Huff Puff House has arrived!

Huff Puff House side
We are delighted to launch Huff Puff House!  An eco-friendly, energy efficient and truly affordable self build home.

Visit to find out more.

Over the last year we have been working closely with Brian Waite, the talented designer, to be able to bring this stunning design the largest possible audience.  Previously called 'strawbalehouse' we have rebranded the design to bring it fully into the Huff and Puff fold.

With a range of sizes and options, we feel this could be a game-changer for affordable, energy efficient housing in the UK and beyond.

For example, the kit that could help make a generous 12m x 6.5m, 120sq m home, costs just £36,000 (£30,000 +VAT).  With your own labour, and help where necessary, such a build could be completed for less than £100,000.

Huff Puff House first floor
We can provide you with the kit and extra services if you need them, such as help with design, planning, building control, training and construction.  As little or as much help as you need.

Order our upfront design service (normally £500 or less) and once you have your planning permission and order a kit we'll deduct that cost, up to £500, from the cost of your order!

Please take a look around the website - -  for more information - and if you would like any assistance please email





Brian Waite's strawbalehouseI am delighted to announce we are working with Brian Waite, designer of 'strawbalehouse', on making this fantastic cruck frame design available to those who would like to build it.

Every now and again a building design really catches your eye and imagination - and Brian's design is as functional as it is good looking.  It's an offering that puts an affordable, highly insulated and environmentally-friendly building within the reach of self-builders.

Cruck frames have a long history in the UK and this wonderfully modern take on the design allows the potential owner to choose any length and widths from 5m-9m, then come up with all sorts of internal configurations to best fit their needs.

For example, two generous floors can maximise floor space, or a mezzanine approach can allow for a full height ground floor area where desired.  Alternatively, the entire internal space can be left open at full height - ideal, perhaps, for a community space like a village hall etc.

Our approach is to give potential builders as little or as much assistance as they need.  We can, for example, deliver you the basic 'kit', allowing you to work your own way through the rest of the designing, planning and building - or we can give you as much help as you like with these aspects too, from helpful advice on the end of a phone, right through to being on site with you for training or to help out with construction.

The crucks themselves sit upon a plinth wall on each side and are made from two curved timber I-joists.  Each cruck is light enough to raise into position using people rather than machines, and once these are temporarily secured, straw bales are trimmed and loaded between each one, all the way up to the ridge.  We are also working on another variation that uses recycled newspaper insulation instead of straw.

We are currently working on beam production and costings for the design and hope to be able to publish details very soon.  In the meantime, if you are interested in this design please get in touch or sign up to our newsletter (box on the right), so we can update you as soon as we have more information.

Building with rammed earth

Rammed earth formwork
Rammed earth formwork
Rammed earth is an age-old building technique used in many, many parts of the world. It is similar to cob and adobe insofar as the idea is to build using the materials available on site, however rammed earth is made using much less water in the mix, the initial shape being built in temporary shuttering or formwork, with layers of the mix rammed into place with hand or power tools. Rammed earth also uses no extra binding material such as straw. In many countries where rammed earth is used insects like termites mean any organic material in the mix could be an issue. Another environmental plus is that rammed earth absolutely does not need cement added (although some do). In fact cement can cause problems if used with clay.

Last weekend I did a rammed earth course run by the Brighton Permaculture Trust, hosted at the Brighton Earthship. Earthships are passive solar, off grid buildings. The Brighton Earthship was completed around 2006, and it showcases various natural and alternative building methods. It's a wonderful thing. Not everything that's been tried has worked out, and I think they are planning to make some improvements, but that is part of the joy of learning and experimentation that can also be shared with others. I rather foolishly forgot to take any photos of the outside, but there are plenty here.

The course tutor, Rowland Keable, has amassed a tremendous knowledge of rammed earth and he and his company - Rammed Earth Consulting - have done a lot of work to get rammed earth building standards drawn up and adopted - especially in Africa. The forecast was for a sunny Saturday and wet Sunday, so we did most of our building work on the Saturday, completing it in the rain on Sunday morning.

So, what earth can you use? The 'ideal' mix needs to be roughly 10% clay : 40% silt/sand : 50% graded gravel, but you can play with that a bit. This gives a mix of material that goes from say 20mm diameter right down to tiny clay particles, and as these all get rammed they lock together giving a tremendous density. Materials like chalk work too as long as you have this mix of sizes - this is what we used. To the mix you add just enough water so that you can make a ball of material in your hand that breaks into a few pieces when you drop it. If it completely shatters it's too dry and if it stays in one lump it's too wet. It really takes surprisingly little water. You layer about 100mm of the mix at a time into the formwork and then ram it down in to place. The formwork, as in the pictures below, can simply be timber boards - or much more expensive formwork used for commercial concrete work.

It really is an exciting way to build. Although you don't have all the freedom of cob, for example, because you use formwork, you have the advantage that you can keep going up, by moving the shuttering up, without waiting for what you've built to dry. It appeals to my sense of order and it's really very straightforward to do. I love the way a straw bale wall becomes solid when it gets locked down into place and rammed earth provides similar, if not more excitement, as you remove the formwork. It's somehow hard to believe it's going to work - but there it is - a solid wall made of stuff dug out of the ground! You get a lovely clean finish from the formwork too. Walls take a good while to properly dry out, but unlike other methods they can dry out as quickly or as slowly as conditions permit. Our example just needs a tarp on top, short-term, maybe some coping stones in future and it's good for the UK climate. Yes, there are some more complexities to consider for each job, but it's a great method to consider.

After unveiling our masterpiece, the rest of our wet Sunday was spent indoors with Rowland patiently answering our many, many questions about rammed earth construction. Rowland is a an inspiring speaker on this subject and clearly passionate about vastly reducing, if not totally eliminating, cement use from low-rise buildings. An excellent idea, seeing as cement is hugely environmentally damaging and structurally completely avoidable in such buildings. However, the barriers to this are many. I am sure I will delve into the world of building industry and government monopolies in a future post, but for the meantime it's lovely to meet people like Rowland who not only acknowledge and are keen to point out that such things exist, but who are actually, bit by bit, getting things changed.

I heartily recommend this course (in fact the Brighton Permaculture Trust do a wealth of interesting looking courses) and giving rammed earth a go. I will talk more about specific uses of rammed earth in future posts.