Hi, my name is Lena Edlund, and I’m here to tell you how you can build a house without money.

When I was a little girl my dream was to build a house on an island. Now I own a summer house in the Stockholm archipelago which I built without money, electricity or power tools. It took a while to accomplish, and I’d like to share with you the things I learned along the way.

If your dream is to build a house, but you have no money, I suggest you get the material for free by using second hand building material which would otherwise go to waste. Because if you lend money from the bank to buy expensive half made products and hire people to build a house for you, that’s great for the bank and for the companies who sell those products and services. But it’s not going to be good for your economy, and it’s not going to be good for the planet in the long run, either. So by lending yourself your own spare time, learning how to do the work yourself, and using recycled material, you will end up with a better personal economy, and the environment also benefits.

So, the first thing you need to do is to find a house which is about to be knocked down. There are plenty of those, and many of them there’s absolutely nothing wrong with, they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In other words, they are to be replaced with new houses. Offer the owners to knock it down for them, and have the waste transported off their property in time for them to start building. That way you will get all the material you need for free.

Knocking down a house can be plenty of fun, and very quick, if you use a sledge hammer and go savage on the place. But if you are going to re-use the boards, you need to be pretty careful. And you have to pull out every single nail in the entire building. That takes time. All your friends will also come in handy, so make sure you have a lot of friends. Calculate three weekends and some 20 people for a small wooden cottage of 40 square meters. Most of the time will be spent pulling out the nails from the boards. People might say it isn’t worth it to recycle boards because of all the rusty old nails, but I hate it when perfectly fine boards go to waste. If you have enough time, you can even re-use the nails – old nails are such good quality.

I was pretty cocky when I was three years old, and I drove my older sister nuts by telling her I was strong enough to lift up a hole house. She would go “Well, why don’t you lift this house up!” And I’d say, I didn’t feel like it at the moment – but I could if I felt like it.

Now I have lifted a whole house up. Not all at once, but every single brick, tile, board and nail in my house, I have carried. So, it turned out, I could lift an entire house – when I felt like it. And I bet that you could do all sorts of remarkable things – if you feel like it.

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