Housing and Feminism
Self Build Housing
Training and Technical
Shelter and Service
Planning and Design
Studies of Women's Self Build Housing
Again in this section most of the issues do not apply to participants in
the group self build project as the state housing authority balloted the
blocks with a predetermined plan to the group members. For the duration
of this section no specific reference will be made to this category of builder.
All respondents indicated that the cost of the land was a factor in choosing
their particular block. When asked about how they found their building block
all respondents had a interesting story to relate. Both of the state housing
authority individual self builders reported that finding a block was difficult.
There were restrictions on location and price. On top of the other restrictions
a time limit was placed on the length of time allowed to find a suitable
block. One woman said that blocks were inadequately mark and that it was
hard to know just what you were looking at.
"First they restricted the amount you spent on land, then the
distance from the major capital you could live, then they gave you three
months to find a block, by luck I found this one that I liked at the last
minute. I felt it was fate."
For the other women it seemed to be a similar story of looking and luck,
but without the pressure of time restrictions.
"I was visiting for a local festival, and thought the area would be
a good place to live."
"It had to be remote. I had the 'back to the land', self sufficiency
dream. Found the place by accident, I drove around looking at nice places,
The decision to settle on a particular appears to have come down to personal
preference. Issues of privacy, feeling some sort of connection to the place,
views, availability of water year round, weather patterns, the cost of building
on the block, and the cost of the block and advice from the state housing
"I wanted privacy when I built and this 1.5 acre bush block gave it.
The chap next door knew my uncle and then him being there to point it out
made me feel I was meant to have it. This was the only block that I felt
linked to. There were time restrictions so I had pressure to get a block
ASAP or I'd lose my place in the scheme, time was running out!"
"The actual house site we chose because of the views. In our ignorance
we picked the worst spot for fires."
Of the two state housing authority self build scheme women only one had
trouble acquiring her chosen site. This difficulty arose from the fact that
the state housing authority adviser recommended against the site on the
grounds that too much clearing and excavation would be required and that
this was an unnecessary expense. The respondent said she argued hard and
fast in favour of the site. Both of the privately funded self build groups
had similar stories about how they had formed a group to raise funds and
buy the land. The main difference seemed to be that one group used vendor
finance and the other raised all the funds without the support of a financial
"A random collection of women's movement women, mostly lesbians, bought
the land. The group assembled by word of mouth."
None of the state housing authority supported women were faced with any
statutory restrictions on using this site for housing. All of the women
reported that if there we any restrictions they ignored them. One woman
was concerned to protect her neighbours from the building inspector.
"None of the builders in this community sought building approval. We
wanted building approval but we thought that applying would jeopardise other
people nearby so we didn't apply."
The issue of building several houses on one block was raised several times
during the interviews. Generally it seems that getting a multiple occupancy
permit was not possible when these communities were established. Consequently
building proceeded without permits. The respondents indicated that they
have mostly attempted to conform to building standards even though they
have chosen to ignore the requirement for building permits. The prohibitive
cost was also mentioned as a reason for not applying for building permits.