By: Jack M.
The world of 2003 was different from the world of today in many ways, not the least of which was the cost of securing a mortgage. Interest rates were more than double what they are today, and for a young Welsh family like Simon and Jasmine Dale and their two children, making exorbitant monthly payments on a bank loan was out of the question. The Dales decided to do something that our ancestors did for tens of thousands of years—they got a piece of land, and with a lot of hard work and the use of what nature supplied for raw material, they built their own dream home. They did have to purchase windows, plumbing, plaster, and a few tools, but after four months, the full-time parents had their own home. The total cost? £3,000, less than $5,000 U.S.
The Dales took after our ancestors and built their own dream home by hand in the forest.
In return for the maintenance of the grounds, a local landowner donated use of the land to the Dales, and the final product looks like it was taken straight out of Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
With no experience in building, Simon says that the only real requirements to undertake his project were having the will, the perseverance, and a few pals to occasionally help out with some heavy lifting.
With an unshakeable respect for the local environment, the Hobbit house was literally carved into a hillside, and to make use of natural light, the only parts above ground level are the windows.
Local stone, wood and mud were used in the construction. The roof is a type of grass thatch that blends in perfectly with the surrounding land, a wood-burning stove and solar panel supply enough heat and power, and ample use of straw and plastic guarantees an almost-perfect insulation from the elements. Simon said in an interview with the Daily Mail that “building from natural materials does away with producers’ profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.”
“Building from natural materials does away with producers’ profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.” Simon Dale.
Inside the home, a wood burning stove and solar panel supply plenty of heat and power for the family.
After 6 years of living in their hillside home, the Dales moved up in the world. They had enough money to purchase a few acres of land in Wales, and they set out to build an upgraded version of the Hobbit house, a project that took a year and a half to complete.
Using an identical plan and materials, the Dales now live in what they call the Undercroft, complete with a skylight, conservatory and a working bathtub.
And this is where Simon, Jasmine and their two (now-teenaged) sons live today.
Since embarking on their original project 12 years ago, the Dale family has garnered a lot of interest from like-minded people from all over the world. In response to this, Simon and Jasmine have turned their project into a small business. They have put together a booklet outlining the process of building a Hobbit house, and they also give occasional workshops. You can read all about the Dales, their project, and their future plans here.