You may not learn it all from books, but you sure can learn the best of it! Books in this section are listed by date of publication. Other sections are in alphabetical order by title. Some books are not exclusively about straw bale, but offer information on natural building, as well – or hybrids, if you will.  We’ll share reviews of most of these new titles in future issues of TLS, and will continuously update this page.

Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods (Earth Plaster, Straw Bale, Cordwood, Cob, Living Roofs. By Clarke Snell & Tim Callahan, Lark Books/Shelter Publishing, 2006. A basic primer and a how-to manual on specific techniques and detailing.

Building a Straw Bale House: The Red Feather Construction Handbook. By Nathaniel Corum. Princeton Architectural Press, 2005. A good step-by-step guide to construction details and processes used by The Red Feather Foundation for  simple, well designed straw-bale houses they build.

Building Your Strawbale Home: From Foundations to the Roof. By Brian Hodge. To be published in 2006. Contact Briad Hodge, PO Box 419, Heathcote 3523 Australia; 0428 2468 68  A carpenter with years of experience applies his craftmanship and skills to straw-bale building and shares what heÕs learned.

Building with Straw: Design and Technology of a Sustainable Architecture (English version) (See Straw Bale Books in Other Languages section). A practical, hands-on guide to building with straw. International projects illustrated.

Design of Straw Bale Buildings: The State of the Art Edited by Bruce King (contributors, John Straube, David Mar, Kelly Lerner, Rene Dalmeijer, and others), Green Building Press, 2006. Summaries of all worldwide testing, field experience and articles ‹ a design guide and straw-bale encyclopedia ‹ covering history, plasters, structure, moisture, fire, insulation, acoustics, insects and pests, details, codes, and standards. Summaries of all worldwide testing, field experience and articles Ð a design guide and straw-bale encyclopedia Ð covering history, plasters, structure, moisture, fire, insulation, acoustics, insects and pests, details, codes, and standards.

Earth Garden Building Book: Design and Build Your Own House. By Robert Rich and Keith Smith, new updated edition, Penguin/Viking, 2005. Expains the buildig and design processes for beginners, with a chapter on low-cost, sustainable building with strawbale by John Glassford.

More About Straw Bale Building: A complete guide to designing and building with straw, updated edition. By Chris Magwood, Pete Mack and Tina Therrien, New Society Publishers, 2005. Comprehensive information on planning and building with straw; a guide to sustainable construction and techniques to build smarter, better, simply.

Practical Straw Bale Building. By Murray Hollis, Landlinks Press, 2005. Information and ideas for immediate practical application and as a basis for further development of straw-bale building methods.

Redux: Designs That Reuse, Recycle, and Reveal. By Jennifer Roberts, Gibbs Smith, 2005. Includes severals straw-bale projects, design and construction information in the New Construction chapter.

Small Strawbale: Natural Homes, Projects & Designs. By Bill Steen, Athena Swentzell Steen, Wayne J. Bingham. Gibbs-Smith Publisher, 2005. A collection of small houses, tiny studios, meditation spaces, outbuildings, and landscape walls built simply using good materials such as straw,  earth, stone, and timber.

Southwest Housing Traditions: Design, Materials, Performance. By US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2005. Descriptions and illustrations of building types and materials including strawbale, rammed earth, adobe.

The Woodland House. By Ben Law. Permanent Publications (UK), 2005. Full of photographs, drawings and explanations of designing and constructing a hybrid, off-grid house from forest to finished building. (Reviewed in TLS#52)

Building with Straw: Design and Technology of a Sustainable Architecture. By Gernot Minke and Friedemann Mahlke, Birkhauser, 2005 (originally published in German (Der Strohballenbau: Ein Konstruktionhandbuch (See Straw Bale Books in Other Languages section). A practical, hands-on guide to building with straw. International projects illustrated.

Sticks, Stones, Mud Homes. By Nigel Noyes, Hardie Grant Books, 2004. Many of the owners featured in this book have used alternative methods of construction, appreciating the most basic building blocks – earth, straw, timber and stone – which form a natural alliance with the land.

The New Strawbale Home. By Catherine Wanek, Gibbs Smith, 2003. A practical guide to strawbale design, complete with floor plans, construction tips, and photos of forty homes from cities, mountain towns, desertscapes and rural settings throughout North America. A beautiful book! (Reviewed in TLS#44.)

A House of Straw: A Natural Building Odyssey. By Carolyn Roberts, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2002. A well-told real-life tale for all audiences that contains a lot more specific building information than one might expect. (Reviewed in TLS#38.)

Building With Straw Bales: A Practical Guide for the UK and Ireland. By Barbara Jones, Green Books, 2002. A compelling mix of heart and information, offering value for novice and veteran alike. (Reviewed in TLS#38.)

Straw Bale Details: A Manual for Designers and Builders. By Chris Magwood and Chris Walker, New Society Publishers, 2001. Contains architectural details for a wide variety of scenarios, ready to take a design and make it into real-world plans. (Reviewed in TLS#36.)

The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes. By Athena and Bill Steen, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2000. A gem of a book. Beautiful photos to inspire, interspersed with nuggets of wise advice. (Reviewed in TLS#33.)

Building Officials Guide to Straw Bale Construction Version 2.1. Edited by Kelly Lerner and Pamela Wadsworth Goode, CASBA, 2000. As a compilation of most of the testing and code work done to date on bale walls, this publication is a must-have. (Reviewed in TLS#32.)

Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climates. By Paul Lacinski and Michel Bergeron, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2000. An excellent addition to the literature on strawbale, especially appropriate for those in wet, cold climates. (Reviewed in TLS#32.)

Straw Bale Building: How to Plan, Design and Build with Straw. By Chris Magwood and Peter Mack, New Society Publishers, 2000. A useful guide for the owner-builder, from starting a project to finishing. (Reviewed in TLS#31.)

Strawbale Homebuilding. Edited by Gray and Hall, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2000. Presents the stories of more than 40 Australian straw-bale builders, describing in their own words the experiences of building their houses. (Reviewed in TLS#32.)

Build It with Bales, Version Two. By S.O. MacDonald and Matts Myhrman, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1997. The original how-to manual, still invaluable. [Editor’s Note: The authors of this highly recommended book describing both load-bearing and post-and-beam straw-bale construction have decided not to revise or reprint this title, however, copies are available at online book sources and other out-of-print bookstores, and it is free to download online.]

Buildings of Earth and Straw. By Bruce King, Ecological Design Press, 1997. A structural engineer provides important technical information on designing earthen and straw buildings. (Reviewed in TLS#19.)

Straw Bale Construction Details: A Sourcebook. Edited by Ken Haggard and Scott Clark, CASBA. A valuable resource for architects, designers and owner/builders as well. (Reviewed in TLS#31.)

The Straw Bale House. Athena & Bill Steen, David Bainbridge with David Eisenberg, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1994. The ÒbibleÓ of strawbale. An excellent starting point, but donÕt stop there.

Warning! Strawbale Building Can Seriously Transform Your Life! Barbara Jones. Green Books.

Straw Bale Books in Other Languages

Batir en Paille: Guide pratique de la construction en bottes de paille. (French) Andre de Bouter, La Maison en Paille, 2004. A guide to construction filled with illustratons and terminology. A CD-Rom is included. (Reviewed in TLS#49)

Bauen mit Ballen. (German) Edited by Harald Wedig. Published by OLVA, 1999. A compilation of work from six German-speaking authors/builders. (Organischer Landbau Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, PO Box 1139, D-46509 Xanten, Germany, 49-2801-71701, <>.) (Reviewed in TLS#31)

Bauen mit Stroh. (German) By Herbert and Astrid Gruber, 2000. Published by Oekobuch Verlag, Staufen bei Freiburg 2000. <>

Der Strohballenbau: Ein Konstruktionhandbuch.  

By Gernot Minke and Friedemann Mahlke, Birckhauser, 2004 (published in English, 2005 under the title Building with Straw: Design and Technology of a Sustainable Architecture (See Straw Bale Books section.) A practical, hands-on guide to building with straw. International projects illustrated.

Halmbyggeressourcer 2001. (Danish)

By Lars Keller, Jane Kruse and Jettie Nielsen. Combining beautiful color photos with quality black and white detail drawings, this book makes for interesting reading, even if you donÕt read Danish.

Power of Grass: House of Straw. By  INAX, 2000. Filled with photographs and illustrations of projects in Mexico, Australia and Japan including using reeds for pinning and thatching and decorative uses as well. Japanese text. Contact: Satomi Lander <>

Stroballenbau. (German) By Marcus Piringer and Anselm Schwade, 2000. A general overview of straw-bale building put together by Global 2000 (Austrian Friends of the Earth). It is available to download from their website,

Please let us know of other titles in any language.

Straw Bale Booklets

House of Straw, Straw Bale Construction Comes of Age. US Department of Energy, 1995. Out of print, but published for free online at

How to Build with Straw Bales. By Kevin Beale. A Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) Publication from Wales, this 12-page booklet is a good, if brief, guide to strawbale.

Straw Bale Construction and the Building Codes. By David Eisenberg, 1995. An excellent working paper on dealing with your code officials. From DCAT,

Straw Bale Homes. By Ross Kembar, RR 3, Lakefield Ontario K0L 2H0 Canada;  705.652.8470, fax 705.652.1061. Video also available. Documents the first permitted load-bearing straw-bale home in Central Ontario, built in 1996.

A Visual Primer to Straw-Bale Construction in Mongolia. By Steve MacDonald. Available from Upper Gila Watershed Alliance, PO Box 383, Gila NM 88038-0383. A well-illustrated Òhow-toÓ in the most basic sense.

Straw Bale Building Plans

Home Design and Plans

Many books and web sites offer stock home plans, custom-designed home plans and home building design ideas. Remember that not all plans or designs work for all climates, locations, lifestyles, local zoning regulations and codes, methods and materials. Review plans from these and other sources and then adapt the ideas you gather to the floor plans or design you create on your own or with the help of an architect, engineer, design/builder, homebuilder, contractor or other professional.

Bale-watch. Fifty plans from small cottages to 10,000 sf homes.

Dream Green Homes. Stock plans from architects and designers are available at

Proven stock plans for straw-bale homes available at

Green House Plans: Architects Present Eco-friendly Plans and Ideas for Mudbrick, Strawbale, Stone, Passive Solar, Rammed Earth, Poured Earth Homes. Earth Garden Books, 2005 reprint.   <>

Owner-Builder Magazine, The Australasian Home Builders Magazine. Bi-monthly issues include floor plans for homes in a variety of styles including strawbale and natural designs. Back issues available. 66 Broadway, Cunolly VIC 3472 Australia; ph/fax 03.5468.1899, <>

Strawbale Plans, a new book to be published in 2007, authored by Wayne J. Bingham and Colleen F. Smth. Watch for book review in future issue of TLS.

Straw Bale Portfolio, A Collection of Sixteen Designs for Straw Bale Homes. By Bob Lanning, Architect; with Tom Greenwood, Architect, and Paul Weiner, Architect/Builder. A spiral bound book with renderings of 16 home plans. Available from DAWN SouthWest ­Ð See listing in Catalog/Mail Order Sources.

The Sun-Inspired House: House designs warmed and brightened by the sun. By Debra Rucker Coleman, Sun Plans, Inc. 2005.  Illustrates house design concepts related to the movement of the sun with examples of integrated concepts.

See also the books listed under Straw Bale Building Books. Straw-bale design ideas can be found in many other titles listed in this resource guide.

Privacy and Landscape Walls

How to Build Straw Bale Landscape and Privacy Walls. By Tim Farrant. A working paper on the topic, covering foundation to plaster and more. Available at

How to Build Straw-bale Privacy Walls.  TLS #7 Summer 1994, p 22-2; TLS #25, Spring 1999, p 4; TLS #46, Spring 2004, p 32; TLS#52, Winter 2005 photos in centerfold; TLS#55, Fall 2006.

Dog House Plans

Build Your Own Inexpensive Straw-bale Dog House for Your Pets. D.E.L.T.A. Rescue, PO Box 9, Glendale CA 91209; 661.269.4010

Dream Green Homes.

Straw Bale Building CDs, DVDs, Videos


TLS #1-40 (issues 1993 through 2003) CD-Rom, the first 40 issues of The Last Straw journal on a CD-Rom, is fully indexed and searchable by issues, authors, topics and keywords. Order here.

The Dirt Cheap Builder has compiled on floppy disk an extensive list of URLs related to natural building, including resource centers, publications and videos. Cost $5.00 plus $2.00 shipping. Many other resources on all types of natural building. (See Catalogs/Mail Order Sources)

Earthbuilders Encyclopedia the classic, out-of-print volume out now on CD-ROM. The comprehensive A to Z of building with earth includes color photos and technical drawings. Available from Southwest Solar Adobe School, PO Box 153, Bosque NM 87006; <>

Ecological Building Network collected over 40 papers from the International Conference on Ecological Building Structure on a CD-ROM. Included are earthen construction, fiber-based and agricultural by-products construction, lime, concrete, pozzolans and binders, codes, standards and cultural/institutional acceptance, and case studies. The index is at Cost $80. Order from The Tides Center/Ecological Building Network, 209 Caledonia St., Sausalito CA 94965. (Reviewed in TLS#37)

Proceedings of the International Straw Bale Building Conference/ISBBC 2002 in Australia are available on CD-ROM, videotape and floppy disk. Orders may be placed through  the Events Office, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga NSW 2678, Australia, or by contacting John Glassford and Susan Pearse-Wingate, 22-24 Moore St., Ganmain NSW 2702, Australia; 02.6927.6027, fax 02.6927.6606 <>  http://strawbale,

ISBBC-04 CD-Rom. A full review of the theory sessions, wide-ranging topical forums and learning experiences at Friland during the International Straw Bale Building Conference in Denmark will be available in 2006 and can be ordered from Lars Keller, <> or can be viewed on the ISBBC04 web page on the TLS web site

If you know of other CDs to list, please tell us about them!



Remember that not all designs and methods  apply to all locales, climates and local environments and codes provisions.

Building with Awareness. Building With Awareness is an award-winning DVD Video on how to build beautiful and energy-efficient homes with strawbale, adobe, and other natural materials. Order through web site  (Reviewed in TLS#50)

The Comprehensive Guide to Building with Straw Bales: Post-and-Beam Infill.  Step-by-step description of building method and techniques of a contractor in northwesten USA.  (Reviewed in TLS#50)

The How-to Guide to Plastering with Natural Hydraulic Lime Plaster. Plastering tips and techniques in northwestern USA.

The How-to Guide to Building a Monolithic Concrete Slab Foundation. How to build a concrete slab foundation from start to finish.

Building Codes for a Small Planet. Redefines public health, safety,  and welfare, connecting buildings with their environmental, social,  and economic consequences. It lays the groundwork for a major shift  in the way that building regulatory community views and carries out  its work. (1) The unintended effects of current design and construction and their connection to building regulations, (2) Surprising facts about both conventional and alternative materials and methods of construction, (3)  A vision for a future where buildings do more good than harm, and building departments are recognized as community resources for  best building practices. 48 minutes. Development Center for Appropriate Technology.

If you know of other DVDs to list, please tell us about them!


Building with Straw Video Series. By Black Range Films. Vol 1: A Straw-Bale Workshop. View post-and-beam SB building and stuccoing at a weekend workshop. Vol 2: A Straw-Bale Home Tour. Tour through 10 homes ranging from inexpensive owner built to custom-designed and contracted. Vol 3: Straw-Bale Code Testing. Follow the testing that led to the first inclusion of strawbale in a building code. Includes fire, wind, and moisture testing.

How to Build Your Elegant Home with Straw Bales. By Steve Kemble and Carol Escott, Sustainable Systems Support. Video and manual set for loadbearing construction.

Straw Bale Building Special. Bob Bolles of Sustainable Building Systems, Inc. (SBS) and Mike Evans of Tree of Life Nursery are featured in Huell HowserÕs California Green television documentary series produced in cooperation with PBS, a show featuring straw-bale construction projects in Southern California. (The show aired March 28, 2004, on KCET-TV, Los Angeles). The videotape of this show is available at:

Straw Bale Construction: The Elegant Solution. By Sustainable Systems Support. The inspirational first video produced about strawbale construction, in 1992.

The Straw Bale Solution. By Catherine Wanek. Narrated by Athena and Bill Steen and featuring interviews with architects, engineers and owner-builders, this video shows that building with bales can produce ecological, empowering, and affordable housing. Available from

Straw Bales for Shelter, a 10-minute video by Matts Myhrman. Available from Geiger Research Institute for sustainable building as a digital download.