Nowadays, the new crown pneumonia epidemic has trapped people at home, so some people have begun to devote a lot of time and energy to building their own houses. Don’t underestimate this work. It takes a long time (at least three years), and it will take up all your personal time, cut off contact with friends and family, and even endanger your relationship. But even so, 8,000 to 10,000 French families still choose to build their own houses every year. According to statistics, these houses account for 5% to 6% of the total housing construction. “Perhaps for them, building a house is equivalent to rebuilding themselves.” Said Eric Tortello, president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Beaver Association. On average, the association helps 500 to 600 families complete construction work each year. So how many people will give up halfway? “No one.” Toltro said, “Everyone persisted until the end. Once someone gets discouraged, our association will step in. When there are more than a dozen volunteers to help you, your confidence will naturally come back. ”
With the help of professionals, the Beaver Association is committed to building environmentally friendly housing that saves water and electricity, and does not reject the use of past technologies and materials, such as wood, clay, hemp rope and wood wool. “Stop using cement bricks and glass wool, we can find better alternatives. We have a variety of projects, such as yurts, semi-crypt houses, log houses in North America, transformed containers… “The Beaver Association staff member Christel Macron said, “Our goal is to let everyone learn to build and renovate houses on their own. Many people will consult the professionals provided by us at different stages of construction, such as architects and craftsmen. , Thermal energy experts, etc.”
In Christelle’s view, this is a life-changing experience. “In the process of building houses, we will encounter countless problems, which force us to re-examine the environment and consumption, as well as the impact of personal behavior on the planet. Some members will even change their careers and switch to occupations that are partial to manual labor. Such as urban ecological construction.”
In fact, cost is not the primary motivation that drives people to choose self-built houses. On the contrary, it sometimes costs more. The real motivation is that these people want to achieve innovation with their own hands and achieve their dreams through mutual help.
Cecil and Stephen fell in love with this rural land in Rhône and built their own wooden house here.
| Swing upstairs to see the cows |
During a cycling outing, Stephen (47 years old, chemical engineer) and Cecil (43 years old, bicycle repair self-employed) fell in love with this beautiful rural land at first sight. It is more than 40 kilometers northwest of Lyon and has a steep terrain. At the end of 2019, they bought this piece of land and built a breathtaking wooden stilt building. “In the beginning, our two sons thought we were crazy, but now they are very active and have helped a lot.” Stephen said. The couple who came from a big city and had no architectural experience made up their minds to settle their home in this small village. Cecil said: “According to the local plan, the bakery and the train station are less than ten minutes away from here.”
The house covers an area of more than 100 square meters, with three bedrooms and a bicycle garage. The house uses a very advanced waterproof isolation technology-straw and multiple layers of clay. After the roof and walls are built, all that is left is to make partitions, ceilings, pipes, wires, and floors.
The entrance of the house is on the second floor, and a boardwalk connects the street and the living room. The living room is equipped with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, from which you can see a small valley, several cows and a stream, all of which are particularly beautiful in the autumn sunshine. There is a bedroom upstairs, two bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs. “I plan to build a plant wall for the bathroom.” Cecil said. The stairs have not been built yet, and the upper and lower floors are only connected by a simple ladder.
”We hired an architect to help us design the house and apply for construction permits. Then we also hired some local craftsmen, including a roofer in charge of the frame of the house and a carpenter in charge of the kitchen.” Stephen said. The original budget of 250,000 euros was not enough to cover these expenses, so the couple signed another loan agreement.
On the day of the interview, Cecil and Stephen were installing the bathroom plumbing. A registered plumber from the Beaver Association taught them for a day and gave them a head start. But Cecil said frankly: “There are so many things to remember, and we have to call him to confirm from time to time.”
During the construction period, Cecil and Stephen lived on their own construction site.
The couple had hoped to move into their new home before September 2020, but the epidemic affected the delivery time of the metal roof trusses and delayed the entire construction period. They have sold their house in Villepin, not only have they borrowed it for a period of time at a friend’s house, but they have also lived in a travel trailer. Today, they are sleeping on their own construction site, although the conditions are very difficult-no toilet and drainage system, only a dry toilet and a cold water pipe-but Cecil optimistically said: “We like this life very much. Our choice is correct.”
| Wood, French windows and wood stove |
In contrast, Julian (35 years old, maintenance technician) and Mathilde (29 years old, family vineyard partner) have much better days because they live 300 meters away from the construction site. They bought a land of 770 square meters, close to friends and family.
This is a large two-story house with wooden structure. The garage was the first to be built, with a staggering area of 50 square meters. Mathilde said: “This is Julian’s site. It is more of a workbench than a garage. We are here to make a construction plan.”
They asked an architect to help in the design phase. “We struggled with the position of the stove and the stairs for a long time, but this architect solved the problem easily. Her suggestion was to install a large floor-to-ceiling window to bring in sunlight to illuminate the stairs. The idea is no matter what we do. I can’t think of anything.”
Thanks to the company’s “time savings account”, Julian was given a three-month holiday, which allowed the project to proceed in an orderly manner. The completed parts, such as the foundation, roof truss and stairs, were built by professionals, but the floor-to-ceiling windows were installed by Julian himself using a rented elevator. After they completed the isolation layer on the facade, all that was left was the interior decoration. They hope to move into their new home as soon as possible.
The design of this house also incorporates many environmental protection concepts: a wood stove for heating; a Canadian well buried 2.5 meters underground, which regulates the temperature in the house through buried pipes; solar panels (electricity) for heating water The water heater is only for emergency needs); a rainwater collection system to provide water for the house other than drinking water. “There is no dry toilet, because I can’t accept it,” Mathilde said, “unless Julian is responsible for dumping manure.”
| Wood and straw, 100% homemade |
Sylvia and Joel, who have just retired, have achieved the ultimate. “Our generation has messed up the environment, so I refuse to use industrial technology and chemical reagents. Various solvents and polystyrene adhesives will only make the indoor air worse than the outdoor.” Joel Say. Their project lasted for three and a half years and was only completed in the fall of 2019. “This project I rely on myself from start to finish, not because I reject craftsmen, but because I didn’t find the right person.” He continued.
House built by Mathilde and Julian
Mathilde is responsible for using wood wool as the external wall isolation, because wood wool is more environmentally friendly than glass wool; and Julian took the lead in setting up a garage to make construction plans inside.
”In the beginning, the villagers here felt that we were daydreaming and waiting to see our jokes. Later they found that passive houses that can adjust the interior to a suitable temperature with extremely low energy consumption are very environmentally friendly and completely feasible. Our house The ceiling is very high and does not require heating. A Canadian well and a ventilation system are enough.” Ruoer said triumphantly. He hung up thermometers and hygrometers in his home to observe the indoor temperature and humidity at any time. After staying for more than a year, he has never used an electric water heater, and all the hot water is supplied by solar panels. “This summer, when the outdoor temperature reached 39°C, our house was only 23°C,” he said.
Joel is well-equipped and organized. “I originally had a few machines in my house, but later I bought some more, plus a small truck and a travel trailer, which cost a total of 10,000 euros.” He said. When asked if he was worried that there would be nothing to do in the future, he replied: “Not at all. In this house with a garden, there is still a lot to do. And we are happy to show our own The house, I want friends, neighbors and others who plan to build their own houses to visit here.”