Prejudices and housing: The shack | Brussels Blog

Prejudices and housing: The shack

posted by on 27th Jan 2016

This was originally part of “Prejudices and Housing” from July 2012.
Now renamed Prejudices and housing: Terraced streets and slums

See also A shock for the housing market

Daily Mail readers give shacks their blessing

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

There have been two items in the Daily Mail, which show how, in the right light, prejudices against non-conventional housing are not always triggered. The first is :

Our £3,000 Hobbit house: The family home dug from a hillside and built with scraps scavenged from skips.

Although not a model for mass housing, it is interesting:

Fed up with huge mortgage payments, Simon Dale decided to take matters into his own hands – literally.

Armed with only a chisel, a chainsaw and a hammer, the 32-year-old moved his family to a hillside in Wales and started digging.

The result is a wooden eco-home – constructed in four months and costing just £3,000 – which would look perfectly at ease alongside the Hobbit houses in The Lord Of The Rings.

What is really interesting is the rating of the comments following the piece. The two best rated comments:

Rating +2189: “Wow! This is amazing! Well done you two! I would love to live in a house like this, you should be extremely proud of this wonderful home!”

Rating +1436: “I think this is so cool. I would love a Hobbit house. Such an adorable family too.”

The worst rated comment are these :

Rating -917: “Dale Farm gets evicted and this bloke is celebrated. Unbelievable hypocricy. If Dale Farm should go, so should this! Get a grip!”

Rating -852: “Worse than Dale Farm, TEAR IT DOWN.”

Those Daily Mail readers that rated the comments on this story were clearly very supportive of this unconventional development. Simon Dale has some interesting observations on the planning system :

The value of houses is related not primarily to the cost of their construction but to the permission to use that land for residential use. A quarter acre of an agricultural field might here be worth £1000. As soon as permission is granted for change of use to a residential building plot it becomes worth £100,000. So that puts £99,000 extra onto our national balance sheet, which the new homeowner is expected to pay off. Paying off this mortgage may well take the owner their entire working life and severely restricts their scope to live a simple and sustainable life.

The next Daily Mail piece is:

Who needs a mortgage? Couple’s ultimate downsize from a 2,500 sq ft home to a shotgun shack:

Two years ago, the Jordan family lived in a large, four-bedroom house on an acre-and-a-half of land.

When Gary Jordan lost his job as manager of a construction company, the couple had to take on cleaning jobs and other work just to make the mortgage payments.

Now they live, work and school their child in a shotgun 320-square-foot shack they custom built.They pay no mortgage, they have few belongings, they spend more time with their son and they are happy.

Their house cost them less than $20,000 to make their home and they only pay $145 rent for the lot on which their shack and workshop stands.

$20,000 (£14,000) is less than half the income of an average family in the UK. For the two best rated comments the Daily Mail reactions were:

Rating +256: “I have to say that there is an aspect to this no nonsense, no frills and simple lifestyle that is very appealing. Even if reading this and watching this doesn’t cause people to go out and simplify their lives, perhaps it will serve as a reminder that we don’t always need clutter and over-complicate our lives, nor should we always feel compelled to try and ‘keep up with the Jones” and work so hard we never get to see our children. Let’s all slow down a bit and smell the roses. Great story and best of luck to you. Wish I had the website for the children’s products.”

Rating +205: “That’s what I was thinking, too. Downsize and drop the rat-race.”

The worst rated two were:

Rating -114: “This is Phase One of a new Trailer Park with all the conatations that go with it. ……..Two people in America make bad investment…… unable to pay their debts,……. get smaller house …. NEWS,? … .don’t think so.”

Rating -29: “To me it seems more like an advert for the building company named on the video.”

Again the Daily Mail readers are supportive of this unconventional approach to housing.

Why stop people living cheaply?

Short answer: prejudice.

Longer answer: Watch this space.

Hashtags: #TheHousingRacket


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