Eco Sense Building Logo - Environmentally Sensible Building Logo Contact Details for Eco Sense Building - Ken Longshaw - Builder -
Contact Us
  • Reduce your day to day running costs and breathe easy with a smaller carbon footprint and cosy thick natural walls.
  • Infinitely flexible design and finishes made easy by the all natural straw bale base and earth render covering.
The Lead Up to Choosing a Straw Bale & Earth Render HomeThe Journey

With 3 growing very energetic boys, my wife and I decided it was time for a country change. Thus, 2 years ago we embarked on the journey that has led us to Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands just 90min south west of Sydney.

The climate in Bundanoon is very much in keeping with its Scottish Heritage. Although, we get 4 seasons. Where some could argue that Scotland skips Summer most years. Bundanoon experiences a hot dry Summer and last Summer reached the record 47 degrees that most of the Australian eastern sea board survived. Winters are cold, with plenty of rain (not too much... you know, just right) and overnight temperatures usually drop to zero leaving a regular morning frost.

Our location on the western side of Bundanoon is exposed to the Snowy Mountains and can bear the brunt of an icy wind that will blow in at any time of year and make you want to leap for your coat and scarf.

With all that in mind and a near perfect block found and purchased, the design stage began.

The block of land is 2000m2 and reasonably narrow with north facing towards the street. It slopes gently towards the south west with the best views towards the North West (at the high end of the block) and the South West (at the low end of the block).

The budget to build was extremely tight, as will be the budget for running costs after completion.

After exploring a number of options, both man made and traditional, including mud brick, koolwall and other products with high thermal properties, straw bale was the winning medium for construction. It won out, to put it plain and simple, because it's freakin' awesome.

Ok, you want more details?

First and foremost, its thermal properties are out of this world. There is no other product, natural or man made, that can match straw in the "thermal properties" department. For this climate in particular, it will work efficiently to keep cool in Summer and warm in Winter - especially if we are in the position to fully orient the house to the North, which we are.

Secondly, it suits the Budget. Straw Bale homes are not a part of main stream building. And, for this reason, they can seem exotic, expensive and something you only do if you're going to be on Grand Designs. The reality is,

  • The materials are extremely cheap (some are even free!)
  • The build is fast (ie. Save on labour costs)
    There's no mortar between layers and stacking a strawbale on top of a strawbale is a whole lot faster than a brick on a brick. And guess how you make your wall straight...yup, that's right, no levels needed here, just a chainsaw and a happy face required.
  • No experts Required (ie. Save a little more on labour costs)
    You can literally throw a BBQ and invite all your friends for a couple of fun weekends to help you build your home. My wife became chief grippler. My mother-in-law became chief bale tie-er-up-er-er and my brother (a doctor) along with his mate (an artist), became chief external renderers.
  • Maintenance on a well designed straw bale home can be very low (i.e. No ongoing running costs)

Thirdly, it leaves a teenie tiny carbon footprint. Not only is strawbale construction good for the environment when it comes to ongoing carbon consumption, but it is also amazingly light on the environment during construction. The primary materials to build a straw bale home are straw and clay, which you can obtain from your own block of land. Using clay from your own site reduces the cost of transporting your pre-build excavations to dump elsewhere as well as reduces the cost of having man made products produced and delivered to site.

And... just because all of that isn't enough, here are a few bonus perks:

  • Safe in a fire Zone e.g all of Australia
  • Made from natural materials that are breathable, mould resistant and easy on the lungs. For anyone with respitory problems, this perk is very obvious. For anyone who does not, you'll notice a warmth to a straw bale home that just seems different to others. And you'll use less bleach when the house is 20 years old.
  • Maleable to your Heart's Content.
    Straw & clay/earth render are very easy materials to work with. You'll find it easy to shape and design to suit just about anyone's taste.
  • You don't have to be a hippy (of course you can if you want).
    My wife likes smooth white walls that she can hang paintings on art gallery style. Straw is rendered and can be finished with whatever result you would like. So stop visualing Frodo's hobbit hole...unless of course that is what you want!

For more photos and details, please make sure to visit Connect with Eco Sense Building on Facebook where the journey is being documented. And, when it is complete, we also promise a few more pics here!

If you're considering building a straw bale home and would like to consider your options and costs, please call Ken on +61418230912 or you can email him at

  the first straw bale is put in place in our straw bale and earth render home  
  The first bale goes in!  
  tying bales for a straw bale and earth render home  
  Getting the right size bale requires a couple of friends, a roll of string and a "bale needle".  
  use a chainsaw to even out your strawbales  
  Building with straw is very "low-tech". Use a chainsaw to make your walls nice and flat.  
  a straw bale house ready to be rendered  
  Ready for render!  
  the first coat of clay is applied to a strawbale home  
  100% clay derived wholly from our own block is sprayed onto the straw as the first coat.  
  Internal rendering stages for a straw bale home  
  Applying the Final Internal Coat of Render using a mix of 8 parts Brickie's Sand to 2 parts Clay
the first coat of render is applied to a strawbale home   External render of a straw bale home - second coat   The final coat of internal clay render is applied to the straw bale home
The first coat of lime and sand render is sprayed on. It will naturally whiten as it cures.  Ready for the final coat of render. The first two were sprayed. To get the perfect finish, the final coat will be applied by hand.  Anyone can help with the clean up!
Facebook Logo    
Home Philosophy Our Projects Contact Us Site Map