Ben
Ben Law  a force of nature

Ben Law is a phenomenon of nature. He lives in a house he built himself in a wood he manages, coppices, and loves. He is almost unique in being a first-rate woodsman- a child of the forest who lives in a near-natural state, and also quite a good writer, able to communicate his thoughts and feelings as well as the details of how to build a house from willow in the middle of a wood.

We have written about him before because his book the Woodland Way has been an inspiration to tens of thousands of off-gridders.

After he wrote it Ben became famous as the star of an episode of Grand Designs, an architecture series on UK TV. Now he has written another book, “The Woodland House” cashing in on his new found fame, and good for him. The Woodland House – Buy it from Amazon UK now. Read the review below

“The Woodland House” is lavishly illustrated guide to how you too can build a house from natural materials and it covers everything from design, through foundations to carpentry , plastering and reed bed sewage systems.

The TV programme followed him for a year as he built his house in the woods. The presenter was mainly interested in the design elements of the building, but we were more interested in the way Ben managed to get around or meet the planning laws. That is the local government rules that have frustrated so many of us who want to live off-grid.

It is a scandal that a developer can build a bunch of houses or even a theme park in one case, while people who love the land and want to build a low-impact home, are prevented from doing so by planners who know little and care less about eco-architecture, and the off-grid way of life.

The Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach to Sustainable Woodland ManagementThe Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach to Sustainable Woodland Management – Buy it now from Amazon US

Ben managed it, after years of cat and mouse games with the local council which began when he came home to his makeshift shelter in the wood one day to find the local council and left him a note telling him he was not allowed to live there.

His response was to keep moving his home around his beloved woodland. He built and lived in a bender, then a Mongolian Yurt, then a mobile home . He managed to get temporary planning permission for the mobile home, and three years later after further building up his woodland business he applied for full panning permission on the basis that he needed to live there to manage the wood.

the presenter of the TV show says that in three years of looking since they have not been able to find another example. They have not looked hard enough — there are many other examples, but what makes Ben nearly unique is his long successful struggle against the planners.

Off-Grid wants to become a center for help and advice in people battling local authorities to build the home they believe in: Which are the best areas to do this kind of home — in the United States, Australia and the UK? What are the best tricks to get round the law?

Please contact us with any information or stories about your own experiences at news@off-grid.net

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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