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Pickering policeman builds 5,000-square-foot straw-bale house

A Pickering house is being built using a new way to build walls, a method that’s attracted Chinese researchers to its open house on Friday.

The house is being built out of modular straw-bale walls developed by a St. Catharines startup, Nature Built Wall Systems Inc.

According to Neeraj Jain, one of three partners behind Nature Built, the owner, a Pickering policeman, had another house on the lot that burned down due to an electrical fire. He decided his next house was going to have the best materials he could get. While he was at it, he figured he might as well go green.

Straw-bale walls are not new, but there have been obstacles to bringing them into the mainstream.

"It's very inexpensive, you're using natural materials, it's fire resistant, it's also very resistant to earthquakes," Jain says. "The problem is it's messy, people think about the three little pigs, and you need specialized trades people to put it together, so [Jain's partner, Chris Magwood] came up with this idea of modularize it, to put it together in a factory, load them up onto a truck, arrive at the site, and pretty much like Lego, lay them down, fasten them to the foundation, and within half a day or a day you've got the whole building envelope done. It's a pretty novel way of building houses, and obviously, we're hoping it's going to catch on."

Representatives of the Chinese Academy of Building Research were interested in paying Magwood a visit to learn more about his system, and organized their trip so they could take a look at the walls in action. The deputy mayor of Pickering will also be at the north Pickering house at Brock Road and Concession Road 9 on Friday to cut a ribbon.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Neeraj Jain

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