I Quit The City To Build My Hobbit House | HOMES ON THE EDGE
KRIS HARBOUR: I think the building is made out of about 80 to maybe even 90% of either natural, recycled and found materials. INTERVIEWER: Have you ever built a house before? KRIS HARBOUR: No, no. I have worked on building sites in my old job and seen modern construction quite a lot. But I had never built a timber framed house or anything like that. KRIS HARBOUR: I decided that I was going to buy a piece of land. I didn’t know what bit of land or how big it was going to be. I found this bit of land on eBay, surprisingly. I didn’t know what I was going to build because the main thing about what I am doing here is not deciding what you want and then putting it there, but it’s deciding what you need and then what resources do you have around you to use. So, the buildings that arise out of this land will be in shapes and forms that are dictated from what resources I have. KRIS HARBOUR: The method I used to build it is called cobwood or cordwood or stackwood – it has a few different names. The mortar that’s binding it all together is called cob. It’s clay, sand and straw mixed together and it doesn’t really cost anything at all. I think there is something like seven tons of it in this building and it was all mixed with my feet. So, you just kind of stomp on it with your feet until it’s all mixed in. The turf roof is a nice characteristic. It makes it blend into the woodland. I like the fact that if you’re maybe 50 meters away, you can’t even see it. KRIS HARBOUR: The windows came out of my mum’s next door neighbour’s house. They were having their double glazing changed and I took the window units because they were going to go in the skip. KRIS HARBOUR: So the back window, I found down an alleyway. It’s a fridge door like a glass-fronted fridge door and I sort of found it. I thought that will probably come in good use for the house and it ended up the back window. KRIS HARBOUR: Most of the cost was things like bits of pipe and sort of the roofliner and stuff. I think maybe total cost is about £3,500-4000, something like that. Yeah, this is my house where I live. It’s pretty comfy. KRIS HARBOUR: It has all the modern things that a normal house has really. I have fresh running water from a spring, just up the hill. I have normal plug sockets like in a normal house with 240 volt supply which is, goes through an inverter in the shed. Each roof joist rests on the one before it. So it ends up in a spiral pattern, it’s self-supporting. Yesterday, I left the door open in the evening and I think a bat got in here somewhere. So I was woken up at 4 o’clock in the morning with a bat flying around. KRIS HARBOUR: I am supplying my own electricity, water. I have solar power out on the slope out there and I have a hydroelectric system which is generating power from the water in the little streams here. So yeah the sun is going down now and the solar is not making much power. My friend Hannah is coming over so I am going to turn the hydroelectric on and that will power everything throughout the night. KRIS HARBOUR: The water comes along from up the hill, all the way up there, down this length of pipe has about 26 PSI pressure. Its got itself a nozzle about 30 feet a second; enough to probably take the skin of your hand if you touched it. It is quite powerful. KRIS HARBOUR: I had a fairly normal life in London, normal day job, got up, went to work, socialised on the weekends. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to do all the different things I wanted to do. The idea of working for like, two-thirds of your life and having very little time to socialise and do hobbies and things, it just doesn’t sit right. KRIS HARBOUR: All the bills, there’s mortgages, electric, water, internet, TV licenses, insurances, I dunno. I earned good money but everything just went, everyone had their hand in my pocket until there was nothing left. KRIS HARBOUR: I did have a girlfriend at that time. The building process and the moving process of it all, I think, was a big contributor to, to us separating. We kind of, went our separate ways just before I moved here permanently. I thought I was going to be doing this with a partner but I ended up moving here on my own. KRIS HARBOUR: When I was in the tent for like a month on my own, it was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Looking back at it now, it doesn’t seem that bad. But I remember the time when it was pretty bad. Yeah, lots of times I just thought what am I doing, basically. Yeah! I am quite proud of it. When I first moved here, there was nothing here. It was just an open field that’s been grazed on and I am slowly improving it. And even though I don’t earn much now, I probably have more money now than I did then. My outgoings here are very low. I have very few bills. So I don’t really have the stresses of having to wake up and earn a certain amount of money. KRIS HARBOUR: So I do have an internet connection but it is wireless. That is the only connection I have really to other infrastructure. Don’t think I’d want to live without internet, its so useful educationally. KRIS HARBOUR: Once I built the house I needed to build the little workshop to move my tools. KRIS HARBOUR: I have more power than I actually need for the most part. I have a little device here, which I can check to see how much power I have got at any one point. I did most of the building alone. I probably did 80% of it alone I think. If I get help from volunteers, my friend Hannah, she helps quite a lot, my girlfriend has been helping too. Yeah, I get often lots of help. People are quite happy to come and volunteer. KRIS HARBOUR: I met Dot online on a dating website. Because I moved here, I didn’t really know anyone so that was really my only thing to do and it is pretty hard to meet people when you are in a field. DOT BERE: When I was going through Tinder and I saw that Chris was building this house I was just really intrigued. I thought it was something completely different and I couldn’t believe that it was something that was actually quite close to where I live. KRIS HARBOUR: It’s quite a new relationship with Dot. We are getting on really well and she seems to enjoy staying here. DOT BERE: Yeah, since then I have helped to build the toilet, the new toilet and that’s about it really. KRIS HARBOUR: It still hasn’t got a door, which is actually the only thing she requested. But the door will come next. KRIS HARBOUR: This house is kind of designed to last probably around 20 years with minimum maintenance. It can last a lot longer than that with quite major maintenance. But it’s not built to last forever. KRIS HARBOUR: I wanted to be able to live on the piece of land for a number of years before I did major works of like, building another house. Because I wanted to see how the land reacted through different seasons. So I knew when I build the house that will hopefully be the house I live in for rest of my life, I will know that it’s in the right place. I didn’t put those considerations in to this place. Because this is not as important but while I live in this place here, I can monitor the land and I can decide where I want to build the house. KRIS HARBOUR: My life is hundreds of times richer now. I feel more fulfilled and happier than I have ever been before. I was talking to someone about like, nostalgic kind of looking back at what age would you go back to if, you know, if you go back to any age and I thought, well, I probably wouldn’t go back not even a month. I wouldn’t want to go back far so where I didn’t meet Dot yet. So, yeah! Right now I am kind of the happiest I have ever been.