Monday, April 26, 2010

A hobbit house for real!

Following yesterday's blog post about a doll's house version of Bag End, fellow blogger Crucis (in a comment to that post) pointed me to a real-life, livable 'hobbit house' in Wales. The builder writes:

You are looking at pictures of a house I built for our family 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 [about US $4,640] put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq. m. [about US $8.62 per square foot] 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.

Some key points of the design and construction:

* Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
* Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
* Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
* Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
* Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
* Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof for low impact and ease
* Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
* Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
* Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring...)
* Woodburner for heating - renewable and locally plentiful
* Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
* Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
* Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
* Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
* Water by gravity from nearby spring
* Compost toilet
* Roof water collects in pond for garden etc.

Main tools used: chainsaw, hammer and 1 inch chisel, little else really. Oh and by the way I am not a builder or carpenter, my experience is only having a go at one similar house 2yrs before and a bit of mucking around in between. This kind of building is accessible to anyone. My main relevant skills were being able bodied, having self belief and perseverance and a mate or two to give a lift now and again.

There's much more at the link. Very interesting and entertaining reading, including photographs of other simple woodland homes. Thanks, Crucis!



Old NFO said...

Very interesting... people here in the States have been living in eco friendly homes for a number of years, but they have more creature comforts :-)

Crucis said...

You're very Welcome, Peter.

Jenny said...


okay, who's in for building Imladris? :)