Sunday, 26 October 2008

The future of housing

I was just casually reading the 'filler' bit of this weekend's Observer when I chanced upon an article about ecological housing. I know that this kind of thing gets done all the time in fancy showrooms or is organised by well paid architects. Eco-homes are always one-off concepts which never make it out into real life. This newspaper article proposed real-life eco homes which actually work and aren't just the result of someone's unchecked imagination. One which caught my eye was this Eco-Hab (link in the title) which was ugly as hell but looked... feasible. Upon further research (see link in title) this dwelling can be prefabricated and installed very quickly in almost any environment. Second interesting and mostly important thing is that a fully-furnished pod costs £36,800. That looks like a big number but the average cost of a house in England is £219,262 (see BBC survey 27th August 2008). A field on the outskirts of Oxford was £50,000 ish (see the land directory). Planning permission for those eco-homes is not difficult as they're only 2 storeys high and they are ecologically friendly. You're also allowed to claim back VAT because the government likes eco houses.
In terms of actual ecological value it comes with loads of insulation (natural sheep wool), under floor heating, and it's all made from non-harmful materials built to blend into the natural environment. You're also given the option to add solar electricity, wind turbines and solar heating and some weird (recycled) rubber layer to the outside which adds extra insulation. This leads to my inevitable daydream:  Me living outside a major city (like Montreal or Munich, or.. somewhere nice) with a warm pod, my own electricity, wireless internet and organic vegetables or a goat in the field. I would be entirely sustainable and independent for about a quarter of the average price of a house in England. And I would have an electric moped and a railcard. I know that this all sounds very hippie but it's better than living in a house in a town with a mortgage.

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