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DIY Houses, Spaces, Movements, Cultures

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(full article on DIY)


"Do it yourself" ("DIY") is the method of building, modifying, or repairing things without the direct aid of experts or professionals. Academic research describes DIY as behaviors where "individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and parts to produce, transform, or reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment (e.g., landscaping)". DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as marketplace motivations (economic benefits, lack of product availability, lack of product quality, need for customization), and identity enhancement (craftsmanship, empowerment, community seeking, uniqueness).

The term "do-it-yourself" has been associated with consumers since at least 1912 primarily in the domain of home improvement and maintenance activities. The phrase "do it yourself" had come into common usage (in standard English) by the 1950s, in reference to the emergence of a trend of people undertaking home improvement and various other small craft and construction projects as both a creative-recreational and cost-saving activity.

Subsequently, the term DIY has taken on a broader meaning that covers a wide range of skill sets. DIY is associated with the international alternative rock, punk rock, and indie rock music scenes; indymedia networks, pirate radio stations, and the zine community. In this context, DIY is related to the Arts and Crafts movement, in that it offers an alternative to modern consumer culture's emphasis on relying on others to satisfy needs. It has also become prevalent in the personal finance. When investing in the stock one can utilize a professional advisor or partake in do-it-yourself investing.


The terms "DIY" and "do-it-yourself" are also used to describe:

   * Self-publishing books, zines, and alternative comics
   * Bands or solo artists releasing their music on self-funded record labels.
   * Trading of mixtapes as part of cassette culture
   * Homemade stuffs based on the principles of "Recycle, Reuse & Reduce" (the 3R's). A common term in many Environmental movements encouraging people to reuse old, used objects found in their homes and to recycle simple materials like paper.
   * Crafts such as knitting, crochet, sewing, handmade jewelry, ceramics
   * Designing business cards, invitations and so on
   * Creating punk or indie musical merchandise through the use of recycling thrift store or discarded materials, usually decorated with art applied by silk screen.
   * Independent game development and game modding
   * Contemporary roller derby
   * Skateparks built by skateboarders without paid professional assistance
   * Building musical electronic circuits such as the Atari Punk Console and create circuit bending noise machines from old children toys.
   * Modifying ("mod'ing") common products to allow extended or unintended uses, commonly referred to by the internet term, "life-hacking". Related to jury-rigging i.e. sloppy/ unlikely mods
   * DIY electronics like littleBits
   * DIY science: using open-source hardware to make scientific equipment to conduct citizen science or simply low-cost traditional science
       *Using low-cost single-board computers, such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi, as embedded systems with various applications
       *DIY bio

DIY as a subculture could be said to have begun with the punk movement of the 1970s. Instead of traditional means of bands reaching their audiences through large music labels, bands began recording, manufacturing albums and merchandise, booking their own tours, and creating opportunities for smaller bands to get wider recognition and gain cult status through repetitive low-cost DIY touring. The burgeoning zine movement took up coverage of and promotion of the underground punk scenes, and significantly altered the way fans interacted with musicians. Zines quickly branched off from being hand-made music magazines to become more personal; they quickly became one of the youth culture's gateways to DIY culture. This led to tutorial zines showing others how to make their own shirts, posters, zines, books, food, etc.

DIY Building Houses (and other stuff)

see also the Tiny House Movement

see also Earthships

see also Wattle and Daub

see also Building with Cob

see also WikiHouse

see also Open Source Ecology

There's lots to explore and consider when thinking about building a house from scratch -- from location, to materials, to construction techniques, to sustainable design, etc. Check out the myriad options gathered here (and beyond)! Directory of home building schools

Further Materials:


Jamie Mantzel's incredible DIY single person built concrete fortresses

J Mantzel's channel in general for amazing DIY projects

Wall Framing Basics: How to Frame a Wall and Door

DIY Traditional Wood Construction Channel

DIY Air Crete homes

Building with Cob

funny interview with a hippie in Oregon and his creative hand-built cob house

Building Cheap: Interlocking Solutions in Kenya

Strawbale Round House Showcases Every Natural Building Method Imaginable

6 Amazing Construction Technology & Machines For Your Future House


Open Source Ecology main website

Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts: And Whatever The Heck Else We Could Squeeze In Here -- Derek Diedricksen

Relax Shacks website

Handmade Houses: A Guide to the Woodbutcher's Art -- Art Boericke

The WikiHouse Revolution: Will open-source DIY architecture usher in a new age of architectural innovation?

Mudgirls Manifesto: Handbuilt Homes, Handcrafted Lives -- The Mudgirls Natural Building Collective

Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home Design -- Richard Olsen

Advice from Noah Bradley

DIY Ethic

(full article)

DIY ethic refers to the ethic of self-sufficiency through completing tasks without the aid of a paid expert. Literally meaning "do it yourself", the DIY ethic promotes the idea that anyone is capable of performing a variety of tasks rather than relying on paid specialists. The DIY ethic requires that the adherent seeks out the knowledge required to complete a given task. The term can refer to a variety of disciplines, including home improvement, first aid or creative works.

Rather than belittling or showing disdain for those who engage in manual labor or skilled crafts, DIY champions the average individual seeking such knowledge and expertise. Central to the ethic is the empowerment of individuals and communities, encouraging the employment of alternative approaches when faced with bureaucratic or societal obstacles to achieving their objectives.

Punk Culture

In the punk subculture, the DIY ethic is tied to punk ideology and anticonsumerism. It supports the rejection of consumer culture, using existing systems or existing processes that would foster dependence on established societal structures. According to the punk aesthetic, one can express oneself and produce moving and serious works with limited means. Arguably the earliest example of this attitude was the punk music scene of the 1970s. Emerging punk bands such as Death, who recorded their earliest demos in a bedroom without any professional equipment, began to record their music, produce albums, merchandise, distribute and promote their works independently, outside the established music industry system. So extreme was their desire for independence that they often performed at basement shows in residential homes rather than at traditional venues in order to avoid corporate sponsorship and ensure their creative freedom. Since many venues tend to shy away from more experimental music, houses and other private venues were often the only places these bands could play.

Riot grrrl, associated with third-wave feminism, also adopted the core values of the DIY punk ethic by leveraging creative ways of communication through zines and other projects.

Adherents of the DIY punk ethic can also work collectively. For example, punk impresario David Ferguson's CD Presents was a DIY concert production, recording studio, and record label network.

The German punk band Mono für Alle! perfected the mass production of the self-made DIY album. Their album included a tinkered wooden cover and sold over 6000 units from their website and other alternative sources.

The DIY punk ethic also applies to simple everyday living, such as:

   * Learning bicycle repair rather than taking a bike to a mechanic's shop. (See also: Bicycle cooperative.)
   * Sewing, repairing, or modifying clothing rather than buying new clothes.
   * Vegetable gardening.
   * Reclaiming recyclable products by dumpster diving.
   * Some educators also engage in DIY teaching techniques, sometimes referred to as Edupunk. 

An Inexhaustive List in No Particular Order of Current/Recent DIY Houses/Spaces in the Pioneer Valley (and nearby)

(ask a punk for directions if you're interested in learning more)

  * Rust Temple
  * The Asbestos Farm
  * Tubecats
  * Red Cross
  * Looky Here
  * Cold Spring Hollow
  * Pencil Factory
  * Shuffleboard House
  * The Big Y
  * Seelie Court
  * Maplehouse
  * The Treasure Hole
  * The Treehouse
  * Sweetbread
  * King Street Manor
  * Motorgoose Inn
  * The Crossroads
  * The Dollhouse
  * The Brickhouse
  * La Mariposa
  * SALT
  * Dirt Palace
  * Dad City
  * Blue House
  * The Honeypot
  * The Internet
  * Distant Castle
  * Tears for Sears
  * Collective A-Go-Go
  * The Firehouse
  * 13 Queen

see also Other Occupation Movements, Micronations, Land-Use Projects, Farming