Straw Bale Homes – What’s Happening

  • Straw Bale Building Course – November 9-11, 2012, get in quick!
  • Photos of Deb and Ben’s 2 Storey strawbale home
  • Earth Building Conference in Nowra
  • Cheap Clay! We’re moving our Clay that we use in our homes
  • Photos of Alexandra’s Blue Mountains straw bale home
  • Free mulch
  • New tools for straw bale building
  • Nominate your home to Sanctuary Magazine
  • Next Issue: How much will it cost if we Owner Build? and what’s the difference between thermal mass and insulation
3 Day Straw Bale Building Course 

Friday 9th November to Sunday 11th November


This course is run by the Australian Rural Education Centre, Mudgee and is different to our straw bale work bees. The Course covers:

–      designing for strawbale construction
–      foundation & footing considerations
–      framing options
–      load bearing and hybrid techniques
–      bale stacking, compression, lacing & tensioning
–      door & window openings
–      straw bale specific detailing
–      wet room design and considerations
–      allowance for electrical & plumbing services
–      rendering materials and techniques

Other topics include: termite protection, water proofing, fire safety, how not to build, and much more. The workshops have a strong theoretical component taught in a classroom setting with visual aids. Workbooks are provided that participants will complete throughout the course that will reflect the needs of their own project.

The theory sessions will be complimented with hands-on practical experience where we will demonstrate techniques for wall raising and rendering. This course costs $550 per person and is for owner builders, designers, architects and builders. Places are limited and already half full. Next course won’t be till 2013.Click here for more info>


Earth Building Conference, NowraThe Earth Building Association of Australia (EBAA) had their annual conference in the beautiful mud brick centre of Bamerang. We saw demonstrations of rammed earth, light straw, poured earth/formblock and visited the birthplace of Peter Jirgen’s mud bricks. We learnt a lot and spoke with many different earth builders and enthusiasts. The next conference will be next year and if you’re thinking of building or are interested in earth building, we highly recommend going along. We visited this beautiful ‘muddie’ that Peter Hickson built while at the conference.

Here are some of the people who did demonstrations:

Cheap, Beautiful Clay for Earth BuildingWe bought 100 tonnes of great clay that we use to build our straw bale and earth homes. We have to move it so if you are thinking of building and have room to store clay, we recommend buying it quickly before we move  it. Call Perry at Thomas Landscaping at 135 Ridge Street  Lawson NSW 2783 (02) 4759 1936 (Blue Mountains). It’s cheap cheap cheap but not for long.
Free MulchMulchnet is a green waste recycling service which has given away 80,000 tonnes of free mulch over the past decade. It recycles tree prunings rather than sending them to the tip. Register on Mulchnet’s online database service to receive mulch whenever a tree contractor is in your area needing to offload mulch. Otherwise it can end up being trucked miles to the tip.For further information:  mulchnet.com


Photos: 2 Storey Straw Bale HomeIt’s amazing what you can do with straw bales and a bit of mud!

More photos are on our website>or facebook>

From Worst Nightmare to a Great Strawbale HomeAlexandra’s strawbale home in the Blue Mountains got off to a rocky start. Her builder who hadn’t had any experience with straw bale building went bankrupt. Unfortunately the ‘builder’ was using a building licence from his mate. So he wasn’t a licenced builder. The renderer who did the house didn’t do the render properly so it failed (it delaminated from the walls). Because the builder hadn’t put the windows in before he laid the timber floors, the floors popped and had to be redone. There were a lot of other major problems. The good news is that she was able to go to the tribunal and get her money back which then paid for us to fix all of the problems. Now she’s living in her straw bale home which she loves.

More photos of Alex’s home is on ourwebsite> or on facebook>.

Nominate Your House to Sanctuary Magazine

If you have just completed a house or renovation that you think would look good in Sanctuary, email sanctuary@ata.org.auwith details of the home and a selection of low-res images.  (This offer applies to homeowners, architects and sustainable building designers).


Also, feel free to tell your local newspaper or the Owner Builder Magazine about your natural earth home to share your experiences.

New Tools For Straw Bale Building
Although we have built over 23 straw bale homes (which include other natural walls made of cob, mud brick, poured eath, rammed earth, timbercrete and light straw  homes), we’re always looking for ways to improve. 

We use wires to tension our walls vertically and then stitch walls to posts horizontally (some straw bale builders choose not to do this. We’re a little more conservative and like to know they definitely won’t move until proven otherwise). We’ve specially designed and made two new tools to make this easier and safer. There’s the wire twitcher and the baling pin. They save us time and make the job so much easier. We’re happy to share the knowledge and help others so we’re selling the extras we had made up. Just ask us for more details or you can see them in action at our workshops & courses.


Viva Living Homes designs and builds homes from natural, sustainable materials such as earth, clay and straw. These include straw bale homes, cob, mud brick, poured eath/formblock, rammed earth, timbercrete and light straw homes. We use solar passive designs to help regulate the temperture in a home depending on the climate and location. The design of a sustainable home, together with using the right blend of thermal mass and insulation is critical to it’s success. 

For our latest photos and news, please ‘friend’ us on facebook. Feel free to share our news!

www.vivahomes.com.au | Ph: 0450 480 460 | Em: info@vivahomes.com.au