September 21 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Building work has started on a pioneering energy-efficient house made largely from straw bales.
The home is being built in Onehouse, near Stowmarket, by Dave and Mabel Howorth, with the construction process also being used to teach others about the design.
The home is thought to be the first of its type in Suffolk.
The Passivhaus design uses compacted bales in sections 450mm thick with other eco-friendly materials to create walls, flooring and insulation.
The airtight design means warm air does not escape and very little mechanical heating is needed. The result for homeowners is a dramatically reduced utility bill.
Mrs Howorth said they had now started the straw bale courses.
“We offered the course to people and several people signed up to learn how to build with the bales,” she said.
“It’s a good way (to learn) if you don’t have a proper place to do it. We’re hoping people will take the opportunity in this country to come and learn.”
Mrs Howorth added the project was a big one and, with building work starting a year later than planned, she was not sure when it would be completed.
However it is hoped things will progress quickly with the ground floor walls in place in about a month.
“Last year we were supposed to build it but everything takes time and when we got a lot of things sorted out it was too late in the year,” Mrs Howorth said.
“In the next two weeks we hope to see the bales up for the ground floor. In May we hope to put the bales up for the first floor.”
Although the bales will receive cladding to protect them when the house is finished scaffolding has been put up to shelter the straw until then.
It has a temporary cover stretched across the top and netting all the way around as well.
A garage built last year is being used to store materials until they are needed. The foundations were also completed in 2013.
Mrs Howorth added: “We like to think it’s a win-win situation.
“The only downside is it’s stressful. But that’s the way it is.”