Make your own free website on
Cover page

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

Tashe is part of a separatist women's community in a remote rural area.

For Tashe the only option for finding the funds to buy a site was saving a little each fortnight out of her unemployment benefit, this was also how she funded construction of her house. Home purchase was not an option for Tashe, not only that she had no deposit but she didn't want to be "tied down for life with a huge debt", and also that "there were no houses on the land [the coop] wanted to buy".

Self build proved to be a cheaper option than buying in any respect. As Tashe said, there was "no loan, no labour costs, no mortgage, and no debt." Self build has given Tashe a 100% equity in her home.

It was 1982 when Tashe decided to build her house, but it took another two years before she could start. The total construction time was six months. Tashe said there were not really any timing issues for her. "I wasn't in a hurry , I had no schedule." The process did take longer than she thought "though [she] didn't really have a plan that it would take me X amount of months".

The construction progressed something like this.

1 week
Dig stump holes built on a hill and some holes were 3 foot (approx. 1m) deep in solid clay)
2 weeks
Split stumps with a sledge hammer and wedge from very big dead old trees.
Put stumps in
1 week
Lay floors
1 week
Put up walls
2 weeks
Frame roof (very complicated)
4 weeks Shingle roof (very fiddly putting flat shingles on a round roof)
8 weeks
Cladding walls (experimented with many building materials -bark, bamboo, etc. finally settled on weatherboards put on vertically.

Tashe described an average day working on her house like this,

"Got up, lit the campfire and made breakfast, ate, cleaned up... Then walked up the hill with my tools and started work. Sometimes other women would show up and offer to help -sometimes not. Work till lunch, have an hour break...then back to work till dinner time."

The best and the worst of Building...
The best..The Worst...
Seeing it all come together and work out really well. Trying to put rectangular, flat, shingles onto a conical roof, took so long. I had to build a little ladder that hooked into the roof, and nail some on then when I'd move some would crack as the load on the roof changed.

Tashe told this interesting story that sums up attitudes she encountered building her house. "When I was a taxi driver in Sydney a lot of people wouldn't know if I was a man or woman. If they thought I was an 18 year old boy they would say 'Good on you mate'. If they thought I was a 25 year old woman they would start to question it and start undermining it and say 'who's going to help you do that', and 'you wont be strong enough' and 'you'll need a lot of help', and 'bet you don't know much about building' and stuff like that. Those three years of taxi driving were an education for me. Before that I don't think I was particularly a feminist, but having people treat me both ways made me so aware of the difference, the different ways they treat me."

The case studies presented here contain photographs, illustrations and quoted material that is subject to copyright. Excerpts have been reproduced here with consent of the copyright holder.