Thursday, 10 October 2013

Back to the barns!

Or would not tents be
the cheaper alternative?

Daily Mail: The Grand Designs house for first time buyers:
How you can get on the property ladder with a £41,000
three bedroom home

I know, Mr Neo and Mrs Lib are governing us. Clever is he who rips off his counterpart the best while best is calculated in buckets of Sterling, bags of Euro or piles of Greenbacks in our days and counterparts are regularly called customers, clients, often idiots and stupid.

I respect Kevin McCloud; he, his Grand Design programme has become a brand name, is the one who is trying to demonstrate that there are many different ways to build your home and dwell in a spectacular one-off or an ambitious dream home.

It is he who shows the nation that there is this opportunity of a self-build market against all the construction industry’s hard trial to channel the majority of all house buyers towards its shelves; readily available new builds, built while cutting all possible corners to reinforce margins, often part of soon-to-look-like-slums sleeping estates, where estate is too grand a word; one or two metre distance between the houses, bedroom three, four and possibly five being wardrobe-sized, the two designs, three colours, four shapes and five layouts so similar that I would need to raise a bespoke flag to find the one my family lived in cooped up in between cheapest wooden fences.

The industry claims UK house buyers would not want anything else but what it makes available; I doubt that.

But I also doubt that Kevin McCloud should use his name and brand for the described farmyard type barns; those poor and pity constructions are definitely not what we should aim for:

'We set ourselves the challenge of getting under the magic £50,000 and making sure that what came out the other side would be something we'd really want to live in, be really beautiful and not just more shoe boxes.'

The Barnhaus steel frame is lined internally with lots of insulation - straw bales being most cost effective - and doors and windows are added at either end.

Beautiful? ... not a shoebox? Give me a break!

Straw bales being most cost effective ... compared to what? To avoiding any need for any insulation or to living in a cave? Of all materials straw is probably one of the most complicated to deal with in reference to λ- and U-values, durability, fire resistance, etc. pp. Cost effective bales?! Another break, please.

I would have thought we finally have arrived at a point where designing, constructing and delivering any home would at least touch the subject of energy efficiency, durability, comfort and health? The article takes long and rather funny detours to avoid such basics:

Architect Ed Green came up with the award-winning design which gives buyers the 'skeleton' of a house, and allows them to adapt the original framework to their taste
The home, which is bigger than many modern new-build houses, will give first-time buyers the chance to build their own 'Grand Designs' home at a fraction of the cost.

Typically first homes under £90,000 will get a much smaller space to a 'substandard design', the winning architect claimed.

Is this some kind of April fools' joke? A substandard design replaced with a farmyard barn box? But it gets even better:

Pretty much the whole house could be built by a relatively unskilled person - except for the electrics.

Well, there is the real difference to the normal construction industry's approach; while it also uses relatively unskilled persons but charges an arm and a leg the self-barn-builder can build and finish his barn without going into any great detail, not to mention know-how, as to plumbing, heating, ventilation, tiling, windows, roof and foundation, thermal bridging, U-values, air changes and what not! Progress! Superb? The remains of British construction industry should turn pale.

Would climbing the property ladder starting from a substandard designed and built farmyard barn really work?

'And you can go on eBay and buy a steel barn frame the size of a family home for around £2,500.

Good luck, this is the next best solution to living in a tent; but then may be living in a cave would make more sense! It would definitely be more cost effective.

Carpe diem!