Low cost eco house

 I owner built this house without a bank loan while raising a family. Ever since, I’ve had a soft spot for people trying to escape the expensive housing market cycle. Land was cheaper then, it’s become even harder and I think that community title is an increasingly sensible way out for many people.

Building started in the late 1990s and went over about 8 years. It was paid for as money became available and built as time became available. In the beginning I was doing bits of cheap drafting and study. I was poor but had some free time. Later on I had a bit more money available to pay for more help. In all, the 80 sq.m house cost about $40 000. We were living on site in temporary ways and built in 3 stages, with the bathroom, laundry and one bedroom the first priority.

There are several different wall types built over different times as second hand materials became available or I wanted to experiment. The timber frame, floorboards and joinery were milled on site or second hand. Mud bricks were left overs from another job. Cladding ranges from old floorboards, packed sawdust, limewashed fibrous cement sheet, packed clay, and blueboard rendered in clay. The latest walls involved insulated thermal mass in the form of a hardwood timber frame clad in clay rendered polystyrene and the frame filled with clay.

Other second hand items included doors, windows, taps, sinks, tiles and the solar hot water system. Despite having half an architecture degree, I had little practical building knowledge and learnt the hard way and with a bit of help from the sort of wise old timer any country town will have hidden away somewhere. It was hard work, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes stressful, but far less painful than a McMansion mortgage. If I can do it anyone can.