Pawling’s Hobbit House
Nestled beneath a picturesque canopy of lush, green trees and flanked by a gurgling stream, the whimsically colorful, geometric exterior of the home for sale at 16 Wilkinson Hollow Road may, at first glance, appear more suited to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth than to the Pawling real estate market. Designed and constructed by civil engineer Jim Costigan over the course of six years, the aptly dubbed “Hobbit House” is both a markedly unique property and a visual and architectural marvel. Externally, the building’s distinctive concrete arch, abundance of bright primary colors, and living green roof immediately establish the house as a sight to behold. The interior is no less striking, with four skylights and decorative, diamond-embossed ceiling patterns furthering the home’s distinctive character. In accordance with the leisurely lifestyle of any imagined hobbit inhabitants, the structure is designed to be both long lasting and relatively maintenance free, ensuring that the house will remain in prime condition for decades to come.
The project originated as a particularly inventive backyard shed inspired by the unique architecture displayed in 2001 fantasy blockbuster film The Fellowship of the Ring. However, the overwhelmingly positive response Costigan received documenting his progress on his online construction blog inspired him to replicate his efforts on a larger scale. “I posted the shed online and people from all over the world started to comment about how cool it was, and asking why I wasn’t living in it, or renting it out, or if they could come and stay,” says Costigan. “Then I started thinking about a real house.” The ensuing venture – a full-size, functional two-bedroom house built from scratch – was accomplished by a crew comprised of Jim and his wife, Jo, children Ethan, Jude, Terrence, and Georgia, and a collection of their school friends during weekends.
Ultimately, the group’s hard work paid off, resulting in an utterly incomparable home.
The Hobbit House’s remarkable nature extends far beyond its unconventional appearance. Designed to abide by Passivhaus principles – an exceptionally rigorous German construction standard of energy efficiency – the structure is one among mere hundreds of equivalently certified buildings in the United States, making it one of the most ecologically friendly homes in the country and thus suitable for the environmentally-conscious hobbit. The house is super-insulated and equipped with exclusively custom-made windows and doors to ensure a complete airtight seal when closed, eliminating drafts and significantly limiting the energy expended on space heating. Meanwhile, a Swiss-made forced air circulation system maintains the building’s high indoor air quality, ushering air in and out of the house. While such qualities significantly augmented both the cost and difficulty of constructing the Hobbit House, Costigan was adamant about their inclusion. “This house will use 90% less energy to heat and cool than a typical house,” he explains. “To me, that’s where the world is going. That’s really the reason I wanted to do it this way.”
Eventually, Costigan’s main hope is to sell the house to an owner fitted to its unique personality. “In the whole world, there are only a few people looking for a hobbit house,” he concludes. “We know it’s going to be a special person who buys it.”