The Hobbit House (a cob house) from TinyHouseBlog.comAs I continue my research on alternative housing ideas, I find that they are so many more options that I could ever imagine. One of my favorite ideas for new housing is using recycled materials, like Phoenix Commotion. To summarize my three-part series on alternative housing ideas, below is a list of topics I’ve been focusing on:

  • 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 3 – Recycled Residences; building homes using lightly used materials

I first came across this idea through, they featured a small company called Phoenix Commotion. Phoenix Commotion was building houses for low-income families out of the most unusual materials, all of which were salvaged. What really caught my eye while scanning the article’s photographs was one particular wall made from the bottoms of glass wine bottles. I thought it was a most creative way to reuse old glass bottles and this got me thinking: Instead of throwing away our glass bottles, mason jars, windows, or old lumber, why not donate them for projects such as these? Apparently I’m not the only one to think this represents the meaning of reuse, recycle, reduce.

Here are just a few other amazing ideas that fall into the recycled residences theme:

  • Use recycled materials to build your dream home: Eliminate the Muda posted not long ago about retiring in Detroit. Not because the city is a haven for retirees, but because the housing market is so affordable (you can still find homes for under $20,000!). But what if instead of moving there, you purchased a home then moved it to a new location? Or, purchased a deteriorating home, then used the lumber and windows for a recycled residence some place else? It could work with some creativity and hard work. *On a side note,  I’m not saying everyone should move historic homes out of the city or that the city is uninhabitable. I don’t want to cause more harm to a city that is already struggling.
  • Build a Cob Home: I posted about cob homes before, when one young man spent over a year making and building his home out of straw, sand, and clay. However, there is an entire site dedicated to these types of homes. Cob homes look a little like the hobbit homes in Lord of the Rings, they are made of natural materials and are hand shaped, many in circular patterns versus today’s standard rectangular shaped house. They are durable, completely environmentally friendly, and requires no heavy machinery.
  • Build a Paper House: This may seem like a ridiculous idea, just think what would have happened to the three little pigs had the third pig built a paper house! However, technology has changed the idea of paper into a more durable structure, especially when it’s shaped in the style of a honeycomb and is as thick as cardboard. Inhabitat featured a durable wall house last year that is literally made out of recycled paper. For under $5,000 an inexpensive dwelling can be built to withstand generations of use.


So many choices for homes exist today. Luckily, I have some time before I purchase or build my own little house. With an endless supply of creativity for reusing and recycling materials, perhaps my home will include some of these features. I live for the day when I can describe and showcase it! Until then, I can drool over these seemingly abundant ideas.

*Update: I’m in the process of building my own manufactured home and very excited. Though it’s not as creative as these above mentioned options, it’s still a great prefab option. If you’re interested in manufactured homes, check out my manufactured home page or if you want to build you own tiny house, check out this link.

Would you be open to building a home out of recycled materials? What about cob?


    • @Money Reasons – The cob houses do feel a little bit “hippyish” and lots of land seems to go along with the style and feel of the design. As for the paper house, I’m not sure about the flammability! Good point. 🙂

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