Right now, 14.5% of U.S. mortgages are “underwater,” i.e., worth less than what the person paying the mortgage owes on the house.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that for more and more people, the new normal is not back to normal with the dream home and white picket fence.
We need to think differently about what we really need, and it turns out, it’s not all that much. Stories like this one can help joggle our imaginations loose from the rigid conceptual helmets enclosing them. And check out this tiny house community, the first one in the U.S., to my knowledge, and of course, McMansion dwellers see it as a “step-up” for “homeless” people, rather than as a radically down-sized grounded alternative to the increasingly expensive and out-of-touch (with reality, or the Earth) so-called preferred “way of life” for those who have proved “successful” in taking their part in the ongoing pillage of our common inheritance.
BTW: for U.S. readers: a “skip” is a large metal container.
The £150 hobbit hole: Farmer builds a cosy cob home using materials he recycled from skips… and the tenant pays the rent in MILK
- Michael Buck used only natural materials or unwanted items to build ‘cob house’ at bottom of his garden
- He said he wanted to challenge the notion that paying for a house should take a lifetime
- He is now renting out the property to a worker on a neighouring farm, who pays for her lodgings in milk
November 25, 2013
By David Wilkes
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.
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Inside: Although the cottage has no electricity it does have free running water from a nearby spring and walls painted with a chalk and plant resin mixture
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.
There is also a woodburning stove, strategically placed beneath the mezzanine level double bed to ensure residents stay ‘nice and toasty’ at night, while candles and lanterns provide light.
The water supply is free as it comes from a diverted natural spring which gurgles out of a pipe outside, while the ‘natural’ fridge is a shallow well a few yards away from the front door and hidden from view by towering cow parsley.
The WC is a composting lavatory in a separate thatched outhouse with a panoramic view of the Oxfordshire countryside, and the ‘bathroom’ is a tin tub hanging on the wall outside which can be brought in and filled as needed.
Development: The cottage is built from locally-sourced materials which, apart from the glass, are biodegradable, Mr Buck has said
Natural materials: Mr Buck said that a house ‘does not have to cost the Earth — you only need earth to build it’. The property boasts free running water from a nearby spring (right)
Despite the somewhat Spartan arrangements, Mr Buck is renting out the unusual property. But there isn’t a hobbit in sight — and the current tenant is a worker on a neighbouring dairy farm who pays for her lodgings in milk and cream. Cooking can be done on the woodburner, but she has installed a small gas stove in the kitchenette.
Yesterday father of three Mr Buck, 59, who lives in a more conventional home nearby with wife Sheila, 57, said: ‘I wanted to show that houses don’t have to cost anything. We live in a society where we spend our lives paying our mortgages, which many people don’t enjoy.’
Mr Buck originally aimed to build the house for nothing, but miscalculated the amount of straw needed so had to buy more. He also had to buy nails to keep the thatch attached. Friends pitched in to help with the build and their names are written on the wall, along with the names of three cows – Marigold, Crystal and Mist – whose dung was used to make plaster.
Mr Buck, a former art teacher, drew the plans for the house on the back of an envelope and did not need planning permission as it was classed as a summer house.
Homely: Heat is provided by a wood-burning stove – and thanks to the cob walls and thatched roof the house is surprisingly well-insulated