwood that we picked up yesterday from a demolition yard.

As you can see we are already using the deck as our “camping” kitchen.

Published July 1st, 2010

The Render Workshop

Awesome community-minded people turned up to do the workshop. The picture below shows the Saturday group. Some of these also came for Sunday’s session and some new people turned up on Sunday as well. Nick gave a great  teaching session about clay and the formulas required for the different coats and then it was hands on. We even had a professional photographer, Kat Gawlik (, come and video Saturday’s session. Even Kat  got in on the rendering on the Sunday. A lot was achieved, 1st and 2nd coats to all of the rooms in just these two days. Well done and thank you so much.

Published April 14th, 2010

Thank you to all Helpers

House at end of working bee.

The straw bale wall raising weekend was an unqualified success. All the bales, except for the last row, were in place at the end of the weekend. Our bedroom wall was one exception with the determined Andy smacking in the last row on Saturday afternoon (video to come).  Perry and Dave were also determined in getting the ‘return wall’ finished on Sunday and left their mark.

Jan (Perry’s partner) and Gary (a most determined and skilful handyman) and his wife, Joy worked with me on the kitchen and pantry walls. Thanks also to Tim and his lovely wife, Kate who are hopefully getting their straw bale house happening soon. Thanks to George, Andy, Yucca and  Marie and friend who came on Saturday. On Sunday I’d like to thank Pascal and Pascal for their help and their discussion on solar cookers which they have imported for sale. Anyone interested in buying one see

Talking about cooking, the workers could not have had the energy to continue if it were not for the cooking of my friends Lindel and Col. Also in this area thanks to Alex, Nicholas and Melinda for being go-fors. Great work guys!

some of our helpers

Thank you also to our building team, Nick , Roger and Andrew who gave up

their weekend to impart their valuable knowledge of strawbale building and supervise the weekend. Mark will embed some videos of the weekend in future posts. For those that are impatient check out:

If I have left anyone out my sincerest apologies and please let me know so I can include you in the next post. Rosalba

Published February 20th, 2010

The deck, the roof and then…

Nick and Roger are amazing. In the last 4 weeks they have managed to do the deck, have the roof completed so the roofer can start and all internal walls are up as well. If you are ever considering building a straw bale house these are the guys to get it done. No fuss, happy to use recycled timber (deck is all recycled hardwood we sourced from eBay and local salvage yards), reasonably priced and so easy to deal with. They make building fun. Their website is . The next bit for them is to make the window boxes and put in the sills (also recycled)

Our neighbour has recommended her roofer, Andrew. He had her octagonal house roof up in a week and he says ours should be the same. So once the roof is on the strawbales can be delivered and the fun really starts.

Published December 11th, 2009

Kurilpa bridge? Nah, these posts are straight.

091209 posts2kurilpa bridgeNick and Roger are making great progress with the framing (left). Lovely straight posts adorn our slab and define where our straw bale walls will be. The Kurilpa bridge (right) is a pedestrian bridge in Brisbane that looks like a steel spider web with twigs in it. Interesting engineering!

It’s incredibly hot and dry. Over 39 degrees celcius in the middle of the day and these guys just keep on working – absolutely amazing! Yours truly (Rosalba) had great difficulty keeping up with them in the middle of the day and had to sit in the shade for a bit and soak my hat in water. Even the normally delightful afternoon breeze was just hot wind. The guys had to construct a shaded area for the generator as it was overheating in the sun! Even with these super guys working for us, we won’t have a roof on before Christmas so you’ll have to wait until after New Year for the straw bale episode. Happy holidays!091209 posts3

Published November 25th, 2009

Walls not straw bale

Looking from dining to bedroom

Looking from dining to bedroom



In the wet areas and as thermal mass, it was decided to use timbercrete: waste sawdust, cement and sand which is formed into blocks/bricks and air dried. The beauty of this product is that it can be nailed into and cut  like wood, it is lighter weight than similar sized masonary. I went for the larger block as I have lived with brick feature walls in our last house for 13 years and was over it. The other option was mudbrick. I feel the benefit of mudbrick is if you make it yourself and thereby save money and fuel miles not having it delivered, but if I have to have them delivered from afar then I can’t see the point! We wanted the house finished in our lifetime so we chose the timbercrete. As you can see the hexagonal windows did prove to be a bit of a challenge to the bricklayer, Mike Pascoe but nothing he can’t handle – awesome bloke! The local carpenter, Johan, was finding the framing for the straw bales very challenging. He kept muttering the word – difficult. So as a sign of mercy and peace of mind for myself, I let him go. Instead we now have “it’s not a train crash” Nick and Roger of who specialise in straw bale building.  Nick and Roger believe that they can get the timber frame up before Christmas. We’re hoping to do a wall raising one weekend soon so stay tuned! I’ll try to remember the video camera for that one. Rosalba

media left, study right

media left, study right

Published November 5th, 2009

The only way is up!

guess where the bales goWe now have a slab with rods sticking our where the bales will go.  Next week (from 9/11/09) we are going to start putting the frame up with the assistance of a  local carpenter, Johan.

Timbercrete blocks (for wet areas and feature walls) have arrived and need a little longer to dry out before being laid. Timbercrete is waste timber shavings mixed with cement to create building blocks. You can saw them and you can nail into them! To get the full details of these amazing blocks check out . Why didn’t we do the whole house with them?- price!From our bedroom

Timber should arrive this week from Cypress supplies in Caboolture. It seems we were lucky to get the cypress pine that we did get second hand – it is very rare and not that much cheaper than new. This cypress is farmed sustainably and grows in Queensland. Roofing iron arrived today from North Coast Demolitions. It is new roofing iron, just left overs and job lot returns. Mark and I spent last Saturday morning sorting out which bits we wanted. Local transport guy, Rick was able to deliver it all today.

Stay tuned, it’s only getting more exciting!

Published September 30th, 2009

More bits and pieces

We are trying to keep our impact on the environment as low as possible, so we are constantly on the lookout for second hand items. Ebay has been great for the doors, windows, pavers (heaps) and some timber.

Some items I thought we were stuck with buying new i.e. the spa. Fortunately for us, one of my acupuncture clients turned out to be the owner of the Reno Barn in Tarragindi. So Mark and I, plans in hand, investigated the place one Monday afternoon.

Wow, what a treasure house! Beautiful stained glass from old pubs and demolished government buildings, kitchens, lighting, fireplaces, furniture, windows and  doors (sizes on them), timber (already denailed) plus some really cute memorabilia is on display, all neatly stacked and catalogued. Nuccia was awesome in helping us find what we needed: recycled cypress pine (didn’t know you could get it), hardwood posts, spa with working motor, laundry tubs, toilet suites, and best of all windows with stained glass for the servery.

e’d been looking for months for the servery windows on Ebay and they were always the wrong size or they were sold before we could put a bid in. So we were delighted with the find. Plus they delivered – hooray! Nuccia is still keeping an eye out for any more recycled cypress for us.

So I can highly recommend the Reno Barn – at 526 Tarragindi Road, Salisbury QLD 4107 (Evans Road End)
Phone Number: (07) 3274 5663 (Yep, shameless plug but they deserve it, just check out the pics)

Published August 23rd, 2009

The Building Process Begins

Rosalba standing in the kitchen

We have got our plans approved and we have now started building.

We have found a great concreter and block layer (Mike Pascoe from Witta) that is doing the foundations work for us. Once Mike set out where the concrete pad will go we realised that the one retaining block wall we have would have been 2 meters tall. So we decided to dig into the hill by about one meter. This will mean a bit more earthworks but on the positive side, that concrete pad will be on a very strong foundation of bed rock.

Maniac with a chainsaw

While all of the foundations are done, I have been busy cutting down some trees that we have now found would be too close to the house. One of them was a large spotted gum of which we have kept the straighter and larger branches to use as hand rails on the veranda and the steps.

We have also kept the staight part of the trunk in the hope that we’ll find someone with a portable sawmill who would make step treads out of it.

Published January 27th, 2009

Giant Meccano Set

Rosalba and I have purchased some Cantilever shelving to store some of the recycled material we are using to build our house. This shelving has arrived as a giant “Meccano Set” which Rosalba and I started assembling on Sunday.

We bought two sets and in this picture you can see the second set how it was delivered before we have assembled it and installed it. Most parts can easily be handled by a single person except for the uprights which you can see at the bottom of the pack. The uprights are really heavy and are still quite heavy even when carrying with two people. The only tools we needed where a couple of spanners and a tin snip to cut the bands holding the packs together.

In this next picture we have already assembled one set of this “Meccano Set”. Assembling and setting this up took a bit more than 2 hours to do and was actually quite intensive. Setting this up was also made slightly more difficult by the fact that it was raining when we did it and all the parts where wet and a bit slippery. The shelving was easy to set-up, but you definitely want to be at least two people as carrying some of the bits by yourself is backbreaking.

This last picture shows how we have been able to already clear up the shed a bit and how much cleaner it looks than just having it all stacked on the floor.

Unfortunately we ran out of time and out of nuts to assemble the second set. So we have another set to assemble and set-up. We’ll most likely do that in about a fortnight which should also give the supplier of the shelving enough time send the missing nuts to us.

All in all, the shelving was not cheap, but it will defenitley out last us and every single arm on this shelving is rated to cary up to 500 kg, which will mean we can store almost anything on this shelving. The arms alre also adjustable which is great as well and we are really happy with it.