Straw Bale and Cobwood Huts and Dens

We have constructed several small straw bale huts down in the woods; four in Tir Ysbrydol and one, the den, close to the roundhouse. These are all known to the planners, have been subject to enforcement orders, etc, and the planning permission for them all was renewed in September 2016. We are very fortunate to live in a region with low impact, or 'One Planet Development', policies that allow us to build and live in structures like this provided that a significant proportion of our basic needs are met from the land.
This page is to show a few pictures of them and to show in brief how they are made, since they are warm, natural and very cheap to build (80 for the cheapest; 700 for the most classy). Each was built in a short space of time (about a month or less) by a group of volunteers/course members/campers/friends.

Jane in the den the start of the den - 25 pallets and first course of straw bales. 60 were used in all. space for door. note upright support posts tied thru bales, and wall plate of oak branches on top bale coach window is inserted in space for window, resting on oak plank for sill. Note roof rafters. the reciprocal frame roof is tied with baler twine while being erected, before final adjustment Ceiling of hut showing slab wood as radials, covered by blankets. (On top of this is straw/wool mix, silage plastic in two layers, and turf.) Chimney double flue is wound with fibreglass blanket and metal gauze where it penetrates the roof. raw wool and straw mix placed on roof under membrane for insulation Mud mix of clay, sand and horse manure is spread as plaster on walls the walls of the den are protected with cedar bark the finished den from the south Emma's hut Ken outside the little hut. This hut is immune from enforcement as it was up for over four years before coming to the attention of the planning authority the Big Hut at Tir Ysbrydol

The Den

the Den from the East

This was built in 2008 to replace the straw bale hut, shown being built above. It is bigger than the hut was, (it is round, approx 4.5m across), has taller walls allowing standing space everywhere, has load bearing walls entirely of cobwood (a first? I think so), wall plate of curved roundwood oak, six windows set in the walls, a suspended 1.5" softwood floor and a reciprocal frame roof with turf cover and windscreen skylight. It was built as a course over three weeks and Faith and I finished turfing the roof over the next month. It has a wood stove with an oven, and roof insulation is straw and raw wool. The porch is a coach windscreen. All the wood for it was collected and sawn by the group, except the floor planks, which were collected and sawn for us by Adrian at Brithdir Mawr. The floor joists are fixed to thick oak posts of approx 60cms in height, cut from fallen trees in our woodland. The clay for the cobwood came from 80 metres away. Because so few materials needed to be bought in, the whole thing only cost about 800. Here are some pics of it, and a video of the Charlie stick being removed. If you have detailed questions about its construction, may I recommend 'A Simple Roundhouse Manual' by Tony Wrench, available as hard copy or ebook from Amazon.

Feb. 2009

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