Housing and Feminism
Self Build Housing
Training and Technical
Shelter and Service
Planning and Design
Studies of Women's Self Build Housing
This project has successfully highlighted the experiences of women as self builders. The six participants who returned evaluation forms appeared to find the process positive and indicated only very minor refinement was required. The research program used in this project has proved appropriate to the topic and to the participants.
More information is needed however about women's self build housing; one research paper is never enough. Further research should attempt to expand the parameters of difference to include, for example, women of non-English speaking background and those with different physical capabilities.
This project focuses on the self build efforts of Australian women. There is ample scope to conduct a research project similar to this with women in other countries. In fact any of the approaches suggested below could be applied internationally.
It would be useful to have compiled data on men's experiences of self build housing to contrast with this study and to determine how issues are differently affected by gender, and which challenges are specific to women.
There is still scope to further develop the analysis of the data collected in this project. The outcome could also be improved by including more respondents and some fine tuning of the interview questions and other tools. The participant evaluations also need to be taken into account. The most common comment was that the interviews would be best conducted in the respondent's home and the researcher should visit the houses and meet the women.
This topic could be valuably extended into the direction of close participant observation. A suitably qualified researcher working with a group of women working on a self build housing project, would be in a good position to closely document such a project. This might be a longitudinal study which covered time-based issues, that followed participants from project inception to post-occupancy.
More data is needed to determine the incidence of women's self build housing. During this project it was found that there are chains of women who know another woman who has built herself a house. An interesting and useful project would be to follow these chains and compile a map of self build locations and frequencies. It may be that distinct regions could be found.
More accurate data on equity and the costs involved is needed to establish cost savings and advantages on a more substantial basis.
One of the issues brought into focus by this project has been that of community. How do community networks function? What sort of structures do they have? Are there defined roles and who fills them? One of the women involved in a group self build project who was the only single woman and the oldest woman told me that she was the secretary of her group and that the other members of the group saw her as a sort of mother figure. What is the significance of those comments.? The fact that she is a single woman could mean that she is perceived as having more time to commit to and to a traditionally female role.
The results of this project would be complimented by an exploration of the experiences of women educated within the built environment trades and professions. A comparison of the comments regarding perceptions of treatment by male members of this field would be a useful tool to gauge the extent of changes to education programs needed within these professions and trades.
The establishment of academic networks and compilation of resource archives would assist in developing the knowledge of women's participation in the shaping the built environment. Researchers can develop links with others in this area through the use of electronic media such as: e-mail, web sites, news groups and on-line conferences; as well as by the usual methods.
Further to these any exploration of the suggestions listed in the recommendations would also prove to be of interest within the topic of women's self build housing.