Gary Zuker is the owner of this little hobbit house in Texas. In 1989 he built it by hand for about $25,000 and lots of labor. The home took three years to complete. He is a University of Texas computer engineer with no carpentry experience before this project.
In total, the space is about 830-square-feet with lots of open areas. Gary had the help of Pliny Fisk, a local sustainable building expert in Austin. Here are some details on the materials used:
- Loblolly pine for scissor-truss system
- Limestone boulders for doorway, fireplace, and foundation
- Stained-glass windows
- Salvaged windows, flooring, and kitchen cabinets
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Little Hobbit House in Texas
Photos courtesy of Gary Zuker and Paul Bardagjy
The boulders you see on the foundation, around the doorway and later in the fireplace were purchased from a stone quarry about 10 miles away from the property.
The windows were all either reclaimed or hand made.
Looks pretty big, but it’s still a relatively small house.
They’ve set up a beautiful little outdoor area in the back.
Inside the floor plan calls for a bathroom, work area, bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen and a loft. Let’s explore that…
The stone fireplace is beautiful, isn’t it?
Gary took the time to find recycled materials for most areas of the home.
The stone around the sink in the kitchen came from old benches from the University of Texas.
The base for this kitchen came out of an old pharmacy.
Gary’s wife is a stained-glass artist. She made many of the windows in the home.
Here’s the cozy bedroom.
Some windows were salvaged and the others were handmade by the couple.
Did you notice the loft up there? I thought that was really neat.
Photo Credits: Gary W. Zuker and Paul Bardagjy
What do you think about this hobbit house? Not so small, huh? Speak your mind in the comments.
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- http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/staff/Zuker/Gary%20Zuker/ (August 4, 2011)
- http://www.bardagjyphoto.com/ (August 4, 2011)
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Great! I was just talking with someone who’d seen the Hobbit Houses of Charlevoix, Mi. and trying to explain how cob houses were similar. I’ve posted a link to this on their FB page so they can see what I tried to convey in words.
But also, I love the look of this house–for a guy working in a technical field, the house shows a creative sense of space and how to give a warmth to that space that doesn’t follow from my sense of such technical matters.
( but one little question: how does a person get up to that loft? )
Thank you Schneb! Good question. I’m not sure how they get up there!
How you get up in the 2 lofts? You use a ladder. I haven’t built a nice wood ladder yet, so we just use an aluminum step ladder. It was removed before the photo was taken because it was so ugly.
I’d also like to clear up a few errors in the info presented:
1)The house was not built in 1999, but 10 years earlier. We broke ground in 1989. And it was built for $25k , not $40k.
2) It’s not a straw-bale house (though I did buy 250 bales of straw that were used in construction). It’s really built using the straw-clay or clay-slip method (a variation of old Cob).
3) The limestone boulders used for the foundation and fireplace were not salvaged from the site, but purchased from a stone quarry about 10 miles away. Sixty six tons worth, at about $2/ton.
This house is so beautiful. It has so much character.
Glad you liked it 🙂
Thanks for clearing all of that up, Gary. I’ll make some changes to the post right now. Honored to have you come by. Alex
This home is a true labor of love. And just the right size. Not meant to be tiny, but spacious and rustic. It was the first time I saw one with a grand piano and still some space around it. Every stone around the fireplace and outside was matched up. When I think of a “hobbit” house, I think of a similarly constructed home, but with a lower hanging roof and doorway bare enough to pass through from outside. This was more like a sophisticated ski lodge with modern amenities fused with a home from a PBS historical drama.
This is ADORABLE..so cottagie,and comfy..I could live in a house like this..It is a dream home to me..and the size is perfect..not to small,not to big….How much to build one of these?
Isn’t it great, Tina? Well Gary did it for $25,000 back in 1989. I’m sure it’s a bit more today but really depends on how much work you can do yourself or if you are going to need to pay for a lot of labor.
How well would this house adapt to papercrete or paperadobe?
That is a quaint and beautiful little home. I don’t really have time to read each article because I am busy this summer settling on to a plot of land and in the process of building a cabin out of a portable building, but this article caught me by surprise as it is called a “Hobbit House.” I thought that I was the only one in the world that had a little house named that. I think this one qualifies and looks more Hobbit than mine. I love your little house and the name, too!
What an inspiration! I am in love with Cob and I dont usually come across very many in the US. How does the house hold up to moisture (humidity, rain)? That was my one concern. We live in East Texas but hope to move to Austin before building a “forever home”. We have a big family and hope to adopt more so I’d love to be able to show the world how to build a practical, green, efficient and lower cost home for a big family!
April, cob houses have no problem with humidity (after all, they’ve been popular in England for about 500 years!). You only have to be concerned about constant rain-splash and rising-damp. There’s an old saying “Give Cob a good Hat and a good pair of Boots and it’ll last forever!”
Hey Tom not sure about the papercrete, I’d actually never heard of it before until you commented and got me to Google it. 🙂
Isn’t it cool, Ruth? Thanks for commenting! Not sure if Gary ever calls it a hobbit house, it’s just the title I chose! Haha.
April thanks for coming by and Gary thanks again to you too!
I think I saw this house in a book a while back. Is there a large window seat/sleeping/napping area in the staircase that can be curtained off? If so, it’s the house that made me fall in love with cob!! If not, this makes me love cob and it’s versatility & character all the more.
WE know who has The Hobbit House! 😉 I have a bobcat that has made mine part of it’s territory and yes, Alex, the Hobbit House is cool! Any house with a name like that has to be cool. Some people just like to go Hobbiting and it seems as if lately, I have been working on developing Hobbitville in Hobbitland up on a hill for family and friends and I always love seeing other Hobbit Houses as we are all unique and one of a kind. Each and everyone of us in our Hobbit world. lol! Some people just don’t get it and keeping it simple is the best feature that a Hobbit house can give as you have time to smell the Hobbit Roses! Okay, Alex, I’ll stop! haha lol!
Cob is great. I love it as well. Thanks Debbie! As for the sleeping area, not sure. Gary may come by again to answer that for you, but it may be a different home. 🙂
Hahaha, Ruth, thanks for the laugh and for coming by 🙂
I LIVE IN MARYLAND ON THE EASTERN SHORE AND I HAVE BEEN READING UP ON ‘COB’ HOUSES- MANY VARIATIONS OF. I AM 42, DIVORCED AND HAVE ALWAYS RELIED ON SOMEONE ELSE TO LIVE. MY GOAL IS TO HAVE A STABLE HOME FOR MYSELF & MY TWO DAUGHTERS (19 & 16). SINCE THE DIVORCE, I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO HAVE THAT FOR THEM. I HAVE A FIXED INCOME AND WANT TO CREATE A COB HOUSE. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THAT AROUND THIS AREA AND I WAS CURIOUS TO SEE IF THERE WAS A WAY TO HAVE A ‘MODEL HOME’ BUILT TO HELP PEOPLE LIKE ME. IF ANYONE HAS ANY INFO ON THIS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. YES, I WOULD BE WILLING TO LEARN & PASS IT ON TO OTHERS & ALLOW MY HOME TO BE USED AS A TEACHING TOOL. MY INITIAL INTENTION IS TO HELP MY SELF AND TO SHOW OTHERS LIKE ME (WITH MENTAL ILLNESS) THAT THEY CAN BE SELF SUFFICIENT AS WELL. THANK YOU!
Hi Janine, I’m on the eastern shore in Maryland as well, 48, separated, 18 yr old………. Same story! Iv been dreaming of building a cob house for a while now. Looking @ 5 acres with an old trailer( to live in while I pay off the land. Then plan to build with cob! It will take about 5 yrs till I’m ready, so if u ever wanna share ideas or such. Let me know.
I love it!! Sure looks bigger than the square footage stated!! Good design.
Thanks Janine, so great that you shared your story with us. Where are you located geographically? Email me at [email protected].
Lol, thanks Daniel
Well, if I wanted a permanent structure, It would be just like this. You have done an incredible job!!! I have many years of construction and architecture study in my past, and for a home built by a non-professional, I am very impressed!!! This belongs in Fine Home Magazine, in their special yearly edition on houses. I’d love to see video of your place/constructio diary if there is one.
Thanks fro sharing!
What part of texas are you located?? Im looking into building a cob home and I live in east texas. I just recently found a article about cob homes not being good for colder climates because they dont heat well. I dont like being cold, is this going to be a problem for my area you think?
uh . . i dont think east texas considered a cold climate.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this charming home!!!!
Absolutely charming! So much creativity went into this house. It is unique. It exudes warmth and comfort like a lovely patchwork quilt. The owners have made their dream a reality; and enriched all of us by doing so.
Gee, I wish I was a hobbit! Home, sweet home. haha. I own an horse farm in Midland, so this is an inspiring idea for our small guesthouse we’re about to build. By the way, your links in the “Sources” section don’t open anything :/
This is Amazing!!! How long did it take to build that also what kind of materials did you use? was it something you just bought online and it came put together?
Materials used are covered by the bullet points at the beginning of the article, and the owner built it by hand from just the raw materials. So it took a lot of labor…