Cash Back Grants for Straw Bale Homes in Missouri!

I recently received a comment from a gentleman in Missouri who told me “…recently our area of Missouri approved a grant for the construction of straw bale homes offering a $15,000 construction reimbursement for the building of straw bale homes…” Wow! That is a great deal and something I would like to learn more about.

If you have any other details about this program, I would love to hear about it. I would like to know who started the grant program, how it is funded, how owners cash in, what limitations are on the grant, and anything else you can tell me. I would love to use this as a pilot program for other towns, cities, counties and perhaps on the national level! Incentives work well for many people and perhaps a few areas offering incentives will help grow this powerful technology! If anyone out there has information about similar programs in other parts of the World, please let us know. When we gather this information together, we can start to look for similarities and ways to expand these programs. I am excited!

55 Responses to Cash Back Grants for Straw Bale Homes in Missouri!

  1. Brent Callahan Thu, October 25, 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    I’m not sure where you got your info about the grant in Missouri, but I have been e-mailing Richard Lorenz with the University of Missouri extension and know that he is offering help with this same subject. His website is http://www.cardinalbluff.com/

    Hope this helps.

  2. Richard Lorenze Fri, October 26, 2007 at 8:11 am #

    Andrew,
    Yes we have a grant program in Missouri. It is a grant of $15,000 from HUD toward the materials to each of 10 houses. The grant is available in six counties in the south central region, Douglas, Ozark, Wright, Texas, Howell and Shannon counties. Top of the Ozarks RC&D Inc. in Houston, Missouri, obtained the grant from HUD and is managing the program. The homeowner, principal occupant, must build the house to the IBC and the Oregon Straw Bale Code and upon final inspection will receive the $15,000. There are no size or design requirements as long as the house meets the building codes. Our goal is to see 10 happy families living energy efficient in straw bale houses in the Ozarks For more information on this program contact Richard Lorenz at lorenzr@missouri.edu

  3. Josh Houghtelin Mon, October 29, 2007 at 12:24 pm #

    Darn. that puts me, in Henry County, a bit too far north! I would love to learn of things like this if they come to the Henry County area.

  4. Leslie Vaughn Mon, November 12, 2007 at 10:28 am #

    I’m glad to see Missourians talking about this because I have felt alone in the interest of building a straw bale home here in Kansas City. I dream of one day owning a straw bale home. I was wanting to find out more about grants too. I thought the government gave a grant for environmentally friendly homes as long as you meet guidelines. Does anybody know anything about this? Also what can I/we do to get grants approved in our area?
    Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be able to answer my questions.

  5. Bill Wright Sat, November 17, 2007 at 8:45 pm #

    I was enrolled in the “Straw Bale Initiative.” I was the first one enrolled – and for a long time the only one. Perhaps I was the only one ever – I don’t know. I resigned from the program a few months ago. I don’t know if anyone else is actually enrolled and actively building a straw bale house. I don’t believe so. The program has been seeking home builders for about 2 or 2 1/2 years now. I am continuing to build my own home to, and beyond, the standards of the IBC, and where it applies, the Oregon Building Code – just not as a part of the program mentioned above.

  6. Andrew
    Andrew Sat, November 17, 2007 at 9:01 pm #

    Bill,
    What caused you to resign from the program? Are there things that could have been done better that might have kept you involved and/or enrolled more people?

    Andrew

  7. Bill Wright Sun, November 18, 2007 at 8:16 pm #

    Andrew,

    The entire experience with the Straw Bale Initiative demonstrated to me the real meaning behind that old worn-out punch line, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

    The nonsense was overwhelming.

    Bill

  8. Andrew
    Andrew Mon, November 19, 2007 at 1:38 pm #

    Thanks for the feedback Bill. I hope it helps those who may follow in your path towards the program.

    Andrew

  9. Beth Adams Wed, November 21, 2007 at 8:01 am #

    To Bill Wright,
    If you are still building or are considering constructing outbuildings, have you thought about hosting week-end straw bale workshops? I live in central Illinois. Most workshops I have found via the internet are 2 to 3 states away, or at least 7-8 hours drive away, but most of Missouri is only half a days drive. Thanks.

  10. Andrew
    Andrew Wed, November 21, 2007 at 8:38 am #

    Beth and Bill,
    If that does happen, let me know. I have a pretty full workshop schedule in 2008, but could probably fit a weekend workshop in. Most of my workshops are 7 days long as this is a great length to really teach the details. A weekend workshop can work too, but it is certainly more rushed.

  11. Bill Wright Thu, November 22, 2007 at 7:55 am #

    Oh, my! I had never considered such….. but…. perhaps… (For Beth and Andrew – let’s talk)

    I have just received my straw and am about to place an order for the NHL (no, not hockey, lime). My house is 2640 sq ft so there will be plenty of bales to be placed and stuccoed. Hmmm, lots of learning possibilities, aren’t there?

  12. giovanni Tue, November 27, 2007 at 3:09 am #

    Hi guys!
    I just discovered this site…fantastic! I live in Hawaii and I’m ready to partecipate in a hand-on workshop.I want to build my straw-bale house!Please let me know of any workshop happening in the west area. I can’t believe how much ignorance about straw bale construction is out there…when I talk about it most of the people think I’m pulling their leg…
    Also, very interesting the government grant…Is there a way that I can start something here in Hawaii?
    Aloha to everyone!

  13. Andrew
    Andrew Tue, November 27, 2007 at 7:26 am #

    Giovanni,
    I am glad you like the website. I hope it continues to bing you the information you are looking for. In terms of workshops in the West, I have a number happening in Oregon, and other parts of the World as well. Check out http://www.StrawBaleWorkshops.com for more schedule information. For the government program, I think there is a lot of foot work to do before that would fly in a new area. Honestly, I am not sure what would have to happen to get it started, but I bet enthusiasm would be a good start!

    Andrew

  14. Tom Fri, November 30, 2007 at 7:11 am #

    Great site Andrew!
    Bill in MO and Leslie and IL, let me hear from you. I have been studying strawbale for years and I am located in StL, MO. I have been dreaming of the day when i begin building my strawbale home so some practical experience and some people to talk to in the area may be the catalyst needed. You can reach me at tom_is@yahoo.com

  15. Shane Wed, January 16, 2008 at 6:12 am #

    I too would be interested in a workshop if you do it Bill. I am in western TN and have thought about SB for many years, but never been involved with an actual build. You can email me at shane@scwdp.com if you do something.

    Thanks

  16. Andrew
    Andrew Wed, January 16, 2008 at 7:59 am #

    Be sure to keep an eye on my workshop site http://www.StrawBaleWorkshops.com as I may be adding dates in your state or at least near you. I have a few more dates coming soon that I am in the process of securing locations for.

  17. John Wed, March 19, 2008 at 5:17 am #

    Unfortunately, the grant program is restricted to Douglas, Ozark, Wright, Howell, Texas and Shannon counties, which are all in the middle of nowhere. What a cruel joke! Only a unabomber type would take them up on this offer. It’s about as desirable as a grant to move to Chernobyl.

  18. Bill Wright Wed, March 19, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    John said, “…program is restricted to Douglas, Ozark, Wright, Howell, Texas and Shannon counties, which are all in the middle of nowhere. What a cruel joke!”

    Amusing, John. Those counties are in the Ozarks, which are all low income counties and obviously where such a program is most needed. The concept is marvelous; the administration of it – not so marvelous.

  19. kirk Mon, May 12, 2008 at 8:18 pm #

    Andrew, I bought your dvd and really enjoyed it. i am from Medford but havent lived there for 12 years. i am now moving to Joplin Mo and would like to build sb there.
    I visit Medford just about every summer as all of my family stilll resides there. I would love the opportunity to see one of the homes that you have built.
    I will be in touch with the others that live in MO that are interested in SB.
    Thanks for your comitment.

    Kirk Botefur

  20. Austin Tue, May 13, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    I am also a missourian unfortunatly even though i live right by those counties i would not qualify for a grant either. Any way they might expand….Also i am very interested in learning as to how someone might go about building straw bale in mo i am going to hopefully soon if someone is building or plan on building and would like some help… i have built houses before just not straw house…i would love the experience….I live in springfield, mo please dont hesitate to contact me.

  21. Andrew
    Andrew Sat, May 17, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    Austin,
    You can get lots of hands on experience at my workshops. Check out http://www.StrawBaleWorkshops.com if you want more information. Unfortunately, I do not know if the program will expand any time soon. I certainly hope it will.

  22. Sharon Thu, May 29, 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    Hi,

    Does anyone have any good resources for building a straw bale home in Kansas City MO?! Is is even permitted within city limits and have the grants made it to our area yet?

    Thanks for your help!

  23. Andrew
    Andrew Thu, June 12, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    Sharon,
    You might try contacting the folks listed on this page: http://sbregistry.greenbuilder.com/search.straw?lcou=United%20States&lsta=MO They have bale structures in Missouri and are probably the most likely folks to have local recommendations for you. Good luck.

    Andrew

  24. Denise Fri, June 20, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    I wanted to let everyone know about our straw bale project. We are building a straw bale winery in Dent County, MO (just 4 miles north of the Shannon County line). You can check out our progress at our website http://www.CountsHollow.com. We are to the point of starting the walls and would love help from anyone who is interested in learning more about the technique. So far we’ve done all the work ourselves- rght down to milling the lumber. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like more info 573-247-9660.

  25. Hope Sat, June 28, 2008 at 7:41 am #

    Denise, just read your note about building in Dent County, Hope

  26. Joseph Sat, January 24, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    I just discovered this site and was looking to find out if anyone in the Springfield Missouri area is working or getting ready to work on a project of their own. My wife and I would like to see a home up close sometime soon. Also, has anyone had any issues with the humidity in Missouri? Any other issues unique to building SB in Missouri? Thanks.

  27. Cole R. Jones Tue, June 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    I have just been introduced to the straw bale home. I have been getting ready to build myself a small, and very primitive cabin out of standard construction materials. But now I’m excited and very interested in the concept of using bales. I’m located in Pulaski county Missouri. So if anyone needs an extra free hand building a straw home anywhere in Missouri on the weekends let me know. I’m very experienced in all types of home and land development. But know nothing about straw homes.

    Thanks
    Cole

  28. Ben Schrader Mon, November 2, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Re: Cole R. Jones

    Hi, My name is Ben and I have connections in rural North Missouri where I grew up. I have been between Colorado and Michigan lately developing skills for straw bale construction. Do you want to pursue straw bale techniques still? Let me know.
    Thanks, Ben

  29. PK Harling Tue, December 1, 2009 at 7:01 pm #

    This is cool! I just did a word search using “straw bale home builders architects Missouri,” & up came this blog as one of the choices. I am presently living in So.Calif., but planning to move to the Ozarks in the next couple of years – somewhere around the College of the Ozarks (aka “Hard Work U,”) so my daughter can attend there. I have several books & videos on bale houses, & attended a bale building workshop sponsored by RealGoods(.com) at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies on the Cal Poly Pomona campus several years ago. I have already roughed out the floor plan, but am looking for a builder/architect in or near that area, who’s familiar with the local codes. I know if a bale house is not already in the county in which you plan to build, one must work a little harder with the local officials, so I am doing my homework early. I checked out the Green Builders website a while back, but thanks for the link to the locator page, Andrew. I will check it out again, & stay close to this site as well. I also saw a couple of other links on the search page that might help, too. Great site you have here! Thanks, PK

  30. Andrew
    Andrew Wed, December 2, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    Welcome PK! Glad you’re happy with what you’ve found. Let me know if you need help as you move forward.

  31. PK Harling Wed, December 2, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    Thank, Andrew. From what I’ve read here, it appears that the state of Missouri uses the Oregon building codes. I might have trouble locating local builders familiar with the techniques in the Ozarks & that worries me, since I’m turning 57 this month, female, a getting wee bit “creaky” if you know what I mean. 🙁 Green Builders didn’t list anyone in Taney County, MO, but I found a couple of builders through another online website, though I doubt if they know straw bale. I’ll have to call them I guess. I could also check adjacent counties.

    Questions, questions… What does one do without such people locally? Should I contact the county building officials first? Should I send my rough plan to a green architect anywhere in MO, who can then advice a local builder who’s unfamiliar with it? My heart has been set on this for years. Seems to me it can’t be all that difficult since bale houses are now in every state from what I gather.

    I now see that one of the earlier posters here (Joseph, 1/24/09,) was looking to locate a bale home near Springfield, MO to see one close up. That’s about 30-40 miles north of Taney County. Is there anyway you can e-mail him to see if he’s found any nearby?

  32. Andrew
    Andrew Wed, December 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    I would suggest you contact the building department to see what advice they have to offer. Do this anonymously though, in case they have a sour taste about straw bale. You don’t want to get stuck with a bad wrap before you even get started. They should be able to give you some direction.

    You may need to get some consulting from me if you end up with a contractor who isn’t familiar with SB construction. That way, you can use a regular contractor and I can help bring him/her up to speed with bale construction.

    I don’t have Joseph’s email anymore. Hopefully he’ll see your post here and make contact.

  33. PK Harling Wed, December 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    Wow! That was quick! In reviewing some of these posts, I see there are a few links of interest to me, as well as Mr. Lorenze’s mention of several counties where the grants were issued. I think a couple of those are near Taney Co. Do you think Mr. Lorenze would know which counties other than the ones he cited would have bale homes? I’ll try e-mailing him. Worth a shot.

    Yes, I can see where you and this site would come in very handy for those unfamiliar with bales. Thanks for the offer. I gave thought to that a long time ago.

    Someone mentioned the humidity factor in MO. I would think to choose rice straw if possible, since it’s high in silica, & then make sure they stay before dry during the building process. 45″ average rainfall where I’m headed. I’ll be doing post & beam, & I’ve read that the roof can actually go on before the walls are filled in, & that rain hitting the sides of an exposed bale is no biggie, since it doesn’t penetrate downward. Once plastered, no worries, right? Guess I need to snoop around your site here, eh? LOL

  34. Andrew
    Andrew Wed, December 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    🙂 Take a look around and see what you can find. There’s lots here. If you still have questions, let me know. The rain is not an issue, by the way. Humidity is the concern. I don;t see that as a huge problem unless there is no dry time where you live.

  35. PK Harling Thu, December 3, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Will do, thanks! I watched a couple of your You Tube Videos last night, too. Great stuff.

  36. Lonnie Brown Sat, February 6, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    I am a contractor with over 30 yrs experience in conventional construction and live in my 2,000sf loadbearing strawbale home in Taney Co, MO between Branson and Springfield, MO. I am getting geared up to offer construction services for strawbale and am researching new additional grants and building a website at this time. As far as I know I live in one of the few strawbale homes in the state. But my wife and I love it and would never live in another conventional home. The need is out there for economical, self-sustaining, green construction and I’m very interested in getting some homes up this year.

  37. Andrew Morrison Sun, February 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    Awesome Lonnie! Best of luck and success to you.

  38. Debbie Davis Sun, March 7, 2010 at 5:32 am #

    My husband and I live in NW MO and will be building our straw bale house within the next two years on our farm and celebrating the demolition of the old farm house which is the typical energy-consuming dinosaur. We have a neighbor who has built 15 straw homes and lives in his 13 year old straw home. He’s our inspiration and we are feeling confident to create our dream home with the types of resources you offer on your web site and his help.
    One of my questions is other straw bale home owners experience with home owners insurance. One straw bale owner said they didn’t disclose to their homeowners ins company that their home was insulated with straw as the form didn’t ask. What is the climate of home owners insurance on straw homes?
    Debbie

  39. Andrew Morrison Fri, March 19, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Congratulations Debbie. Sounds like an exciting time! Insurance can be difficult for sure. It’s mostly that insurance companies want to insure things they know and understand as they don’t like taking risks. You can try telling an insurance company or two and see what reflections you get. I always suggest that people leave the option of saying my house is post and beam with cellulose insulation. That is all 100% true (assuming it’s post and beam of course) and doesn’t raise any red flags. As I’ve said before, how often do you hear people talking about their fiberglass insulation house? Not very often…it’s just insulation and so are the bales. Good luck.

  40. mary bishop Mon, April 5, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Are there any HUD grant monies left for homeowners who build with straw bale construction in Ozark County, Missouri?
    Mary
    Aril 5, 2010
    thnx.

  41. jana Fri, January 7, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    it is super encouraging to read of missourians working so hard to promote straw bale construction. I built a load bearing sb shed in Lawrence, Kansas a year and a half ago. Now I am starting to plan a small sb home for my parents near Kansas City on the Missouri side. I definitely need the encouragement because though I am convinced of straw bale construction myself, when I talk about it with people, they pretty much think I am crazy, haha 🙂 I noted the links people left in dialogue, but if anyone has more info or advice on straw bale building in Missouri let me know!

  42. Angela Shields Mon, January 24, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    My husband & I are looking into this method as well & would be interested in visiting some owner/builder homes in Missouri (or Kansas). We live in Springfield, Mo & are in the researching stage. Our main priority in looking into this is to be able to build something that is effecient, beautiful, & to be free from debt. What is the typical cost (of those of you who have built a SB house) per sq. foot if the owner builds? And what if we were to hire a contractor (Lonnie, above, for example)? Thanks for all of the above information. ang_shields@yahoo.com

  43. Andrew Morrison Sun, February 13, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Hi Angela. it’s probably best if someone locally answers your cost questions as so much is related to local conditions. I can say that here in Oregon, I see projects ranging from $70/SF (owner/builder) to $200/SF (Contractor and high end). Hope that helps, even a little.

    Hope to hear from more local folks on this one…

  44. Kevin Glaser Thu, March 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    I am in the Kansas City MO area and looking for some owner builders I can visit within a 4 hour drive. We are planning to build 1800sqft post and beam, in Jackson County MO. I hope i don’t have many problems with the planning dept…

    I was also wondering if anyone had any experience with a rammed earth/tire foundation or doing the foundation with earthbags. especially considering the colder climate and the rainfall here.

  45. Andrew
    Andrew Sat, March 9, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Hi Kevin, Check out the folks at this link: http://sbregistry.sustainablesources.com/search.straw?lcou=United%20States&lsta=MO. There may be someone there you can visit.

    I don’t know about rammed earth/tire foundations in general, personally. They work well in compression (forces applied onto them) but I don’t see them having any tensile strength (load pulled away from them). BOTH forces act upon foundations and so both must be accounted for in the design and strength of the foundation. There is no easy way to go back and fix an inferior foundation once the house is built.

    I would suggest an uplift resistant rubble trench foundation like the one I describe and show in my book. That minimizes the use of concrete but also provides the tensile strength that the foundation needs.

  46. LeeAna Sun, March 10, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Hi, I live close by Springfield MO. We are currently looking to buy either a home or land to build. We are wanting to build a cobb straw home. I see that Lonnie Brown was chatting about building homes in this area. If so we could and would like all the help and information to begin this adventure. thanks

  47. Eric Sat, October 19, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    We have been looking into SB for a couple of yrs now… love this website and have gotten tons of great information here. We currently live on the central gulf coast of Florida but are from MO and are looking at moving back to build our SB home, “alternative” building here in Florida is almost impossible. I grew up I SW MO and love the Ozarks. Does anyone know if that grant program is still available? I have family in Webster county so that could be an option. I know land can be had cheap there and water should not be a huge issue. We would love to get involved with others in the area who have built or would like to build SB, share ideas, learn from others the in’s and out’s and the obstacles the came across building in that area. I have found a couple of small acreages in Taney county that might work nicely, but if the availability of grant money is there to build elsewhere that would be a plus.
    We are a family of 7…we know we must downsize but an 800sf home will not work either. If anyone knows of SB plans to look at for ideas that would be awesome. We have looked at several plans, some on this site and several on Owen Geiger’s website as well.

    Andrew, it sounds like a workshop in the Ozarks of Missouri would be a great idea. I have read the “packet” of information here on the requirements to host and would be very interested in hosting a build. We are looking to me on-site late spring 2014. We have to keep in mind well water, septic and lot prep etc so maybe actually starting the build spring 2015?

    Also if anyone has a good source for rice straw in AR, LA, or SE MO please let us know, or if anyone is planning a build along the same timeline… I have great access to a semi/trailer and we could probably save a bunch on the bales if we bought a full load and picked up ourselves!

  48. Andrew
    Andrew Sun, October 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    Hi Eric. I love your enthusiasm! I will be teaching in Missouri next year, so keep an eye on the website for the dates and location. It would be great to have you join us! I am not sure about the grant money. I hope it is still in place and that someone in the know can inform us. We haven’t started taking applications for 2015 yet, but let’s stay connected on that as well.

    We have, as you know, some plans on the site that could work for you. There are some other plans sites as well like Owen’s and BaleWatch.com, etc. Hope to hear that your enthusiasm pays off for you and things all start to line up.

  49. Christina Fri, September 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    Just tried to send an email to lorenzo, and it came back a delivery failure. Is there any way to contact this person or someone similar to see if they are still offering this grant? We have many clients that this would be of a great benefit to and also of a nonprofit organization who are building homes for the homeless in the Howell County, MO and surrounding counties areas. Thank you! (We’re in Willow Springs, MO).

  50. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Fri, October 9, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Hi Christina. Unfortunately, I don’t have any other contacts for this. You may simply reach out to local building officials to see if they are aware of any grants. Sorry I can’t help you.

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