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By Chris | March 10, 2008 - 10:10 pm - Posted in Alternative Materials, How To

According to Google, the current conversion rate of British Pounds to US Dollars is 1 to 2.013 – yikes.

The Galloway home, a small cottage in southern Scotland, was built by Steve James for 4,000 Pounds (about $8,000). It began as part of project to help first time home buyers get their homes started and became an excellent experiment in just how cheaply a house can be built.

Construction actually began in 2004 when a foundation and heavy rains were erected. Those had to be demolished, though, because of heavy rains and failed tarps. The project was restarted in 2007 and recently completed.

Rock foundation with wood frame

straw walls with window framesVisible rafters hold up the turf roof interior

The rock foundation holds a traditional wooden frame of joists and stringers. The walls are made largely of straw bales and the roof is made of turf. Some of the materials are salvaged (such a window and door) and some were cut from local trees. While the price is low, it is a very different and slightly more crude project than typical small home plans, which are designed to be small and refined while reasonably affordable.

Here’s a Breakdown of the Costs (in £)


£600 supplies for volunteers

£500 sarking

£400 floorboards

£400 pond liner

£300 straw

£200 plumbing

£150 reclaimed joists

£150 plywood

£150 equipment hire

£150 glass

£100 quicklime

£100 wiring

£100 tarpaulin

£100 paint/varnish

£100 batteries

£100 fixings

£100 miscellaneous

£100 fuel for power tools

£70 water pump

£50 water heater

£50 stove chimney

£30 cooker

It is an inspiring idea, really. I doubt that houses of mud and straw will start appearing on every street corner but the possibility of an ultra-inexpensive house looks more realistic. We could all have our Walden if it weren’t for local and state build codes, right?

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