Straw bale building pioneers enter the Dragons Den

4 September 2018

The profile of natural building and straw bale construction has received a big boost thanks to BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den.

Barbara Jones and Eileen Sutherland of Straw Works pitched their ideas for prefabricated straw buildings and tiny houses to the ‘Dragons’ in the popular television programme which invites budding entrepreneurs to present their investment ideas.

Straw Works is a bespoke design company specialising in natural buildings. Barbara, one of the leading pioneers of straw bale construction techniques, spoke about straw bale building at Ecology’s AGM in Birmingham earlier this year. Barbara also advised on and supervised the construction of Ecology’s straw bale meeting room at our offices in Silsden, West Yorkshire.

During their pitch, the pair, who have worked all over the UK and Europe to create hundreds of durable residential and commercial buildings made of natural building materials, were asked whether it was possible to get a mortgage for a straw bale build. In response Barbara explained that Ecology ‘has always offered mortgages for straw houses’. Unlike many lenders, when considering properties and projects, we welcome non-standard construction types, including natural building approaches such as straw bale.

Unfortunately Barbara and Eileen weren’t successful in their bid to secure the £50K investment they were seeking to develop their business. However their involvement in the programme will, no doubt, help to raise awareness of the environmental benefits of natural building methods and straw bale construction.

Following their experience on the programme, Barbara and Eileen said,

“We applied to participate in Dragons’ Den, were thrilled to be accepted and, last May, we presented our propositions to the Dragons. The whole experience was both nerve wracking and enjoyable. From being picked up at the hotel early in the morning by the lovely ‘runner’ to the make-up experience, the sound checks and the run-through.”

The episode of Dragons’ Den was shown at 8pm on Sunday 2 September 2018 and is available to view here.

Find out more about Straw Works here.

Find out more about Ecology’s self-build mortgages here.

Barbara Jones (left) and Eileen Sutherland (right) on BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den
Barbara Jones (right), Director of Straw Works and Principal of the School of Natural Building and Rosemary Coyne (middle), part of the Energiesprong UK market development team discuss how different materials and building approaches can help tackle climate change at our AGM in Birmingham in April 2018
Paul Ellis, Chief Executive, showing members around our permaculture gardens at our AGM in 2016 with the straw bale meeting room in the background