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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

All of the case studies presented in this report illustrate one underlying fact. Whether funding is from a public or private source, whether building is seen as an individual or group effort, the creation of any house remains bound up in the activities of all sectors of society: state, market and community.

This is true for Marion who's friends helped out at mud brick making parties, who hired an architect to draw her plans, who was a participant in a state run self build program. It is true for Tashe, who paid a blacksmith to make the ring for her skylight, who built in a women's community, who saved money from her dole to buy construction materials.

This section of the report will look at what each sector can do to support women who take the self build option.

Community sector

Women can organise and offer each other enormous support. Strategies to assist women who want to take the self build option include:

Establish a local organisation to connect women who have built with those who want to. These can then be linked to share information and develop services. Services can be provided through local community providores, for example a short course on house framing could be run through the local Skillshare, energy efficient design could be a night course at the adult education facility. The organisation could compile lists of local trades people who were supportive, or a list of trade suppliers offering good service.

Women who have successfully built houses can organise public meetings to speak on building for women, or run workshops on getting your plans through council, or making good use of local resources to make your building more environmentaly sound.

Women's organisations generally can offer support groups to promote confidence development and build self esteem.

State Sector

Women can receive increased support in their endeavours from all levels of government, in terms of direct housing service provision and indirectly from other areas.

Municipal bodies need to make themselves approachable and relevant. They can make their permit procedures transparent and offer full information on these processes. More flexibility around the issues of dual and multiple occupancy is needed. Provision should be made to waive permit fees for those in financial hardship.

Local councils are well placed to conduct short educational programs on locally appropriate building practices. These can be taught in a way appropriate to women. This may mean, for example, using plain English instead of technical jargon, and starting at a very basic level such as using hand tools.

Self-help programs that are initiated and controlled by the state need to be revised in the light of this report. Time frames for construction that assume the labour input of a couple or even a single man need to be revised to take account of the fact that a single women or women with familial commitments may have less time to contribute.

They also need specific changes to programs allowing women to build within their own communities thus protecting the integrity of support networks. Further change is needed to allow more flexibility in the design of houses, larger homes and more choice about material for construction.

Strategies need to be identified to give women greater access to land within their local communities.

Education in building and technical subjects, needs to be opened up to women. State education providers should develop specific courses, taught by and marketed towards women. Intervention is needed at pre school, primary and secondary schools to counter the spread of stereotypes that promote building as an occupation for men only.

Steps can be taken to direct employment development funds towards attracting more women into non traditional areas. This is imperative in rural areas.

Market sector

It is up to all people to demand that those involved in this sector become and remains good corporate citizens. Businesses should adopt ethical behaviour and work to change the culture of opportunism and short term profit attainment some would say is typical of this sector.

The financial sector should develop products that reflect women's needs. Too often women are seen as a bad risk because they are women. Alternative financiers such as credit co-operatives have a large growing market just waiting to hear from them. More can be done to promote alternative financial service providers.

Building industry associations could run education campaigns to raise awareness in members on issues such as avoiding stereotyping, and basic skills such as listening and negotiating. Incentives such as awards can be introduced to promote standards of excellence in service.

Programs to attract women into built environment trades and professions could be established.

Professional associations such as Royal Australian Institute of Architects could conduct general community education campaigns on site and house design for energy saving, bush fire safety, etc.. They could also establish community technical aid centres for low cost or free technical available in conjunction with normal fee for service work.