Straw Bale Building Course


18-20 October 2024

Bookings now OPEN!

Course pricing and inclusions

repair-webThe course runs over three days, Friday to Sunday.
We start at 8.30am and finish at 5pm, with an earlier finish on Sunday
as many people wish to travel.

  • Morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, tea and coffee facilities are provided
  • Course notebook supplied for your own note taking
  • Free camping on-site is available for course participants
  • Excellent bathroom and shower amenities are provided for campers
  • Camp kitchen is provided with access for campers during your stay.
  • Course fee per person is $695.00 (inc GST)


Is the course for me?

There are a wide range of backgrounds and motivations for those attending the course. Many people are contemplating building in straw bale, have done some research and are looking to decide if it is for them. Some of those people intend to do the building them selves, whilst others plan to have someone else do the building but with them being the owner builder for the project.
For those who intend to have someone else undertake the building it is critical that you understand the building process, what constitutes sound construction and how to advise trades such as electricians and plumbers who may not have had any experience with straw bale construction.

Architects, builders, drafts people and carpenters often attend the course, these building professionals are either getting enquiry from clients for straw bale buildings or are pursuing their own projects. Over the three day course we go between classroom and practical elements, many people find that a concept really only clicks with them when they have backed up the theory with some hands on examples. Many participants come from interstate, we regularly have people from Wa, SA, Vic Tas as well as the occasional overseas visitor.

Classroom & Hands-on.

The course is split 50-50 between classroom learning and hands on building. Subjects are covered in detail in their theory sections with many references, pictures and specifications were possible. This is followed by practical demonstration and practice on our purpose built training area. The great benefit of this course is that you will touch all the elements of a straw bale building and this helps enormously in the planning for a project. You leave with a clear concept of the tasks involved in wall raising and rendering. This helps people with the estimating process of building, deciding what parts of the building they can see themselves undertaking or where they engage out side assistance.  For those outsourcing there build the course provides  and concepts such as estimating. Students leave with a clear understanding of what is involved in undertaking a straw bale building project.


Bottom Line

So if you want to learn about the right way to build in straw bale, understand the principals , get some hands on experience, and whether you intend to be an owner builder, over see your own build or your are a building professional – this course is for you.

Course Content

You will cover:
–      design issues for straw bale construction
–      foundation & footing considerations
–      framing options
–      load bearing and hybrid techniques
–      bale stacking, compression & tensioning
–      door & window openings
–      straw bale specific detailing
–      wet room design and considerations
–      allowance for electrical & plumbing services
–      rendering materials and techniques
–      installation of bottom plate system
–      stacking bales  for ‘on edge’ & ‘flat bales’
–      making half and custom sized bales
–      installing timber frames for openings
–      installing top plates
–      compressing and stitching bale walls
–      clay and lime rendering


Your Trainer


Sam Vivers of VivaHomes, is a professional builder who has been building houses since 1996. Sam builds straw bale homes across NSW Queensland and the ACT. Sam lives in a straw bale house and has for over a decade.Sam-Strawbale
Sam is a great communicator and our participants cover a great deal of detailed information during the 3 day course. Participants in this course will learn the right way to undertake the construction of a straw bale building, it will help you be knowledgeable enough to avoid common mistakes and to deal with other trades that will be involved in your project who may be clueless about straw bale building. It will also help you separate misleading advice from ‘straw bale building gurus’ who are keen to sell their services and not necessarily help progress your building/home. Sam’s focus over the three days is to get course participants up to speed with the building process, available materials , techniques, so that you can move forward with your project.“VivaLogo

Congratulations to the team at Viva Homes for their award in the Master Builders Excellence in Housing” Best Home under $500,000, and a second award for Environmental Management. Read more about Sams work and VivaHomes at their website

“ I attended the recent 3 day course and found it a terrific experience to help begin the process of, hopefully, building our straw bale home. The information, format and ability to chat/ask those questions was much appreciated. Will happily recommend it to anyone looking at straw bale building. Thank you and to Sam – I am more enthusiastic to go ahead with straw after the course than before.”    

Terry Stubberfield

Owner Builder

“Thanks so much for the course, we learned soooo much in the three days. It has given us a clear direction with our build now, goodness knows where we would have ended up if hadn’t done this.”


“Just a quick note to thank you for the straw bale building course last week end. It was much more than I expected, the practical sessions were great and really made it for me. The three days just disappeared so quickly and looking at my notes I can’t believe how much we covered. Thanks again Sam for a great course. “


Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to bring along to the course?

For the classroom sessions you need to bring along something to write with. A course notebook is supplied for you to fill out with notes that follows the course, however some people like taking LOTS of notes and make copious drawings. If this is you, then bring your favourite notebook. Bring a clipboard or something to lean on whilst writing. We have found the best classroom setup is without desks, so bring a clipboard, a book, a piece of ply, a piece of core flute to provide a firm surface for taking you notes. For the practical sessions you will need some personal protective equipment (PPE). You will be using mainly hand tools, and you will be handling clay,  fencing wire and lime which is an alkaline material. Suggested list : – safety glasses – long sleeve shirt, long pants and enclosed shoes hearing protection of your choice (we provide ear plugs) gloves (sturdy washing up rubber gloves are ideal for lime rendering) a drink bottle, if it’s hot – keep hydrated. – sun hat For those camping onsite during the course, bring a torch and you camping set up.

Can i take photos during the course?

Yes you can take still photos during the course – no problems. However – filming of the course is NOT permitted.

Can I bring my building plans or drafts?

Yes, feel free to bring along your plans or drawings. Sam is happy to discuss these with you during meal breaks.

Refunds Policy

We understand that sometimes circumstances change and you may not be able to attend a course that you have paid for. Refunds are available as long as you notify us at least 21 days prior to the commencement of the course, your options are:
1) A refund of your course fee, less an administration fee of $75,
2) A credit of the full amount towards any future course, within the next 12 months.
Refunds and credits cannot be guaranteed for cancellations less than 21 days from the event.

Are special dietary requirements catered for?

During the course we provide good quality, healthy lunches along with morning & afternoon teas. We make every endeavour to accommodate special dietary preferences, including Gluten Free OR Vegetarian. Should you have a serious food allergy or more complicated dietary requirements, we would suggest you self-cater. If you plan to self-cater, please notify us as soon as you can for catering purposes.

Can I earn Continuing Development Points if I’m an Architect or Builder?

Yes, you will accrue 24 hours worth of points by completing the course, a certificate is issued to all course participants.

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Who we are.
The Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC) is a community owned, not for profit organisation located in Mudgee NSW. We organise the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days event, emphasising education and learning about agriculture and living in rural lands. AREC hosts many other events and runs sustainable building training and courses on our site.