The walls of this strawbale house are loadbearing, so the weight of the roof sits directly on them. In order for them to stay upright the bales are sandwiched between matching base and roofplates. The baseplate is the same width as a bale and gives a broad, even surface to build the wall on. The roofplate acts as a ringbeam and is connected into the door and window lintels to make a continuous circle. Rope is fed through sections of gas pipe that run underneath the foundations and pass over the top of the wall. When this is pulled tight then the wall becomes gradually more stable, changing from a pile of straw bales to a wall rigid enough to walk on.
The roof structure goes directly on top of the walls and it's weight creates more stability.
The walls are then ready to render with a mixture of lime putty and sand.
Liz strimmed the walls to get rid of any loose straw.
Where there was uneveness in the walls we used cob to create a smoother surface. Cob is a mixture of mud, water, sand and straw. We could have used render to smooth out the bumps, but it is expensive whereas cob is close to free.
Twelve people miraculously appeared and put the first coat of render on in a weekend. The second coat took nearly two weeks!
For detailed instructions on how to build we used Barbara Jones' book Building with Straw Bakes ISBN 1-903998-13-1