We bought an old farmette property that is in need of some buildings. The foundations are there but the buildings were torn town long ago. Our neighbor happens to be a working 120 acrehay farm, so I've got a very close and convenient source for straw bales. That said, I'm wondering how cheaply I can build storage buildings with it. The construction part of it is easy enough, but I'm wondering about sheathing and weather protection. For example, I know that the exterior walls must be protected from moisture, but for a simple equipment shed, do I need to do anything to the interior walls? As far as exterior protection, what is generally the cheapest option? The soil around here has little to no clay content, so no hope of happening upon a nice deposit-I would have to purchase some type of clay or plaster. What about covering with Tyvek (I happen to have a ton of it I scored for free) temporarily and then sheathing with whatever I can find? I'd be interested to hear from others who have built non-living space types of structures from straw bales. We are located in Northwest NJ, so the climate ranges from hot humid summers to single digit winters, but lately its been much wetter and milder than normal. For example, today it's in the 50s outside...
Sure you could but .. why?
Storage buildings have no need of the one great advantage of straw bale.... insulation. The 2 ft thick walls are a disadvantage to you plus your humid climate isn't the best for straw bale.
Back in the 1940's, the USDA had some building designs made out of hay bales, but just because you can do something, does not mean that you should. I also am curious as to the availability of the hay. hay has a lot of value, so just because your neighbors have a lot of it, does not mean it would be cheap to obtain.
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It is true, as posters have noted, that buildings without the frequent presence of people long term are especially attractive to the wildlife. But as we all know, buildings often get adapted to uses not anticipated originally, so having an insulated outbuilding could well prove a blessing for you later on. Just be very attentive in sealing up all the exposed surfaces of the bale walls, especially where they meet other materials.
And on the same concern, I would avoid using you neighbor's hay. Hay has seen heads, and that's food, and that would make the bale walls much more enticing.
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