Skip to main content

Homes made from wacky materials

Humble materials get recycled to create outlandish homes, such as this dumpster house.
Photo: Forbes
Bedtime stories say the evil witch from Hansel and Gretel lived in a gingerbread cottage with window panes of sugar and a candy studded roof. And an old lady with so many children she didn’t know what to do lived in a shoe.
In real life, the possibilities are just as wacky, from paper houses to converted grain bins to homes made from a muddy mixture called “cob.” These architectural oddities — homes built out of recycled junk, gussied up dumpsters, or grounded airplanes — provide fodder for future fairy tales, or at least late-night shows on HGTV.
See full story: Homes Made From Wacky Materials
See full story: Homes Made From Wacky Materials
In the Hamptons, a resort area usually associated with oceanfront mega mansions, abandoned steel shipping containers are being used to construct a 2,000-square-foot beach house with a deck and a small pool. Andrew Anderson, the builder and owner of, says turning the containers into a home will ultimately help the planet.
“It’s the opportunity to take these products and give them a second life,” Anderson says. “You weld them together and tack them onto the foundation.” With loads of glass and an exposed corrugated ceiling in the upper container and an exposed corrugated wall in a lower crate, the shipping container beach house will be listed this spring for close to $1.4 million.
Here are five houses made from the most unconventional materials:

Fancy Fuselage
Where: All Over
Made From: Old Airplanes
The vintage Boeing 727's interior is adorned with teak paneling from cockpit to tail.
Photo: Costa Verde
Once they’ve made their last landings, Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s, don’t always get put out to pasture on the retirement tarmac. If not broken up for parts and scrap, the occasional airplane, wings clipped, gets transformed into a sealed, sturdily built fuselage-style private home. Corporate jets already outfitted with designer bedrooms, comfy leather sofas, media rooms and bars, may just need the seat belts removed.

Dumpster Home
Where: Berkeley, California
Made From: Dumpster
Extreme compromises include a toilet lid that doubles as a bed cushion.
Photo: Forbes
"A nice little home out of a garbage can." That's how artist Gregory Kloehn of Berkeley, CA describes, in a interview by Kim Aronson, the dumpster he made into a “luxury” compact home for urban living. The “elite waste” quarters boast stainless steel appliances, gas stove, hardwood floors, a toilet, storage and sleeping areas and a barbecue outside. At night its two front windows roll down into the elite dumpster for privacy.

Junk Castle
Where: Pullman, Washington
Made From: Car Parts, Sheet Metal, Car Windows
Building on a budget: this scrap-metal home cost less than $500 to build.
Photo: Forbes
Many folks have junk drawers. Victor Moore, an art teacher, had a junk house. Set on a hilltop with lookouts made from car windows and the glass from washing machine doors, the 1960s Junk Castle is filled with all sorts of, well, junk, from his workshop. The exterior walls are a mélange of old auto body parts, recycled sheet metal and household appliance parts.

Cob House
Where: Rutledge, Missouri
Made From: Sand, Clay, Straw
The 370-square-foot cottage took nine months to build.
Photo: Forbes
To build his snail-shaped "cob house," Brian "Ziggy" Liliola used 219 batches of cob, a wet mixture of straw, clay and sand. He chose the rustic building material used on 500-year-old thatched cottages in England, because of “how creative you could be” and “the flexibility and low cost and sustainable benefit” of building with local materials.

Converted Silos And Grain Bins
Where: The Midwest
Made From: Converted Silos, Grain Bins
Two grain silos were combined to create a unique 1,800 square-foot home.
Photo: Forbes
Silos and grain bins aren’t just for missiles or soybeans anymore. Structurally sound, ready made with a roof, round walls and a concrete floor loaded with interior space, the often abandoned, recyclable steel structures are easily converted into homes that are fire and termite resistant, weather proof and energy efficient. For larger lodgings, they can be placed side-by-side or stacked on top of each other. Even Rapunzel might let down her hair in these multi-story circular dwellings. After all, it’s like living in a metal turret.

See full story: Homes Made From Wacky Materials
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Bottled Water Carries Hidden Cost to Earth

Good for You, Bad for Mother Earth? | $1.79 might seem like a small price to pay for a bottle of water. But it costs the Earth far more than that.

Compared to a liter of tap water, producing a liter of bottled water requires as much as 2,000 times more energy, according to the first analysis of its kind. The study also found that our nation's bottled water habit sucked up the equivalent of 32 to 54 million barrels of oil last year.

"The bottom line is that we should understand better the implications of our choices," said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, Calif. "It suggests more ways to reduce energy use than maybe we otherwise think of."

Bottled water is a big business that is rapidly getting bigger. From 1976 to 2007, the average amount of bottled water drunk per person per year in the United States jumped from about 6 liters (1.6 gallons) to 116 liters (30.6 gallons).

In 2007, …


Air pollution can cause serious health problems. Rarely, it can even kill people — and we’re not exaggerating. That’s why we care so much about the laws that protect us from air pollution. Read on to learn more about the specific parts of our bodies that are affected by air pollution. Air pollution can be made of tiny particles or gases, and these get into your body when you breathe. Different types of air pollution do different things inside your body. Air pollution can directly irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, before it even gets into the lungs. It can cause runny nose, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat. LUNGS When you breathe in, air moves through your nose or mouth, down your throat into your trachea, and then into your lungs. Pollution can irritate the airways. When that happens, muscles around the bronchi get tight; the lining of the bronchi swell; and the bronchi produce excess mucous. When the airways are constricted, it b…

Hazardous Waste

A hazardous waste is a waste with a chemical composition or other properties that make it capable of causing illness, death, or some other harm to humans and other life forms when mismanaged or released into the environment. PLEASE NOTE This new page is part of our Hazardous Waste Management Program web page update process and is under construction. The links to the left will take you to the main Hazardous Waste page, as well as the general category pages, and the Related Links are those links related to the content on the page.  longer be available.  DEFINING HAZARDOUS WASTE A waste is a hazardous waste if it is a listed waste, characteristic waste, used oil and mixed wastes. Specific procedures determine how waste is identified, classified, listed, and delisted. TYPES OF HAZARDOUS WASTE Hazardous waste is divided into different types (e.g., universal waste) or categories, including RCRA hazardous waste and non-RCRA hazardous waste. Properly categorizing a hazardous waste is necessary f…