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cheap house
Why pay more?

Here is the shopping list for a beautiful warm, cheap, off-grid home, as built in Scotland recently by software engineer Steve James.

With straw bale walls, a turf roof, and the rest of the building materials pulled from skips, this is never going to appear on Grand Designs. But the end product is �a warm and watertight cottage which gets its water supplies by gathering rainfall and its electricity from a car battery,� according to a BBC report.

ITEMISED BILL:

�600 snacks and booze for volunteers
�500 sarking
�400 floorboards
�400 pond liner

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�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

The project may also help to highlight wider issues of housing space and land availability. Steve believes a three-bedroom family home could be built for �10,000.

“It is something that anybody could easily learn to do most of, with help,” he said.

“The real cost of a house is fairly small. It is always the land that makes about 85% of the cost.

“Adding the compound interest to the final cost of a mortgage reduces the actual house price component of the total to as little as 2%.”

Local forestry like larch, spruce and elm were used to construct much of the property.

Sand, gravel, rock and turf from nearby fields and burns were also a part of the build.

And straight out of other people’s rubbish came a roof velux, shower tray, front window, front door and an oval bedroom window.

The stove chimney for the home cost just �50

Mr James’s favourite pieces of reclamation work include the Tudor-style panelled timber ceiling.

It was made out of solid pine changing cubicle doors salvaged from old Victorian public baths in Govan.

A traditional Belfast sink was constructed out of items from a decommissioned primary school.

And worktops and windowsills came from a Cedar of Lebanon in Pollok Park in Glasgow which was felled by a storm.

They have all been brought together to create a home which aims to be both ecologically and economically friendly.

At last estimate the average house price in Scotland stood at about �158,000.
The Galloway project has taken about 10 man-months of actual building time to complete.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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