Straw Bale Garden Shed

Straw Bale Construction
In a Small Norfolk Village

Children and adults love it for the fun and potential - as you can see. It has created quite a stir in this small Norfolk village.

The local farmer obliged us with a delivery of over 100 straw bales from his farm down the road.

Straw Bale Garden Shed Early Days

Christopher, my brother  in law, was happy to muck in with the shed foundation. Messing about with old used tyres certainly kept us busy.

Make sure the ground is flat and arranging tyres into one large rectangle.

This is where you get your hands dirty. Stuff clay inside the rim of the first tyre and fill the centre of the tyre with small stones or pebbles. Repeat for all the other tyres. This will create a firm foundation for your straw bale storage shed.

Now lay the first layer of straw bales on top of the tyres.

Peter, a Norwich builder who also works as a chef in a local restaurant, took over at this stage. Working with friends we were able to build up the walls and insert doors and window openings. All in a weekend.

For your straw bale garden shed you can use several doors and windows. In our case, we used two doors and three windows.

Make your doors tall and narrow. A narrow opening will encourage an even finish over the top of the door when you allow the straw bale to settle. A tall door because you will need the extra headroom when you step up into the doorway.

Place the doors directly onto the tyres, using a length of felt in between to protect the wood from damp. Prop each door buck up with lengths of timber to keep it vertical.

What's unique to straw bale are the door and window frames or ‘bucks’. 

These deep window bucks are made the same way as the door bucks - from two identical frames screwed together using straight brackets. I’ve used 10” by 2” sawn timber.

When you build up the straw bale walls – you want them 4” or 5” higher than the bucks to allow for settlement.

Make them as tall and narrow as you can.

· Tall because they let in more light than wide windows of the same area.

· Narrow because the walls will settle more evenly over a narrow window.

My windows are rather wide. Allow at least 6” above the windows to allow for compression.

The weight bearing bale walls will settle – maybe taking a few months. You want the walls to settle evenly if you can.

How you position the bales is so important.

If you look at the shed plans you will see I used whole bales at the corners. This adds strength and integrity to the structure. Any part bales are used nearer the centre of the walls.

Two doors can be useful. one door for the mower and garden tools - the other for cycles. The window bucks are so deep there has never been a good reason to glaze them.

If you would like some ideas or have questions you want to ask for your own straw bale building see here.

If it's your first time using straw bale storage shed construction there’s always a moment of uncertainty.

When the walls shake like jelly and you wonder if it’s all going to fall down on top of you.

You will see later how you will resolve this but to start with...

Decide where you want your door and replace the bale with the door buck. You may end up having to cut a bale in half to keep the wall complete.

Build up the walls making sure each layer overlaps the layer below like a brick wall. As you build run two timber stakes through each bale and into the two below. This will keep the walls more stable as you build upwards.

Now insert the window bucks making sure their tops are level with the door bucks. The walls should be several inches higher than the bucks to allow for even compression. Fix the doors and windows to the wall using lengths of dowel. They will be knocked through pre-drilled holes into the straw bale to hold the bucks in place.

Once the walls are at their full height measure up and construct a rigid wall plate. This will sit on the wall and stop it wobbling. It will also spread the roof load evenly over the entire length of the walls during the compression period.

I was left with the task of putting the roof on. And when all was finished, the local primary school arranged a visit to explore this new attraction.

Straw Bale Garden Shed > Build Tu Home

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