Cool Class: Straw-Bale Homes 101

September 30, 2013 | By | Comments (2)

Gregor barn-crop.preview

There are so many high-tech ways to build a house. You can meld shipping containers for a new take on modular homes, you can go utterly passive and ditch the furnace and AC all together, you can even build a structure almost entirely out of glass–and that’s all way cool.

But right now, I’m drawn to a building technique that actually has its roots on the prairie in the 1860s: straw bale construction. According to David Arkin of the California Straw Building Associate (CASBA), homes made with straw bales have thick exterior walls, are energy-efficient, and are actually more fire-resistant than conventional construction techniques. The best part is how they’re made: homeowners gather their friends, family, and neighbors for a “bale raising” party. Everyone gets a thorough how-to from on-site pros, then the community literally builds the home together, usually sharing a potluck meal later in the day.

Want to try it out? CASBA is hosting a three-day workshop in Yolo County (north of San Francisco) October 12-14 where anyone can get hands-on experience in building straw bale homes. Come on, you know you want to one up Laura Ingalls Wilder.

photo courtesy CASBA


  1. loneoak54

    My husband, of 35 years, and I started planning our straw bale home in 1992. We bought the perfect land in 1995; then found out you need to use wheat or rice straw, not hay. We have just retired and being in our mid & late 60’s are too beat up to take on the challenge of building and finding someway to import straw to South Texas. It was fun dreaming.

    October 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm
  2. traciesimmons

    What a great course. David Arkin is one of our upcoming speakers and I look forward to hearing more from him.

    October 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm

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