Episode 40: Hobbit House by Simon Dale

Simon Dale and Jasmine Saville have inspired worldwide media interest in their self-built Hobbit houses.

Simon Dale and Jasmine Saville have inspired worldwide media interest in their self-built homes. People like to call them Hobbit Houses. Simon now lives with his family in the Lammas ecoVillage in Pembrokshire, Wales. You can see Simon's Woodland House on his website. This Hobbit house was built by Simon and his father in law with help from passers by and visiting friends. 4 months after starting the family moved in. The house took about 1,500 man hours and cost £3,000. Simon and Jasmine's hobbit homes, built from natural and recycled materials are an affordable answer to the soaring cost of houses.

See more of their building techniques and listen to more of their philosophy in "Lammas" - the fascinating Living in the Future documentary which documents the ecovillage in Wales where they have made their new hobbit house. Click here to watch the documentary.

Hobbit House Transcript

I think I grew up when it was all about the ozone hole and things like that and it's quite obviously apparent that the way every respected expert say we need to do things and the way we are doing things don't match up. And I also knew that I really loved being outside and being with my friends and doing things like that. Somebody gave me a copy of a book called Shelter which is a fantastic book it's a scrapbook of people's shelters that they've provided for themselves. And it covers lots of indigenous shelters and ways of shelter and it also covers a lot of contemporary shacks and huts and self-built homes. As well as showing the practicality of it, it shows something of the joy and the creativity of it. My first attempt at building was just before we had our first child. It was a round straw bale house. On stilts, on a platform, in the woods. It took us about two months to move in and cost us about £2-3,000.
We did it again when we built this house which has become known as the Hobbit House. Again, using straw bales, dug into the hillside a bit. This time with a turf roof over the top. And using this spiral reciprocal roof pattern which is a lovely, easy thing to construct and very functional as well. We put a few photos up on the internet to show to some friends of ours who'd helped with the build. And somebody happened to blog them and pass them on to somebody else who blogged them as well and before we knew it we had lots of people on the phone and loads of people were looking at it.
What seems to happen if you get a major article is that all the other news agencies and publications around the world instantly ring you for the same story. It has happened to us before and we are prone to ignore it but we felt at the moment, for some reason it's inspiring people, so it's a good time to take up the opportunity. So there was channel 5 news, London Metro, Dublin Metro. We had a few photo agencies. Daily Express, Radio Dublin. And then yahoo and msn and google news put it on their front page. And so that made a million more phone calls come.
"We are looking for people from all different backgrounds and through several age brackets. I came across you in the article that was in the Metro yesterday. And I wondered if this is something that would be of interest to you. If you'd like to have a think about it. We've been in over a hundred things like that now."
They don't generally pay. We don't bother to make a hard line with it because we just can't be bothered really. It's really humbling and amazing that we hear from so many people from London stockbrokers to North American Indians from all around the world who can really associate with that. And I think that's really telling. There's something there, some link to something which is within us. I suppose it's a desire to live a simple life. And also the fact that it got connected with the Hobbit thing which was never our intention in the first place. I think that's probably reflecting the same sort of thing. Because that's what Tolkien was portraying there: humans living in a simple and honest sort of way.