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Simon writes -

“You are looking at pictures of our family home in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).

The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.” Thanks Jacques – Link.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. lohryx5 says:

    “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit….”

    I like it a lot.

  2. Sally599 says:

    Love it…somehow I don’t think it would be up to code here in the city but still awesome!

  3. screaminscott says:

    I can appreciate the effort that went into this house. I looks like it would be fun to live in, for a few weeks.

    But I take exception to the attitude: “Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. ”

    Being my own architect would NOT be a lot of fun; it would be a royal pain in the a**! And the primary purpose of normal houses is the price and convenience of the CONSUMER. I don’t have the time or the skill to build my own house, so I pay others to do it. Sure, it’s mass produced; that’s what makes it cheaper than a custom home. And while he was able to build his house cheaply, he didn’t count his labor. Factor in 3 months of my salary for building a house, and it’s gonna be very expensive. And it will STILL not be as good a value as a “mass produced box”.

    It’s all well and good to be proud of what you’ve built. Just don’t look down on others who choose not to.

  4. trebuchet03 says:

    screaminscott,

    Maybe it’s just me – but I interpreted that differently. I think what he meant was that he is proud that he built a custom house in the manner he did – more proud than if he built a “mass produced box” or even a custom house that was made from virgin materials. It really doesn’t make sense to compare the pride and satisfaction a builder has in his/her work to the pride a consumer has in his/her house. I can’t take any credit for what the carpenters, electricians, etc. did in building my home :P

    I too agree that being your own designer is much more fun. No one said you had to actually build the thing yourself. You can, if you choose, pay someone else to do it if you don’t have the time/skill/etc. if you’re lucky enough to afford such a project.

    —-
    As far as salary… yes, that is very true. The price is significantly higher if you can’t work while your building… But then again, it’s quite possible that he (or someone else in a similar) earned that three months of wages if their money was working for them ;) But it would seem that very few are so lucky — and even fewer of those would enjoy manual labor :P

  5. Geoffd99 says:

    Yes, I am a proper eco developer, we build houses for families in cities, not muddy retreats, so I agree with the reaction to the arrogance of “mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry”.

    There is a reason 60 million people in the UK don’t live as stone-age men. Anyone know what it is?

    If this person and his mates built a proper 3 storey house to modern regulations, with foundations (no mention of these?), double glazing, underfloor heating, solar panels, etc etc, it would take a while longer than 3 months.

    Might also involve up to 50 different tradespeople (ie workers, not ‘capitalists’ or whatever) and many different professions such as Architect, Engineer, Surveyor… etc etc etc! Also the ‘profit’ (eek!) in the industry pays everyone’s wages…and a load of tax to keep unemployed people going etc. Or is that not allowed either?

    Get some experience of the industry, BEFORE slagging everyone else off.
    Thanks.

  6. hellsbit says:

    Dear proper eco developer and screaminscott,

    I feel you have got yourselves a little worked up over nothing here.

    The guy is not saying that everyone has to build their own home or design it or anything. What he is trying to convey to people is that if you are tempted to do this kind of thing, and many people are, it is perfectly possible to do so. It is possible to navigate around the building regs and is actually fun.

    I have to take slight exception to the statement “The primary purpose of normal houses the price and convenience of the CONSUMER”. The reason building companies build houses, and we are talking big developments because of the use of the phrase ‘at worst, a mass produced box’, is to make a profit and most large building companies like to maximise there profits over the long run so they will avoid skimping on quality to much for fear of getting a bad reputation. But very few building companies will set there sites above building regs if they can’t see a return on that investment.

    So you can see that this comment is not amid at a proper eco developer like yourself but at the giant developers that squeeze undersized boxes with tiny windows and minimal insulation onto flood plains.

    I am surprised by your reaction about profits. As you well know large building companies do not buy some land, build a house on it and tote up how much it cost, including all the wages, so they know how much to charge the buyer. They buy the land, build the property and then squeeze as much as they can sell the property for out of the buyer in the current market conditions. The extra bit over the actual cost is called ‘the profit’. This profit is not used to pay wages because that is taken out before profits.

    I think it is sweet that you stick up for tradespeople in such a way as if tradespeople are so honest that they only charge a fair rate. They don’t they charge a market rate, i.e. what the market will support which by many is considered the capitalist model. However I don’t really think his comment was directed at that and if we look at the text you will see certain clues by reading the sentences. He is saying that if you choose to build this way you can avoid paying these profits. Which keeps the price down. Bearing in mind that he is not a developer and so doesn’t get the sort of discount in the builders merchants that a building company such as yourself gets and probably pays a good 70-80% more than you do.( And before you react that’s roughly equivalent of a 40% – 45% discount and I have certainly be able to negotiate that sort of price of building materials.) So the supply chain is making fairly excessive profits out of such a person that he like yourself probably doesn’t particularly want to pay.

    Finally, Recent studies have shown that there is in fact a cocktail of carcinogenics in buildings so it seems perfectly reasonable to claim using the sort of materials he has used will do away with these chemicals and be cheaper and be better for the environment and be enjoyable if you like this kind of thing and produce a very attractive house so he is just telling people there is alternatives. Obviously some people don’t like alternatives…

  7. Daniel46 says:

    Firstly, I’d just like to state my lack of knowledge in the general details of house construction. But it seems most of the house’s supports are tree branches. Was any general load bearing calculations performed during the design of the house, or was it more touch and go.
    I myself, as i’m sure many others would be glad to sacrifice 3 months of labour to produce such a fine home, but I’m concerned with the general life span of such a house. When factoring the increased chance of termites and woodrot from being buried in soil, it just seems that using natural materials is a bit of a gamble.
    If someone could consolidate me in these matters then i’d be more then impressed by such a labour, but either way, nice one guys, you’ve built what most only dream

  8. pixlkid says:

    Love it, absolutely love it.
    I wish it could be like this all over the world, it would be a far better place!
    I am determined to build a house like this myself partly out of respect for Mother Earth, (Yes I’m a treehugger and damn proud of it too!) and partly out of love for Tolkien’s books and the idea of living in a Hobbit House.
    Love and Light,
    Pixlkid

  9. Diana Pullin says:

    Well, I really want to build one in East or West Sussex and i wonder what my chances would be with planning etc? And whether the same laws still apply with regard to not being able to leave a sustainable living home to one’s own Family? Diana, East Sussex.