In Japan if you decide to build your own house, you can choose between major house companies, small builders and architectural firms. Most Japanese choose major house companies because these companies are working closely with how the houses are marketed. But it is said that about 20 percent of the construction cost is advertising cost. For example, when you build your own house which costs twenty million Japanese yen (about 240 thousand US dollars) , it costs four million Japanese yen (about 50 thousands US dollars) for the advertising cost. And you aren’t able to know the breakdown of the cost or select your plan freely.You can only select some regular plan, household equipment, materials and colors.
Since I have studied architecture a bit, I chose an architectural firm to study my house’s plan and cost closely. If I had chosen a major company, it would only have taken about two months to plan.
But it took six months to plan and begin to build my house. During the planning, I decided not to request a house painter, because the only part of to paint was the wooden exterior.Every weekend, my wife and I visited our house while it was under construction to paint the wooden exterior.
We are pleased with our work even though we still have a few more coats to go.
We’re going to repair things around the house and do repainting and things after it’s all built too.
When the builder set up the framework of my house, my family held “Jyoutoushiki”
in my house which is under construction.
“Jyoutoushiki” is a ceremony for the raising of a house’s framework.
This ceremony is held less than ” Jichinsai”.
But we held this ceremony to pray to the God of architecture and craftsmen.
First we placed rice and sake in the four corners of the house.
And talismans are placed on the ridge pole.
In some areas they throw money and give rice cakes in their neighborhood.
Then we invited all craftsmen,
architect and my mother for dinner.
They celebrated together and gave us a bottle of sake.
And we served sushi wrapped in fried tofu, cooked dishes,
miso soup with pork and vegetables and a barrel of beer.
We gave handsel to each participant.
In the final stage one craftsman sang a traditional “Kiyari ” that we have never heard.
Kiyari is a kind of Japanese folk song that craftsmen sing when they bring wood.
These kinds of historical customs are disappearing gradually.
So I want to write it down as much as possible.
This video isn’t of my house but it shows the kiyari.
When I decided to build my house, I thought about my family’s health.
So I wanted to use natural material.
In Japan it is said that forestry declines because of cheap foreign wood and aging workers.
So it was difficult to find architect or builder who can use domestic natural wood.
The architect I requested participate in the NPO which takes
an active part of diffusion domestic natural wood.
The NPO also holds a tour to see producing area.
Of course expansion and contraction of natural wood can be unfriendly to modern life.
But I felt some merits to use natural wood which was pine, cypress and others.
•My house has big windows because of Japanese traditional method of construction
which mainly used beams and pillars.
•My house maintains constant humidity because of hygroscopic wood.
•I can feel warmth of wood.
•Joint of metal is much less than modern method of construction
because craftsman can make high level joint of wood in the picture.
The heating system in my house is a heat storage system.In Japan most floor heating warms the floor fabric directly with hot water or electric heating panels. But the heat storage system in my house has its heating panels embedded in the soil and it warms soil!The panel embedded underground warm the soil only at late night.The soil is supposed to radiate for 24 hours. Why does this system work only during night time ?Because the electricity charge at late night is much cheaper than the day time.But in practice, electricity charge is 15,000 Japanese yen (about 180 US dollas) per month which is much higher than I have expected. Anyway, with the heat storage system in place, my family can feel radiant heat gradually all over the house.
More information (Japanese)
The land I bought is a piece of agricultural land.The architect requested a site investigation company to find out the ground condition before they planned my house. The investigation company found out that layer of clay rangeed from four to six meters in depth as I expected. Then the builder drove twenty three piles under my house evenly so that my 2-storey house would not settle into the ground. Instead of using piles, there is another method to improve the existing adverse ground condition.
Most Japanese prayed the god of the land before they build their house or building.It is called “Jichinsai”in Japan.We also prayed when we built our house.Shinto priest,builder and architect gathered on our land.In the ceremony green bamboo logs were set on end at the four corners anda household altar was set in a central location.Then we place rice wine and some fruits on the altar to wish for the saftey of construction and each one of us spadede the ground.After this ceremony all participants were hambled by the work before us.
I have built my house in 2008. Because I wanted more wide land than one hundreds square meters of Japanese average land area,the land I boughtwas far from my office.It takes two hours to commute. But I enjoy a feeing of relaxation and also there are many field for vegetable and rice paddy in neighborhood. In Japan almost all the wooden house was built by the conventional method of construction or two-by-fours. But my house was built by the traditional method of construction so thatI liked natural wood and thought about my family’s health. The method needed high level craft to cut,assemble and daub a cement plaster. Recently the number of the craftsman who are called “Daiku” in Japanese decreased. My family and I enjoyed not only completed house but also the process to build the house.