About us and our journey

In 2014 we decided to move away from the city to live in a house in the countryside, thereby also moving from southern Sweden back to Västerbotten, northern Sweden. Here you can read more about our backgrounds, the self building journey, inspirations and our ambitions.

Erik is from Skellefteå in northern Sweden and has lived in many different places in the world, between Dar es-Salaam and Reykjavik.

Erik Snowboard
Laura Berlin

Laura is from Berlin, Germany, and loved to investigate abandoned buildings there, today she prefers to live in in the countryside close to nature.

Our self building journey

We looked for a few years for a piece of land & forest with an old house to renovate, but found nothing suitable near Umeå, northern Sweden. In the end we gave up and decided to find a plot in a nice village and build a brand new sustainable house instead!
Luckily, we found a lovely plot in beautiful Kassjö, 20 km outside of Umeå, so perfect e-bike distance.

The goal was to create our home as sustainable & healthy as possible, given our prerequisites.

We had studied and learned as much as possible over 3 years, took a few courses in strawbale house building, clay plastering, passivehouse design and chose this method as we thought it was something we could largely handle ourselves.

Of course, we didn’t plan to do everything ourselves, but an important aspect for us was to spend less time in front of the computers and instead create our home with our own hands. So it was a long journey, as we took three months off work during the summers to build.

The winter in Västerbotten provides so to speak, the opportunity for “natural” construction breaks (because of extreme cold and lots of snow) which is also important for recovery, and that it was a good time for both planning and earning money for continued construction.

The spade went intro the ground in june 2017 and we moved into the house in july 2021!
We love our incredible home and enjoy living here in the countryside.

But honestly, we don’t recommend anyone to do exactly what we’ve done, it’s an incredibly tough journey that requires sweat, tears, blood and sleepless nights, and all your money!

But now we live in a beautiful home that has Swedish best Energy Class A, and it is cheap to run, as we have heat and energy from our own wood, solar collectors and solar cells. We live in a beautiful village by a lake, with nice people, nature and tranquility right outside the door.

Now we are excited to create a forest garden and implement more permaculture, and maybe build a greenhouse and get some animals. But everything will go at a slow, human pace. We enjoy the process and every cup of coffee cozy indoors or out in the garden.


Here you can see more of what has inspired us to build as non-toxic and environmentally friendly as possible.
We have also taken courses in strawbale construction at Ecotopia in Österlen, Nääs in Lerum, and built with others on their self build strawbales homes in Sweden.
It is good to do proper research before embarking on a self-build journey!

John Seymour Självhushållning

We have also both worked with exhibitions/showrooms for sustainable and circular solutions, products and materials and have drawn a lot of inspiration from that.

Laura has worked for many years both within municipalities, NGOs and as a consultant with a focus on promoting sustainable and healthy construction and a circular economy. Since 2020, she runs our own company ELVA Hållbara AB.

Erik has for many years worked as a community planner with a focus on sustainable mobility.

We have thus used our various theoretical and technical knowledge in a practical way by privately building our own sustainable home.

We have been primarily inspired by policy for an Ecocycle adapted building (Anders Nyqvist) – & Cradle to Cradle design philosophy, as well as the Book on Building Ecology by Maria Block & Varis Bokalders.

Do you want to see more of the construction?


Below you can see what goals and ambitions we set for the entire construction project at the beginning of 2017.

Our home will:

  • give us the opportunities to be more self-sufficient and resilient
  • be built with a holistic approach, with a socially, ecologically, economically sustainable ambition for a positive impact
  • combine traditional with innovative solutions for an adaptable and comfortable living environment.
  • adapted to local conditions and local climate
  • promote biological diversity
  • contribute to a better social environment in the short and long term
  • facilitate sustainable mobility
  • have low energy needs
  • use energy from renewable energy sources for heating and electricity
  • built from healthy, sustainable and local materials, which can act as carbon sinks and be composted or reused and recycled in the future
  • contribute to closing the cycle of nutrients (technological and biological)
  • have a low water consumption
  • clean gray water locally without adding chemicals
  • manage and store rainwater locally
  • are built with healthy and simple technical solutions for ventilation, electricity, water, heating
  • have flows that are measurable (e.g. electricity, water, air, etc.)
  • facilitate composting, sorting and reuse of used resources in the household
  • facilitate function, operation, maintenance and cleaning
Rundbalshuset in Media

We have been featured in a number of Swedish magazines, podcasts, TV and even books on the subject of sustainable construction.