Straw houses gaining acceptance despite concerns

Many enticed by low construction costs, energy efficiency

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When you're ready to go shopping for building materials for your next home, you may not need to go any further than the nearest hay field. Straw-bale houses are becoming increasing popular and accepted in many areas of the West and Southwest, and this method of construction can offer an interesting alternative to conventional building. There are a number of methods employed when constructing a straw-bale house, depending on the size and design of the house, local building codes, and a variety of other factors. Essentially, though, the house is constructed by using bales of straw for the exterior walls, which are then typically covered with stucco on the outside and plaster on the inside. Construction usually begins with a poured concrete footing, and the bales are then stacked up in courses with a running bond, similar to the laying of bricks, so that the mid-point of the bales on one course fall over the butt joints between the bales in the row below. The tightly bound ...