Straw house that volunteers are building near Stow

straw bale build taking a place at Muirhouse in Stow.
straw bale build taking a place at Muirhouse in Stow.

Scotland’s first straw house began to take shape near Stow this week.

Work on the innovative build’s foundations at Muirhouse Farm started last year and the base has been laid for the oilseed rape straw construction.

Chartered builder and renewable energy consultant Iver Salvesen, of Muirhouse Farm, is behind the not-for-profit project.

He said: “I want to show that homes can be built, beautifully, safely and robustly using sustainable materials.

“Straw is a waste product of the agricultural industry and has excellent insulating qualities. As long as you give it a good hat and sturdy boots it can last forever.”

The wooden structure of the two-bedroom home comes from larch trees grown on the farm. The foundations were laid using lime rather than the more carbon-intensive cement and the building will have a green turf roof.

Iver said: “The aim is for the house to be comfortable, natural, breathing, and have a low impact on the environment. It will be super-insulated and will therefore take very little energy to heat.

“Electricity and heat for the home will come from renewable energy sources fitted once completed.”

The property will be the home of farm worker George Young and his partner Cheryl Davis, a special-effects coordinator, replacing the mobile homes the pair currently use.

Cheryl said: “It will be so much better than the trailer, which has started to leak and has huge extremes in temperature between summer and winter.”

Volunteers carrying out the work were this week attending a strawbale building course run by Rachel Shiamh of Quiet Earth, a past winner of the Grand Design Eco House Award. Future courses will include lime render, earth floor and renewable energy for the home, taught by Iver, who set up the architecture and energy efficiency consultancy Ecofitter in 2009.