Straw or not to Straw?

On purchasing our property, our dream was to design and build a strawbale home on a hill overlooking luscious views of the area. We had several stipulations about our design:

  • a house site on the top of our property to maximinse privacy and the views
  • a cool store in the house: a very large pantry which is passively cooled – near the kitchen
  • a bath in the ensuite, overlooking the views
  • a laundry which also acts as an entrance/exit
  • passive cooling – north facing position (although our view is south)
  • strawbale rather than conventional materials
  • composting rather than conventional toilets
  • a deck overlooking the views
  • no west or east facing windows
  • the use of our own timber for poles on the veranda and even inside

These are just some of the things we stipulated with our architect.

Over time, we found that we were sacrificing some of the things we wanted, such as a bath in the ensuite; a deck; a cool store; and even strawbale, simply because it is easier to be conventional. It’d be easier to use hebel than straw. It’s more ‘normal’ to have an ordinary water-wasting toilet. It’d be more space-saving not to have a bath in the ensuite. It’d be easier to build the house on the existing site, meaning we couldn’t have a deck or a big yard. It’d even be easier not to use our own timber in the build.

After discussing house planning with some friends today, Monte and I are re thinking our design. Yes, we love the floorplan, and our architect is doing a great job helping us to plan out the home of our dreams. Except the home of our dreams is made of straw, and it is environmentally friendly.

Lately we have been revisiting the site of our original dreams, and we are beginning to be firm in our ideas that that is where we want to build. We have discussd the current plan, and we are working out ways that we could incorporate our coolroom, and even the bath I want in my ensuite, which would overlook my forest and the hills.

We are reconsidering the straw. I would hate to regret building in hebel, just because we thought it was easier and cheaper (the more we research it, the more we learn that this is not the case). I would also hate to regret the position of our house. I don’t want to build on the ready site simply because it’s easier.

I’m happy to put composting toilets in our new house. We have one now and it is great. I hate flushing water down the toilet. It is the epitome of waste. We are thinking a great deal about how we can minimise our impact on the environment – from what we eat to what we use, such as heating, cooking etc.

We have now decided to go with our original ideas; the only changes we are making are: not having an office in the house (we have the cabin and might build a strawbale one when we need it); sacrificing the ensuite bath (I’ll manage!). We have decided that a celestorey design is not the best design for a Tasmanian climate; therefore we are going back to our original idea of a trussed roof. We are very excited with our current plan; the house is big and light, and will be ver comfortable, whether we decide to have 2, 3 or even 4 children.

Now we just have to go back to our architect and be assertive with our dream.