Construction phase

Organisation of our DIY Project

At the end of 2011, we started building the large second-hand Romney barrack that we took over from the rowing club in Deventer. We drew up a construction schedule and thought we could set up the barrack in 10 days. It became 10 weeks. We started in the winter and we worked with a telehandler that had seen better days. It turned out to be quite a job to set up this barrack in the wet Olster clay, given its location along the IJssel and the high groundwater levels! We set up a  a canteen, shower and toilets as well as a large workshop in the barrack.

In the spring of 2012, the piles of the first 16 homes were driven. Then we laid the foundation ourselves. We worked seven days a week under the supervision of three construction coordinators: Martin Blind, Johannes van Kuijvenhoven and Niels Kloppenburg. The agreement was that every future resident would help build one day a week. Every day there was someone from our core group day coordinator; he received the volunteers and provided coffee and tea. And firing the claystove in the canteen in the Romneyloods: the rocket stove. A few days a week we organized childcare for the little ones.

We hired Michiel Slim van der Loeff as our construction consultant.

Speeding up the building process

The first housing block was completed in May 2013, a year later than planned. We built this block completely together; both the hull and the outfitting inside. Due to the agreement with SallandWonen, the 3 rental homes had to be completed in 2013. We adjusted the build sequence and that's how it worked. In November 2013, the tenants were able to move into their home! The first tenants helped design their homes and built them just as hard.

But it wasn't fast enough! The planning was that by the end of 2014 the 23 houses and the central house would be ready. That is why we implemented a reorganization in that year according to the sociocratic circle method and agreed cutbacks.

Contracting company

In the first phase, our construction coordinators played a leading role. They were the experts hired by us and we the laymen. In this phase of construction we mainly learned what construction means. We also did the jobs that had to be done at that time. We spent a lot of time figuring out how to go about it, looking for materials and making mistakes.

For the second phase, the acceleration of construction, we made a switch in the control. After all, it was our problem if the houses were not built on time and possibly not. In this phase we formed construction teams in which we could specialize more. This allowed us to work more purposefully. For example, each of the future residents was part of the roof team, facade team, weatherboard team, masonry team, logistics team or the pipeline and technology team.

The contracting company was established with the support circles underneath. They were mandated to make decisions within established frameworks. This was directed by the mandate group.

See diagram under construction organization.

The accelerating measures:

  • Replace car tires on the rear walls with a wooden frame with straw bales.
  • Delete the rest of the planned low domes.
  • Replacing rammed earth walls with sand-lime brick walls.
  • Structural work delivery of the houses instead of finished, so without interior walls, floors and technology.
  • More hiring for specific jobs such as: Installing foundations and finishing the domes.
  • Simultaneously build more blocks of houses at the same time.

The last of the 23 homes were completed in December 2014. The center house was completed in July 2015. We built 24 homes in 48 months, which is an average of 2 months per home!

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