BREEAM Excellent – Strawbale extension

Loadbearing strawbale extension with loft conversion and retrofit technologies.

The brief for this Strawbale loadbearing build in Richmond was to design a new single storey side extension and loft conversion. The redevelopment was to house a new family bathroom, sauna and TV room. The clients wanted to do this in the most sustainable way possible. Because of this loadbearing strawbale was the obvious choice.  Straw is a low impact waste material, extremely thermally and acoustically efficient and  structurally strong. It is also breathable, natural, healthy, cheap and fun to build with. Furthermore if used as a loadbearing element, (just like big bricks) it can save a considerable sum on saved timber costs.

Self Build

It was important for the clients to be able to take part in the build themselves. With straw this is especially relevant as this is easily achieved. In fact, due to the simplicity of the natural materials, the strawbale walls, lime render and plaster were all run as courses open to the public. See our favourite strawbale builders here and here. In addition this not only saved the client money, but helped to educate people about strawbale buildings, was very rewarding and lots of fun too!

The side extension was built with shallow breathable foamglas, brick and limecrete foundations. Above this the breathable strawbale walls rendered and plastered in lime, topped off with a living roof. All natural finishes were used in the construction. The bathroom incorporated a compost toilet, wet room and spa bath. The sauna next door is powered by 2 sets of Photovoltaics on the roof, which also power the rest of the house. There is a Thermodynamic panel to heat hot water all year round and a rainwater harvester.

The loft was re-insulated, a new staircase fitted and storage built into the eaves. This Strawbale loadbearing build in Richmond achieved ‘Excellent’ as a BREEAM rating.

See some of our other Strawbale projects here and here.


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