I’ve had a number of people ask lately about building with alternative materials. It’s a question that’s on my mind as well, this idea of building with greener materials and finding a lower-cost way of creating a home. I’m no expert—I’ve yet to actually build—but I’m an avid explorer.
I thought I’d share with you some of the unique building ideas that have caught my eye.
This method requires on-site soil and heavy duty bags for construction. I particularly like the looks of this one.
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This video is a time lapse of an earthbag construction in Alaska.
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It was built by two people in two months. It’s not complete, but it gives you a good idea of the process. (You might want to turn your speakers down.)
- Read — Earthbag Building Guide
2. Tent Cabins
A simple wooden frame covered with a Tyvek-like material.
This video features residents of Northern California (where it gets chilly) and their three cabins.
These structures built from old tires, cans, and bottles.
These alternative homes are amazingly self-contained and feature water catchment built right into the structure, passive solar, and an indoor growing area.
- Watch — Garbage Warrior, a full-length feature film.
- Read — Earthships: Building a Zero Carbon Future for Homes
4. Straw Bale Homes
If you live in a region where straw is readily available, these homes make perfect sense.
- Read — The Straw Bale House
- Visit — Real Goods in Ukiah, California is a retail store offering a multitude of products for green and self-reliant living. It’s housed in a gorgeous straw bale building.
5. Recycled Houses
So much raw material ends up in our landfills. These two videos show two very different ways to incorporate salvaged materials to create a stunning home.
6. Tiny Houses
Tumbleweed Tiny Houses is one company that sells plans for tiny homes built on wheels or on flat ground.
I’m sharing this particular video because the home in question was built by a 23-year-old young woman. Here are some more fun tiny homes to check out.