Straw houses go onto UK general sales market

Taylor Scott International News

Houses made of straw are on sale on the open market for the first time in the UK after becoming eligible for standard mortgages. Until now the eco-homes have been the preserve of bespoke building projects and financed through specialist lenders but now a row of seven straw houses in Bristol have now become the first to secure building certification which makes them eligible for a standard mortgage. The two and three bedroom properties will each use more than seven tonnes of straw and reduce heating costs by 90% compared to the average brick house, according to Professor Pete Walker from the University of Bath who led a project to develop and test the construction method. They homes are due to be completed in April and are on sale priced between £220,000 and £240,000. ‘I think there's a lot of misconception about using straw, especially about fire resistance. As a construction material straw is a low cost and widely available product that offers real potential for ultra low carbon housing throughout the UK,’ said Walker. ‘Building with straw could be a critical point in our trajectory towards a low carbon future. The great thing about the houses is that they are affordable and in addition the energy costs will be extremely low, under £100 a year,’ he explained. The houses are currently undergoing a 10 week construction programme by developers Connolly and Callaghan in Shirehampton, Bristol. Each wall is the same thickness as a normal bale of straw, framed in timber and encased in wooden boards. In addition compressed straw board will line the walls throughout the house as a replacement for plaster board and once built, the terraced houses will be clad in brick so they will be indistinguishable from the other properties in the street. The only hint of their remarkable construction method will be a 'truth window' in each property where a section of straw wall will be visible through a window. Although these are not the first houses in the UK to be built using straw bales, they are the first to be built for any buyer on the open market. The straw design has received BM Trada's Q mark certification, meaning developers and house buyers can now insure and secure mortgages against the homes. ‘First and foremost the work has demonstrated that straw bales create safe, durable and affordable houses. They make contributions to reducing fuel poverty and make significant contributions to reducing energy bills of building occupants,’ Walker pointed out. He added that there are also wider benefits. ‘Buildings contribute around 50% of the carbon emissions in this country. Producing lower… Continue reading →

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