Feeds

Software engineer builds straw house for £4k

Cheap and cheerful Scottish ecogaff

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A 52-year-old software engineer has built a habitable house for just £4,000 - albeit with a lot of hard graft and a certain amount of scavenging.

Steve James slogged for "10 months of actual building time" over four years to put together his Galloway straw domicile, dubbed "The Gatehouse" and constructed with a timber frame, straw walls protected by lime mortar, and a planet-hugging turf roof. Amenities are basic - water supplied purely by rainfall and batteries for 'leccy - but James describes the fruits of his labour as a "cuddly house".

The Gatehouse. Pics: Envisioneer.net

James told the BBC: "I have never built a house before but I have done a bit of joinery and have done a lot of practical work. Most of my life I have been a hands-on worker."

Among the items James didn't have to stump up for were a Velux roof window, shower tray and front window - all picked up from other people's unwanted building materials - as well as a "Tudor-style" panelled wood ceiling assembled from solid pine changing cubicle doors "salvaged from old Victorian public baths in Govan". From the bargain basement department came a 50 quid wood-burning stove, £100 in batteries and £150 worth of reclaimed joists.

The total outlay was, the BBC explains:

  • £600 supplies for volunteers
  • £500 sarking (wooden roof boarding)
  • £400 floorboards
  • £400 pond liner
  • £300 straw
  • £200 plumbing
  • £150 reclaimed joists
  • £150 plywood
  • £150 equipment hire
  • £150 glass
  • £100 quicklime
  • £100 wiring
  • £100 tarpaulin
  • £100 paint/varnish
  • £100 batteries
  • £100 fixings
  • £100 miscellaneous
  • £100 fuel for power tools
  • £70 water pump
  • £50 water heater
  • £50 stove chimney

James reckons his DIY straw house points to an affordable solution in the face of inflated house prices, and that a three-bedroom version could be yours for just £10,000.

He concluded: "It is something that anybody could easily learn to do most of, with help. The real cost of a house is fairly small. It is always the land that makes about 85 per cent of the cost. Adding the compound interest to the final cost of a mortgage reduces the actual house price component of the total to as little as two per cent."

There's more on The Gatehouse here. ®

Bootnote

For a more refined design of straw-bale, timber-framed house, try this example from C4's Grand Designs. Impressive stuff for a mere £28,000.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Free virtual appliance for wire data analytics
The ExtraHop Discovery Edition is a free virtual appliance will help you to discover the performance of your applications across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.