BSC Summit

Thursday, July 7, 2016

10 Unique Alternatives to Standard Housing

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder which is the foundation for people wanting to live in these 10 unique and sometimes truly bizarre alternatives to building a traditional home from sticks, steel and glass.

Imagine for a moment what the local planning, zoning and code enforcement people’s reaction would be if one of these “special” homes showed up for review.

And yes, they are real houses and each has a loyal following.

Tiny House: The tiny house is a description for the architectural and social movement that advocates living simply in small homes. There is currently no set definition of what constitutes a tiny house; however, a residential structure under 500 square feet is generally accepted to be a tiny home.


Wood Pallet House: Building a house with pallets may be a tough and muscular one task but having a huge supply of mostly free used pallets  really means a lot when there is shortage of money.


Earthship Homes: An Earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and recycled materials (such as earth-packed tires), designed and marketed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos, New Mexico. The term is a registered trademark of Michael Reynolds, founder of Earthship Biotecture.


Beer Bottle House: Now I ask you, what could be more pleasurable for a husband to drink a cold bottle of beer and build his wife a home at the same time. If you start when you’re 21, it could be finished in less than 4 years if you recruit your buddies. Bonus points with the wife.


Hempcrete House: Hempcrete is a bio-composite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. The hemp core or “Shiv” has a high silica content which allows it to bind well with lime. This property is unique to hemp among all natural fibers. The result is a lightweight cementitious insulating material weighing about a seventh or an eighth of the weight of concrete.


Straw Bale House: Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw (commonly wheat, rice, rye and oats straw) as structural elements, building insulation, or both. This construction method is commonly used in natural building or "brown" construction projects.

Yurt Homes: A traditional yurt (from the Turkic languages) or ger (Mongolian) is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Yurts are growing popularity in the US. Will there ever be a Blu Yurt Homes?


Shipping Container Home: The use of containers as a building material has grown in popularity of the past several years due to their inherent strength, wide availability, and relatively low expense. Homes have also been built with containers because they are seen as more eco-friendly than traditional building materials such as brick and cement.


Green Roof Homes: A green roof is simply one that fosters the growth of vegetation. It is made of a waterproofing layer, a root barrier, a drainage system and growing medium for the plants. “Intensive” green roofs, or roof gardens, can be accessible and can include much larger plants and even water features.

Green Wall Homes: Living green walls are panels of plants, grown vertically using hydroponics, on structures that can be either free-standing or attached to walls. Living green walls are also referred to as vertical gardens, green walls, living walls or ecowalls.

All this brings us to modular housing which is simply a better way to build a traditional stick home but is subjected to many more inspections and regulations than its on-site built sibling. I also wonder if someone builds one of the above alternative houses if they would be as inspected as closely as a modular home? I doubt it.

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