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Low impact woodland house (Wales, UK)

Location: Wales, UK

Date: unknown

Architect: Simon Dale

Purpose: private house

More info: From the author: “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 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.” he says.

This building is one part of a low-impact or permaculture approach to life. This sort of life is about living in harmony with both the natural world and ourselves, doing things simply and using appropriate levels of technology.

When asked why he is doing this, he gave this answer: “ It’s fun. Living your own life, in your own way is rewarding. Following our dreams keeps our souls alive.”

(image credits: Simon)

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 inbetween. This kind of building is accessible to anyone. My main relevant skills were being able bodied, having self belief and perseverence and a mate or two to give a lift now and again.


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11 Responses to “Low impact woodland house (Wales, UK)”

  1. m bulend saglam Says:
    January 30th, 2009 at 12:35 am

    greater than great yet it is so sweet

  2. rosa Says:
    February 6th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    LOL, cool

  3. nicole Says:
    February 13th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    huh. kinda looks like the house snow white lived in.

  4. Trisha Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Very cool! Looks like Bilbo Baggins’ house. Hope they don’t have termites over there :-)

  5. Kseniya Says:
    February 23rd, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    It’s so cute!i like it so much!

  6. chaitanya Says:
    April 9th, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    its breath takingly beautiful……..awesome. short of words for me.!!!

  7. RDX Says:
    April 30th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    just wonder!!!

  8. Marcos Berton Says:
    August 10th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Simple, but the best way to live nowadays. I loved!

  9. tedislayer12 Says:
    September 23rd, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    it’s a really cool outdoorsy house

  10. Dirge Says:
    October 5th, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Wow. Awesome. These pictures literally make my heart sing. I would love to have a home so beautiful and alive.

    Much love from California, US.

    I wish the laws regarding construction weren’t so stringent and counter-productive here. Do you have any idea how many YEARS it would take just to get the permits to build something like this here in the US? Thats assuming it’s even legal, and my bet says no, it isn’t.

  11. Raphael Says:
    November 16th, 2009 at 3:50 am


    the lord of the ring