Design Principles


Share global, manufacture local.
“It is easier to ship recipes than cakes and biscuits”  John Maynard Keynes.


‘Be lazy like a fox.’  
Don’t keep reinventing the wheel. Take something that works, copy, adapt, give credit and share. (Thanks Linus Torvalds & Eric S Raymond)


Open materials
Design for cheap, abundant, standardised, sustainable and, if possible,  ‘circular’ materials.


Start somewhere
You can’t solve everyone’s problems in one go. Design something useful for a context you know and understand, then share so others can adapt to their economy, climate and context. Release small, iterate and ‘fork’.


Higher performance, lower thresholds
Design to lower thresholds of time, cost, skill, energy & resources in manufacture, assembly and use.


Open standards
Share and make shareable. Where possible, work to existing open standards.


Safe
Maximise the safety, security, health & wellbeing (physical & mental) of users at all stages of a product’s life.


Inclusive
Look for ways in which age, gender or disability might be barriers, and try to design them out. Design products, processes and documents that are accessible and intuitive.


Modular
Design hardware and software that is interoperable, product-agnostic and flexible, so elements can be independently altered, substituted, mended or improved.


Design for mistakes
Make it hard to get wrong, or not matter if you do. The Japanese even have a term for this.


Design for the next Normal
Design beautiful, high-quality products that lower cultural barriers and make radically sustainable, sociable design ‘normal’, rather than ‘alternative’ or ‘fashionable’. 


Knowledge should always be free
But professionals’ time should be paid for.


Superpower citizens
Afford as much capability and choice to citizens as practically possible. Democracy is a good design principle.


FAQ

 


The WikiHouse project is still in the early stages of development. The first kits in the catalogue will only be available in limited areas. If you see a kit which isn’t available where you are, but you’d like it to be, please register your interest here.
Yes, but at this early stage there are only a small number of architects certified as WikiHouse designers. View the list here.
Anyone is free to download the files for WikiHouse hardware and design their own home, or use them commercially. However, under the terms of the licence, you may not use the trademark WikiHouse and you must re-share your work back under the same licence. Read the full terms and conditions here.
All WikiHouses are designed to comply with – or exceed – building regulations in the jurisdictions in which they are built. However you will need to get an inspector or a professional to certify that your project complies.
All WikiHouse information is shared ‘as is’.  You are entirely responsible for checking it and using it in a safe way. Always make sure that you comply with appropriate national legislation where you are. There will be a growing number of architects, engineers & certifiers who you can hire to help you do this and to guarantee their work. Read the full WikiHouse terms and conditions here.
Indefinite, providing that it is properly built, protected and maintained. WikiHouse is a timber frame system; a construction technique established over centuries. Further still, because WikiHouses are modular, they are much easier to mend & maintain than most houses.
How much a WikiHouse costs depends on a number of factors; such as how much of the work you choose to do yourself, the cost of materials where you are, and – of course –  the design and specification of your home.

Kits sold in the catalogue are shown with indicative prices. All designs are shared with an itemised spreadsheet of costs which you can use as a guide.

Depending on the size of the house, the basic chassis can usually be assembled by a group of amateurs in 1-2 days. Other elements can vary from project to project depending on the design, but it is reasonable to aim for a total cutting time of 3-4 weeks, and a build time of 2 weeks.
Yes, but not forever. With moisture in the air, the panels tend to expand slightly over time. This is good news for the strength of the structure, but means that over time the harder will be harder to dismantle without breaking some parts.
Yes. All the usual rules apply, and it is always a good idea to research this in advance. You can always hire an architect to help you submit a planning application. In many areas of the UK, small projects can be done within your ‘Permitted Development’ rights, and no planning permission is needed. A useful guide on planning permission can be found here.
This has not yet been tested, so at present you should not commit to building using the WikiHouse system if you are seeking to finance your build with a mortgage. However we expect this to change soon.
CNC machines are increasingly available and affordable. The most affordable CNC machines include ShopBot, Marchant Dice and Blackfoot.  However, many people choose to hire the services of a CNC workshop instead. You might be able to find a one near you using FabHub or 100k Garages.
WikiHouse is a building system, so within the rules of the system, almost any size & design is possible. At present the rules are:

– Maximum two storeys high.
– The single largest room can only be 4.6m wide (but as long as you like).
– Doors & windows can be positioned anywhere around the chassis, but can only be 900mm wide on side walls.
– Straight edges rather than curves.

WikiHouses rest onto timber ‘rail’ joists. Any kind of foundation can be used to support these including screw piles, pad foundations and trench foundations. This allows the system to deal with a variety of ground types, including slopes. The foundations and rails should be installed prior to the assembly of the house.
In the United Kingdom there are a number of sites dedicated to helping you find a plot of land such as Plotfinder , Plot SearchNeed-a-Plot , Perfect Plot and Rightmove. But it is hard work. The UK government is bringing forward legislation to give you a Right to Build, allowing you to register your interest in buying a plot with your local authority, but much more work is needed before the UK – and others nations – gives their citizens a Right to Build.

 

WikiHouse is not just one design, or even one technology, but a way of working; a set of principles. The long term aim is to develop a whole catalogue of high-performance, low-cost open source technologies; with multiple construction methods and systems, adapted to different users, climates, cultures and economies. The current system is a good place to start. You are invited to take it, ‘fork it’ and share your design evolution.
Our hope is that more and more architects, designers and inventors will develop new products and services that address particular needs or opportunities around housing or home systems, and are compatible with the WikiHouse system and basic principles.

The first thing you can do is join the WikiHouse Commons folder, begin a folder for your project and develop it. The Wikihouse Commons are open, but the Catalogue is curated. We’d love to hear from teams who feel they have developed and tested their product or service to a point where it is ready for the marketplace, and can be listed in the WikiHouse Catalogue.

Any two people can start a WikiHouse chapter where you are. You need to sign the WikiHouse Chapter Trademark Licence agreement, and send it to WikiHouse Foundation in order to apply to set up your chapter.
Absolutely. The aim of the WikiHouse project is to put the knowledge and tools to build, improve and upgrade your home into your hands, that will include other kit solutions such as house systems, sensors, windows, and hopefully many other solutions yet to be invented.

More questions? You can also ask the community.