Award Winning 9 Star Strawbale Homes
Having won multiple ‘Excellence in Housing’ Master Builder awards in 2014, and recently designed a 9 star strawbale home (ABSA energy rated), we are one of Australia’s most respected and trusted strawbale earth builders, designers and educators.
What makes us different to other sustainable builders?
The materials we use are natural, they’re not man-made ‘eco’ products. When ‘eco’ materials are made they can often be sourced from overseas and include glues and chemicals. Real sustainable homes are organic, they use less carbon than man-made processed materials and have incredible qualities such as they regulate the temperature and humidity inside your home and purify the air.
What makes us different to other strawbale builders?
We design and build a whole home (not just run a workshop), which means you have a known, quality result for your entire home.
That means you receive the highest quality finishes for a set priced contract and time frame.
Your home has a six-year guarantee and is built to current building standards and regulations.
We have strawbale designs you can buy (they’re solar passive, designed to be affordable and specially designed around strawbales), or we can design your own custom home. You’ll receive an estimate cost up front, then a quote with a fixed price contract and set timeframe. We don’t know anyone else who can do this as yet.
For owner builders, architects, builders or professionals, we run strawbale and natural building courses to show exactly what to do (and not to do). Our strawbale courses are very different to any other course in Australia, because they’re much more detailed. We go through the entire building process from start to finish, in a practical and professional TAFE style learning format (with CPD Points). This is very different to a strawbale workshop where you’re working on someone’s actual home and only see one building method, and usually only see the straw wall raising or rendering independently.
Our strawbale and earth building courses are unlike any other in the country.
We are qualified teachers (Cert IV Training and Assessing). We go through the whole build from choosing your land and house design, various options for foundations, to the strawbale walls (we show the pros and cons of load bearing vs non), rendering and maintenance. You’ll learn what makes a good strawbale design, and what makes a house cheaper or more expensive to build. Most workshops elsewhere are only concerned with the strawbale walls or rendering. We go through best practise for wet areas, termites, foundations, roof styles, where to put insulation versus thermal mass, how cross ventilation works, and how to get the best solar passive designed home for your particular site – just to name a few important topics which most other workshops can’t cover.
We’re also very different because we build with a variety of natural materials such as:
Light straw, rammed earth, cob, poured earth, wattle and daub, earthen floors, green roofs, stone, mud brick, hempcrete, pressed earth bricks, clay renders, lime renders, gypsum renders, recycled materials and timber (traditional timber frames, reclaimed, local, sustainable, FSC), to name a few. We use materials which are the most energy efficient (using thermal mass and insulation for maximum benefit), the ones you prefer, and also the materials which meet your budget. Most other builders want to cover the world in the product they like. As long as it’s natural, we’ll work with it.
Incredible energy ratings on our straw bale homes
9 Star Strawbale Home – Our ‘Lickity Split’ home near Brisbane just got a whopping 9 star energy rating without us doing anything different in our design. We’re still gob smacked because we don’t design them to get good ratings, they just work out that way.
8.5 Star Strawbale Home – A two storey straw bale home called ‘the Barn’ which is in a cold climate zone, got rated at an incredible 8.5 stars. It’s this home that won two MBA building awards. We still get impressed by the efficiency of our homes.
8 Star Strawbale Home – Another strawbale home called the ‘Stepping Stone’, which we designed and built in Canberra, got an 8 star energy efficiency rating. So, with a good design, the right building materials, and a solar passive design, you can have a beautiful home and change the world.
We won two Master Builders ‘Excellence in Housing’ Awards
The first award was for homes under $500,000 so we were up against all conventional homes.
The second award was for Environmental Management (how we build from start to finish). So when we get the soil, clay, sand and water on site and put them into the walls, that’s a good thing as there is little transport and what we dig up from the ground goes back into he walls (literally). That means, low carbon footprint. We prefer natural materials (over using man-made ones), low VOC paints, no termite treated timbers, no fibreglass insulation batts… basically no nasties. We were over the moon at winning the awards for many reasons.
It’s good for the lads to see the fruits of their labour. It also good to get natural building recognised as by conventional building standards and being on par with their standards. It’s good to differentiate natural building as being the ‘real’ solution to being sustainable. Man-made sustainable products are really only one small part of a sustainable lifestyle.
The more people who build from natural materials the healthier we’ll all be. It’s also good to show that quality workmanship and refined finishes are possible in this industry: the more tradies who build with consistent quality, to a set timeframe and price, the better off the industry will be.
Oh, our homes are also Gold Medal rated (eTools)
The rating system looks at the life cycle assessment and green star rating of the home and takes into consideration the carbon footprint from start to finish. It’s an international system of rating homes.
For us, ratings aren’t hugely important – we had a home rated two years after we built it and it achieved a Gold Medal rating. The main thing is that we design our homes to be solar passive and energy efficient, and they are getting incredible ratings without us even trying to improve the results. They’re good, too, for the technically minded people, who like to show that these homes do out-perform the majority of homes being built.
‘We’ve been building for around twenty years now, so we have been able to refine our quality. We’ve built nearly thirty complete strawbale and earth homes, and worked on hundreds in total. We love creating beautiful, natural homes which we’re proud of, for a set price upfront so that our clients don’t get any surprises.’
Sam Vivers, Director (Qualified Builder, Supervisor & Trainer)