[Strawbale] New project in oxford 6 x 11m building - help!

Mark Bigland-Pritchard mark at lowenergydesign...
Thu Jan 26 00:35:18 CET 2006

Ruth -

I'm a long way from Oxford now, otherwise I would offer substantial 
help. I advise that you get in touch sooner rather than later with an 
inspector at Building Control (I think that's city rather than county 
council). Their job is not only to check compliance but also to offer 
advice re getting through the regs, and some inspectors can be very 
helpful. Getting through regs is probably easier than you think.

Also a good idea to book your bales ahead of time - that way you can be 
more fussy about the quality of bales you get (good tight dry ones). I 
would just phone round a few farms, and where appropriate visit to see 
the quality of last summer's bales. But if you have difficulty finding a 
farmer who still produces standard rectangular bales of a quality you're 
satisfied with, look up "hay and straw merchants" in the yellow pages.

Floorboards good - esp. if you are reusing them. I assume we're looking 
at floor joists laid between tyres. I would attach hardboard on top (to 
reduce air infiltration) - then you can put whatever surface covering 
you like on top of that. If you're doing a timber floor, it's also worth 
making sure you have enough space underneath it to be able to insulate 
it properly - I can advise if appropriate.

Borden, Saskatchewan, Canada (but until recently in Bristol)

Ruth Walker wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> Well in my previous posts I may have eluded to the fact that at my 
> place of work, a mental health work rehabilitation charity in Oxford, 
> for which I am supervisor of a group of gardeners (we grow and sell 
> plants and look after the garden), we are making a Cafe in what is 
> currently my workshop. So we need to build a new garden workshop. 
> There was some talk about building a big timber shed like thing. But 
> having just been on LILI's strawbale building course. I said 'lets 
> build it out of strawbales' and the idea stuck. I did some drawings 
> and some costings (with help) and somehow I have just been handed 
> quite a sum of money to build with. So the idea we have is to build a 
> 6 x 11m external dimension rectangular 'workshop' out of load bearing 
> bale structure pinned with locally sourced hazel and using reclaimed 
> doors and windows and hopefully using some reclaimed/ second hand/ ex 
> hardware store timber (there is a wood recycling organisation in 
> oxford). With an wooden framed peaked roof with corrugated metal and 
> plastic (for skylights) sheeting. The gable ends of the roof are 
> intended to be board clad with shiplap or similar. Hopefully the 
> foundations will be compacted rubble trench and then rammed earth 
> tyres (more recycling and all)
> We have access to lots of labour and not very much money, it has to be 
> built by the end of September when I am supposed to be moving back to 
> Australia.
> The planning application is underway, But I'm a bit perplexed about 
> building regs. I've just done a project plan which has made me tired 
> just thinking about all the work this is going to invlove.
> 1) Has anyone had a building with rammed earth tyres as foundation? 
> How did they do it? How can we get it to pass building regs?
> 2) What kind of floor should we put in this building? How would it 
> work with the tyres. I was thinking about floorboards with vinyl over 
> as it will be a highly trafficed workshop which will need to be easily 
> kept clean. Rammed earth floors seems like too much hard work, but 
> would consider if easier.
> 3) Where near Oxfordshire can I get building straw bales? How much 
> would I expect to pay?
> 4) Can anyone help about getting it to pass building regs?
> Hope you can help, and anybody interested in volunteering for some 
> experience would be highly appreciated.
> Ruth
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