Software engineer builds straw house for £4k
Cheap and cheerful Scottish ecogaff
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".
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. ®
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.