“Family of three is made homeless by planning inspector’s decision. They built their home from scratch, but have been ordered to tear it down. The couple admit they built it without first getting planning permission. Their labour of love was branded ‘harmful’ to the countryside. The young couple has been left heartbroken after planners ordered their unique ‘hobbit home’ to be bulldozed, effectively leaving them homeless.”

YouTube
Previous story: http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/eco-hobbit-home-in-pembrokeshire-faces-demolition/
Thanks to Jay for finding this video.


Comments

Eco-couple told to pull down their ‘hobbit home’ made entirely out of natural materials — 34 Comments

  1. I love what you guys tend to be up too. This kind of clever work and
    reporting! Keep up the great works guys I’ve added you guys to our blogroll.

  2. I have been building a little cluser of small domes in the Mojave Desert, Ca. made my domes, on purpose, beneath permits and have been talking often and brought in county,building folks. They are, after all, people, following their rules. many ways to work with, around! some good ideas right now for the Wales couple, try lots of local, emotional, enthusiasm, even with their illegal building, this couple, young, brash, silly, to so flaunt, never mind, do whatever to bring locals in, even the officials, tell them, sorry!, we were dumb, whatever, have lots of parties, with everyone, SMILE
    why not try!
    jehane

  3. Owen

    Not sure if I answered your question. But was thinking of something like this: http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/rammed-earth-wall-former-on-wall.png

    The top mesh flaps could be rolled up and stapled to the top or high part of the shuttle until it is ready to be folded over and the next layer started. The length of the shuttle could be an entire wall or any part there of.

    You cam also use as much water as you need to get a good join between the layers as you don’t have to worry about the weight it adds to the fill. You don’t need it anywhere like poured adobe but you could go that far.

  4. Owen

    Sorry to post this here as it is unrelated but wanted to run something by you regarding earth-bags. i consider you “THE” earth-bag guru on the planet so you would know if something holds water or not so to speak. OK on to my query.

    You have earth bags and earth tubes, but could you have earth rolls? Imagine a flat roll of fiberglass, you can get it in any hole weave size you need and any strength you can imagine plus UV resistant. So that’s the material now for the twist. Imagine a shutter system (sort of like straw clay) where you line the walls and base of the shutter with the mesh into a “U” form. Now fill up the shutter with earth bag filler material to whatever height makes sense, this could be shorter or taller than bags or tubes. Now tamp it down still leaving the top open and not closed, Makes it easy to add additional material for a level fill and solid nice looking side. Now when you have it tamped, flat, and level you fold the sides of the mesh to he middle and join them in the center but I had a twist on that. Put a 1×2 piece of lumber (maybe even bamboo) in the center and staple the mesh to that. It makes it quick and something for the mesh seal to hang on to. It also provides a key for next course so it won’t slide off very easy. You can make the wall any thickness you want. Also you can have multiple vertical layers of any thickness. The thinking was you could have something more water friendly on the outside, insulation in the middle, and thermal mass on the inside. Can you plaster on the inside of the mesh?

    It is kind of a twist on rammed earth but using the mesh to create layers rather than one solid mass. It should be strong, no issue with the sun decomposing the mesh.

    You know I think out of the box, some times way too far. I thought I would run it by you so you can show me the holes in my Swiss cheese idea. Earth bags are good in a seismic zone as they cam move to absorb some of the movement. I read earth tubes are even good in seismic zone. This just seemed like a more flexible method for layer thickness and height plus easier to fill each course than tubes. you just dump the bucket into the shuttle rather than feed into a bag or tube and then seal it.

    I am hoping you will show me the weakness in my thinking of which I am sure they are endless.

    Cheers

    • This is a good idea. It’s similar to Rapidadobe — the system developed by Velacreations. They use poles to hold the fabric in a U-shape. http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/rapidobe-walls/

      The materials would tend to fall off the sides using your method, and so the fabric needs support. How would you do this?

      Your version is also a little different than Rapidadobe, because it’s made in layers. Building in layers makes for a very strong wall. And, using strips of fabric may be less expensive than tubes or bags. You just need to figure out how to hold the fabric in place as you add fill material.

      Using insulating fill on the outside (ex: lava rock, perlite) and thermal mass material on the inside (ex: soil, sand) would make a superinsulated wall. The ratio could be adjusted according to climate conditions. In most every case 18″ thick walls are adequate (15″ plus plaster both sides). The most extreme example would be some place like Alaska or northern Canada where 24″ of insulation would be ideal.

      Also note, a similar idea was proposed about 1-2 years ago. I can’t remember the keywords involved to locate it.

      • Owen

        You just blew my mind with you comment “This is a good idea.”. After all the crazy things I have run by you but I guess even a blind squirrel gets lucky sometime.

        “The materials would tend to fall off the sides using your method, and so the fabric needs support. How would you do this?” Just use a finer mesh. You can get it so it is fabric and a grain of sand can’t get out but is still breathable. The shuttle system is to hold a form while filling the layer until it is solid. The overlap on the top of the can be as wide at the entire layer. This gives you plenty of room to drive nails or rebar to seal it so it won’t wide or open up. Plus you have the friction of the higher layers working in your favor. You couldn’t pull that closing flap out if your life depended on it. You can even double layer it. One for keeping small stuff in and a second larger mesh size for strength. Fiberglas mesh is not that expensive in roll form. It is almost a raw material and raw materials are always cheaper to work with.

        Going way out the box you could have the external layer as sand, resting on a plastic “L” form to catch any water and bring any water back to the outside to seep out. Like clapboards on a house, on each layer your would have this plastic “L” like a gutter but not a “U” but an “L”. You would have a single “L” in each layer with these stacked “L”‘s with sand between the “L” vertical line and the outside of the mesh layer. Water doesn’t run uphill so as long as the “L” is high and long enough water will run down before it can get over the “L”. Now you have a rain screen to keep water from the thermal mass inside layer. It the sand gets wet no problem. The plastic “L” is encased in sand so it never see the sun and won’t deteriorate or even burn in the event of a fire.

        Does that makes sense? Got my hand over face waiting for the explosion back,. lol.

        • Please describe your shutter system (Americans say slip form). Straw clay is typically packed between studs or posts. Would you have posts in the wall? If not, how would you secure the form work?

          • Rammed earth building has been around for thousands of years. Abandoned rammed earth structures hundreds and even thousands of years old can still be found. Some forms/shuttering are very simple, much simpler than these. I saw one picture from Africa that would be hard to beat for low cost and simplicity. They used an 8′ section of crudely attached wood and slide it along the wall gradually. That’s all you really need.

            Putting the fill material in mesh is only slightly different and has the additional benefits just discussed.

          • Owen

            One other point is I think you should be able to use pneumatic tampers which is not feasible in normal earth bag or tube building. I can also place horizontal rebar if needed. A layer between the mesh may be several compacted layers of a thinner size. I saw this as a plus but could be wrong.

            In simple form I am trying to marry the best of breed from both earth-bags and rammed earth. There should be a place in the middle where they meet and is win-win. It is not anything new just applying existing proven techniques in a different way.

          • You can combine ideas from different systems. One key advantage of earthbag building though is no forms are necessary. The forms have to be constantly moved. So you have to weigh that against the higher price of bags and tubes and the difference in labor.

      • To the group I wish to apologize. I am not trying to hijack this tread. The post topic is very important to all of us.

        I refer to this as profit by legislation. Big business (aka big money) rules the housing industry and they want you to be forced to buy their products and homes. They can’t allow you to have an option to building a home and will suppress or stop any alternative at all cost. They have both the money and influence to do it.

          • Building codes can be a good thing if used sensibly. But unfortunately they are used as hidden agendas.

          • Yeah, the original 50 page code books were probably very beneficial. Voluntary guidelines that improve safety are a good idea.

          • If a person is building their own house they want it be safe and healthy for their family. A commercial builder or developer wants it to be profitable. Two very different motivations.

          • They’re totally different goals, and that’s a big reason for the mess we’re in. The same problem is occurring throughout society. Take health care, for instance. Nutritionists and doctors know how to eat healthily. Good nutrition would prevent most modern ailments, but there’s less profit in preventative medicine. After spending many years in university they need to pay off overpriced student loans and make a decent living.

  5. First, I hope some way can be found for the Pembrokeshire city council to allow this wonderful home to stay.

    Sadly, I’m very skeptical that will happen.

    In that video, the owners/builders openly admit that they broke the law, and did so knowingly. No matter how beautiful the home is, they still broke the law, and by making the video, they are flaunting that fact right in the faces of town authorities.

    That is a prescription for disaster.

    I keep looking at this situation for lessons that everyone else can learn. What can the rest of us do to avoid have this happen to any of us.

    1. Build in areas with few or no building codes. That way you won’t be breaking the law in the first place.

    2. If you do attempt to build in an area with codes and do it without a permit, it’s galactically stupid to ANNOUNCE IT PUBLICLY. You are effectively guaranteed to not be granted any leniency from governmental authorities.

    This family would have been far better off to simply say that this was the only way they had to put a roof over their baby’s head. If/when the government came calling, they simply should have told the media what was happening, and broke into tears at the government forcing their baby out of it’s own home. With that story in the media, the local public outry against their own building department and their local city council would have been a formidable and nearly overpowering force.

    With the damning video evidence that they built this house with full knowledge that it was illegal, they have cut their own legs out from under themselves.

    Lesson to be learned? If you attempt to “fly under the radar” STAY UNDER THE FREEKIN’ RADAR!!! Don’t draw attention to yourself, and especially don’t make videos about how you broke the law. That’s just mind numbingly stupid legally. The best story to tell people is that you “Did the only thing I could think of to do to put a roof over my head.” For most with a low income, that is probably an honest response, and it doesn’t automatically convict you of a crime, and it doesn’t flaunt your efforts in the faces of the politicians.

    If you insist on making videos and blogging about your construction, do it anonymously. Don’t reveal who you are or where you are so that someone can use that against you in a legal proceeding.

    3. If this house is forced to be taken down… I hope they don’t simply “demolish” it.

    There are many valuable materials in that house. Everything from the timbers, to the windows, the doors, and just about everything else. Careful deconstruction and salvaging of materials makes a lot more sense. Then, perhaps with the help of others, the house can be rebuilt with proper governmental paperwork.

    ===========

    Those lessons put forward, even though I am skeptical that the house will be saved, I still hope some way can be found to save it.

    • Good points Jay….very good. Sadly, you’re right about the video. That should never have been said. If they hadn’t, they may have used it in their favor. You can only hope that it didn’t get into view of those wanting to destroy their dream house but, with all the hoopla concerning this…it’s pretty doubtful. Let’s just hope that there will be enough worldwide outrage to discourage these pencil neck power hungry slugs from advancing in their wicked desire.

      • Another way to ‘fight back’ is to use this home as an exemplary model of sustainable building. Use it to draw attention to the larger natural building movement. More media attention = more potential embarrassment for local politicians. Remember the Wiki Natural House proposal from the blog post the other day? Well, now I’m thinking this house design might be superior to the dome house in France. We really like the triple roundhouse idea, but that makes the roof much more complex. This eco hobbit house design simplifies the roof framing and reduces risk of water leaks by eliminating roof valleys. Adding another bedroom on the opposite side of the house would meet our 2 bedroom, 1 bath requirement. All in favor say ‘aey’.

  6. tell them LOCAL COUNCIL has no jurisdiction over them, EVERYTHING IS BY CONSENT. LOOK UP FREEMAN ON THE LAND via the net or on UTUBE, tons of information to STOP local councils from doing what they are doing.

    • It would be good to know the best specific actions to take. The problem is the ‘system’ ropes you in bit by bit. The title of the land, for instance, is registered in their system. It’s all corrupt and works against the common man, but that’s what we have to deal with today.

  7. Just don’t let them, doze it or make sure you get plenty youtube coverage and locals gathered around, no worries

    You have done great work,

    • Good ideas, thanks. What would they do if 100 people gathered round singing songs? Arrest everyone and risk a huge voter backlash? I think some sort of Gandhian method like this could work. The worst thing is to do nothing! They’re just elected representatives after all, not kings.

  8. “Thanks Jay” “Thanks Doc”. I hope that the letter from the “Knowledgeable Professional” and “Gentleman” get’s the attention of the Council people and the worlds. I agree, keep this alive a while longer……

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