Ross Brooks

Retired Art Teacher Builds Enchanting Cob House for Just $250!

by , 12/14/13
filed under: Architecture, gallery


Michael Buck, home made from recycled materials, insulated cob walls, retired art teacher builds his own home, home made from salvaged local materials, woodstove heating, composting toilet, mortgage-free home

Buck initially designed the home on the back of an envelope, and then spent over two years collecting local materials that he foraged or salvaged himself. The floorboards were from a neighbor’s derelict boat, while the glass for the windows was salvaged from a scrapped truck. Even the straw used to thatch the rooftop was collected from fields in the surrounding area.

The house has no electricity and no running water, but a nearby creek provides an ample source of fresh water. Buck keeps the house warm with a woodstove, which provides more than enough to heat the house thanks to its insulated cob walls. An artfully crafted spherical pile of stacked wood outside provides fuel for the stove, a chicken coop offers up free food, while a nearby well serves as a refrigerator. And no house would be complete without a composting toilet—this sits in a separate outhouse.

Buck wanted to set an example for others, and only had to pay the $250 when he ran out of straw and nails during construction. As he puts it: “A house doesn’t have to cost the earth, you only need the earth to build it. I wanted to show that houses don’t have to cost anything. We live in a society where we spend our lives paying our mortgages, which many people don’t enjoy.”

+ Michael Buck

Via TreeHugger

Images by Michael Buck

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6 Comments

  1. Suzanna McMahan February 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    How much was the property?

  2. Juanita Ellis December 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    how soon can you come to oz & help me build a hobbit house like yours? :-) xo

  3. Graeme C December 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Damien, You little ray of sunshine. Nowhere in the article did it mention paying modernday inflationary, bankers usuary rates for land (Land wasn’t even mentioned). Nor did it state that things were done legally…. another black hole of monetarism. The point IS that as the pictures attest the house WAS built. It looks gorgeous and the materials to build it (of course he didn’t factor in his own hourly rate or that of half the counties tradesmen) cost about a hundred pounds because he didn’t forage for long enough. I say all power (figuratively) to the man and I hope he gets to live there.

  4. Graeme Chicken December 14, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Very Inspiring :-)

  5. Dan Scott December 13, 2013 at 7:33 am

    What kind of truck has that many windows made of large pieces of glass like that? And where do you get free composting toilets?

  6. Damien Brink December 12, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Lovely looking place! Truly a labor of love.

    Don’t understand why he eschewed power tools, he could have borrowed them, maybe site power was the issue?
    Anyway I fear this article and others like it (the tiny-house movement) are purposely obscuring a major piece of the puzzle. Land prices! This property looks rural, perhaps a few acres. You cant own anything like this near my state capital (Melbourne, VIC) and to buy one anywhere near civilization would cost minimum $150,000. So Micheal’s project would have totaled $150,250. House prices keep going down and land prices the other way.
    Even forgetting about the land, the regulatory costs for my 100k house build were around 10k (building surveyor, planning fees .etc). This is part of the reason people build large houses. If your dropping half a million on 1000m^2 of land in the burbs you probably wont feel at all conflicted about spending half that again of a nice house.

    Enjoyed the article. Reminds me of the cob house young English couple build (in article about 12 months back). Planning dept. made them rip it down. :(

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