During our visits to Belarus Dave and I noticed some of their wooden houses had numbers chalked on each log. We asked what this meant and were informed that some people move house – literally by taking their homes apart, and re-siting them somewhere else. This gave us an idea. Why not take one apart and bring the log walls to the UK to provide cheap recycled housing structures over here?
Many wooden houses are abandoned in villages and just left to rot, others are sold for firewood in Belarus. Some have ornate hand-carved decorations around windows and eaves, which we would like to preserve. They can be clad in wood or left to show their original logs. The average size of the logs is 12 metres by 6 metres which is roughly the size of a 2 bedroom bungalow.
We would like to re-use their walls in the UK to provide affordable housing (windows, roof and internal structures sources in the UK and in line with UK planning/building control standards), and have started our Recycled Wooden Log House Project.
We’ve checked with the Forestry Commission and HM Revenue and Customs – no problems there (or tax to pay as the wood is not new).
We’ve sourced 2 possible companies that would deliver them to Exeter (or anywhere in the UK) on lorries, but we would be interested in cheaper/more sustainable forms of transport if possible. We made contact with a Belarussian carpenter who builds these houses by hand and understands their construction/adaptation.
We’re now looking for a piece of land ideally in a rural location to test out the concept and self-build it or someone who would like to have one built on their land, that they can buy from us or we could co-build. It would be perfect if we could do this locally, within 10 miles of Exeter, Devon, but we are flexible.
We plan to make the house as environmentally friendly as possible, for example, really well insulated, and using rainwater harvesting and re-use where possible.
Our long term vision is for a community of house-dwellers on a piece of land (ideally rural/semi-rural) that is owned by a Community Land Trust or bought by a group of us and parcelled out.
If you would like to be involved in this exciting project contact Gill and Dave Smith on 01392 823769. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.