Man Spends 1,000 Hours and $200,000 Turning a Cave into His Dream Home

In search of a simpler life, a corporate honcho from Australia decided to give up his career and become a caveman. But not before spending an eye-watering £160,000 ($230,848) to renovate a 250-million-year-old cave in England to suit his tastes!

Angelo Mastropietro, 38, was inspired to make the change after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. The condition led him to become temporarily paralyzed, and he spent that time reflecting on the things that really mattered to him.

“My life before I became a caveman was really quite different,” the former recruitment boss said. “Like most people I had aspirations to work in the corporate world. I had a lapse that left me essentially paralysed, which was a catalyst to review where I was, where I was going with my lifestyle. I wanted to be in a place where I had a happier and healthier life.”


The perfect opportunity presented itself during a trip to England in 2010. Angelo came across a property listing for a cave in Worcestershire’s Wyre Forest – home to the sandstone cliffs that that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to create Middle Earth. The cave in question had been used as a four-bedroom house for 300 years – part of a row of the oldest inhabited rock houses in the whole of Europe – before it was abandoned in the late 1940s.


When Angelo realised that this was the same cave he previously took refuge in on a rainy day in 1999, he decided to take the plunge. He purchased it for £62,000 and set to work converting it into his dream house. With a budget of £100,000, he chose to do most of the work himself. Despite his physically debilitating condition, he spent 1,000 hours cutting and burrowing through 70 to 80 tons of rock. He also drilled into the hillside to create his own 80-meter deep bore, which now supplies water to the house.


“I love a challenge,” Angelo said. “Coincidentally my surname actually means Master of the Stones, so maybe it’s in my blood. The rock house came along and without a shadow of doubt I was as passionate about that as I was setting up my company.”


The completed house bears little resemblance to stone-age dwellings . It’s equipped with plenty of modern conveniences like running water, underfloor heating, wi-fi, and plush interiors. It also has a huge terrace, white walls, glass doors, and oak-framed windows to brighten up the otherwise dark living space.


“I want to celebrate that it is a cave dwelling, but I want to add modern day luxuries,” Angelo explained. “It definitely has a modern feel but hopefully retains some cave charm.”


Angelo is currently renting the cave as a holiday home, but hopes to move there permanently in the future. For now, he’s quite content with just having completed the project. “I think when you’re actually here and you see it in person, you get a feel for the place,” he said, proudly. “People have literally been in tears, so I feel incredibly happy, very proud, very honored – it’s been a very inspiring chapter I think.”

Photos: The Rockhouse Retreat/Facebook

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Feedback (2 Comments)

  • David Reed Watson Posted on January 14, 2016

    Just finished watching the astonishing episode of grand designs where MS patient converts Paleolithic cave into living space. As an engineer, designer and musician I faced a similar challenge in the high mountains of Western North Carolina. I discovered I was faced with a serious but not life threatening illness and had to leave my profession. I spent the next five years building a beautiful guest house east of Asheville, NC. It became the inspiration of the series TV ‘tiny houses’.
    I just wanted to thank both Channel 4 and the host of this series for his acknowledgement that projects like this are their own medicine and therapy in coping with serious challenges in life that would otherwise literally defeat us completely! Thank you!
    From distant shores,
    David R Watson

  • Sue Haigh Posted on January 15, 2016

    My husband and I undertook a similar project in the Loire Valley in France – an extraordinary phase in our lives. We lived in our cave- house permantly for a decade, researching and using traditional building and heating methods. We still spend several months every year there and think of it as our ‘true’ home.