Huff and Puff Construction has now been running for over a year! I took a career break from my other day job (IT software and projects at Bournemouth University – BU) last year and started Huff and Puff Construction with the aim of bringing straw bale building to the masses. This was not such a strange career move as it might sound. I have been always been ‘green’ and an avid DIYer – and IT project management and building project management involve a great many similar skills. In fact research suggests (I can’t find the link at the moment but will add it if I can), that building project management can result in much higher levels of satisfaction all round because its easier to get things right in the first place. However, I think that for all the methodologies in the world, the most important thing is taking care of the people involved, from the customer (very important of course!) to all the people doing the work. The importance of happy workers is often overlooked. And a natural building project has more chances than most to be a happy building project for everyone involved.

At the start of 2014 I had to return to the other day job for a while, which has made for an interesting and busy year to date. The good news is that business is most definitely looking up, and so the other day job has now gone (byeBU!) and I can concentrate fully on the important business of this year’s work.

First up I’ve restarted work on Apple Tree Nook here at Huff and Puff HQ. You can see from the photos we are not out of the ground yet, but many valuable skills and experiences in using diggers and dumpers, health and safety and the best ways to reuse and recycle soil etc. have been gained or improved.  Please see the gallery on this post for a taster of where we are right now.  I’m not sure how much progress we’ll make on Apple Tree Nook this year, as paid work is going to have to take priority, and money is tight.  If we can get the foundations and the plinth walls done I’ll be happy, then everything else would be a plus.

I am pleased to say Huff and Puff should be involved in another two straw bale projects this year and may have our first project lined up for next year too. I hope to say more very soon about a community project towards the north-west of the county which will be this year’s main focus. There is also a house build coming up in central Dorset in the summer that may feature the wonderful Straw Works, run by Barbara Jones (who if you’re interested in straw baling in the UK you simply must look up – and do get her book: Building with Straw Bales: A Practical Guide for the UK and Ireland). I’ve had a few conversations with Barbara now and although last year I purposely didn’t look too hard at Straw Works – I wanted to find my own way and ideas – now that I have I am very pleased that we seem to be on the same wavelength about a great many things.  Barbara has a number of builds under her belt that I can currently only dream of – and I’m hoping to make use of Barbara’s consultation services in my upcoming builds to make sure we get things absolutely right.

As ever, please get in touch if you are thinking about a straw bale build, or any other natural building work this year or in the future.  I’m always more than happy to discuss your plans.