“It looks like something straight out of Middle Earth – and the story behind it is almost as fantastical. This cottage cost just £150 to build, using only natural or reclaimed materials, and is now rented out for a fee of fresh milk and cream. And with no mains electricity, gas or water, the bills don’t come to much either.
Smallholder Michael Buck spent eight months constructing the house using the ancient technique of cob – building with a mixture of sand, clay, straw, water and earth. He taught himself the method by reading a book, even shaping the walls without a single power tool.
He also made the simple wooden roof frame and thatched it himself with straw from his fields. The 300 sq ft of floor space features floorboards rescued from a skip, while an old windscreen from a lorry provided glass for the windows. With no central heating, you might think it would be a bit chilly, but he says the cob walls and thatched roof make it incredibly well insulated – and the ceiling is stuffed with sheep’s wool from a nearby farm to help keep the heat in further.”
Lots of excellent photos in the article. (Video is kind of dark.)
Read more at the source: Daily Mail
19 thoughts on “The £150 Hobbit Hole”
Yes, that’s the one I was thinking of. With my family it would have to be larger. But the insulated roof is one of the reasons I like this arch idea.
Its great. I enjoy learning from all the comments here. I like the idea of a earth bag foundation. Seems much faster and cheaper than something like rock and cement. I remember a small arch building of straw built by women in New Mexico. I really liked that idea. Im really into super insulation from straw.
There are two straw bale vaults at the Lama Foundation that have long attracted my imagination. They are super low cost, easy to build, and superinsulated (good enough for Canada and Alaska).
Got them, excuse me. Inspiring.
“So, learn the traditional ways and the modern natural building techniques and then decide for yourself what you want to do.”
Sorry, but I couldn’t let such an obvious erroneous statement go uncorrected. It should read:
“So, learn the traditional ways and the modern natural building techniques and then wait for the government to TELL YOU what to do.”
Was that humorous sarcasm, or an accurate rewrite reflecting reality?
I’m not sure, actually. I think it’s both. Which by definition would make it irony.
(Sorry to put words into your mouth, Owen, but I couldn’t resist.)
Or move to a rural area with few or no codes so you don’t have to deal with these ridiculous codes that add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of housing.
Sure, he could have built it a lot faster using some slightly different techniques that would have cost a few extra dollars, but it seems that wasn’t the point for him.
He wanted to build this structure in the most traditional way, and he did. Good for him. He built it the way he wanted to. For him, it seems this wasn’t about how fast he could build it. This was clearly a labor of love. It seems obvious that he wanted NO COMPROMISES to the purity of the design he had in mind. No hidden modern materials buried inside the foundation or walls.
Forget the foundation and the cob… Those are trivial and easy compared to the most striking feature of this house.
THAT ROOF!!! My goodness. That may be the most stunningly beautiful DIY Thatch roof I have ever seen AT ANY PRICE.
That roof alone probably took a year to harvest, prepare, and install. It makes the house. That’s a better looking thatch roof than most professionally installed thatch roofs I’ve ever seen. The roof is an artistic sculpture all by itself. AMAZING.
I have mad respect for this guy.
I will never build a house like this, but I sure can appreciate what he has done.
(I’m offering a virtual standing ovation.)
Sure, there’s certainly nothing wrong if you want to spend years building a little house. I’m speaking to the larger audience here, most who probably do not want to or cannot afford to spend an inordinate amount of time on things. So, learn the traditional ways and the modern natural building techniques and then decide for yourself what you want to do.
$245 for 300 sqft.
That’s 82 cents per sqft, and I rounded that UP.
I’m declaring that the official record for lowest cost structure ever reported on this blog.
Yes, I think that qualifies for the lowest cost per square foot that’s been reported. Just keep in mind there’s no bathroom. Bathrooms and kitchens are the most expensive rooms in a house. Also, there’s no plumbing or mains electric. Still, he’s done an outstanding job. He might also get some kind of award for simplicity and beauty of construction. This home might get widely replicated because of these things.
I love this house. It’s a very good size, simple but elegant design.
And I want to add how building with natural materials and salvaged materials goes way beyond just saving money. Having a house that’s paid for, a thriving garden with fruit trees, clean drinking water, firewood, etc. are very comforting. They add peace and reassurance in an age of uncertainty and stress. You may not be able to protect yourself against every possible calamity, but it definitely feels good to do the best you can in these things. I feel much better now that our sustainable homestead nears completion. I have less stress now than last year. I sure hope the economy doesn’t burst, but if it does at least our family will have the basic necessities.
You’re right Owen. My thought is the instant devaluation of the dollar. Many of the top economist are saying this is a strong probability.
I read Zero Hedge every day online. There’s a huge chorus of economists who’ve been warning of dollar devaluation for a long time. My opinion is the whole economy is rigged. It’s a house of cards. I strongly advise unplugging from the system as much as practical to prepare for uncertain times. Move to a rural area where you can grow a large garden. Build a low cost house. Slash your expenses. Learn important skills that will always be in demand. Get in good physical health.
Yes, but that could have raised his costs by 30% :)
I know you’re just joking, but this raises a good point. What would most people rather do? Build for free (stone, earth, thatch)? Or spend $1,000 and save 1-1/2 years of work? Now, I realize some people don’t have a choice. They don’t have $1,000. But that’s where microfinance could come into play. The poor could have a house and a job at the same time if it’s done correctly.
Quick calculation: 1-1/2 years of extra work equals 2,880 hours of work at 40 hours/week divided by $1,000 = $2.88/hour That means you are working for $2.88/hour. If you can earn more than $2.88/hour then consider your options.
Pretty cool place he built. It makes you wonder if we all will be forced to go back building like this with the way world governments are today.
I believe we will. We’re already in the first stage where over a billion people have little or no choice but to build with what’s locally available. The next stage may be the majority pushed into poverty and switching to natural materials. Who knows, maybe even the rich will fall from their pedestals if the economic system crashes. Where will they run to?
150 pounds = $245 US
This is another fine example of the beauty and practicality of building with natural materials. The builder was planning to build for free but “something went wrong”. Ha ha. $245 is a great price.
My critique is cob and stone foundations are very slow. A stone foundation like this can take weeks versus two days using gravel bags. Earthbag or strawbale walls could be built in 2-4 weeks. The whole house could could have been built in say 2-3 months instead of 2 years.