Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Simon Dale's 'Hobbit House'


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This is a house built by Simon Dale and his family. He lived in it when it was first built, but has since passed it onto someone else. I actually don't like the phase 'Hobbit House' but I guess many people can relate to it (or scenes from the film) - the key difference is that this isn't something make-believe from a film set, this really is a house people live in and it's truely sustainable.

Simon built the house largely from things around the land - large oak branches (in the round, complete with bark and Ivy on), cob (a mixture of clay, sand, chopped straw and water) and rocks, along with recycled 'junk'. The end result is both beautiful and has very little impact on the land - in fact at the end of it's life, it will gently fall back into the ground from whence it came. You might think that's a waste, but it only cost about £3000 to build.

Of course there is some modern, non-renewable stuff in there - the waterproof membrane which stops the turf roof leaking etc, but compared to 'regular' houses, this one has the very greenest credentials of them all.

Simon admits to making a few mistakes along the way - he left the bark on the posts and beams, but later found insects were colonising them, and there's no toilet or bathroom facilities in this small house (they used their next-door neighbours), but unless you make the mistakes, you don't learn to do it better next time.

The beauty of Simon's house is that it connects with the soul, with something deep inside that makes it look and feel 'just right'. It might look like it's come from the latest science fantasy film set, but it's a real and practical solution to housing that I think we'll start to see in greater numbers.

But could you live in a house like this? I actually think very few people would be able to cope because along with the low-impact house, goes a low-impact lifestyle - no 'on-tap' hot water, no mains electricity (all 12 volt solar stuff), so you'd have to fundamentally shift your lifestyle in order to adapt and be happy with the house. Me, I'd love to give it go!

Check out Simon's website for further information and more glorious photos: 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

HI Hawthorn, I just saw this post. This is the very house where my husband and I got together whilst staying within Simon and Jas who are his friends from uni. Brings back a happy memory! Are you following their progress at Lammas? We hope to visit soon as last time we went was just before they starting building.

Hawthorn said...

What a brilliant story, and what a connected web we have here! I visit the Lammas website often for updates - I'm so pleased they got permission and are proceeding with the build. I'd love to go there someday.

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