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Feminist Research
Housing and Feminism
Self Build Housing


	Case Studies

Personal Background
Training and Technical
Land Policies
Institutional Support
Shelter and Service
Planning and Design
Building Materials


Case Studies of Women's Self Build Housing

This research is informed by a feminist analysis of housing which acknowledges that there is a divergence between women's housing needs and how women are actually housed. (van Scheele 1992, Wekerle 1993 &1991, VAC undated) The issues raised by feminists in considering housing that are relevant in the context of women's self build housing are; house design, production processes, security of tenure, issues of finance and quality of life.

Initially a list of questions considering the issues that may have arisen for women building a house was compiled. These corresponded very closely to what Aprodicio Laquian described as some of the most important issues in self build housing. He listed:

1. Shelter and service options
2. Land policies
3. Credit
4. Building materials
5. Planning and Housing design
6. Training and technical assistance
7. Institutional and organisational structures (in Ingemann, 1989)

Along with these areas the research looks into aspects of women's self and community as they relate to the experience of self build housing.

Sample This study looks at seven examples of women's self build housing from south east Australia. Although not a statistically significant proportion of the work recently undertaken in Australia they remain nevertheless indicative of the issues confronting this genre of building. It is the purpose of this research project to offer a qualitative approach. The research aims to discuss trials and achievements of women who take the self build option, to gain insight into their lives, and to present such material in an accessible manner.

This thesis will consider individual women who have built a house and women who, as part of a group, have built a number of houses, for their own use. I will use a broad definition of women as builders to include women carrying out any number of the activities usually undertaken by a qualified builder or architect, generally in lieu of these professionals. This definition acknowledges that women's labouring and supervision contributions vary.

Women were recruited for this research from a variety of sources. A large number of community groups, services, agencies, and government departments referred the researcher to individual women and other organisations. Among the bodies contacted were: peak state and federal housing bodies, state and federal government housing authorities, research institutes, women's housing organisations, and private housing providers, from New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

During the recruitment phase a range of funding types were identified. The final sample of women chosen to exemplify this diversity, was based on willingness of individual women to participate. The types identified were: publicly funded individual self build, publicly funded group self build, privately funded individual self build, and privately funded group self build. When sufficient women were available for a particular category, only two, no more participants were sought for that category. One participant withdrew late in the process leaving a total sample of seven. No reasons were given for this withdrawal.

The sample shows wide diversity of size and type of house, locality, building materials used in construction and location.

It is important to ensure privacy and security while allowing the women to be identified if they wish. In accordance with their wishes some women have been identified by their actual names. Proud of their achievements, these women want to be identified. The right to confidentiality meant the use of pseudonyms in all drafts.

Each woman also had the right to veto use of her words or words about her. As stated in the preface, the location of the sites under consideration will not be disclosed. Several of the women were extremely concerned to protect their communities' privacy. Another concern was fear of coming to the attention of the authorities given that the majority of the dwellings described in this report were constructed without permits.