We are planning to do as much of this build ourselves as possible. We’ve been working towards an ideal scenario in which we have enough passive income to get us by, whilst we work on the house for a minimum of 6 months, and up to about 12 months. We have a two year window to build in, once we start…or else the council will come get us, WAH!
Ben and I have designed the house ourselves based on work we’ve both done in the past. Ben has 2 years of traditional post and beam timber frame building - he’s also a SketchUp whizz. He can make just about anything and we’ve built up quite an impressive tool collection over the last year or so. I’m an ex Sims-addict (not really sure I need much more experience than this to be quite honest), I worked as a 3D modeller at GSA’s Digital Design Studio (now the School of Simulation and Visualisation) for 2 years modelling and texturing Stirling Castle, Rosslyn Chapel and New Lanark, to name a few. We have been playing around with drawings and 3D designs ever since we met. We travel quite a bit and try to stay in interesting and unusual places when we go.
We’ve obviously watched a tonne of Grand Designs, Stay Here, Homes for Under 100k, everything with Sarah Beeny and the rest… I had never considered straw bale as a building material for our house until one of the architects we have been consulting with mentioned it. Chris Morgan of John Gilbert Architects gave us some exciting ideas with regards to building materials and heating systems. He lectures at GSA on heating systems and we’re hoping we’ll get some more consultation with him before we start the build! It was really great to chat to someone who really got where we were coming from, and who seemed to have a lot of confidence in us, wahooop!
So I jumped online, and as luck would have it, there was a straw building course running that very week at the School of Simulation and Visualtion at the art school (!) Perfect timing! We contacted Allan from The School of Natural Building right away and asked if there was room for us. He said yes indeed, and that Barbara Jones would be leading the course. We had seen Barbara on YouTube and were reminded of a couple of brilliant Grand Design episodes where they used straw bales for the walls and insulation. We re-watched those, then nipped down to The Hub at Pacific Quay for the course last Friday.
So, so interesting and brilliant to meet 15-20 other builders, some of whom who have land already, others looking for land, others looking for advice on renovations, others just generally interested in natural building. We had a great day hosted by Eileen and Barbara who answered all our questions and made all of this feel really achievable and real!
Now for how to manage the weather if we choose this inexpensive, natural path. Barbara told us there is a Straw Bale Goddess looking out for her, and that they’ve never been rained off yet - I’m just not sure that Goddess would travel to Maryhill in Glasgow, hmmm…..!!!! The lime rendering can be entirely ruined by frost, so ideally rendering would be complete by September. Eek. Let’s see….
We are currently looking at running these courses on the site:
Straw Bale Building
Lime & Clay Rendering
Car Tyre or Plinth Wall Foundations
There has been a lot of interest already - we just need to do a bit more research with our lenders and the other peeps in charge… But we shall keep y’'all posted.
Please fill in the form on our contact page if you’re interested in coming to build as a volunteer or attending one of the courses this summer.