Definition of a Homebuilt House
September 20, 2012
Working excerpt taken from: HOME-BUILT HOUSE: Shelter for an Uncertain World, ISBN 978 09762741 7 9 (See PrePub Pitch here)
A homebuilt house is the product of a self-determined hands-on process, assembled from a unique collection of accidental materials, installed intuitively with inventive details that accommodate uncommon combinations of salvaged scrap. The house evolves slowly on otherwise unusable land with no preconceived plan, little if any money, and no political or stylistic obligations. What we see as a result is an innate human determination to create shelter, stripped of the restrictions of codes, standards, and commonly held practices.
This is a piece-based construction model built in real time, a uniquely human structure, unplanned and unregulated, the antithesis of the pretense and excess of consumptive practices. Fundamentally sustainable because of the absence of superfluous ideals, its lessons suggest an instinctive approach to construction without stylistic constraints.
As such, homebuilt houses share a richly impoverished vernacular, one that holds lessons for builders who practice in a more privileged but equally uncertain world. Obviously, this begins with the random and unpredictable nature of its materials. In this construction, available resources dictate both design and process. As accidental discoveries, materials and tools are form-givers, repurposed according to an instinctive logic, tentatively applied to resolve an immediate need, leaving the outcome unfinished and constantly evolving.
Most important, this is architecture in motion, emerging from its uncertain context like reconstructible sculpture, morphing according to new needs and opportunities, conforming to the essentials of each moment in a constant struggle for relevance and survival.