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Location: Wales, UK

Date: unknown

Architect: Simon Dale

Purpose: private house

Rating: (606 votes, average: 3.61 out of 5)

More info: From the author: “You are looking at pictures of a house I built for our family in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).”

“The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature.” he says.

This building is one part of a low-impact or permaculture approach to life. This sort of life is about living in harmony with both the natural world and ourselves, doing things simply and using appropriate levels of technology.

When asked why he is doing this, he gave this answer: “ It’s fun. Living your own life, in your own way is rewarding. Following our dreams keeps our souls alive.”

Some key points of the design and construction:

  • Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
  • Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
  • Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
  • Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
  • Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
  • Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof for low impact and ease
  • Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
  • Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
  • Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring…)
  • Woodburner for heating – renewable and locally plentiful
  • Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
  • Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
  • Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
  • Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
  • Water by gravity from nearby spring
  • Compost toilet
  • Roof water collects in pond for garden etc.

Main tools used: chainsaw, hammer and 1 inch chisel, little else really. Oh and by the way I am not a builder or carpenter, my experience is only having a go at one similar house 2yrs before and a bit of mucking around inbetween. This kind of building is accessible to anyone. My main relevant skills were being able bodied, having self belief and perseverence and a mate or two to give a lift now and again.


(image credits: Simon)

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12 Responses to “Low impact woodland house (Wales, UK)”

  1. david
    25 January 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    Looks like a hobbits house from lord of the rings

  2. Jessy
    29 January 2010 at 1:49 am #

    This house looks alot like shreks swamp in the movie shrek!

  3. tyler
    18 March 2010 at 4:27 am #

    Beautiful home, I have always wanted a house that is unique and alive. I believe you have that.

  4. arq. luis cesar muñoz a.
    25 March 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    encantadora casa me extacia por el parecido con las casa de los hobbits su arquitectura organica y rural la hace sentir acogedora y calida; muy bella casa

  5. Chandalia Sanjiv
    12 April 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Oh….! I have a such dream home on beach.

  6. James
    6 May 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    What an amazing home. I would love to see how you’ve designed the interior. I imagine it to look like Bilbo Baggins home! Speaking of strnge buildings, this amusing article is worth checking out –

  7. Sandra Gunther
    8 May 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    I absolutely love your house. You inspire me to one day build one for myself.
    Thank you so much.


  8. farha
    14 July 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    awesome home.. sweet home… i2wish for such a marvellous home…..

  9. cristina
    5 October 2010 at 11:17 pm #

    Your house is wonderfull. I want to built a house like your’s .Was it very difficult? There where you live is to much raining or snowing? In my land the rain is great in winter and we have ocassional earthmove. I live in Chile,Southamerika. If you can help me with plans or photos from the house building , it was very great.
    Good luck

  10. Ted
    11 November 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    This is stunningly beautiful and wonderfully amazing! We need a “how-to” book… it would sell for sure.

  11. Wanda Hayes
    10 December 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    I love it! Let’s build one for me!

  12. Alyssa
    20 December 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Oh….This house is not only charming, original, and just plain pretty, it also is very enviromentally friendly and sounds like a nice place to live.