What Does a Straw Bale House Cost in 2021? | Checkatrade
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Straw bale house costs

If you’re looking to build your own home and want a natural, strong and thermally efficient alternative to traditional bricks and mortar, straw bale could be the answer. Although it’s not a conventional material for most homes in the UK, straw bale is easy to build with, offers excellent insulation and comes at pretty low cost.

If you’re wondering, how much does it cost to build a straw bale house? You’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we look at the average straw bale house costs in the UK. All prices featured are meant as a guide, for accurate costs we recommend speaking to your local straw bale specialists.

House typeUnitCost - low Cost - highAverage cost
Straw bale house Per m2£1,200£1,500£1,350
Straw bale house Per square foot£111£140£125.50

Straw bale house costs

The average cost to build a straw bale house in the UK is around £1,200 to £1,500 per m2, excluding internal fixtures and fittings. Due to the unique nature of straw bale houses, hiring an experienced and trusted expert is important.

If you’re planning to self-build your straw bale house the cost will be much lower, around £650 per m2. However, unless you’re highly skilled and experienced in construction we wouldn’t recommend this option. Building a straw bale house is a big job and requires skilled construction.

The largest part of the build cost will be the carpentry. Carpenters will typically charge between £20 to £40 per hour, depending on the complexity of the work. To find out more about carpentry costs, take a look at our guide to carpentry prices.

In addition to the price of construction, there are other costs to factor in for building your straw bale house. You’ll need to think about electrics, plumbing, the interior fittings, and any other additional features you want to add to your home. For more information on those prices, check out our plumber cost guide or our guide to electrician hourly rates.

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Straw bale house cost per square foot

To work out the cost of your project, you can use a straw bale house cost calculator based on the average cost per square foot being £111 to £140 per square foot. That will give you the main build cost of straw bale house, then add on any extras (plumbing, electrics, interiors, etc) to get to the total amount you need to budget for.

We always recommend adding 10-15% on top of your project budget for contingency. With a large project like building a straw bale house, it’s quite likely additional or unforeseen costs will add up and it’s good to have spare budget for those occasions.

Building a straw bale house

One of the great advantages of building a straw bale house is its longevity. If designed and built well, using good quality materials and well looked after, a straw bale house can last over 200 years.

There are a number of ways to build using straw bale, including:

  • Load-bearing (or ‘Nebraska’) method, where the straw plays a structural role in the building.
  • Infill method, which involves the straw bale being used to fill a timber frame that provides the structure.
  • Hybrid approach, where you combine the the best of the load-bearing and infill methods.
  • Prefabricated panels made up of timber and straw, which offers the most convenient option.

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build straw bale house cost

How to keep a straw bale house well maintained?

Maintenance is key to the long life of a straw bale house. Make sure your straw bale is plastered and decorated with materials that allow it to breathe. Those include lime plasters for the exterior, clay plasters for the interior, and use limewash or clay-based paints.

Do I need building regulations to build a straw bale house?

It’s always important to ensure that any construction work is carried out to a high standard. You can work with private building control companies or your local authorities for guidance on regulations for your straw bale house.

Is a straw bale house at risk of fire and pests?

The reality is, straw bale houses are no more of a fire risk than those built of more traditional construction materials. Compacted bales of straw don’t have enough air in them to combust, and lime plaster also offers a layer of fire protection.

As for pests, like rats and mice, they actually like to have cavities to move around and nest in – something which straw bale houses don’t have. So, in fact, you’re probably less likely to have an issue with pests in a straw bale house than conventional properties.

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