Can I just download a design from the WikiHouse library and build it?
Yes. All WikiHouse design information is open source, which means anyone can access, use or improve it. However, you are entirely responsible for its use and for your own project. You must always comply with local regulation and professional safety checks, such as engaging a structural engineer. WikiHouse Foundation and contributors to the WikiHouse project cannot accept liability for your use of information. Please note also that the technologies shared are still in development. Read the full terms at www.wikihouse.cc/terms
Can I buy or commission a project using WikiHouse?
WikiHouse Foundation is not a designer or manufacturer of homes. However, we partner with a network of companies who know the technologies, and who you can engage to help you use WikiHouse on your project. We are developing a platform – Buildx – to help you do this, but in the meantime, tell us about your project, and we’ll try to connect you with a team who might be be able to do your project as a pilot.
Why aren’t there more technologies in the library?
The first WikiHouse technology is called WREN (after the bird). We know there will be many more, and invite contributions from inventors and R&D teams designing new digitally fabricated solutions that follow the WikiHouse principles. However, for now, we are focusing our resources on the digital infrastructure to increase commercial adoption of the technologies, before we develop more.
Why aren’t there more house types in the library?
At the moment, designs are shared as files. This means fixed designs are of limited use and actually run a risk of people expecting them to work in all situations. In the real world, one-size doesn’t fit all. We are working on ‘parametric’ design tools which will allow the range of types to be increased.
It still seems quite hard.
It is. But we’re working on some incredibly exciting technology that will help. Find out more at www.wikihouse.cc/partners.
What is a WikiHouse provider?
WikiHouse providers are architects, engineers, manufacturers, construction managers or contractors who know the system, and are listed by WikiHouse Foundation. If you would like to be part of this network supply chain, you can start exploring the technologies in the library, and register your interest in becoming a listed provider.
What is a WikiHouse contributor?
WikiHouse contributors are any individuals or teams, of any discipline, who contribute feedback, design work, research or work to inventing, improving, testing or documenting open source solutions in the WIkiHouse library.
Do I need to sign up to github to contribute?
Like most open source project, WikiHouse current uses github for file sharing and version control. However, if you have developed solutions in any format, don't let any medium or platform get in the way of sharing them. Contact us and we'll try to help.
How do you professionals make money if it’s open source?
Most building technologies (bricks for example) have historically been open source anyway. WikiHouse simply uses digital technology and the web to make it faster and easier to design and build better, more sustainable homes. Speeding things up allows professionals to sell their services to a wider portion of society and makes it easier to produce more sustainable homes.
How much does a WikiHouse cost?
How much a WikiHouse costs depends on a number of factors; such as the size of your project, 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. As a general rule of thumb, in the UK, £1000/m² is a reasonable start point.
Do I need planning permission?
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. It is a good idea to engage with local planners in advance of putting in an application, so your design can anticipate to any concerns they may have. In some areas, small structures associated with existing homes can be built within your ‘Permitted Development’ rights, and no planning permission is needed.
Will I be able to get a mortgage for my project?
This will require securing a ‘warranty’ on your project, which will have an additional cost. We are working to standardise and reduce the cost of warranty insurance.
What foundations does it use?
The Wren system can use any kind of foundation. The structure sits onto timber ‘rails’ which must be level and parallel +/- 5mm. These rails can be supported by concrete strip foundations, screw piles, or sometimes simple pad foundations. This will depend on your site and the size of your structure. Get an engineer to check this.
How robust is the ‘Wren’ timber chassis system?
Very. The WREN chassis system uses interlocked structural plywood to make a robust, lightweight timber chassis that is more robust than most brick structures.
What is the lifetime of the structure?
Indefinite, providing that it is properly protected and maintained. WikiHouse WREN is simply a more advanced version of a timber frame; a construction technique established over centuries. Also, because WikiHouses are modular, they are easier to mend, maintain and adapt than most houses.
Can I build it myself?
Yes, but you don’t have to. Bringing together your friends or your community for a few days to help you ‘barn raise’ the chassis is a wonderful, sociable experience that none of you will ever forget. You don’t need to be strong or experienced in construction, just able-bodied and enthusiastic. However, very few people can do all of the work themselves, most hire professionals to do some or all of the building stages - for example a local builder to prepare foundations, or an electrician.
Does WikiHouse comply with Building Regulations / Codes?
The WREN chassis system was developed to comply with– or exceed – building regulations in many jurisdictions. However, as always, you will need to get an inspector or a professional to certify that your project complies. You will need a certified engineer who understands the structure to sign it off.
Can WREN be disassembled?
Yes, however over months and years some of the parts may tighten, meaning that some components may not be reusable.
Where can I find a CNC fabricator?
There is already a wide network of workshops providing CNC cutting services around the UK, Europe and USA. You can find one using directories such as FabHub or 100K Garages, or get in touch with us about your project, and we’ll see if we can help you find one.
Isn't plywood expensive in many countries?
Yes. WikiHouse WREN is intended as the first of (we hope) many open, digital building systems, and it’s brilliant, but it was designed for fairly temperate climates where structural panels are widely available and affordable. A core principle of WikiHouse is that technologies should always adapt to their local economy, climate and culture.
How can I support the WikiHouse project and accelerate development?
There are a number of ways you can support the project. You can partner with us to use or develop a particular aspect of R&D and deploy your product or service: www.wikihouse.cc/partners. You can take on one of the open challenges: www.wikihouse.cc/community. Or you can simply donate to support progress, helping to build common tools and solutions from which everyone will benefit: www.wikihouse.cc/donate.