Thursday, 21 May 2015

Golem Work Day, May 25th 2015

Hello all!

I'm just briefly posting to let you know we are having a work day on Monday May 25th. There will be a range of jobs including painting, cleaning up wood before waxing it, sorting storage for our new tool room and, for those who love to smash things, lifting the remaining concrete in the garden and digging out any glorious Victorian flagstones that we find.

There will be a tasty noms provided for lunch and undoubtedly reams of tea and coffee during the day, and you can nose around our new communal room and fabulous garden. If you're interested in coming along for any length of time, then contact a Golem either via email, Facebook or face-to-face so we know who to cater for.

Hope to see you then!

- Hannah

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Looking for Loanstock

Well, I didn't realise it had been quite so long since we had done a blog post - and how things in the co-op have changed since then! Those of you who know us in person will have a good idea of the happenings at Golem HQ, but for those unfamiliar I will provide a quick overview. If you want to skip the overview, scroll to the bottom for the inevitable bit where we are asking for help ;)

In January we got some builders in to do a couple of days work building a cupboard and putting a new door into one of the downstairs bedrooms. We could easily afford the work though, so yay!

Two days later they told us that the house had started to fall down. We could still afford to spend a bit more so that was fine.

A few days after that they told us that actually it was falling down because someone in the past had removed almost everything that should have been holding it up. We started to feel a little worried about the money side of it.

*dramatic music* Suddenly there were props everywhere holding the place up temporarily, structural engineers and all sorts coming in and literally shaking their heads in despair at the work that had been done to the house in the past. We were wondering how much this was all going to cost, but it being that it's not really a very good decision to not stop your house falling down, we had to let the work continue.

At some point it became clear that the entire basement room of the house and half of the ground floor had to be completely ripped out, including whole floors, ceilings, walls and staircases. We thought, right, if all this is going on, let's also do all the work we know these areas need or that we want to make our house more suitable for communal living. Let's do it once, and do it properly, unlike all the people who had messed up the building before.

This is how we went from this (dingy, cramped, poorly laid out) communal room...

... to this :D Bright, airy, much bigger communal room with a more logical layout, better access to the garden and a dinner table which actually fits all the Golems around it properly. 

It's the shizz, really it is. But unfortunately the downside is that during the course of this work even more problems with other bits of the house were discovered on top of the things which we already knew needed doing (like all the roofs) so our things-to-fix list has become both shorter and longer at the same time.

And we had the cash to pay for some of it, and an unexpected loanstock offer to pay for the next bit, but for the rest of this job (and the others) we are wondering if you would like to help.

Loanstock is by far the most affordable and straightforward way for the co-op to borrow money, so if you would be interested in investing in a local housing organisation for a fixed period of time at between 0% and 3% interest, please do get in touch. I have added more information about loanstock here so that those of you thinking about it can get the details, but the very best thing to do is to come round for a chat and a cup of tea in our lovely new living room. Drop us an email at and we can tell you all about it :)

- Hannah

p.s. In the course of all this it became clear that buying next door was a very challenging option financially and then it went under offer to someone else and that was the end of that. We are still hoping to expand in the near future and are always up for helping other people to set up co-ops. Getting the big repair work on this house done will actually contribute to making both of those things easier, so although it seems like a distraction it is all still helping toward our master plan. Phew!

Monday, 19 January 2015

We Need More Golems

So there's this house that lives next door and we are hoping to buy it and expand our hippy empire. It's shared accommodation with five bedrooms and communal living space, a kitchen and a garden. You can have pets, you can put pins in your walls, and you know those creatures called 'Landlordes', well... the bad news is, you still have a landlord. The good news is that YOU are the landlord.

If you want:-

- Control over your living conditions and accommodation
- A chance to live sustainably and share skills in living sustainably
- A chance to take a house out of the hands of the market for good; to perpetually provide affordable housing so long as there are tenants to occupy it
- To sack your landlord
- To kick the patriarchy in the face
- To grow and eat strange vegetables you've never seen before
- To decorate your living space however you see fit
- To live in a cult in a harmonious society with no rituals whatsoever. Honest.

We are looking to buy and renovate this property within the year, so we are looking for tenants to fill the rooms in late 2015.

Not a bad spot for a co-op
Here are a few other things you might want to know:-

-We welcome people of all genders, races, sexuality and species
- We don't mind if you are on the dole
- We don't rent single rooms to couples
- We have a crazy old dog

If you're interested, please get in touch! Come round for tea, have a chat etc.

Buying next door will give us twice as much garden to enlushify!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Our plans

So if you've seen our last post you'll know that we're looking for more people to join the co-op. So I thought it might be a good idea to try and explain what we're up to and what we have in mind for the future.

The way we see it, the co-op exists to provide people with decent quality housing that is affordable. We also want it to be able to keep housing people as their wants and needs change. At the moment we have one big shared house – which is great for those of us who live there, but is clearly not suitable for everyone, and there's a good chance that it won't be suitable for some of us further down the line either. We also don't want to keep the benefits of being part of a housing co-op all to ourselves. We've picked up a lot of skills and experience buying our first house, so we definitely want to do it a few more times.

But we also want to ensure that the people who live in the co-op are responsible for running it. We want the co-op to provide more than just housing – its also a tool for building community and organising ourselves. A lot of larger housing co-operatives are run by management committees and paid companies, with minimal involvement from most of their members, and we don't want to end up like that. So this means we're adopting a decentralised structure. Each house we buy will be the responsibility of the people who live in it – they get complete control about things like redecorating, and who else they want to live there, and take on responsibility for maintenance. With support and skill-sharing from the rest of us of course. We'll also be exploring what we can offer beyond just housing – one of our long term ambitions is buying land somewhere not too far from Swansea.

When we buy new houses, we won't simply be looking for a house and then finding people to live in it. We want to give our new members a say in which properties we buy and how we renovate them. This means we won't be able to offer you somewhere to live immediately, though we're pretty confident that it will be quicker than the two years it took us to buy our first house – we've learnt a lot from that process. But the upside of that is getting a property that suits you, and having a say in who you live with.

So if that sounds like something you'd be up for, see our previous post on expanding and email us the interest form.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Golem Housing Co-op is expanding

Are you interested in living in community, taking control of your housing, and maybe helping others to do the same?

We're a small, tenant run housing provider based in Mount Pleasant. We currently house 6 adults, and are hoping to house more soon.

We're looking for new properties to buy, and for people who want to live in them. Whether you've already got a group of friends you'd like to live with, or are interested in finding others with similar aims, we'd like to hear from you.

Our intention is to buy one or more additional properties in the Mount Pleasant area, and refurbish them to let out, either as shared living or as self contained units. As members of the organisation you would have a say in what property you want, what work gets done, and how it is managed. Please note that we are based in central Swansea and aren't looking to provide rural housing or land at this stage.

We'd like to offer housing to a wide range of people. We are especially interested to hear from people with children, and those over 35. We also have a preference for offering housing to people involved in their community in some way. But any interest will be considered.

Please be aware that joining a housing co-operative requires a fair amount of commitment. We aren't able to offer housing immediately, and housing you is more likely to happen if you can help guide the process – e.g by helping to develop business plans, do accounts, doing DIY and gardening. Though we understand that people have different abilities. And we have a strong focus on skill-sharing within the coop, so being willing to learn is as important as relevant experience.

If this all sounds good to you, we'd love to hear from you. If you'd like to live in a co-op, but ours doesn't sound like the one for you, then still feel free to get in touch as we may be able to find a way to make it work, or put you in touch with like-minded people.

DSS welcome.


If you're interested, please fill in the following form and send it to


Any children or other dependants:

What sort of accommodation do you want:

Number of rooms:

Shared living (e.g with others) or self contained:

How long have you lived in Swansea, and how long do you intend to live here?

Do you have any relevant experience or skills (e.g accounts, construction/DIY, gardening, previous experience living in a coop):

Are you involved in any community, voluntary or charitable organisations?

Golem housing co-op has a policy of preferentially housing those on lower incomes. Do you earn above £24,000 p/a (each or on average for couples), including any benefits?

Golem housing co-op expects its members to be living or working towards a low environmental impact lifestyle. Is this something you are comfortable with? Do you have any concerns?

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about? Hobbies, interests, experiences, future plans etc.

How can we contact you?

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Garden, One Year On

In the midst of Spring stirrings and sporadic flurries of activity at Golem HQ, there's been lots of time to ponder how far we've come on the garden and just how far we have to go. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) this introspective mood has struck almost exactly a year on from the grand finishing of the garden wall, so I thought a little then-and-now post was in order.

For those who don't know, or who need reminding of the horror which they have since sought to blot from their memory, our garden was piled high with landfill so random that we still laugh/cry about it now. Skiploads of polystyrene balls, broken glass and tiles, semi-rotted sofas, broken electrical items and who knows what else were carted off, leaving us still with a 4 metre high rubble landslide-waiting-to-happen and a deep fear of heavy rain.

It looked rather like this (and this).

 Skipping through a year of intermittent hard work, digging and letting nature do what it does best - healing the wounds of man's inconsiderate nature - we now have something... better. Not great, but a vast improvement and one which I'm hugely proud of.

Now I'm going to pic spam you to prove it.

Our lovely new wall painted with a sunshiney gradient :)

Our first artichoke!

We have ALL the broccoli :D

Our Bee Bed is coming along nicely.

Satellite view previously.
New satellite view - we made some green!

So this is where we start a year on. Some plants sprouting, some being harvested, bricks everywhere and a load of work left to do. Many, many thanks to everyone who has helped us to get this far (and it is a long list) and to all those who I'm sure will help us in the years to come.

- Hannah

Saturday, 22 February 2014

We're still here...

So it's been ages since I posted on this blog. Beyond ages. The good news is we're still here! Well, most of us. We've had the departure of one of our original members, Cassian, and so we currently have 6 members. We're planning to stay at six for a while before returning to seven once the roof is done. Those two things are deeply related, I promise.

So what have we been doing? Small changes have been happening, but no major work has taken place. This is a combination of us dithering, deciding how to pay for the next big job (redoing the roofs - all seven of them), waiting for our accounts for 2012 to be sorted (which affects us applying for money to pay for the roof) and the general fact that we've all been getting on with our own lives.

The biggest small change (if that's a thing) is our new cooker. The saga of the cooker purchase was rather special and certainly isn't one of my proudest moments but I might as well share it to give you a giggle. We bought it from someone we'd found on Gumtree and it was in great condition. It's a big range cooker with four normal hobs and one giant one (all gas) and two lovely ovens with glass doors.

Lloyd and I trundled off in a van to Cardiff to collect it, paid for it and put it in the van. All good so far. As we drove away, we felt the warm glow of knowing roast dinners would nevermore have to all be done in one roasting dish which might mean the potatoes actually got crispy. Huge pots of pasta for ten would suddenly take less time to heat up and everyone would find cooking for tonnes of people less frustrating. Joy!

Alas, as we turned the corner out of the road the guy lived on and heard the most almighty crash from the back. Disaster! Opening the back doors to survey the damage was not a happy moment. The glass doors had completely shattered and some of the framework of the doors was bent. We rang ahead to tell our housemates the sad tale and spent the journey home alternating between ranting at each other and consoling each other.

It turned out that you can't buy the doors any more and you can't buy the glass either (except at incredible expense) so it took a week of me wondering how to atone for not securing the cooker well enough to conceive, investigate and realise the idea of getting stainless steel sheeting cut to size. Now it looks fabulous again, sort of. You can't see inside to check how your cake's rising but it genuinely makes the best roast potatoes I've ever tasted. We've eaten a lot of roast potatoes recently.

Industrial chic
Some progress has been made on painting the garden wall, but unfortunately the incredibly wet weather recently has meant that it isn't finished yet. Still, even what we have done so far is a vast improvement in brightening up the space. Eventually it will be a gradient running from the bright orangey colour at the bottom of the garden to white at the top.

So much brighter and lovelier than before :)

We're currently in the process of getting a new front door to replace the drafty, insecure, hideous one we have at the moment. The door is unusually large so we're having a local joiner make us a spiffy new timber door  which will be Tardis blue with lovely brass door furniture. I'm excited. In preparation for this we are stripping, repairing and repainting the door and surround so that they look fabulous too. I'll show you a before picture now and when the new door arrives I'll make some sort of wondrous montage for your to enjoy.

Just urgh.

The garden ended up producing us quite a bit of veg and generally enriching our lives hugely last summer. We had picnics on the lawn, barbecues and lovely afternoons spent talking about the flowers and insects while reclining in fabulous deckchairs. What's marvelous is that we did all this whilst the garden was, to most peoples' eyes, still a complete shit heap. Imagine how great it will be when it's all finished!

We also had a really awesome Christmas (actually we had two) with gorgeous roast potatoes (of course), lovely friends and copious presents.

In other news, we held a mushroom log making day for a local permaculture group. Making use of the large room being empty of tenants meant the weather wasn't a problem and everyone got a new skill and three logs to take home (one each of oyster, Indian oyster and shiitake).

I think that's all the things I have to update! We are mostly working on the door just now so if anyone wants to strip some paint then email us at

- Hannah