Cost effective self build

Wednesday 14 Mar 2012

Vernacular self build aims to address problems with the British housing market

In today’s current economic hardship, one architect has turned his back on the struggling housing market and has designed and built his own home. Dominic Stevens found himself ‘without a lot of money and urgently requiring somewhere to live’, and decided to utilise his knowledge of self build projects and many years experience in the architectural field.

The house is a modest three bedroom home with no fancy extravagant design features; everything was stripped back to basics in order to keep to the strict self-imposed budget of €25,000. Inside the rooms vary, with a generous double height general living space, contrasted with ‘compact and cosy’ throughout the rest of the house. The project makes use of cheap construction methods, using a simple timber frame for the main structure and Onduline, a tough, lightweight corrugated material made from recycled cellulose fibres, to clad the roof and external facades.

The project is more than just a personal solution to the issue of housing. Stevens expresses the political notion behind the house and is giving away the plans and sections for the house in the hope it will encourage other people to take on the project. When talking about the way the housing market has been turned into a money-making system rather than a means to house people and provide a good quality of life, Stevens expresses what has driven him to give out this information:

“As an architect I was sickened to be part of a profession that played along and profited in a major way, studiously uncritical about what was going on. By building this house I am examining alternative traditions to what has become the accepted model.”

The house has the potential for extension and currently requires very little energy to heat due to the carefully considered insulation methods. It is a very environmentally friendly build and as a model home, the house is a true testament to how self build projects can change the way we value our homes and push the idea of better living conditions through self accomplishment. Dominic Stevens deserves recognition for addressing this issue and for the message he is trying to pass on to others.

For the full details on how to build the house (including material lists to a step by step guide to follow) and to read the full description of the project from the architect, please visit

Matthew Goodwill

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