A tour of how we live & work off grid in our straw bale home

Lots of nice details! This video is worth watching more than once.

“A tour of how we live & work off grid in our straw bale home – Riverstone Studios showing the interior of our home, wind turbine, solar panels, and the finishing work in our home.

We live in Craik, SK, Canada. We live in a rural area. We don’t have a mortgage, so we don’t have to prove insurability which means we also don’t have to be inspected for building code. Any connection we do that is grid tied (ie: propane – was installed and inspected), but we take on our own liability for our building for everything else. You simply can’t do this if you have a mortgage, insurance, or live in a populated area.

What’s it cost to build something like that? About $12000 CAD including all finishing. There is no savings on electrical,plumbing,fixtures, etc. That is where the cost comes from. The outer shell made from straw is cheap to build…it’s the finishing and services that still cost the same as any other home.”

They also have a pretty good overview of how they built their studio with light straw-clay. They have another video that describes why they prefer to build with light straw-clay instead of bales. It’s very difficult to source rectangular bales in Saskatchewan since most farms have switched to 1,000 lb. round bales.

8 thoughts on “A tour of how we live & work off grid in our straw bale home”

  1. The video kept stopping. So ill just say I love the insulation of straw bale.
    Those big round bales made me imagine a really super insulated home! Whenever ive seen them by the highway, I imagined how fast they could be stacked into a home.

    • Giant bales are not very practical for house building. Anything over 18″-24″ wall thickness is overkill. So anything larger than that would waste materials on foundations, roof, etc. In other words they would waste living space.

  2. I’m a big fan of lofts as well. They are a great way to keep your property tax bill low. Instead of building a lot of extra square footage to hold a bed, simply put it up on a shelf.

    Another cheap way to do the same type of thing is to build a bunk bed over the top of a desk. This type of furniture is very commonly sold for children’s rooms, but could easily be built for adults as well. The advantage of this system is that no modifications to the house structure is required, and the furniture can be taken with a family if they move, or a student moves on to college.

    One note of caution concerning the storage of firewood.

    Firewood is overwhelmingly the most comment means of transporting termites and carpenter ants. For that reason alone, it’s always wise to think very carefully about where you store firewood. You don’t want to create an easy path for termites to infest wood or other cellulose materials in your structure.

    I love the idea of having a wood shed easily accessible to the house and the wood stove. Just be aware that the closer the firewood is stored to your house, the higher the risk and the greater care that needs to be taken to protect yourself from contamination.

    They didn’t show the details of their woodshed in this video, so I can’t say what types of precautions they may have taken.

    I’m not saying anyone should freak out. I’m not telling anyone to avoid having an attached woodshed. It’s a choice each builder can make for themselves. Just be aware of the potential risks and build accordingly.

    I suggest that anyone considering an attached woodshed read up and completely understand how termite shields work. Then design a system that keeps termites that might infest your firewood contained inside the woodshed.

    I’m definitely not a fan of the toilet location, especially the shelving above the toilet tank. I HATE SHELVES OVER A TOILET. Shelves over a toilet are clutter collectors and the bane of servicing the parts that most frequently need to be replaced on a toilet. In my humble opinion, the toilet tank needs to be easily accessible, especially on short notice… as in within seconds after a flush and something goes wrong and water starts flooding. It’s best to be able to get in there very quickly and stop the problem before water goes everywhere. Fiddling around with a shelf over the tank, or a difficult to reach shutoff valve is not good design around a toilet.

    The solar deck/rainwater cistern/shade structure is very cool.

    However, I would not enjoy clearing snow off the solar panels all the time just to get power again after every storm. That would become a pain in the butt very quickly. At the very least, design in a staircase and a widow’s walk up there so someone can easily sweep off the panels without climbing a ladder in the ice/snow/wind. Or better yet, design the roof over the deck with a lot more pitch so that snow sheds off naturally.

    That said, it’s a very nice place. Lots of excellent ideas. I love it when simple functionality is made beautiful. Too many homes today consider mechanical systems and other functional aspects as ugly things to be hidden by cheezy questionable artwork and/or … ugh… drywall.

    I love it when the bones and function of the architecture is celebrated as an art form itself. This structure has many aspects that do just that. I like that the best about this design.

  3. Sleeping lofts are very cozy in cold climates if you have lots of roof insulation. Even if the fire dies out at night, the heat stays up near the ceiling.


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