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House & Garden Today



Architecture and building design have been like shifting sand throughout time, such that you’re able to put a date to the structure based on the style of the architecture. But what has taken a different direction is tiny homes or alternative materials. Most of these unusual or alternative home designs have been made of a way to make use of excess materials, some have been through budget constraints, while others are a result of space shortages and need to get creative on ways to maximise small spaces. It has provided a whole new category of home designs that don’t fall into any genre of architecture. And while offering a solution to a need, it also offers a funky, trendy, unusual and eclectic home.


Container homes

One of the first homes that became a popular solution for both space and budget was homes made from containers. A 40ft double door container can provide a huge amount of space that, if designed right, won’t leave you feeling like you are short of space. If coupled with one or two others, making up different rooms of the house, you really are setting yourself up for a nice spacious building that is quick to erect and fun to kit out. It doesn’t need several engineering sign-offs as you build because once the foundation is done, it is only a matter of placing the container in its final resting spot


Ecobrick made walls

This is a lovely way of making use of material that would otherwise be dumped in landfills yet has great value to add in the construction of homes. An ecobrick is a plastic 2-litre soda bottle stuffed with plastic waste. It is both durable, weatherproof and creates great insulation. The downside is the time it takes to gather or make enough eco-bricks and while the material is essentially free, there is a transport cost required as well as what you use to plaster over the bottles. Another concern might be getting municipal approvals as this isn’t standard building materials that have been tested by the building councils.


Cement drain pipes

Large drain pipes that are more than 2 m in diameter can be used to create small bedrooms. They essentially a room only type design but a few next to each other can be used for different purposes. One can be a kitchen, the other a bathroom and possibly even a tiny lounge. The difficulty you might face is on the curve of the pipe. To create a flat floor, you’ll need to build something to create floorboards.


Expired transport

A train carriage or a bus can be an unusual structure that, if permanently placed, gutted and refurbished on the inside, can be a really great way to upcycle old transportation. There have even been people who have used old airplanes and turned them into homes. If you find out where the retired or expired busses or train carriages go and perhaps you could be finding yourself your next home.

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