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Low-impact Hobbit home only cost US$4,650 to build

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October 5, 2011

The 'Hobbit home' took three months to complete, and came in at under US$5,000 (GBP3,000) ...

The 'Hobbit home' took three months to complete, and came in at under US$5,000 (GBP3,000) (Photo: Simon Dale)

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Simon Dale, with the help of his father in-law, has single-handedly built this low impact Hobbit house in the woodlands of West Wales. The eco-house, which rose from a muddy hole in the ground and took three months to complete, came in at under US$5,000 (GBP3,000) - demonstrating that you don't need to be architectural school graduate to come up with the goods. There's no need to be envious, however, because Dale will give you the plans and know-how to build your very own.

Dale calls himself a "have a go architect" and he is proud of his family home made from local oak wood, stone and mud retaining walls, and straw baling for insulation.

"Some past experience, lots of reading and self-belief gave us the courage of our conviction that we wanted to build our own home in natural surroundings" says Dale.

The house has been built from local and natural materials, with a goal of having as little impact on the environment as possible. Lime plaster was used to coat the interior walls, which provides a breathable and greener solution to cement. Scrap wood was used for the flooring and fittings, a wood burner has been fitted to heat the house, and the fridge is cooled by underground air flow. A central skylight allows natural light to filter throughout the eco-house, and solar panels are used to generate electricity. Water is pumped from a nearby spring and the bathroom features a compost toilet, whilst rain water is collected from the roof for garden use.

The Hobbit home is made from local oak wood, stone and mud retaining walls, with straw bal...

Evidently the success of his woodland home is just the beginning for Dale, who is currently building his next project as part of the first authorized low-impact ecovillage in Wales. The ecovillage is an initiative of the Lammas Organization, which promotes the development of eco-housing and low-impact lifestyles.

You can check out the plans to Simon Dale's Hobbit House on his website.

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema.   All articles by Bridget Borgobello
26 Comments

It is way cool and an excellent way to 'connect with nature' since it is so 'organic' in design. I would not mind living there. The price seems so affordable. :)

BigWarpGuy
5th October, 2011 @ 05:16 pm PDT

Very nice and very creative. Only limited by the imagination and time. Rain water recovery assume! We should all build along these line incorporating natural black water conversion and grey water. Any number of heat systems from bio mass, rocket stove. Fridge by under ground air flow, very nice. This way of thinking is an intelligent and practical move forward. A little Jealous i am..

Phillip L Stevens
6th October, 2011 @ 08:56 am PDT

Didn't dwellings like this used to be called dugouts? There is a collection of photographs from depression era America, some taken in Pie Town NM, one of them a timber house built into a hole in the ground.

calders888
6th October, 2011 @ 10:54 am PDT

even if this were just a weekend getaway place, it would be an excellent home. i want one!

Jay Lloyd
6th October, 2011 @ 12:02 pm PDT

Less than $5000.00? BULLS@*T!!!! You can't buy timber for that to build a teacup, much LESS a house!!! Did he STEAL the wood, or did he already OWN a MILLION DOLLAR forest to cut it from? Where did the the HUGE WINDOWS come from? Melt his own SAND, did he? Where did he get the HEAVY EQUIPMENT to build it with? I'll bet he didn't lift those timbers with his bare hands!

And where is the wood for "the woodburner used to heat the house" going to come from? A forest that took 500 YEARS to grow? Yeah, THAT'S real GREEN, alright!!! Burn 1,000 YEARS worth of TREES to heat your HOUSE for a winter!!!

James Howard Tennyson
6th October, 2011 @ 01:19 pm PDT

James Howard, fueling a woodstove doesn't require cutting down any trees! You obviously have zero experience in construction or woodstoves! People use dead trees that would go to waste if not used, you don't cut trees down! The timbers used do not require heavy equipment to maneuver, a simple block and tackle is all you would need. The timbers used in this building are not milled therefore can be had relatively cheap! Old windows scavenged from old buildings can be had for free or next to nothing! There isn't any reason that house couldn't be built for 5 grand, if not less! I have been in similar homes that were actually free and even made a profit for the owner who was paid to tear down buildings and haul off the old windows, doors and lumber used to build the home!

aaronhero04
6th October, 2011 @ 03:24 pm PDT

Beautifull, warm and inviting design. Love it.

scooterdave
6th October, 2011 @ 06:23 pm PDT

Very good old lumber and timbers can be had by tearing down old barns , warehouses and the like. You just have to put in the labor to get them much of the time.

Many times the land owner just want them gone and as soon as possible.

If you use your bargaining skills they can be had for free or even get paid by the land owner to take the buildings down and haul them off.

What could be more greener that recycling or re-purposing used things?

It would be a bigger waste to just send the stuff to the landfill.

The underground house has many intelligent and smart ideas built into it.

Just look up earth and underground homes and the such.

The largest problem with them is the control of moisture or humidity infiltration from ground water seepage and the air quality for control of molds.

Jim Andrews
6th October, 2011 @ 07:17 pm PDT

A great home, well done to Simon and his dad, but I can't imagine the insects and other living creatures that you'd have to share it with! Anyone fancy sitting down for dinner while mice scurry around the living room? ;-))

agulesin
6th October, 2011 @ 11:12 pm PDT

Agulesin, for the mice get a cat. For the insects just let the stove leak a bit of smoke. This works like those occupied by my ancestors on the Isle of Skye. At certain times of year the area is infested with tiny but ferocious midges. Visitors would scoff at the primitive arrangements in the houses, where a peat fire burned in the centre with no chimney. But as soon as the insects arrived those same visitors were in there like a shot.

No midges here in West Wales, plenty of other bugs though. Smoking preserves lots of foodstuffs by gently poisoning insects and bacteria, but at too low a dose to hurt humans in the short term. It works for roofs too. Traditionally smoke was allowed to trickle though thatch, but the fire risk is large.

Doug MacLeod
7th October, 2011 @ 04:01 am PDT

Props to him for building this, but... it really doesn't look like it would even last my lifetime. I look at the picture and can't imagine it even surviving a strong storm. :S

Von Meerman
7th October, 2011 @ 08:23 am PDT

James Howard Tennyson... easy there man.. If the guy has 20 acres of woods, he would be able to cut the trees to build his house and you would have to search hard for the stumps... My father heats a 1,200 square foot house on about 4 riks of wood a winter. that is about 4' by 6' by 4' stack of wood. Not even close to a forrest. He lives in south central Missouri. It gets damn cold there. If you notice the hobbit house is built from limbs, not from lumber, and with the insulation factor of plastered straw, it would cost next to nothing to heat even with natural gas or LP.

rwalker
7th October, 2011 @ 03:10 pm PDT

We are a so called modern civilization, and yet we build our homes like sails that catch the wind and are very inefficient IE. heating and cooling. Look at the homes by Mr. Dale or the cave homes in Mexico and Spain, hill homes in the southern U.S.A the sandstone and marble homes in the old Roman and Greek empires that kept the cool of night during the day and the heat of day during the night. These homes could be off the grid as much as you want and still have all the so called modern conveniences. Resistant to Storm damage and with simple upgrades uninterrupted electrical power. The grid we all depend on is so out dated, it has not changed in over 100yrs, is susceptible to natural and man made disasters (terror) off the grid or the capability to switch off the grid might mean life or death. Example, the transformers that the electrical companies depend on after the power leaves the generating stations are not protected and are scattered all over the service territory and if a bunch of these were incapacitated the power would be off for months as it takes at least 3mos to build one transformer (in Canada BTW). And the electric producers and distributors don't keep but 1 or2 in reserve be cause of the cost, any way can you imagine the chaos and anarchy this would cause in the cities. Off the grid and self sustainable is the way to go.

John Sorg
7th October, 2011 @ 04:55 pm PDT

Yes, none of the trees used would be considered usable for lumber by the usual standards. They'd be used for wood chips, if at all.

I'd have thought local building codes would be the biggest obstacle to building this kind of dwelling in most locations.

Water proofing would be another big problem, both from above and below.

Wombat56
7th October, 2011 @ 06:57 pm PDT

Another kind of cooler can be made almost free; nested terra-cotta pots, separated by damp/wet sand, and covered. The escaping moisture thru the outer pot sucks heat from the inner. Can be brought down as low as 40F if desired.

Brian Hall
9th October, 2011 @ 11:27 am PDT

Theirs also earth bag building, and re purposed shipping container houses.

Michael Klegin
13th October, 2011 @ 09:39 am PDT

Here is a wonderful video of the philosophy behind Simon's home in Wales:

Oliver Swann
29th October, 2011 @ 07:14 am PDT

Hmmm, James H T has obviously not heard of coppicing, a regular cycle of cutting trees down to a tall stump allowing them to regrow and managing the resulting regrowth.

If you've got an acre or so to play with & you plant say ash, beech, chestnut etc provided you got time for the initial set of young trees to grow then you can do this indefinitely.

Of course whilst your waiting you may have to scrounge around for wood...

If you leave the odd one or two to grow really tall/large then you can use them for "architectural" timbers....

That all does require patience & foresight, something possibly lacking in our modern culture...

Niq Carter-Rowe
10th November, 2011 @ 03:03 pm PST

Two cows would supply all the fuel you'd need to heat this type of home for a year plus supply you with plenty of milk and butter. Of course you would have to collect and dry it properly but that's a small price to pay.

BarneyTomB
4th April, 2012 @ 01:56 am PDT

BarneyTomB, what happens to the calves that have to be born, in order for the cows to produce milk, or didn't you think about that?

This house is beautiful, but unfortunately, due to The Enclosures hundreds of years ago, 99% of British people have no land of their own, and have to buy postage stamp size plots with rabbit hutch sized houses for hundreds of thousands of pounds, i.e. work as wage slaves for at least 25 years, just to be able to afford what should have been their birthright - an EQUAL sized piece of land as everybody else has, and the right to build whatever type of house THEY want to, regardless of what 'the council' says.

packoftwenty
8th July, 2012 @ 06:40 am PDT

I think the house is wonderful, but here in California I'm sure the authorities would not allow it to be inhabited. The building codes are totally against this kind of structure. As soon as the code compliance inspectors learned of it they would make you tear it down and if you refused, you would be heavily fined or land in prison. It happened here last year in San Louis Obispo. They call America the "land of the free" LOL!! To see what I'm talking about go to: sunnyacresca.com .

jeffrey
21st January, 2013 @ 09:10 am PST

Anyone who thinks that building codes are unfair is half right. But in some areas certain codes must exist. I am in a high wind area and when our hurricanes hit pieces of one home can destroy other homes and lives. In other places fires are unusually hazardous. Waste containment can also become a menace to others as well. If I tried to use gray water on my lawn the local laws would hang me out to dry. I am very close to an extensive, sensitive, major set of rivers. Ground water is at three feet here usually. Every area does have its own special needs. It can even be a need to suppress crime as certain construction features make it way too easy for criminals to rape and plunder.

Jim Sadler
6th September, 2013 @ 01:55 pm PDT

Lots of great posts. Wow, so beautiful. It is unfortunate that such a structure would have to be guerrilla in the USA to be allowed in most cases. This does not mean it should not be done. Wow, So beautiful. And coming from a construction and engineering back round, it looks strong for a while, with creative fixes possible. Placement is key, this exact design would not work everywhere. Lets be problem solvers... I have run a pro greenhouse. your mold/fungus issue can be safely, organically handled by sulfur evaporators. These heat sulfur until it releases sulfur ions, but does not burn. a hot plate, tin can and sulfur also works. basically your looking for a liquid, and you will smell it slightly. but not anything like burnt sulfur. it makes surfaces ever so slightly to acid for mold/mildew, etc to grow, and is fully food safe and organic. I used this all the way through harvest day, and nothing at all was taste-able on any fruit. I have since used this in my closet in Haiku HI, where it was super humid, with similar great effects. an hour per week is a great preventive, as black mold is very bad for the health. Props to those doing what others say cannot be done. You are not alone. And making it look great i might add! wow!

Jonathan Andrew Fowler
12th October, 2013 @ 05:04 pm PDT

I ache with the desire to have a home exactly (randomly?) like this in the coastal California woods to retire to.

If I knew a builder/craftsman with the eye and the sculptor's skill of making what's in his mind's eye I'd hire him tomorrow.

DonGateley
7th November, 2013 @ 04:05 pm PST

Very creative concept and construction.

Aside from invading hordes of mutant steroidal termites or giant wood boring worms, I can't see any problem with this.

Charles Ostman
10th January, 2014 @ 07:01 pm PST

Made me think instantly of Coober Pedy mine dwellings. https://www.google.com.au/search?q=coober+pedy+mine+dwellings&espv=210&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=kjXTUuH9L5e_sQSIgoHYAg&ved=0CGEQsAQ&biw=1920&bih=1055

for some images of them.

Mike Smith
12th January, 2014 @ 04:40 pm PST
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