However, these days there
are lots of alternatives to this dull kind of domicile. If you want
to live in a more exciting home, you will want to learn about these
alternatives to conventional houses.
These sustainable homes
are specifically designed to produce their own water, power, and
Thanks to the large
amount of thermal mass because of dirt-filled tires, along with
passive solar heating, Earthships stay warm when it's cold out and
cool when it's hot.
Since it faces South,
there is year-round production of fruits and vegetables. The water
harvesting system that an Earthship has is integrated into the
greenhouse, using greywater from the kitchen and shower to irrigate
the home's food garden.
That's some serious coin.
In fact, it may surprise you to learn that to this day, between a third and half of the world's population still live in a dwelling that uses some form of cob.
While you won't find many
cob homes in the suburbs, the fact that they have been used for
thousands of years, and that cob houses dating back hundreds of
years are still standing strong in places like England, shows the
resilience of this building style.
These homes are made to be smaller and size-efficient, yet still offering plenty of room. However, what these homes lack in size they make up in charm and whimsy. Think hobbit homes in Lord of the Rings, except built above-ground.
The artistic flair that cob homes can have are a large part of the appeal. The lack of 90 degree corners makes for a very beautiful array of designs that can be made.
The only limit is your
imagination when building a cob home.
Building one of these will require a group effort, but this is actually one of the things people love about building with cob, because it involves your friends and community working together on a common goal.
What's more, cob building
doesn't require any skills; even kids can help out building these
With housing prices
skyrocketing, cob homes are becoming a very enticing alternative
that is literally dirt cheap.
While the concept of filling bags with a fill material in order to build a house is only around 40 years old, it has an interesting genealogy. It all started with the millennia-old practice of building with cob.
Much later on, the US military was filling bags with sand to act as barriers and bunkers starting around 100 years ago. Some 70 years later, burlap bags filled with sand and gravel were used as earthquake-proof homes in Guatemala.
Things took an interested
leap into space in the 1980s when it was proposed that Earthbag
structures could be built on the moon out of moon dust. It wasn't
until the 90s when the Earthbag house, as it exists today, was born.
If you have trouble finding a group of people to help you mix materials to make cob, you can opt out for bagging dirt and building the house yourself.
An Earthbag house still provides the thermal mass of cob homes, as well as the use of non-toxic materials, but is easier and even more affordable to build.
There is no need to build
a wooden or metal roof on one of these homes, because you can stack
the dirt bags all the way to the top and create beautiful domed
After becoming popularized by inventor, architect, and futurist Buckminster Fuller, geodesic dome homes started popping up all over the world. Since these domes are comprised out of hundreds of triangular elements, they are incredibly strong and distribute structural stress across the entire building.
This means your home
would be able to survive nearly any natural disaster Mother Nature
This cuts down on
building costs and the amount of materials used to build the home.
The materials you can build this home out of range from regular
wooden struts, to galvanized steel bars, PVC pipes, and even bamboo.
Geodesic shelters have been built all around the world in different climates and temperatures and they have proven to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.
If you like saving around
a third of what you're paying now for your energy bills, you may
want to consider living in one of these.
The resulting product is a fire-proof and termite-proof structure that won't get damaged by moisture, meaning no worrying about rot of decay that plagues houses built out of wood.
Aircrete dome homes also
provide plenty of thermal and acoustic insulation.
You can mold it into
whatever shape you want it to be. It continues to get better over
time. The older the Aircrete gets, the stronger it gets.
Combining the foam with cement expands the volume of the cement 5 to 7 times its original size.
If you like the idea of
living in a dome but are looking for the cheapest way to do so
without sacrificing quality, you will want to look into this option.
A Geoship is a version of the geodesic dome home that is made out of chemically-bonded phosphate bioceramics. By using geodesic geometry and very resilient fiber-reinforced bioceramic materials, Geoships are able to withstand pretty much anything Mother Nature conjures up, be it,
Move over concrete, bioceramics are in town, and they're here to replace you.
Bringing with it all the
advantages of living in a geodesic dome home, a Geoship also has low
energy use, high heat reflectivity, a very long lifespan, and is
Since the homes are made out of triangular panels, you can basically turn as many of those into windows are you'd like, bringing in an abundance of sunshine and providing outstanding stargazing opportunities at night.
It's even possible to connect multiple domes together, making this an appealing option for larger families and groups of friends wanting to live together since these can be built quite large.
If you want to catch a
glimpse of what the future could look like,
check out Geoships.
Need your home build in
just one day? This is the way to do it.
The printer puts down a layer of concrete spanning the entire perimeter of the home at once, allowing for curves instead of corners.
As with many of the other
alternative building methods out there, this one also has high
thermal mass, which will keep your heating and cooling bills down.
This is the first permitted 3D printed house in the US, but there are other companies around the world taking advantage of 3D printing technology. While 650 feet may not seem like much, there's lots of people in the world that would find this to be an upgrade from their current abodes.
This is why companies
like ICON are
bringing this housing opportunity
to countries like El Salvador for just $4,000 each.
While it used to be used
solely by nomadic people living on the Mongolian steppe for the past
few thousand years,
today yurts have become
increasingly popular for people looking for a low-cost and
The aerodynamic shape of a yurt comes in handy in places where there are high winds, since the wind will easily go around the house instead of pushing itself into flat walls.
Yurts have a very small
footprint and are usually built on a platform, doing away with the
need of putting down a concrete slab directly on the ground like
most house builds.
While yurt living is
definitely not for everyone, if you want to get up close and
personal with nature on a budget, this is an option available to
Also called a wooden yurt, rather than having flexible walls and lack of thermal massive, these are usually built out of the same materials your common box house is made of, but is round instead of a rectangle.
They can be multistory
houses with impressive designs that provide a feeling of
sophisticated living, while letting your inner bohemian still
These connect all the structural pieces that make up the house, creating a strong and flexible house that will shrug off earthquakes, extreme winds, and heavy snowfall. While a round house uses similar materials to a traditional box home, it uses up to 20% less materials for the same surface area.
Less materials translates into lower building costs and a smaller ecological footprint.
If you are looking for a
house with great acoustics, this is one you will want to look into.
Not only does the round shape soften sounds within its interior, it
also prevents noise from outside coming in since they simply wrap
around the building and keep moving on past the house.
They looked at the tall grass growing on the sand dunes and made houses out of it.
Putting straw bales together was easy, and soon enough they had built entire communities using this building method. However, when cows started eating the house walls because of their love of said grass, they realized they needed to put plaster on the walls.
This provided not only protection from hungry four-leggeds, but also kept the buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Straw bale homes have a lot of thermal mass and are able to withstand extreme weather pretty well.
While straw bale homes took a break for the entire second half of the 20th century, they have found a resurgence at the turn of the 21st century.
The advantages of building a home made of straw include the use of an easy-to-get renewable resource (wheat, rye, oats straw), being naturally fireproof when built with plaster, and being highly-insulating.
Although you would need
to make sure you lather plaster over every last bit of exposed
straw, it is surprisingly good at keeping moisture out of the house.
These days, there's even
straw bale homes made out of recycled non-straw alternatives such as
cardboard, paper, plastic, wood chips, and even used carpeting...