The £150 hobbit hole: Farmer builds a cosy cob home using materials he recycled from skips… and the tenant pays the rent in MILK

 

It looks like something straight out of Middle Earth – and the story behind it is almost as fantastical.

This cottage cost just £150 to build, using only natural or reclaimed materials, and is now rented out for a fee of fresh milk and cream.

And with no mains electricity, gas or water, the bills don’t come to much either.

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Cob house: Michael Buck built this house at the bottom of his garden for just £150 using natural or unwanted materials he found in skips

Cob house: Michael Buck built this house at the bottom of his garden for just £150 using natural or unwanted materials he found in skips

 

 
Interior: Mr Buck rescued the floorboards from a neighbour's skip and used the windscreen of an old lorry to create several of the home's windows

Interior: Mr Buck rescued the floorboards from a neighbour’s skip and used the windscreen of an old lorry to create several of the home’s windows

Inside: Although the cottage has no electricity it does have free running water from a nearby spring and walls painted with a chalk and plant resin mixture

Inside: Although the cottage has no electricity it does have free running water from a nearby spring and walls painted with a chalk and plant resin mixture

 

 

 

 
Homely: The cottage has a kitchen and dining area, along with a bunk-style bed to maximise space below

Homely: The cottage has a kitchen and dining area, along with a bunk-style bed to maximise space below

 

Smallholder Michael Buck spent eight months constructing the house using the ancient technique of  cob – building with a mixture of sand, clay, straw, water and earth. He taught himself the method by reading a book, even shaping the walls without a single power tool.

 

He also made the simple wooden roof frame and thatched it himself with straw from his fields. The 300 sq ft of floor space features floorboards rescued from a skip, while an old windscreen from a lorry provided glass for the windows.

With no central heating, you might think it would be a bit chilly, but he says the cob walls and thatched roof make it incredibly well insulated – and the ceiling is stuffed with sheep’s wool from a nearby farm to help keep the heat in further.

 
Resourceful: Mr Buck, pictured outside the cob house, said he wanted to challenge the notion that paying for a house should take a lifetime

Resourceful: Mr Buck, pictured outside the cob house, said he wanted to challenge the notion that paying for a house should take a lifetime

 

 
Thatched roof: Former art teacher Mr Buck taught himself how to thatch in order to create the cottage's intricate roof

Thatched roof: Former art teacher Mr Buck taught himself how to thatch in order to create the cottage’s intricate roof

 

 
Welcoming: Cob houses are built according to a method thought to date back to prehistoric times which uses only earth, clay and straw

Welcoming: Cob houses are built according to a method thought to date back to prehistoric times which uses only earth, clay and straw

 

 
Isolated: The cottage, situated in the Oxfordshire countryside, even has its own thatched outhouse complete with composting toilet

Isolated: The cottage, situated in the Oxfordshire countryside, even has its own thatched outhouse complete with composting toilet

 

There is also a woodburning stove, strategically placed beneath the mezzanine level double bed to ensure residents stay ‘nice and toasty’ at night, while candles and lanterns provide light.

The water supply is free as it comes from a diverted natural spring which gurgles out of a pipe outside, while the ‘natural’ fridge is a shallow well a few yards away from the front door and hidden from view by towering cow parsley.

The WC is a composting lavatory in a separate thatched outhouse with a panoramic view of the Oxfordshire countryside, and the ‘bathroom’ is a tin tub hanging on the wall outside which can be brought in and filled as needed.

 
Hard at work: Mr Buck spent two years gathering materials and contructing the house at the bottom of his garden

Hard at work: Mr Buck spent two years gathering materials and contructing the house at the bottom of his garden

 

 
Site: Mr Buck intended to build the cottage for no cost at all but after 'some things went wrong' he ended up spending £150 on it

Site: Mr Buck intended to build the cottage for no cost at all but after ‘some things went wrong’ he ended up spending £150 on it

 

 
Taking shape: Mr Buck said he wanted the house to 'fit in with the landscape rather than intrude upon it'

Taking shape: Mr Buck said he wanted the house to ‘fit in with the landscape rather than intrude upon it’

Development: The cottage is built from locally-sourced materials which, apart from the glass, are biodegradable, Mr Buck has said

Development: The cottage is built from locally-sourced materials which, apart from the glass, are biodegradable, Mr Buck has said

 

 

 

 
 
Mr Buck said that a house 'does not have to cost the Earth - you only need earth to build it'
The property boasts free running water from a nearby spring
 

Natural materials: Mr Buck said that a house ‘does not have to cost the Earth – you only need earth to build it’. The property boasts free running water from a nearby spring (right)

 

 

 
Retreat: The house features the names of all the people who helped in building it written on the wall, including three cows who provided the dung to help build the walls

Retreat: The house features the names of all the people who helped in building it written on the wall, including three cows who provided the dung to help build the walls

 

 
Return to where it came from: Mr Buck says while the house could last forever with proper maintenance, it could also one day disappear back into the Earth if it was left

Return to where it came from: Mr Buck says while the house could last forever with proper maintenance, it could also one day disappear back into the Earth if it was left

 

 
Tradition: English cob was traditionally made by mixing a clay-based subsoil with sand, straw and water before using oxen to trample it

Tradition: English cob was traditionally made by mixing a clay-based subsoil with sand, straw and water before using oxen to trample it

 

Despite the somewhat Spartan arrangements, Mr Buck is renting out the unusual property. But there isn’t a hobbit in sight – and the current tenant is a worker on a neighbouring dairy farm who pays for her lodgings in milk and cream. Cooking can be done on the woodburner, but she has installed a small gas stove in the kitchenette.

Yesterday father of three Mr Buck, 59, who lives in a more conventional home nearby with wife Sheila, 57, said: ‘I wanted to show that houses don’t have to cost anything. We live in a society where we spend our lives paying our mortgages, which many people don’t enjoy.’

Mr Buck originally aimed to build the house for nothing, but miscalculated the amount of straw needed so had to buy more. He also had to buy nails to keep the thatch attached. Friends pitched in to help with the build and their names are written on the wall, along with the names of three cows – Marigold, Crystal and Mist – whose dung was used to make plaster.

Mr Buck, a former art teacher, drew the plans for the house on the back of an envelope and did not need planning permission as it was classed as a summer house.

 
Heat is provided by a wood-burning stove - and thanks to the cob walls and thatched roof the house is surprisingly well-insulated
Mr Buck carried a 10ft wide bundle of reeds draped across his back on foot to avoid racking up a carbon footprint
 

Homely: Heat is provided by a wood-burning stove – and thanks to the cob walls and thatched roof the house is surprisingly well-insulated

 

 
Achievement: Mr Buck said he wanted to challenge the idea that people had to 'spend their whole lives paying off their mortgage doing something they don't enjoy'

Achievement: Mr Buck said he wanted to challenge the idea that people had to ‘spend their whole lives paying off their mortgage doing something they don’t enjoy’

 

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~ by cloudslikemountains on November 26, 2013.

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