Meet The (Often Muddy) Owners Of This Website

Hi, I'm Tom...

Tom sitting in the doorway of a cob building
That's me sitting in the doorway of our cob building named Henry

...and this crazy chick is my wife Shaye.

shaye dancing like an egyptian
Shaye doing what she does best

If you've had a decent look at our website then you might have noticed that we spend quite a bit of time covered from head to toe in clay! This isn't a lack of personal hygiene or some crazy beauty treatment. Rather, it's because we have fallen deeply in love with sustainable building.

And luckily for us big kids, that often involves playing in the mud! :)

 

How We Got Into This Mess

I have always been a DIY kinda guy. I have a logical, engineering brain and I like to get my hands dirty by doing something practical. It's how I learn best.

Shaye on the other hand, is a more right-brained creative type who comes from an arty family. Her sisters and her mum are all artists and talented designers. They just know how to make stuff look good.

Shaye's parents also used to own a building company in Zimbabwe and since moving to New Zealand have built a number of houses.

So with that combination of influences it is no surprise that Shaye has always been interested in beautiful houses!

That's why, when it was Shaye's birthday a few years back, I was looking on Amazon for some books that might be of interest to her. I found a book called The Hand Sculpted House. I knew instantly that it would be perfect for her (and me).


The perfect birthday
present for us :)

As soon as the book arrived we both devoured it over the weekend. We were completely blown away by these houses. How was it possible that this type of building wasn't more common in New Zealand.

It seemed that from whichever angle you look at it, natural homes seem to be better than the typical New Zealand timber frame homes that we saw around us.

They're...

  • Warmer and more comfortable.
  • Exquisitely beautiful
  • Potentially less expensive
  • Safer and non-toxic
  • Longer lasting

And most importantly, they are DIY friendly!

We were instantly hooked and knew that we would eventually build (with our own four hands) our own beautiful, high quality house that wouldn't cost us a fortune.

 

Our Building Journey Begins

It seemed like a monstrous task, learning how to build our own house. So we started by sinking our teeth into something small.

A cob pizza oven seemed like the perfect project to get our hands (and feet) dirty with. It allowed us to get a feel for what cob is like. It confirmed our love of pizza. And most importantly, it gave us the confidence to tackle bigger and bolder projects. Like...

And that's how we have progressed. We take on projects, go to workshops, read books, watch video's, talk to people. All the information we could ever need about building our own home is out there waiting for us. We just need to find it and apply it.

 

Our Deepest Desire

Sure, it's gonna be cool to have our own house at the end of this process. But there's something behind the scenes which is actually more important.

It's called community.

Throughout history people have built houses with the help of the community. In New Zealand, and I'm sure other places too, that style of building is almost gone.

It is generally accepted that if you want a house, you have to pay tradesmen to build it for you. It costs MEGA bucks, excludes you from the process, and is only built to meet code (i.e., minimum standard for human habitation)

Doing it yourself, on the other hand, is completely different. It costs less, is better quality and all those things I mentioned earlier. But the most amazing thing is that it builds community. All kinds of help comes out of the woodwork once you begin.

We have had so much fun building with friends and family (and complete strangers) who just want to connect and help and learn.

People email us all the time asking if they can help us build our house.

Many of the owner built houses we've visited were completed with the help of friends.

Community!

The purpose of this website is to open your eyes to the possibilities that are out there.

To give you the confidence to jump in and start your own DIY house building project.

To build community.