We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hay! Straw Bale Construction in Hot Springs

You can't make stuff like this up: A guy named Hay is building a house of straw.

The Rapid City Journal picks up a story from the Hot Springs Star on James Hay's efforts to rebuild his home and shop with straw bales. His old place burned down; his new straw-bale building will be nearly fireproof... really! Think about it: you stack and pack those bales, seal 'em up with stucco, and air can't get in to fuel any combustion.

Air can't get in... that also means the house is darn near winter-proof, with insulation R-factor that Hay estimates to be 40 to 55. (If you live in 2x6 walls, you might get R-20.)

Hay digs the green value of straw-bale construction (as do some Republicans!). Straw is a cheap, renewable local product. Straw bale construction is also a great do-it-yourself project: Hay is building his 1200-square-foot shop/garage as practice for his planned 3000-square-foot house. Self-reliance—Republicans really ought to like that!

Prairie Roots and I (and maybe even Flying Tomato) are pleased to see others recognizing the value of straw bale construction. A lot of folks talk about making money by turning straw into cellulosic ethanol someday when the science makes it cost-effective. I would suggest we could turn our South Dakota straw to gold right now, in straw bale construction! Just think how many houses we could build right here in Lake County from our very own straw instead of imported lumber. Imagine if the thousands you give to big lumber companies for building a house in Lake County could instead go straight into the pockets of local farmers. Turn those dollars over!

Hey, maybe Randy Schaefer and the LAIC should look into making the next Madison TIF house out of straw bales!


  1. I used to work for an architect who designed a lot of these. They have a wonderfully serene feel inside and if constructed properly, can be very good in fireprone areas.

  2. The problem with this type of construction isn't that it can't be successful, it's just that it's not the way things have been done in that past and don't offer orders of magnitude superiority.

    In the academic engineering world, reporting on 20% or even 50% improvements are essentially novelties. Everyone recognizes that to make a change, the payoff has to be at least an order of magnitude better. Retooling, learning new skills is just too expensive, not to mention the opportunity risk being accepted.

    Similarly, construction doesn't use and won't change to hay bales because it's not an order of magnitude advantage. It's too incremental.

  3. ah tony ye of little faith,,, we who buld with bales are only looking to change the world one house at a time.
    all i know is that for me it made a lot of sense and i saved a lot of money. the really big payoff is the superior space inside, cozy, solid. and secure. there are now thousands of these homes and many more converts to be made. btw they are straw bales,,,, not hay. james

  4. ah tony you of little faithe... I am only bettering my own world and by doing so providing an example for others to follow if they chose... there are now thousands of straw bale homes... people who have said goodbye to the fiberglass itch and waste... we are warm, cool, and living in wonderful enviroments.. we really are not looking to develop tract straw bale develpments,,,after all thats what we rail against... long live the individual... btw its straw bales,,, not hay,,, a huge difference....james


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.