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Compression rods for a straw bale house

The straw bales are stacked similar to bricks or blocks. Re-bar is pushed into each course to help hold the bales together. A top plate consisting of 3/4 inch plywood and 2 x 6 lumber is the full width of the wall and is attached to threaded compression rods which are imbedded in concrete at grade. When the rods are tightened by turning bolts, the bales are pulled down which places them in compression and holds them in place.

Unlike wood frame construction, settlement due to shrinkage is very minimal. The walls are so tightly compressed that they resist the weight of the roof by trying to expand upward. Additionally, because the straw is so tightly packed, when the bales are covered with the final finishes, the walls are actually more fire resistant than a wood frame house.

The exterior of the straw bales will be covered with metal lath and stucco, while the inside walls will be covered with lath and plaster. The plastic seen on top of the walls is only needed as a temporary measure to keep the bales dry until the roofing is in place. Without the plastic, any straw or weed seeds in the bales begin to sprout and you end up with a "Chia" house.

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