On this tiny kitchen add-on to a 400 square foot straw bale cottage, it was decided that stick frame with exterior insulation was the ideal wall system for a variety of reasons. The first consideration was the space which would have been needed had the add-on been created in straw bale. The new owners wanted not to disturb the surrounding trees and terrain which enclosed the small straw bale casita, and therefore designed the smallest possible kitchen – one which would complement the tiny straw bale structure.
The second was the extra time needed for straw bale construction. As is commonly known, most natural building systems, such as cob, or adobe or straw bale are often more energy efficient that their stick framed counterparts, however, the back end benefits of less cooling and heating are where most of the savings occur. The earthen methods listed above do most often require more time to construct and finish than traditional stick.
For straw bale, the added time can come in the form of extra passes needed on the walls to level and cover with the multiple plaster and mud coats, even though raising straw bale walls happen quite quickly. It is the extras with straw bale which can add to the timing of a project.
Budget was also a consideration with this project. It was decided that creating stick framed walls and adding additional exterior rigid foam insulation would be the ideal wall method.
This image shows the small kitchen in progress, with the walls up and rigid foam insulation attached, ready to receive the chicken wire which will be attached which will then receive the multiple cement stucco plaster coats.