Self-contained Hosted Accommodation in the Shoreham Coastal Village

After reading Earth Garden magazines in the student union building at Monash University in the mid-seventies I became aware of the concept of owner building and the owner builder. Like most Australians I wanted to be a home owner, but was afraid of the concept of the mortgage. One of the references in Earth Garden was ‘Owner Built Home’ by Ken Kern. He articulated the tyranny of the mortgage and that as an instrument of social control, it has ‘been successful in reducing would be democratic man to a state of perpetual serfdom.’ This was a powerful motivator. So started a journey which has lasted forty years and continues.

 

There is much synergy between the philosophies of Ken Kern, Christopher Alexander (The Pattern Language) and ‘Le Style Provencal.’ They all harken back to an era when people took control of more aspects of their own lives. It captured the process my father went through to build the family home on his farm in the immediate post war era.

 

The common themes of these philosophies are: design your own home; build according to your own best judgment; pay as you go; assume responsibility for your building construction; use native, local, renewable, low energy and recycled materials whenever possible; use your own labour whenever possible and if not, local labour; and carefully selected tools and machines can save huge physical effort, increase productivity and increase the skill and accuracy of tasks performed. When guided by these philosophies, as I have been, building becomes one of the most creative, enjoyable and sustainable activities we can undertake in our lives. A self-trained owner builder, I have founded my approach on rigorous reading, research and travel. I place a very high value on acquisition of skills and experience and worked for free to acquire these when opportunities arose. I can now see a building through from design to completion. The most rewarding aspects of this owner builder journey for me have been  architectural drafting, stone masonry, post and beam framing, blacksmithing, bronze casting, tiling and solid plastering. This has resulted in the completion of four houses, one renovation and involvement in many other owner built projects.

 

Each building tells its own story, one that reveals itself with time.

 

The photos below capture some of the continuing journey.  

 

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