Housing and Feminism
Self Build Housing
Training and Technical
Shelter and Service
Planning and Design
Studies of Women's Self Build Housing
Planning and House Design
Most of the respondents had some form of assistance to design their house.
State housing authority architects were responsible for the design of all
houses in the state group self build program. None of these self builders
have any design input. One of the individual state housing authority self
builders had an architect friend design the house
"The state housing authority only allowed $400 for a draftsperson so
I put in extra from my own funds because I knew that I had to get this right
initially. I wanted passive solar."
Another woman said that she had some help from an architect initially but
went on to complete the design herself. This woman said she did lots and
lots of drawing to make sure she did things in the right order so as not
to have to do things more than once. She also said that most of the big
difficulties with designing came from problems with the original design
done by the architect. For one woman her form of design assistance was a
book on building.
The other four women designed their houses themselves. One said,
"I designed the house so I could do most of the work alone so ceiling
and some internal walls are timber and other internal walls are mudbrick."
This woman also said that she hired a draftsperson, who was recommended
by the state housing authority, to draw up her design so it would conform
to the building standards.
Only one self builder was not satisfied with the design. She said that as
she was not very confident she kept the design very simple. In retrospect
she felt the house would have been better if she had been more creative.
The same woman said that she had some difficulty designing the roof. She
was one of only two who found designing the house difficult.
Structural workings and other calculations were done for those houses which
were part of state housing authority programs by state housing authority
designers, or private consulting engineers. None of the privately funded
self build houses were subject to such scrutiny in the design phase. Respondents
reported that they consulted construction standards manuals, took advice
and made other decisions based on their own estimates.
As they were the only participants to apply for building approval only the
state housing authority supported self builders were subject to town planning
regulations. One of the other self builders was aware of the regulations
and decided to comply. The state housing authority group self builder said
that as she had no part in the design she was not aware whether the regulations
had been an influence. The other state housing authority self builders both
reported influence to aspects of their designs in the choice of sewerage
disposal system and types of cladding material.
None of the respondents reported any trouble with scaling or any "technical"
aspect. The only reported difficulty was with visualising the building.
This was attributed by one woman to the fact that she had never had the
chance to "do technical stuff" at school.
Both the privately funded individual self build women have since moved out
of the houses they built but report that the houses are still occupied.
One of the privately funded group self build women uses her house more as
a weekender now. She said that there are no jobs in the area and that she
could only live there if she were independently wealthy.
Two of the other women said that the house currently meets their needs and
that they expect that it will continue to do so. Another agreed that the
house met her needs with a small proviso that the only thing she still wanted
was a hot water service. The remaining self builder also said the house
currently met her needs but wasn't sure it would continue to do so. This
may relate to the fact that the state housing authority program homes are
all quite small.