How to Build Your Home Out of Trash

How to Build Your Home Out of Trash

Building a home out of trash may sound crazy, but it’s actually a viable and eco-friendly option. With some creativity and hard work, you can transform waste materials into a livable home. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to build your own trash home from the ground up:

Finding Building Materials

The first step is gathering discarded items that can be repurposed as building materials. Here are some great sources to check:

  • Landfills and dumps: Landfills contain a huge variety of items like wood, metals, plastics, and glass that can be salvaged. Get permission before taking anything.

  • ReStore outlets: These Habitat for Humanity stores sell new and used building supplies at discount prices.

  • Construction sites: Ask if you can take scrap wood, bricks, tiles, etc. destined for the landfill.

  • Businesses: Restaurants, hotels, and factories often throw away useful materials. Make some calls to find out what’s available.

  • Curbside recycling: Keep an eye out for furniture, wood, and other items left on curbs for garbage collection.

Choosing a Design

Consider what kind of home you want to build and how you’ll use the space. A small cottage? Multi-story house? Here are some design factors to think about:

  • Size and layout: Make a floor plan based on your needs and the materials available.

  • Weight: Heavy items like concrete blocks can support multiple stories. Lightweight materials like pallets work better for single story builds.

  • Windows and doors: Use repurposed glass and intact window and door frames whenever possible.

  • Insulation: Incorporate thick/dense materials to insulate walls and ceilings, like pressed cardboard or straw bales.

  • Roof: A basic gable roof is easy to frame with scrap wood and cover with discounted metal roofing.

  • Functionality: Incorporate plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc. if possible. Get creative with repurposed parts!

Choosing a Site

Look for a property you can legally build on, like:

  • Land you already own
  • Cheap rural land
  • Land leased from a farmer
  • An inexpensive lot in a trailer park

Make sure to research zoning laws and get any required permits before starting your build. Off-grid rural locations offer more flexibility.

Building the Foundation

The foundation supports the entire structure. Here are some eco-friendly options:

  • Scrap wood pillar: Drive pillars made of stacked wood into the ground. Level and reinforce with bracing.

  • Stone: Use found stones or broken concrete chunks to make a low rubble foundation.

  • Earthbag: Stack bags filled with soil and compacted to form walls. Then add barbed wire to stabilize.

  • Post and beam: Set vertical posts into holes with concrete, then attach beams horizontally.

Framing the Structure

The frame provides the skeletal shape. Use repurposed lumber and metal:

  • Walls: Attach studs vertically between top and bottom plates. Include openings for windows and doors.

  • Roof: Erect rafters at angled pitch from top plates. Add purlins for support if needed.

  • Flooring: Lay joists across foundation, then fasten subfloor panels on top.

Reclaim materials like pallet wood, used lumber, door frames, poles, pipes, etc. Nail, bolt, or lash pieces together.

Enclosing the Shell

The enclosure makes your home weatherproof. Get creative with these ideas:

  • Walls: Use cardboard, pressed straw, aluminum cans, glass bottles, etc held in place by chicken wire.

  • Roof: Layer tarps, then add repurposed roofing tin, shingles, rolled roofing, billboard vinyl, etc.

  • Insulation: Pack inStyrofoam, clothing scraps, shredded paper, sawdust, etc.

  • Vapor barrier: Line the interior with plastic sheeting to prevent moisture issues.

Caulk and seal gaps as you go to improve insulation. Make sure to include windows and doors from salvaged frames.

Adding Interior Features

To finish your trash home, get inventive with these interior elements:

  • Walls: Use reclaimed wood, license plates, traffic signs, corrugated metal, mosaic tiles, etc.

  • Flooring: Lay recycled carpet, wood, cork, rubber, tile, or concrete.

  • Ceilings: Use salvaged wood, tin tiles, wallpaper, license plates, or cassette tapes.

  • Cabinetry: Build with scraps or repurpose old furniture, appliances, and shelving.

  • Plumbing: Use intact sinks, toilets, tubs, and rain catchment for water supply.

  • Electricity: Add solar panels or wind turbine for power, wiring things safely.

Completing Your Trash Home

With creativity and hard work, you can construct a livable home using society’s cast-offs. Reduce waste while having a unique and eco-friendly dwelling. The possibilities are endless when building with trash!

Follow proper safety precautions, get professional help if needed, and check local building codes. Your trash home will come together one piece at a time.