Our 15 year old Jaia Yurt is up. Unfortunately we couldn’t get it to an ideal standard to house our family over winter. In the meantime we enjoy staying over in the weekends, each time learning more about the place we call home and how to live here as low impact and simply as possible. This has given us some more time to get better organised to move, when winter is over, aiming to begin building in the Spring.
As we we put ourselves “out there” by documenting our experience of finding ways that step outside of the for profit model of building homes and home ownership, it hasn’t taken long to come up against our first challenge – intellectual property (IP).
IP is used by architects, draught-people, consultants, builders and companies. A law offering economic incentive for the creation of innovation or a good, while advantageous in the – for profit paradigm at the other end of the spectrum it does not encourage a – for service way of thinking.
As folk that are seeking to build an affordable home, enabled by our ability to self build, IP has raised a challenge for us and proves to be a real obstacle to affordability. The issue being that we will not settle for a land and house package, nor a generic lightweight building design that uses toxic and unsustainable material. Which are the limiting options available that avoid IP.
Ironically, our challenge is in the fact that we are building a low impact, affordable, sustainable home and is considered “alternative” to the current building code requirements although, it meets all the requirements. In fact, it offers a better standard that what is currently required in New Zealand.
Therefore we are required to pay hourly rates for a draught-person or architect and a structural engineer to bring our design concept to life and ready for the consent process, (which is in itself another challenge). This process of funding the hefty sums required to bring our design to the consent process, certainly offsets affordability, as a drain on our resources.
We have experienced the constraints forged by IP, which effectively locks down information sharing, and limits normal folk like us, to challenge what is possible with limited resources and avoids large debt.
Our concept is simple & we believe very affordable by today’s standards. Using our knowledge of the current building code we have avoided engineering issues, with exception to one part of the design that cannot be avoided. It has a small footprint, with functional space to accommodate our family of 5. It can be built as a living house, potentially will use 30% less material than a similar sized house, has exceptional R value and will meet the stringent wind & earthquake codes for our district.
We have appealed to companies and consultants, builders & owners that have similar design, as we can see that this design has been engineered and built nationally and globally likely, thousands of times, often using the affordable and sustainable narrative, yet none we have contacted presently are prepared to offer engineering or design reports as a service, either for free or at a reasonable cost. Citing IP, so it either comes with, large, for profit price margins, or not at all.
The fact that we have to pay such a premium for information that has been rehashed thousands of times is ludicrous, particularly when we are a family, genuinely seeking a positive solution for a better home while addressing affordability. We want a healthy home and one that is actually sustainable in the sense that we don’t need to pay back a debt that is 10x our family income (not kidding). We have created a better solution for our family that does not comply to the narrative that a affordable home in New Zealand is considered at the price tag of $400-600,000.
The issue of paying a premium for information, certainly reveals society’s skewed values, which place more importance on accruing wealth through real-estate, rather than valuing it as it is, which is that a ~ house is actually a home ~ a real need for the well-being of humanity.
We are up against a system designed to accrue excessive wealth from real-estate. Meanwhile this unprincipled situation globally sees increasing numbers of people in relative or absolute poverty. Families & folk who desperately need homes but cant “afford” them. Frankly, this model of economics at its core is criminal.
Certainly, the issue of withholding information by all those that benefit economically from the building & real-estate “industry” particularly if information can create solutions would be of more benefit than the status quo. What will it take to shift awareness, which comprehends that being of service is actually more valuable than making a profit and is undoubtedly the way forward, if society is to make real change.
As the great Yogi Paramahamsa Yoganada said – “You do no want labour to control, for then you have communism, and you do not want the capitalists to have sole rule, for then you will have dictatorship. There must be balance, and that equilibrium will never be perfect without individual unselfishness”.