On my quest to become a homeowner, I’ve been doing research on ways to save money on purchasing a home. One way is to buy land then build something affordable. However, I’m coming across many other terrific alternatives to a traditional home. Here are just a few ideas I’ve researched. Today I’m describing topic 1 (as I’m short on time!):

  • Topic 1: Converting old buildings, such as train depots, post offices, and even grain silos into a house.; I like the idea of repurposing an old building and making it livable. The silo idea is fascinating, too bad there aren’t many in my area.
  • Topic 2: Container houses; I’ve come across this topic a few times while looking at prefab houses. I think there are some great plans out there.
  • Topic 3: Building homes out of recycled materials; I’ve posted about this before, Phoenix Commotion is just one company that builds homes out of recycled materials for a very low cost. I really like the idea of incorporating recycled materials in a home.

Topic 1 – Building Conversions: From Train Depots to Silos

What happens to old buildings once they’ve served their purpose? Many times they are torn down or condemned after years of neglect. But what if instead of neglecting these sturdy buildings, people converted them into livable dwellings? That’s just what some people are doing. In Paintsville, KY one woman took on the challenge of restoring the old town post office and turning it into a show piece of a home. The old post office building, purchased for $162,000, went through a metamorphosis of change. The exterior still resembles a post office, with heavy brick and stone facades with the etched “Post Office” sign above the front door. However, the interior is a beautiful combination of old and new and resembles a home floor plan. To read the entire article detailing her journey, click here.

Post Office Home - photos by This Old House
Post Office Home – photos by This Old House

I’ve always been curious about train stations; people moving to and fro, why tracks were even laid in certain places and not others. Many train stations have detailed stories associated with them that tell something about the town, usually their quirks, history, and how the town came to be. While researching train station renovations, I came across a terrific site that lists many train stations (or train depots) that have been converted into livable dwellings; Escape Artists. Most of the stations listed are located in England (They even list two that are currently for sale in Europe), but the site lists some specific things to think about before purchasing a train station such as is the track still in use? I would have never thought about this! Apparently it may not make much of a difference in terms of being able to purchase and convert the station, yet I can see some people not being able to handle the noise or vibrations. Safety would also be an issue for families with small children.

Dent Train Station Home - England
Dent Train Station Home – England

And finally, converting grain silo’s into houses shows true dedication to repurposing a building. According to one site, Mother Earth News, grain silos can start at about $7,000 (quite reasonable..I might be able to afford this option!). Some amazing stories and photos can be found on this page of many people find other purposes for their empty grain bins.

Grain Bin Homes - photos by Mother Earth
Grain Bin Homes – photos by Mother Earth News

I’ll post about topic 2: Container Homes in the next day or so….stay tuned!

Do you live in an unusual residence? Has it saved you money in the long run, or did it cost more converting it into your abode?


  1. I knew somebody who father bought and lived in an old ICBM missile silo north of Cheyenne, Wyoming. In fact, his place was featured on the NBC Nightly News about 20 years ago.

    I got to visit the place. Let me just say it was not MY cup of tea, but he loved it. Very cold and dank as you might imagine.

    He did use the very large underground area where the missile used to sit (it was stored horizontally when it was operational) to store antique cars. People would pay him monthly rent in exchange for safely storing their cars. The garage door was actually a five-foot thick blast door built to withstand a nuclear explosion. LOL

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo┬┤s last blog ..5 Crazy Ideas That Resulted in Million Dollar Paydays =-.

    • @Len Penzo – That’s a very cool story. I can see, though, that living in a silo might be a little cold and dank if there aren’t enough windows or insulation. This is something I that would need to be researched for optimum living capabilities. thanks for sharing!

  2. I don’t think I would like to live near the railroad tracks. But, the view from that train station in Dent is spectacular. Plus, it’s a cool looking building.

    • @Bret – I can see where living next to a “live” track would be a little scary, and possibly noisy! But you’re right, the view is amazing and the buildings have such character.

  3. @Len Penzo – That’s a very cool story. I can see, though, that living in a silo might be a little cold and dank if there aren’t enough windows or insulation. This is something I that would need to be researched for optimum living capabilities. thanks for sharing!

  4. looking for a fun alternative space to live in, wanting new and innovative ideas under $100,000.00. Willing to live in different areas of the country. any ideas. would even consider an ‘artist’ colony/community living. in my late 50s and getting antsy w/o kids in the house anymore…

  5. There is a fellow that lives in my area in a converted grain bin. He says that it cost him much more than a regular to build it. Just food for thought, he claims its worth it because it’s cool though.

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.