Straw house construction, ecological and economical

Barely ten years ago, we thought of them as radical environmentalists or cool babes with an Amish tendency. Unconventional, in the language of the building as in the ambient discourse of a bygone era.

Today, the “straw ones”, the pioneers of straw construction, look with amused satisfaction at the enthusiasm for this material, carried by a double context of climate and housing crisis. The regulatory work of French straw construction network and that of associative mutual aid and information networks have professionalized this constructive method, which, let us remember, has stood the test of time.

The famous Feuillette house, built in Montargis in the Loiret, in 1920, is a beautiful centenary. Insurers – not all but some – are no longer reluctant to write a home insurance contract for a straw house, that is to say! » notes Sabrina Dumont. This specialized architect has developed Face, a training and consulting activity to secure public or private eco-construction projects like that of François.

An ecological, practical and economical choice

Recently retired, this organic farmer has embarked on the solo adventure this winter. Delivery is scheduled for winter 2022. Straw, it was obvious to me, which produces this economical, local and natural material. The house will require 800 small bundles of 12 kg in total, from floor to ceiling. Its estimated budget is around € 120,000.

Sabrina Dumont advised him on technical precautions, the orientations of the facades and above all reoriented the construction system: load-bearing walls but with an independent wooden frame. Safer than that initially envisaged, especially when carrying out a project alone, Sabrina notes. I advise, but the final choice is always up to the customer.

Mathilde and Matthieu live with their children in a beautiful colorful house in the eco-district of Hédé-Bazouges (Ille-et-Vilaine). For them, straw was an ecological choice but also financial and practical. The renovation of a farmhouse was out of budget. We looked for a material that would make us forget the old stones. Matthieu wanted to build by himself. However, the wood / straw system is affordable to non-building professionals, describes the young woman. In assisted self-construction, the project was accompanied, like many people, by specialized craftsmen.

“A human experience”

The carpenter Pascal Thépaut drew up the plans. Fabrice Auvé, from the Botmobile association, supervised the straw filling and the production of the plasters. Matthieu opted for a six-month unpaid leave in order to be present on the site. The friendly and family network has been precious to us, continues Mathilde. We organized a participatory workcamp with about fifteen people for fifteen days. We would not have attempted the adventure without professional supervision. The project represents a cost of approximately € 150,000 (in 2014). Without self-construction, we would not have been able to afford ecological materials..

The couple moved into accommodation near the construction site. Others opt for a caravan or a mobile home. Self-building in straw is an intellectual and physical challenge, remarks Fabrice Auvé who asks his customers to test themselves on a participatory worksite before starting. Prefabrication associated with filling in place can be a good answer to logistics and / or planning problems. It is important to know yourself well, to measure your skills, your available time, your budget, your ability to run a network, to organize yourself over time. For most who get started, it is first and foremost a powerful human experience.

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