What we do

DESIGNING A STRAW HOUSE


The best designing technologies to develop the most innovative ideas: this is intelligent designing.

When talking about straw houses the designing stage constitutes an element of fundamental importance.
A house made of straw, wood or other natural materials must be designed by a specialist who not only is familiar with the materials but who also has acquired expertise in this particular field. In addition, the expert should be acquainted with the material, its peculiarities, the correct way of laying in order to guarantee a rapid and linear design able to avoid any short or long term surprises. That’s why NATURALbornBUILDERS enjoys designing their natural houses and see them grow step after step.

BUILDING A STRAW HOUSE


Building is a creative process in which technique and passion blend together giving life to something new: your house.

A house is a complex organism. Building a house – made of straw or not – is a structured creation which unites several elements, thus a change in one element can have an effect on all the others. This is the reason that the building of a house is a process which requires coordination, communication among the designers and builders involved and absolute precision, both in the conventional building industry and in the “natural” building industry. And, actually, when regarding straw and wooden houses or houses built with natural materials, further expertise is required, because not always do the two types of building industries communicate effectively with each other. That’s why NATURALbornBUILDERS is delighted to design and build their straw houses. If you have already read the sector dedicated to designing concerning straw houses, you are ready to get yours built!

We’re ready to go!

Foundations


The foundations of a straw house, as with any other house, is the structure between the ground and the actual house; that’s why it is necessary to know all the characteristics of these two elements. Those concerning the ground are generally supplied by a geological report; those concerning the actual house are already in the hands of the engineer.

How do you choose the type of foundation more suitable for a straw house?
The choice will involve a combination of several requirements – economical, ecological, practical, etc. – which will be evaluated by our technicians together with the customer. Generally speaking, our preference falls on foundations with minor impact on the ground. In other words, foundations in which the actual house is “detached from the ground”, or rather, the floor slab does not lie directly on the ground. For example, foundations on wooden poles, beams or large metal screws, concrete pilasters, but also stone and plaster walls, gabions,concrete. Being able to choose among different materials, as always, the choice falls on those with minor environmental impact (for example gabions instead of backhand beams), however, the choice must always be the result of an overall view, since what seems to be convenient concerning only the foundations could be inconvenient regarding other points of view.

That’s why it is important to rely on expert and well-known designers and builders for the building of your straw house. Their expertise gained after years is a guarantee for obtaining the best results. And this is another reason why for NATURALbornBUILDERS team work is fundamental! Now let’s see what else is needed to build a straw house!

Structure


How do you design and build a straw house? With a team bearing in mind the entire process (designing thinking about the building feasability, for instance). That‘s why we can say that NATURALbornBUILDERS uses building systems made of wood and straw. What does that mean? It means that our builders are capable of connecting the single building elements with the various stages of production: here is where the designing of the actual structure, the straw build-up and the straw wall plastering all become part of the building system. In this sense, the ten-year experience of the founders of NATURALbornBUILDERS has enabled them to pinpoint the most efficient and reliable ways of building walls and surfaces ready to plaster and consequently to define together with the experts the wooden structure which can permit all of this. Fulfilling our ideas by using convenience is one of our guidelines but not the only one: our efforts always tend towards guaranteeing the best performance by
doing research in insulation continuity and reduction in thermal bridges, the “breathability” of walls, the elimination of condensation risk and other structural expedients which we will be delighted to show or analyze with you.

There are many ways to build a straw house, many building techniques. Thus, it is fundamental to rely on experts who thoroughly know the best building method for each situation. To be more specific, we analyze the possible structures concerning the perimeter walls, flooring and roof.

Perimeter walls
Depending on the project, we choose among the wide range of building systems there is in straw-bale construction, from Load bearing to prefab panels with wood & straw.

Flooring
Traditional: with exposed solid wood beams.
Modern classic: with exposed laminated wood beams.
Boxed: “imbedded” beams in insulated packaging and exposed finish with plaster

Note: For filler-insulation in floor foundation system, we use sand, lime and hemp splinters, cellular glass, cork and other natural or recyclable materials.

Roof
Traditional: with exposed structural elements (beams, trusses, etc.) and match boarding.
Box: “imbedded” structural elements in insulated packaging and exposed finish with plaster, match
boarding or other cladding.

Note: Regarding insulation, needless to say, our preference goes to straw bales: 35 cm of natural insulation upon which a thin layer of lime or clay and an appropriate layer of ventilation guarantee protection of the bales and prevent any risk of condensation.

CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT


We believe that a group of people who share a common goal can reach the impossible.

When we talk about straw houses the construction management becomes of utmost importance. Managing the work in a building site must be entrusted to a technical figure with a profound and proven knowledge of natural materials and the building techniques associated with them. NATURALbornBUILDERS guarantees a 10-year experience in the designing and building of straw houses and houses made of natural materials and uses the expertise of these people who are competent in the various building phases. That’s why the management of the building structures must
be entrusted to one of our experts. Even in the case where the project designer is an external engineer, the management of the construction site must be designated to one of our experts.

TRAINING


On the construction site or at the School of Sustainable Activities, a precious Know-How made available to you.

NATURALbornBUILDERS has been engaged in training since 2011. Training in the skill of building straw houses and houses made of natural materials means making our Know-How acquired after years of experience on the field available to persons interested in our mission. For this reason NATURALbornBUILDERS uses their construction sites as training grounds. The construction site becomes a learning spot, for practice and exchanging ideas; where the designers, craftsmen and ordinary people and perhaps future owners of straw houses can interact with the experts of NATURALbornBUILDERS during the theory-practice courses. In some cases the training sessions are accredited by the architect and/or surveyor associations.

Another valuable training opportunity is to follow Giacomo Mencarini, our NATURALbornBUILDERS contact person in Italy, who has been teaching at the “Scuola di Pratiche Sostenibili” (School of Sustainable Activities) in Cascina Santa Brera (San Giuliano Milanese) since 2016. His course is organized in three laboratory days where the participants can practice assembling and disassembling wooden frameworks on straw-wood building structures. The course is offered twice a year, usually in April and October. Write to us for information about the next course organized by NATURALbornBUILDERS!

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