I’ve always wanted to have an odd house. As a university student, I studied straw bale building and dreamed about creating my own straw bale or cob creation, a piece of art that I would live in as well. Now, I wrestle with ideas of green roofs and living walls, and I’m about to integrate both into a new house, albeit my daughter’s playhouse.
Those who live in oddball houses can be intriguing souls, and you can become one of them. In your home search, think outside the custom-built new dwelling or the suburban box and think about all of the ways you can grow a green home.
The simplest eco-move is to buy used. If you are buying land, you can also purchase a recycled house. These homes retain the patina of normalcy but are a big step towards recycling nonetheless. I grew up in a home that had been moved several blocks: it was a beautiful 1930s home that has now lasted for decades beyond its initial demolition date. Moving an old house that is going to be demolished is a time-honored tradition. Get a beautiful old home, get some land, and combine the two.
Recycled houses may also be made out of reclaimed materials. Re-stores are springing up to sell reclaimed housing materials. Ever looked at the waste left behind when a home is demolished?It’s a sad and horrendous thing. Re-stores reclaim materials from older homes with lovely wooden floors and vintage cupboards, glasswork, and even doorknobs are scavenged and resold to those who want to reuse and get the cachet of the past.
Treehouses and green roofs seem to be all the rage these days – a throwback to the elves and hobbits of The Lord of the Rings, perhaps? Or simply a creative use of natural materials? From engineering marvels situated in the trees to traditional sod houses built under the ground, these homes maintain wildlife habitats and use the natural environment as their visual playground, blending in and becoming a part of the landscape.
You can also grow your own home, and if you don’t grow it yourself you can certainly source the materials from a farmer who has grown them for you. Straw bale and cob building integrate renewable materials and are excellent for those who plan to build and maintain their own home. They offer superior insulation from the cold and the heat, and while they are a technology in their own right, straw bale and cob houses can also be user-friendly. You build, you know how to repair them. If you’re moving onto a piece of land that has forest and you need to create space for a home, you can also consider integrating some of that wood into your future home. Forests far away will thank you for using your local materials to create local buildings.
Then there are the houses that seem to be a little more out there. Homes built out of tires? Glass or plastic bottles? Why yes, and more. There are homes built out of just about anything that you can reuse. Knotts Berry Farm has a bottle house made out of 3,000 whisky bottles. If you’re taking this home-building approach, I simply entreat you to source from your neighbors as well as from your own domestic habits.
Now, environmentally-friendly homes can be dead normal too. You can have the conveniences of modern life and achieve them through solar, wind, and geothermal energy and efficient appliances. But if you want to live in a glass house, if you want to go a step further in natural appearance and materials, there are many ways to do that as well.
How far would you go to create a recycled or eco-friendly home?