Our house project is coming along nicely. It is exciting to be in the process of creating our new home after years of dreaming about it.
We are self-building and starting planning to do this some years ago when we got the land that we are living on. I was surprised when I saw how many self-build magazines there were in the larger newsagents and bought a few to see what ideas I could pick up.
The one thing that struck me straight away was that my definition of self-build and the medias definition were very different.
As far as the wider print media is concerned the term self-build seems to apply to anyone who commissions a house to be built for them by someone else – a building contractor, project manager and an architect are usually in the picture. Very little of the work is self-done, athough sometimes the person involved takes on the position of project manager themselves.
Our self-build project is a little different. We do not have a mortgage, we have designed the house ourselves and are building it ourselves. Happily we have occasional help from friends and other people who are interested in learning something about the possibility of providing a home for themselves.
I guess you would imagine that we must be wealthy to be building a house in
Ireland without a mortgage and I also guess that being wealthy would certainly make things a lot easier for us.
We are not wealthy in any financial terms, in fact we just get by week to week
like alot of people these days, however we are rich in ways that really count. We have our health (yeah, I know, real sign of getting older when I say that!), we have each other and our families.
We have friends that are eager to help us and to share in our home-creating experience. We each have skills and there are a lot of people around us with skills that we can barter for, skill exchange without cash.
We are also very resourcefull people and learn from others with similar skills. You can develop an eye for things that can be useful and for seeing how something can be re-used in a new way. We keep our eyes and ears open for things that are being thrown away (and others also do this for us).
There are lots of free stuff websites out there now for checking out what people have to give away and for requesting items.
Because we are not financially well-endowed, so to speak, we are making use of as much salvaged material as possible.
We have all our windows already on site. We salvaged them when friends and family members were upgrading their own homes and putting in new windows. The windows are maybe twenty years old, most with hardwood frames and single glazing. The frames are in good condition so we are lucky and in time to come we can reglaze the frames with double glazing when we can afford it and in the meantime we will use old-fashioned heavy curtains in the winter to help insulate against the cold when the sun goes down.
We have two sliding patio doors salvaged from the window replacement man’s skip. We were at our friends house picking up the old windows to remove them and got chatting to the man doing the replacement job. The guy was excited about us re-using the windows that he had removed, he actually hates the waste involved in his profession and so he invited us to come to his place and make use of anything we wanted. We were delighted to avail of the opportunity and grateful to him for being open minded and not overly concerned about the insurance implications of allowing us to salvage from his yard.
We also have all the doors that we need and we bartered for the hemp with which we intend to build the walls. We collected two van-loads of hemp hurds yesterday and I have to say that it felt very strange to be driving home with the van filled to the roof with hemp! If someone had told me when I was in my twenties that one day I would be driving a van filled with hemp and that I was going to use it to build my house with I would have suggested that they perhaps had had too much hemp themselves!
All we need now is to hear about someone who has roofing material or lots of building timbers - it could happen you know!