From the Independent: How I built my house for £4,000.
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. [continue]
I read a book a couple of years ago that really gave me some insight into how well a straw bale house can be built. I think it’s difficult to set aside the bias that straw is an inappropriate building material, even knowing that wolves lack the lung capacity to blow down a straw house. And yet people have been building sturdy, comfortable houses out of straw bales for more than a century. This building technique has been, shall we say, a bit slow to catch on—and is not without its limitations. But using straw as a building material turns out to have some interesting merits.