Build Your Own Eco House
When he's expecting visitors, Steve James watches out the windows so he can catch the look on their faces when they see his house for the first time. "It's always the same, " he say. "There's an intense stare and total mystification, as if they can't quite believe what they are seeing." This may be because James's house is made of straw and has a turf roof covered in flowers.
James is passionate about eco homes and deeply proud of the cottage, which huddles by a loch near Dumfries. His kitchen is made from a cedar that blew over in a Glasgow park. His sink came from a skip. To one side is a Moroccan marbled shower room, to the other are sofas and a log-burning stove. He sleeps in a galleried bedroom. A compost loo and rainwater filtration system complete the picture.
The total cost: £4, 000. "Actually, you could make it for less than that, " James says. "I'd cut the wood myself next time instead of going to the sawmill. That would knock off a thousand." He finds the whole concept of mortgages quite amusing.
His home is strong, warm and utterly watertight. The only maintenance is a lime wash on the walls every year or two. The turf roof repairs itself. "I'm building a water wheel next, " James says. "In the meantime, I'm getting power from a car battery that my partner, Eli, charges for me at her house. You'd be amazed what you can run from that battery – a digital recording studio, a stereo, tools, lights and a laptop."
James, 52, a software engineer, took 10 months to build his house, finishing it in November last year. Now, he's set up a website about straw-bale homes, runs eco-engineering courses and takes commissions making straw-bale buildings; the latest is a changing room for a Hull primary school.
The benefits run much deeper than simply wanting to save cash and the planet. "Now that it's built, the initial buzz has grown into a sort of permanent primeval satisfaction. I sit here, it's warm and quiet and there's snow flying past the windows, and I think: yes, this is what it's all about."
Straw bales can be used to make all kinds of buildings. If you're just building a summer house, you may not need planning permission. The best way to get started is to go on a course or help someone else build a straw-bale house; James's website can put you in touch with someone.
But it's not hard to do it yourself, he says. "Straw is perfect for a beginner. It's easy to work with and you can make your house any shape you want. You can use straw to make any kind of buildings – from a four-storey office block to a house I know, which is a spiral. Go mad, have fun, start living!" It'll help to follow these seven steps. But you will need a bit of DIY sense – and some manual labour from your friends.
1. Build the foundations
I made a solid, 2ft-high base from rocks. It's sort of like building a solid dry-stone wall – you don't need mortar. Take time to get the rocks to fit together well, but it's good to leave gaps; this will ventilate the straw and keep it dry.
2. Add the wooden floor
You need a wooden frame on which to lay your flooring and build the walls. I used flat reclaimed timbers as joists, laying them in a grid and nailing them together. To create a curve at the front, I used thick plywood. The whole thing just sits on the stones – the straw-bale walls will hold it down.
3. Assemble the roof frame
Make the roof frame, so that it's ready to go on as soon as the walls are up. Start with a sturdy frame the same shape as the base. Attach the rafters and fix them together in a tepee shape. It's easiest to hold it all together with screws.
4. Walls and windows
I used 200 oat-straw bales to make my house. They cost £1 each. First, lay a complete layer of bales around the edge of the base. Using twine, stitch these to the wooden base. Build upwards, stacking the bales like bricks. Drive thin, pointed wooden stakes through them at intervals to hold them together. I got the walls up in five days – with help from friends. You can cut the straw to fit any shape you like, and stuff extra bits in any gaps. All my windows came from skips. I laid a polythene membrane between the frames and the straw, to protect the frames from damp.think worldwide limited air max 95 worldwide spider worldwide worldwide currencies momentum worldwide indicia worldwide worldwide sim twitter worldwide trends worldwide vaccines edge worldwide logistics worldwide trends worldwide population hmrc worldwide disclosure facility nintendo switch 51 worldwide games nike air force 1 worldwide jack morton worldwide worldwide travel travel insurance worldwide worldwide festival 2022 omicron worldwide cases worldwide insurance escape worldwide nike air max 95 worldwide dfs worldwide track parcel worldwide s b s worldwide population worldwide tmp worldwide janus worldwide ups worldwide saver million subscribers worldwide pwc worldwide tax summaries dhl worldwide worldwide omicron deaths university of london worldwide protection dog worldwide football scouting worldwide how many suicidal deaths in 2022 worldwide trending on twitter worldwide heathrow worldwide distribution centre tops million subscribers worldwide cognizant worldwide limited nike worldwide trainers disney tops subscribers worldwide 51 worldwide games list parcel worldwide omicron worldwide box office mojo worldwide h r g worldwide worldwide patent search dhl express worldwide tracking tribal worldwide sevenseas worldwide worldwide rally for freedom july 24 annual worldwide travel insurance crane worldwide logistics parcel tracking worldwide air max 90 worldwide worldwide-telescope how many people have died worldwide from coronavirus parcel force worldwide contact music business worldwide jobs worldwide furniture disney million worldwide code worldwide nike air max worldwide worldwide air force 1 jk worldwide worldwide carpets omicron cases worldwide map worldwide cruises skynet worldwide express tracking easyjet worldwide rush worldwide bheemla nayak collection worldwide oyster worldwide itunes worldwide withers worldwide itunes worldwide charts football on tv worldwide worldwide festival average height for men worldwide swim worldwide ait worldwide logistics ebay worldwide search worldwide football results parcelforce worldwide login trident worldwide worldwide weather casbury worldwide hide covid vaccination numbers worldwide worldwide hide.cadbury average height for women worldwide gep worldwide worldwide games switch average male height worldwide solar worldwide pod a.j worldwide splash worldwide cadbury worldwide hide how much does it cost stewart investors worldwide sustainability how many people have died from coronavirus worldwide go languages worldwide beautify worldwide earthquakes today worldwide average height worldwide nike air max 90 worldwide disney tops worldwide worldwide image management iam worldwide parcelforce worldwide contact hogart worldwide is pancake day worldwide air worldwide hellman worldwide logistics how many suicidal deaths this year worldwide worldwide longsight imc worldwide cadbury worldwide hide 2022 air max worldwide vaccinations worldwide pts worldwide express air max 97 worldwide worldwide vaccine concern worldwide uk seko worldwide trademark search worldwide hope worldwide how many advent calendars are sold each year worldwide worldwide holiday insurance aj worldwide tops subscribers worldwide worldwide coronavirus cases cass worldwide emery worldwide flight 17 ups worldwide express flu deaths 2022 worldwide step brothers prestige worldwide best worldwide travel insurance edinburgh worldwide investment trust price average penis size worldwide father's day worldwide netflix worldwide large oceanic turtle found worldwide worldwide travel insurance uk cadbury worldwide hide cost suicide rates worldwide ads-worldwide worldwide buffet mrm-worldwide is pancake day celebrated worldwide worldwide timeshare skynet worldwide tracking worldwide bodybuilders blog facebook down worldwide islamic relief worldwide hermes worldwide outreach worldwide how many people have died worldwide from covid-19 krishna worldwide all-time worldwide box office aia worldwide mr worldwide mr 305 cigna worldwide insurance thompson worldwide worldwide corporate tax rates live football on tv worldwide omicron cases worldwide list 51 worldwide games price worldwide-delivery worldwide vacations flu deaths worldwide 2022 """property collection"" worldwide" how many omicron deaths worldwide nike worldwide air force 1 cereal partners worldwide deaths per year worldwide www.beautybay.com (free worldwide shipping) worldwide logistics allianz worldwide care fa cup final viewers worldwide t g worldwide