Your memories: ‘I worked 72 hours a week for four years’

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AS families today struggle to get on the property ladder thanks to a lack of affordable homes, one city resident tells of his part in an ambitious scheme that saw him build his own house.

John Duncan, now 81, was working as a painter and decorator in the Capital and living in a tiny rented flat with his new wife when he signed up for the community project to build his own house in Oxgangs.

Mr Duncan said: “It was 1952 and I signed up for this project which ended up taking some four-and-a-half years. In all that time I think I worked 72 hours every week, and every day I had to come home from my own job and get to work on the site along with the others.

“I was getting up at 6am every day and I didn’t have a day off in all that time, but it was something that needed to be done.

“A lot of young couples were living at home with their parents or, like me, in rented apartments, and so this was a way to get a home.

“We were one of three projects in Oxgangs, and it was hard graft – if you didn’t put in the work then you were out, it was that simple, so there was no slacking off – but in the end it was certainly satisfying to be involved with.

“So many of the people involved have now moved out – one of them sadly died of a heart attack while construction was still going on, so he never got to see the end result.”

Indeed, Mr Duncan and his wife still stay in the house they built to this day, and Mr Duncan says the property has never needed any work done.

“It was made to last, and it certainly has,” he said. “It’s hardly needed any maintenance at all.”