These days, a number of factors must be considered when choosing a place to live. Chief among them, efficiency and affordability often drive the decision-making. Adventurous types may dare to think – and live – outside the box, as it were, when it comes to finding a home.
In addition to sustainable building techniques, here are some other alternative housing options.
Shipping containers are built to be about as durable as anything out there. After all, they sit on the decks of massive sea vessels as they traverse the oceans carrying all manner of everything. Nowadays, though, as designers look for evermore affordable and evermore sustainable building products, they are turning to these steel boxes, often with stunning results.
One of the greatest benefits of shipping containers is the ease with which they stack and connect to create modular buildings. Also, the basic square, steel design of the boxes make them fairly functional in terms of adaptability. Windows, insulation, wall coverings, flooring, paint, and the like go right in without too much fuss.
With a price range of $1,500 to $3,000 each for containers that are 40 ft long x 8 ft wide x 8 ft tall, the basis of a 1,280-square-foot home would cost $12,000, at most. Cheap!
Shipping pallets follow a similar meme in terms of reusing goods on the cheap. Because pallets utilize standard sizing the world around, building materials are available just about anywhere to craft a pallet home. In one early and thoroughly stylish rendition, pallets were doubled up for durability in the walls, floors, and ceilings with various conduits, pipes, and insulation between the layers.
Standard 48″ x 40″ pallets cost about $15 for recycled wood and $25 for new. However, they are so prolific, that oftentimes they can be gathered up for free. Statistics say that some 700 million pallets make their way around the U.S. each year with about 150 million of them landing in landfills. One design estimates the need of 100 pallets for a temporary 250-square-foot structure that doesn’t employ the double-layer technique.
Earthbags – also known as sandbags – have been utilized for emergency barriers and structures for decades. Renowned for their resilience, earthbags stand up to not only bullets and floods, but also earthquakes, fires, decomposition, and pests.
Add in the fact that what is needed consists of a decent blend of soil, some used grain sacks, and a bit of barbed wire, and it’s easy to see how earthbag shelters are an incredibly affordable, sustainable choice for communities pretty much anywhere on the planet. A finish coat of earth-based plaster both supports the structure and improves the appearance.
Once again, costs come in way, way low compared to traditional building. For an 800-square-foot, the price tag would run about $10,000 or $10 per square foot.
For people who don’t really care to build their own alternative home, prefab options also exist. Yurts, “tiny homes,” and motorhomes are all worth exploring.