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Building an extension for my mother-in-law

I love my mother-in-law but I never planned on living with her permanently. I have been enjoying her living with us now that we have kids but I feel like we all need some extra space so I am getting a granny flat built at the back of our block. This should allow us to have some extra space to make sure everyone has the privacy that they need whilst we can still be a family. This block has some tip on the process of building a granny flat including how to choose a contractor and how to get the council approval for the build.


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Building an extension for my mother-in-law

Strawsome: The Pros And Cons Of Using Straw Bales For Garage Construction

by Chloe Cooper

Straw is not exactly the most intuitive material to build a full-blown garage from -- that little piggy didn't have much luck, after all -- but in reality, using straw bales over more traditional building materials can convey a number of distinct advantages. However, while straw as a construction material has received a lot of good press lately, it is not the wonder material some make it out to be, and using it for garage construction also has a number of drawbacks. If you're considering building a new garage (or indeed any kind of outbuilding) from straw bales, make sure to bear the following pros and cons in mind before you take the plunge. 

What are the pros of using straw bales for garage construction?

  • Environmentally friendly: Many environmentally conscious home owners are drawn to straw as a building material, and for good reasons. As a byproduct of crop farming, straw bale construction constitutes a form of recycling, and the carbon costs of using straw bales can be extremely low. Since crops are an annual plant rather than slow growing trees, straw bales are far easier to renew than traditional building lumber, and while harvesting baling requires a certain amount of energy consumption, straw bales take far less energy to produce than kiln-fired bricks or industrially produced concrete.
  • Insulation: Straw bale houses are praised for their excellent heat insulation, minimising heating and air conditioning bills. The same goes for straw bale garages, allowing you to work on vehicles and projects comfortably all year round. With sufficient ventilation you may find climate control wholly unnecessary.
  • Resistance to fire: Naturally, straw is far from inflammable, but when packed tightly into bales it becomes extremely difficult to burn, due to the lack of available oxygen. As such, straw bale garages have comparable fire retardant properties to traditional structures. In the unlikely event of bales catching fire, they tend to smoulder rather than burst into flame and are generally quite easy to extinguish.
  • Price: Straw bales are significantly cheaper than practically every other building material out there, and do not require specialised labour to use. 

What about the cons?

  • Insects: Straw bales are not vulnerable to termites and other wood boring insects. However, they can serve as safe havens and breeding grounds for other insects, particularly flying beetles and ants, and you should take care to avoid any part of the internal straw structure of your garage becoming exposed.
  • Damp: A properly covered and faced straw garage should have no problems with damp. However, hidden leaks in older garages (particularly around room seams and lost or damaged roof flashing) can allow moisture into your bales, allowing mould and rot to breed within. Mould can also infect straw walls built in constantly humid areas, although this problem can be alleviated with the use of stucco or plaster wall coverings. Rotten bales are a structural hazard and must be replaced promptly and safely.
  • Loss of space: Straw walls are considerably thicker than brick or timber walls, so a straw bale garage must be larger than a traditional garage to provide the same amount of internal floor space. This can be a particular problem on small proprieties, or for garages intended to hold large, wide vehicles such as tractors and utes. 

For more information, contact professionals like Bill Jacobs Pty. Ltd.