Housing and Feminism
Self Build Housing
Training and Technical
Shelter and Service
Planning and Design
Studies of Women's Self Build Housing
Respondents reported that a wide range of building materials were available
to them. Once again however participants in the state housing authority
group self build project had regarding input to decisions about building
materials; participants in the individual self build program had restrictions
on the materials they were allowed to use.
"State housing authority said to use mudbrick, but not load bearing
mudbrick. Council said no cement sheet cladding or hardieplank and I had
to have a colourbond roof."
"Because I was on a sloping site and I cut into it, so used the overburden
to make mud bricks."
The other participants listed an amazing variety of useable building materials
from which they could choose including; materials from a house they demolished,
different forms of green or seasoned timber from the local saw mill, timber
from trees on site, tallowwood posts from on site, other timber, undressed,
undressable rock, mud bricks, sand from the river six miles away, bark,
bamboo and any other the usual store bought materials.
"We used the building materials from the house we demolished and that
was the first storey. Where we lived we could have built with stone but
wood was very easy to build with. For the second storey we used green timber
from the local saw mill. The old guy running the mill was great."
These participants reported a number reasons for the variety of materials
they considered using. The reasons given were: that the materials were from
what at that stage seemed a renewable source, other environmental reasons,
materials were freely or cheaply available, ease of construction, minimal
need for transport, and energy conservation.
"Wanted to use materials from the site to minimise need for transport.
So that meant using tallowwood poles for the frame, sawn hardwood roof structure
and floorboard seconds with corrugated iron sheet roofing. Initially weatherboard
cladding but then went on to use stone as an infill wall."
"I used wood in the end. There were dead mahogany on the site and I
had to burn them out. I used a cross cut saw to cut one ring barked dead
tree, then I cut lengths and split it with a sledge hammer and wedges to
make stumps. I bought timber for frame and floor. Made a few shingles for
the roof but didn't use them; I bought some instead."
None of the respondents had prior familiarity with the type of construction
they used for their house and only two had any theoretical knowledge which
they both described as limited or partial. One of the private community
builders says that she experimented with different material and used little
Women who were part of state housing authority programs were given booklets
to guide them in the building process which appears to have been very useful
in approaching the building process. The other women talked about drawing
and redrawing plans, and building simple sheds as ways of "getting
into" the process.