Thursday, April 09, 2015

Make your house a home with #selfbuild principals

You may wish that you lived in a floating palace, a quaint country cottage, a freewheeling caravan, but what you really want is to be in charge of your own destiny, to not feel at the mercy of forces you cannot control.

Shaping our homes and the indoor, secret lives we lead allows us to be our true selves. It is an act of parrhesia, confessing who we really are when given the opportunity to be the fullest version of 'me'.

We may speak, act, dress in ways that give those with an external view an impression of us, but that is all it remains, a guess, a rough estimate, perhaps even a deliberately crafted, non-authentic version. People present themselves in camouflage for a variety of reasons, but where they should feel safest and freest is in their home.

Just as we may advocate building one's character and personhood in an honest way to prevent stifling of our truth, so we can argue that creating a space to be our truth is equally important.

Buying or renting a pre-lived-in home may be the best some families can manage. Their task will be to order the elements that can be altered into the most effective dynamic. Changing room layout, re-arranging garden sections, aligning furniture to best achieve flow from door to window to hearth.

Those of us lucky enough to be able to own a piece of the Earth can enjoy a deeper connection to the history that created our stories as individuals and as a society. We are about to purchase our first house. Having hoped to be able to buy land and build, we are 'settling' for a ready-made 1970s one. It has been modernised and extended and we are very lucky.

We still want to fulfil our dream eventually and this post is our announcement of intention. We will build our own home one day. Until then, we want to share the links below to help others wanting to do the same.

The UK government endorsed website, Self Build Portal, (@SelfBuildPortal) has a surfeit of resources.

A good solution may be a pre-fabricated home, arriving in sections and constructed on your chosen site. Companies such as NorScot offer kit homes of environmentally-friendly design and Cottage Kit Homes provide a similar service. Roy Homes and Welsh Oak Frame sell beautiful houses.

For those wanting to create a earth-centred home, sourcing materials and making other smart choices will be essential.

You may wish to convert an existing property to save more foundations being dug, more concrete and cement being manufactured and used. The Church of England sells properties it no longer needs here. A helpful guide to converting a church (or other complex buildings) can be found here.

Rather than visiting the DIY store or local construction merchant, why not consider other ways of getting the materials you need for your home? Freegle, Freecycle, TrashNothing and similar websites can be excellent for small quantities of materials (and plenty of things to fill your home once built!). However, there are sites dedicated to environmentally conscious use of materials such as Surplus Swap, Pre-loved and ReciPro being some of the best I've found. You could also be saving money by self-building by recouping VAT from the government - check out this link for more information.

Will you have good public transport links to reduce car reliance? Find out by using the National Rail maps available here.

Heat your home with photo-voltaics, solar panels, underground heat reclamation systems, wood pellet burners, or other methods that do not rely on non-renewable resources. We don't want to live on a wiffle ball, so let's stop digging cavities in our planet!

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