How to Build a Home From Recycled Materials

How to Build a Home From Recycled Materials

How to Build a Home From Recycled Materials


Building a home from recycled materials can be a fun and creative way to reduce waste and your environmental impact. With some planning and effort, you can design and construct an eco-friendly home using reused, repurposed, and upcycled materials. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to build a house out of recycled materials.

Planning and Design

The first step is to plan out the design and layout of your home. Consider the size, number of rooms, and features you want. A small home will be easier and more affordable to build than a large one. Focus on including recycled features like walls made from straw bales, a roof covered in repurposed tin, and floors made from reclaimed wood. Sketch your layout and make detailed plans before collecting materials.

Sourcing Recycled Building Materials

Finding recycled and reused materials will take some hunting, but can save money and stop useful items from going to waste.

  • Check thrift stores, flea markets, recycling centers, and salvage yards. You can find all kinds of building supplies like windows, doors, lumber, and hardware.

  • Look for reusable construction items from demolition sites. Call contractors to ask about purchasing or taking leftover supplies like drywall, shingles, brick, and tile.

  • Check free listing sites for building materials. Neighbors often give away usable items during renovations.

  • Approach stores for discards like damaged wood pallets, scrap metal, and more. Get creative with upcycling discarded materials.

Structural Elements

For the essential framing, walls, and foundation, focus on eco-options:

  • Use straw bale construction for insulation and structure. Bales stacked and secured with adobe create strong, energy-efficient walls.

  • Make walls from rammed earth for thermal mass. Soil tamped into forms creates durable earthen walls.

  • Try a tire foundation filled with rammed earth or gravel. It’s rot-resistant and aids drainage.

  • Use reclaimed timbers for beam supports. Look for solid old wood from barns or demolition.

  • Make cordwood walls from recycled logs and masonry. Use carved logs and mortar for artistic earth-friendly walls.


Upcycling and repurposing materials for roofing saves money and gives your home unique character:

Exterior Finishing

Choose recycled exterior materials that are weather-resistant and provide insulation:

  • Use reclaimed wood for rustic board and batten siding. Vintage wood with battens creates a charming look.

  • Install used brick for timeless durability and style. Mix colors and styles for character.**

  • Stucco made with recycled aggregates like crushed glass for eco-friendly walls.

  • Salvaged stone creates a rugged aesthetic. Use repurposed flagstone, granite, etc.

Interior Spaces and Finishes

Decorate affordably with reused, upcycled, and salvaged materials:

Doors and Windows

Salvaging old doors and windows recycles materials and adds original architectural details:

Imperfections Add Character

Don’t worry about flawless finishes when using reclaimed supplies. The imperfections add to the charm and tell the story of the materials’ origins. Upcycling and creatively repurposing discarded items results in an eco-friendly, unique home full of character at an affordable price. With careful planning and lots of imagination, you can construct a comfortable recycled home to be proud of.