Take a break from fixing your house up and let’s check what crazy home construction materials people all around the world use to build theirs. Alternative lifestyles influence them to give back to the earth via environmentalism, or just to save a buck and fight the idealism of a capitalist society.
Such lifestyle decisions fuel the green movement and the market for everything from hybrid cars to self-composting toilets. One way to save thousands of dollars and to live without the guilt of Gaia is to construct a house using alternative materials besides precious wood, polluting types of vinyl and foam insulation.
Some of these alternative housing methods are extremely useful to the earth, as the everyday trash can be used to build an entire house or a natural material which is recycled when the house is ready to be torn down.
The chic cardboard house is no longer the domain of hobo’s and bums but is now being called the Home of the Future. The idea of the cardboard home was to get away from technology and create a home with the most simplistic ideas. Some people may think it is a crazy idea but there is a great reason why cardboard can be used to build a home. Because cardboard is 100 percent recyclable all of the materials that will be used in the home will be recycled. Of course, there will still be reinforced walls and some insulation. A fine example is Duch made Wikkelhouse project. It’s fast assembly modular home made out of series of heavily compressed cardboard parts which interlink into a sustainable customizable home. Now you might be thinking; what if it rains? The cardboard material is completely waterproofed with breathable film technology and covered with wooden cladding panels. This house is 85 percent recycled materials. By creating a home form cardboard it will save 12 cubic meters of landfill, 39 trees and over 30,000 liters of water.
Car Tire Homes
A New Mexico based architect Mike Reynolds has a specialty in designing homes with alternative materials. He used the super-efficient mix of rubber tires, dirt, and aluminum cans. A rubber tire home is solar powered which has a fireplace as a backup heating system. The walls are three feet thick all made of tires with rammed earth which acts a natural insulation. This project pioneered the Earthship concept which is a type of passive solar home that is constructed out of both natural and recycled materials.
Reynolds used over 1,000 tires and each tire contained 1 wheelbarrow of earth. Once completed the home is sold for $ 55,000. The home is 1,025 square feet and it is in a circular shape. The spaces that were left by the tires were filled in with bottles and cans for a decorative effect he says. The home has 2 very large solar panels that give off a greenhouse space and homeowners can grow their own gardens there as well.
Beer Can House
That’s right, did you know that not only do empty cans of beer make excellent pyramids or towers at frat parties, but you can also build a house out of them! In Houston, Texas the beer can house of John Milkovisch is a standing testament to the art of guzzling creativity.
After his retirement, the late Milkovisch decided to replace the aluminum siding on his home with crushed beer cans. But after downing an average of a six pack per day, John went beyond the siding and began developing walls, curtains, roofing, and fencing. 18 years and 39,000 beers later, the beer can house was finished.
Aluminum Can House
This 1970s project sparked the aluminum can house trend we can see used around the world. The house will be constructed of two layers of cans and the cans were enclosed with fiberglass insulation. There were over 125,000 containers being used in this home. The cans must be filled with water otherwise they have no thermal mass. You may be asking your self about heating. The heat storage is provided from 4-inch thick steel tanks that work in conjunction with a huge set of solar panels.
Building a Home From Mud & Weeds
Another strange building material for a home is Mud. Mud homes are built in rural parts of Africa and India. But mud homes are present all around the ”modern world” as well. Take a couple of buckets of mud, mix in some water then put the mixture in brick moulds. Often some straw, weed or other fiber-based plants are put into the bricks to help avoid brick cracking. Straw or other fibers that are strong in tension are often added to the bricks to help reduce cracking. After leaving it to harden in open air for a while there you have it; your mud house base material. Mud bricks combined with some mortar also made from mud is then used to build walls, vaults, and domes.
Earth-based construction materials provide good insulation; cold in the summer while retaining warmth during the winter. The obvious benefit is lower heating bills, conservation of energy and low production cost though very labor intensive.
No, this house is not built from used condoms, but like the tire home mentioned above, recycled industrial strength black rubber is an energy conserving material which keeps homes in cold climates extremely warm by harnessing the power of sunlight and lowering dependency on heating oil.
The exterior is then clad with waterproof black rubber that can withstand harsh conditions of the beach it is located on. The walls are made from plywood and are insulated to heating and cooling off. They have installed energy efficient windows and the home is solar powered. There is a secondary heating system for the winter but the owners say they do not use much of it.
You don’t think of rubber as a great material for a home but while it is recyclable it does have it’s benefits for heat and energy conservation which helps the environment and it helps the homeowner conserve both energy and money.
One way to give back to the environment is to build your home from logs. Just like the old days, you can live in a log cabin in today. There is nothing new nor especially crazy in this house building method but it is eco-conscientious and elegant. Of course, the log cabins of today are not the same as they were hundreds of years ago. When you build a log cabin, they can be as sophisticated as you want. The log cabins of today are not as rustic as they once were and you don’t even have to build a log cabin home in the middle of the woods anymore.
Have you ever seen a home besides in the movies that were made from all glass? The trend of building homes with glass walls has taken over the architectural world. Besides the obvious privacy issues, this style of home has its benefits. The glass is 100 percent recyclable which is great for the environment. Considering how energy efficient windows technology has greatly developed in recent years, you can expect minimal heath loss for them dark and cold winter nights. But unless in an isolated piece of property a full window-walled house might be a turnoff privacy-wise.
Cork as a building material
Besides for plugging bottles cork can be used to build houses. Gathered from a cork oak tree once a decade makes it quite sustainable and eco-friendly material. It is watertight
Straw Bale & Cob Homes
How crazy does a house made from straw bales sound? It appears it’s not that crazy at all. Advantages of a home made from straw bales and adobe cob over conventional houses include the renewable nature of straw, low cost, easy availability of the material, extraordinary fire-retardant and insulation properties.
The beams and posts are filled with bales straw on edge and will be used as a fill in. The floor plans call for adobe cob floors which will the thermal mass of the home. The straw will be inside the walls acting as insulation so you don’t see it. It will be kept dry so you don’t have that strange smell when it rains. This alternative building material is a great insulator and a perfect choice to help with a green home. By using the straw it will cut down on the energy bills. Having a fireplace will cut down on electric. These homes can be solar powered for extra savings.
You may have heard the word cob before but you may only associate it with corn. But cob is a material that is made from clay, sand, and straw made the material very environmentally friendly. In the summer it will keep the home cool, in the winter it will keep your home warm. It worked back in the day where cob was extremely popular because of the strong materials because people of yesteryear did not think of the environment at all.
So, Do We All Have to Live in Mud Houses?
It’s up to us to take care of the future, if not for us then for our children’s sake. We as human beings should do more than we are doing to preserve the environment. I am not saying everyone should live in a mud home but by using less energy, recycling and getting your car inspected can help a tremendous amount. More people are becoming environmentally conscious and some look to build their home from logs, mud, straw, rubber, rubber tires, aluminum cans, and cob.
The world would be a better place if more people did this but it is not plausible or logical to think that it may ever happen but as long as we do what we can, we know we are making a difference.
Know of any more forms of alternative house building?