Most modern homes you find these days are made with two-by-fours, concrete and steel, and other modern construction techniques. However, as people are becoming more concerned for the environment and the increasing energy bills, many are now considering other options for building materials. This is probably why “natural building” is gaining popularity among many.
Natural building involves using natural materials, such as straw, sand, rock and earth in building homes, just like in ages past, long before cement mixtures existed. This method has never really died out, but only used less frequently when modern manufacturing techniques were introduced. Now, it seems like people are going back to the old days and realize the benefits of using natural materials.
So what are the benefits?
Using natural materials help reduce pollution resulting from the production and transportation of manufactured construction materials. They also have properties that help regulate the temperature in the room. They can be designed in such a way that it captures winter sun to provide heat during the cold weather, and keep out the heat of the sun during the summer months. In doing so, you will not need to have your heaters and air conditioners in full blast, thus you save energy and money.
The labor costs for building homes using this technique however, can be quite expensive. City officials and inspectors may also raise concerns regarding their safety, which may hinder in the construction. The use of straw bale and rammed earth however, may be able to address these concerns.
Straw bale for instance, is a byproduct of grain crops, such as wheat, oats, barley and rice, making it inexpensive compared to other construction materials. Regarding the issue on safety, you need to be sure the straw is fully encased in plaster, often made of either clay or lime. This will protect it against insects, termites, fire, wind and moisture. Straw bale is not only cost-efficient, but also energy efficient. The hollowness of the stalks helps trap air into tiny pockets, which then provides natural insulation. Its insulation efficiency is similar to that of fiberglass insulation, but for a lesser cost. As for labor costs, constructing a home using straw bale can be comparable to a custom-built conventional home.
The next time you plan to build a home for your family, consider the use of natural materials. You will benefit from the cost savings, and you will be helping the environment as well by reducing energy consumption.