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BBC Midlands Today's Bernadette Kearney
"It`s an old idea that`s gaining new popularity"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Straw house popularity grows
Straw house being built
Straw bale house: "Cheap, quick and visually stunning"
A house made of straw has become the latest craze among do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

One couple from Herefordshire have even turned the construction of their dream home into a community project.

The Wilkinson family from Putley are using traditional methods to build their house using mainly bales of straw.

The project has been given an innovative building grant from the Department for the Environment.

'Catching on'

Kester Wilkinson advertised in a local paper for volunteers to help with the construction of his home.

The amateur builders have all been on a week long training course.
Straw house being built
The straw is tightly packed into the frame

They are using their new skills to build the house in a weekend.

Mr Wilkinson said he was surprised by the popularity of straw as a building material.

"There's a lot of people building in straw locally. It is really catching on."

The bales are used to form the walls between a timber frame.

Once the bales are in place, they are strengthened with hazel sticks and the entire structure covered with the clay dug from the foundations.

The house is expected to last for at least 50 years.

Good insulation

The supporters of straw as a building material say the walls will not be a fire risk because the bales are so tightly packed.

They also say the buildings offer twice the insulation value required by British building regulations.

Straw: "A fashionable building material"
The Amazon Nails building Company, which is based in Yorkshire, runs regular courses teaching people how to build a straw bale house.

Barbara Jones, from the company, says it is quick, economical and often visually stunning.

"I've lost track of how many there are. There's at least 100 now in the UK and Ireland.

"We're working on a major one in Ireland in the shape of a spiral. It's the first in Europe on two storeys."

Ancient skill

In the United States, straw has become a fashionable building material, and builders have been using it for years.

It started in Nebraska, where settlers had few trees to chop down.

They turned to straw to build their homes - reviving an ancient skill that is now used to build offices, homes and factories.

Farmers in Britain have long used straw bales to construct temporary animal shelters.

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See also:

10 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
Houses of straw make comeback
02 Mar 99 | UK
A home-made home
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