Housebuilding has been a do-it-yourself tradition on New Island, and is taught as one of the Seven Basic Skills. Individuals usually purchase (claim) an available site, and then build or design their own house or retreat. Houses tend to be small (about 1500 sqaure feet or less) and are built with clay or adobe brick, cement-sand brick, wattle-and-daub (mud covering woven branches) or straw bales-and-stucco; with wood-frame roofs, trim, windows and doors. Imported steel is used to reinforce clay and cement-sand walls. Locally-made glass is used extensively including fiberglass for insulation. Plastics have been limited to plumbing pipe and wiring insulation.
This is the settlement of Brandonbeach, on the isolated
southwest coast. It is on the Irian-Southwestern railway,
and the South-West Path, but no roads lead to it!
This is the commons in Sapphire,
a tribe-settlement on the edge of the Sheffield Desert.
Art by Lee Mothes
Islanders enjoy building! They commonly camp out on their sites for a while to get the feel of how their house might best fit: Aesthetics, the slope, the views, sun-or-shade requirements, garden areas, neighbors and access are usually the biggest considerations. House-raising is often a community event, especially in tribes, where neighbors pitch in to build the foundation and framework, and then the owner usually finishes the details.