Can’t afford to buy a house?
Just build one for free, says Luis Williamson, 20.
Luis made his very own ‘Stone Age’ house in the forest without spending a penny, using reclaimed wood, clay and mud.
The business management student was inspired by YouTube videos of a man who used primitive techniques to build a home in the Australian bush, and decided to get cracking on making his own.
After honing his skills in his parents’ back garden in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, where he tunnelled and dug holes to unearth clay for building, he began his major DIY project in the summer of 2018, after finishing his A levels and before starting his degree at Swansea University.
Luis said: ‘I am the closest thing to a British Tarzan!
‘When you’re away from normal society and modern life for that long, wearing just shorts and with bare feet and no one around, it changes you.
‘It sounds wild and wacky, but your senses are heightened. You recognise sounds in the forest differently and I really started to feel like a Neanderthal, living in a cave.
‘Afterwards, when I went to cities where there were a lot of people around, I started to feel anxious.’
Luis, used a stretch of private land belonging to co-founder of clothing brand Superdry, Julian Dunkerton, after passing on a request through his stepdaughter, Matilda.
He said: ‘It was the perfect spot near a creek and a steep face of earth, so I was delighted when he gave me the go-ahead.
‘For the first three months, I was down there pretty much every day alone. I was actually spending more time in the forest than at home with my family.
‘It got to the point where the soles of my feet were really thick and they got used to walking around on brambles and sticks.’
At the age of 16, Luis started his own YouTube page dedicated to primitive living, called Primeval UK, where he shares videos of himself making clay pottery and building his home’s materials from scratch.
When his videos started getting hundreds of thousands of views, building his own primitive house seemed like the next step.
‘I said to myself, “If my YouTube fans like this then I’ll do something bigger”,’ Luis said.
‘So, I went out to find a larger area, as I couldn’t just dig up the whole of my parents’ garden.’
In July 2018 he started building his house in the woods – returning home to work on it every weekend when he started university.
But juggling building the home with his studies was tough.
Luis said: ‘When I went to university after being in the forest for three months it became incredibly difficult to focus on work.
‘I was used to manual labour and thinking practically about how mud and branches would hold up the house. Going from that to writing essays was an extremely difficult transition.
‘I failed my first exam and had to retake it later because my head was all over the place – one part in nature and the other at university.’
Determined to finish what he had started, Luis uploaded his progress onto his social media profiles and shared videos on Reddit, where thousands of people from around the world became hooked on his updates.
In videos of the project, Luis showed how he constructed the frame for the small house, which is 9x6ft, by tying and weaving branches together, before covering them in layers of mud and clay, which would later dry, forming a sturdy structure.
After 15 months of hard slog, Luis finally finished his project in September 2019.
The three-walled house, built into the mud wall, has a windowless opening on one side and a space used as an entrance on the other.
While the interior is empty, Luis has lit a fire inside and has slept there on a few occasions.
‘I felt sad when it was finished,’ he said.
‘I had put a lot of time into it and built a strong relationship with the environment after being at one with nature for that long. There was a massive sense of accomplishment and it definitely changed me as a person.
‘It was a big confidence boost and showed I could do anything I put my mind to.
‘When it was finished I had a few drinks down there with five or six close friends and we had a bit of music and a BBQ. They were very impressed.
‘Nestled in the forest, it looked like something from Lord of the Rings.’
Now, with his studies back on track, Luis said he wants to combine his degree with his passion for nature when he finishes university.
‘I would love to do the primitive stuff full time, but I have to be realistic,’ he said. ‘I would love to be able to build a bridge or develop agriculture using primitive technology.
‘But, I need to use my business skills to find a way of monetising my passion for the environment and all things primitive, so I can make a living from it.
‘In the meantime, I think it shows people that they can do anything if they put their minds to it. Even if the house crumbles over time, the video will remain to show that people from the past were capable of great things.’
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