honeysuckle cottage Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith

Whether you build your own home or are asking someone to build it for you, there are alternative methods to concrete and bricks. You can buy materials from Green Building Store and GreenSpec.

Building with Straw Bales is by England’s top expert (a woman!) showing how to build these naturally-insulated and very cheap homes. Yet our waste hay is burned creating carbon emissions, when it could easily be used to build thousands of quick affordable homes. Green Home Building is a comprehensive overview of all natural homes.

Good for all homes is Radflek, an update on ‘foil behind the radiator’ to help reflect heat back into the room, lasting 60 years thanks to a laminate coating. Easy to install, just clean with a damp cloth now and then, and use sticky hooks to fasten in tricky places. Read their faq for safety/installation. Oil-powered radiators are safer than convector heaters (that can also overheat old people and dogs).

tiny home inspiration from Nantucket

Nantucket Dolceloca

You’ve likely heard of the ‘tiny home’ movement, where people buy outright homes on wheels around the size of a garage, then with good design live a fairly nice life, without being slave to huge mortgages etc. Sounds like a good idea, but the caveat is they have to be designed well to work for a nice quality of life.

It’s important to only choose pet-safe indoor plants if you live with animals. Even brushing a tail against a lily or sago palm can harm. Learn pet-toxic plants to avoid. And don’t face indoor foliage to outdoor gardens, to help stop birds flying into windows.

The island of Nantucket (near Cape Cod in New England) is expert in tiny homes. To be fair, these were first built for affordability but now (like our beach huts) are silly prices. But good inspiration all the same, on what’s possible to build and design, in a small space. Check out this tiny home for inspiration.

how to build your own shed

How to Build a Shed is a guide for DIY fans who would prefer to build their own shed, rather than buy one ready-made from B & Q. The ultimate guide to creating a garden retreat, man-cave or she-shed, this book helps you create an off-the-shelf shed, rather than cheap ready-made ones that are often badly made, freezing cold and fall apart within a few years. And expensive ones are – well, really expensive!

If knocking down old sheds, always check for wildlife (foxes make dens underneath, bats and hedgehogs hibernate in winter). Also check hoglets have left home (at least 8 weeks after giving birth which can be anytime from spring to July). Canadian Lifetime Wood Treatment is a nontoxic alternative to Creosote, you can buy in UK

What if you could build your own shed from scratch? Obviously you need to be fairly good at DIY. But if you are, this book contains the plans for those with the skills to create a retreat that is as stylish and well-made as a posh shed, but for a fraction of the price.

With clear easy instructions, expert advice and specially commissioned illustrations, this book will help you source materials, choose the right tools and build your dream shed on a budget. You can also buy a similar book on how to build a treehouse, by a professional builder who has built over 160 treehouses.

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