Chashitsu Japanese Tea House - Beautiful, Small and Simple DIY Garden House You Can Build Yourself at 76 Without Building Experience

A 76-year-old psychologist in New Zealand fulfilled his dream, building a tea house








About Chashitsu Japanese Tea House




Interview with 76-year-old builder

Your Tea House looks very well and detailed built, are you a carpenter or did you have professional help?

I am not a carpenter or in any way, a general builder. I have no previous building experience. My background is in Psychology, Education, and Theology. I have always wanted to attempt a building project. I had no professional help, nor any help from my family and friends.

What did make you choose Chashitsu Japanese Tea House?

The initial idea was to build a garden summer hut, perched on a hill in the garden. With strong prevailing winds on that specific location, it was always going to be a problem sitting there and enjoying the view. I considered different ideas, such as movable walls to protect us from the varying wind directions. I found a picture in a Japanese garden book which was more of an enclosure, but I struggled with the “how-to”. Searching on the Internet, I found the “perfect-looking” teahouse.

What became the most challenging thing for you during the whole process and why?

Three days after the building material arrived at my property (beginning June 2020), I sustained a knee injury and subsequently was booked for surgery in September 2020. So, I started my project on crutches. There were a few physical challenges due to the injury, having to climb ladders and get onto scaffolds. However, two structural challenges stand out. The centre piece of the roof and figuring out how to build the sliding doors, the round window and the skylights.

Did you make some changes in comparison with our original plans?

I guess I was too much of a novice which made me tethered to the plans – did not want to deviate in fear of “losing the plot”.

How long did it take to build a whole Tea House?

All in all, over a period of 12 months, it took about 4 months physically to build, due to the injury, long periods of planning and figuring things out, and of course, at 76 you do get slower.

How did you deal with the building permit restrictions in New Zealand?

Fortunately, early 2020 a new building law in New Zealand was passed, which meant that anything under 30sq meters no longer requires a building permit. It does still require that building would still be according to regulations and building codes, which I considered throughout the process.

Are you practicing Zen Buddhism? Are you interested in Japanese culture?

I do not practice Zen Buddhism, but being a follower of Jesus Christ, I meditate and enter into prayer all the time. Yes, indeed I am very interested in Japanese culture and have travelled to Japan several times. I have a great interest in the people and their culture, also visiting their temples.

Any recommendations to DIY Garden Japanese Tea House builders who are just about to start their building journey or are deciding to buy plans?

To anyone, especially people of my age and people with no building experience, if you are up to it, then buy a plan of your choice and just enjoy the process. The plans are easy to follow. However, take time studying all the documents, draw your own little diagrams of how you understand certain aspects and how you visualise the process as well as the completed steps. If you are going to build solo, just make sure you have all the necessary tools, machinery and equipment AND lots of clamps!

Tea house DIY plans for sale you can find here