As part of the eco-living series of posts, I wanted to shine a spotlight on a family who managed to build a stunning, eco friendly, hand built home for just £15,000. More importantly, this building is now under threat, and you can help to save it.
Why build an eco home?
Megan and Charlie, 25, are an innovative couple from Pembrokeshire, Wales. When they realised that they weren’t going to find a house they truly wanted to live in ‘within their means’, they decided they would build one instead. They wanted to live somewhere built from natural, non (potentially) carcinogenic materials, which was something they couldn’t get from renting or buying with a mortgage. Plus, their family was growing with son Eli on the way.
Charlie and Meg were living in a static caravan on Charlie’s fathers land. Charlie had helped his father with the land as a child, and he wanted to continue to be able to help his father by living there. So, Charlie and Meg decided to self-build a roundhouse on a budget.
Their home was inspired by the design of Simon Dale’s house, a member of the Lammas eco community who lived nearby. Lammas helped them build, as Charlie had no previous experience in building at all. Charlie learnt skills through the Lammas community who gave both building time and expertise to the project. Charlie and Meg describe it as a ‘trial and error’ build, but it had wonderful consequences.
Much of the materials used were locally sourced or recycled. For example, the round wood timber frame came from a woodland on Charlie’s father’s land. It was important that the house was energy efficient. A living roof is used to offset carbon, while straw bale walls were used to provide insulation. These straw walls were rendered with lime, which has much lower ‘embodied energy’ than cement. An earth floor is used to heat the house, which contains underfloor heating warmed by a wood burning boiler. This house gives them a more self sufficient lifestyle.
Six months into the build planners spotted the home and kicked up a fuss. Charlie and Meg’s son Eli was born in July 2012, while they applied for planning as an ancillary to his parents house. Two weeks before Christmas, however, they received an enforcement notice to demolish the house. Following appeals, Charlie and Meg are now trying a fresh retrospective application of planning to the Pembrokeshire County Council and a One Planet Development management plan.
How can you help?
Pembrokeshire County Council claim the home is ‘harmful to the rural character of the locality’ (Daily Mail). Charlie and Meg believe that it is made from ‘mostly reclaimed or natural materials’ so that it ‘fits into the countryside’. I think that this house is a charming example of how being a bit inventive with your materials can produce not only a beautiful residence, but an eco friendly one too. I think that houses like this should be encouraged as they promote a greener lifestyle.
Photos property of Amanda Jackson.