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First straw bale council houses are complete
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The UK's first straw bale council houses, in Waddington, Lincolnshire, will be complete this Thursday (1 April). North Kesteven District Council is celebrating by inviting local people to come down to the site and take a look around the newly finished homes during Opening Week (Tues 6 April – Fri 9 April). Visitors will have the chance to meet key officers involved in the groundbreaking project, as well as having a tour around the straw houses.
First straw bale council houses are complete

Leader of North Kesteven District Council, Councillor Mrs Brighton, OBE, said: “These are the first council houses of their kind in the country, and North Kesteven District Council is proud to be the driving force behind the scheme. We hope that other local authorities will be inspired to build affordable, sustainable houses like these.”

The Council is overseeing the project in order to directly tackle the problem of providing affordable homes in the District, as well as improving the sustainability of the community. The houses will be allocated through the normal North Kesteven District Council register and housing allocation scheme. Anyone can apply, but all will go through the same process.

Two houses are being built in Waddington, with another two planned for Martin. These three bedroom family homes will look like conventional brick built properties, and be the first ‘typical affordable council houses’ to be built by a local authority using strawbale construction. The houses have been designed and built by Amazonails from Todmorden, West Yorkshire, construction company Taylor Pearson Ltd, and members of the public who volunteered to join in and make it a community enterprise.

The District Council has set a budget for these initial pilot homes of £110,000 per home. This is approximately £20,000 less than a traditional brick-built property of the same size and design. It is hoped that once the first set of houses is complete the Council can learn from the experience and build more straw houses at a lower cost.

On its website, the Council explains that straw houses use tightly packed strawbales held together with hazel pins as the main structural element. These houses look like conventional brick built properties, as the straw walls are plastered with lime and the roof, windows and doors are all traditional.

Straw bale buildings have been constructed in America since the first baling machine was invented in the late 1800s. The first straw building in the UK was built in 1994, and since then, over 100 buildings have been constructed using this method.

The Council says it is taking direct action to tackle the problem of providing affordable homes in the District, with more and more people seeking affordable housing. Straw houses are much cheaper to build than traditional brick-built properties of similar size and design, and are also more sustainable.

The strawbale walls also mean that the houses will be very well insulated, and as a result, the properties will rarely need heating systems. However, wood burning stoves will be installed for very cold weather. The tenant will benefit from this by having more money in his or her pocket, and the environment will benefit because less energy is being used.

In America, straw houses have an estimated lifespan of 200 years.

Rating:  4.5 (3)  Add feedback ...

 Positive review of this story
  Chris Dean. 
16 Jan 2011, 10:42 AM 
I would like to see this repeated across other areas of the country where there is a rural housing need. All houses should be built to this level of insulation so that we won't in future need so much energy to heat our homes. I aim to build more houses like this.


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