I just received an email from a man I recently started doing some straw bale consulting for about the cost of plaster. He has received three estimates for the plaster work and he was unhappily surprised at the cost. The average cost turned out to be roughly $5 per square foot of bale wall surface. This is about what I expect to pay for plaster work on bale walls. The cost of plaster may be different in your area depending on local labor costs and what type of plaster you use; however, the fact remains that in most cases, the plaster work will be one of the most expensive parts of the construction budget. Perhaps the only time this is not true is when a locally “mined” clay plaster is used and the labor is free via a workshop or owner’s labor.
It is important to know what and where the costs are for your home before you start building. If you don’t know all your costs before you start, you run the risk of growing your budget out of control quickly and running out of money. Every job will have items that go over budget. It is almost inevitable (of course, there are still the few home owners out there who manage to stay on budget when they build) that things will change in the scope of the work and therefore in the price of construction. Having a contingency fund is a good idea, but simply knowing the cost of all the work to be perfomed, by way of written estimates or bids, is the best practice you can employ. Keep in mind that plaster alone at $5/SF could be up to 20% of your total budget. Waiting until the end of the construction process to learn this could be devastating to your financial planning.