Low impact woodland house (Wales, UK)
Location: Wales, UK
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 cozy. I estimate 1000-1500 man-hours and £3000 put into this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labor).”
“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.
- A frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
- Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthetically 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 the 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 a 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 perseverance and a mate or two to give a lift now and again.