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The Green Dream Gets New Siding and Roof Thumbnail

The Green Dream Gets New Siding and Roof

Posted on Apr 19, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: PopSci


A new update from John B. Carnett, PopSci’s staff photographer who is using the latest green technology to build his dream home. Read more Green Dream posts here

It’s been a long winter. Once the structure was complete, we started putting on the skin—a mixture of 100-year-old hemlock siding, white cedar shingles and a metal roof. All in all, I’m thrilled with the way it’s coming together, and hope to be moving to interior work soon. The only serious snag? See that plastic over the window holes?

Click the pictures to enlarge!




















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10 Outrageous Outhouses Thumbnail

10 Outrageous Outhouses

Posted on Apr 05, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: WebUrbanist

10 Outrageous Outhouses

Outhouses… before the advent of indoor plumbing, these permanent porta-potties were a necessary evil whose use wasn’t an option. Though most outhouses in developed countries have been torn down, a rare few remain. These iconic one-room restrooms serve to remind us of those dark days when if you had to go, you had to go out first.


A Room with a Half-Moon View

(images via: Ray’s Town Primitives and Space Squirrel)

What makes an outhouse different from any other outbuilding? Most people would say it was the iconic crescent moon window cutout on the door. Oddly enough, the half-moon isn’t a de rigeur requirement for outhouses, nor is it especially common.

(image via: D Scott)

Some say the style was popularized by cartoonists and comic book illustrators of the 1920s and 1930s. Others point to sun and moon symbols used to differentiate his & hers outhouses in times when most of the population was illiterate.

Thunderbox Road

(images via: Imagine Omit)

The art of the outhouse? It had to happen, being as the humble outhouse has imbued itself into pop culture regardless of how many of today’s populace have ever used one....

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Better Barns Cabin Thumbnail

Better Barns Cabin

Posted on Mar 29, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: Tiny House Blog

Better Barns Cabin

Better Barns Hardware plans would be perfect for a tiny house. Here are a few examples of finished products using the plans they supply. My favorite is the cabin below but you can view many more examples of their fine designs at the Barn Hall of Fame.


Here is how Better Barns Hardware describes their designs.

  • Distinctive Design… every barn plan is proportioned to look right. We pay careful attention to details like strap hinges and a transom window over the doors. To allow for maximum use of inside space, our roof trusses are designed to accommodate the addition of a loft for extra storage.
  • Creative Uses… for our barns are not limited to storage. Many of our customers have a specific use in mind– pool cabana, play house, practice room, workshop, garden shed, cabin-in-the-woods or studio.
  • Premium Quality… is apparent in our list of construction details – perfected over 20 years of constant change and improvement.

Our plan suggest the use of pressure treated lumber for floor joists; three-quarter inch plywood is always used for flooring....

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Innovative, Thin ‘Home Within a Home’ – Perfect Dense Urban Loft Thumbnail

Innovative, Thin ‘Home Within a Home’ – Perfect Dense Urban Loft

Posted on Mar 09, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: Dornob

There are small homes, then there are smaller homes … then there are super-skinny, ultra-mini houses inside of homes. The strange starts on the outside but quickly works its way to the interior. For starters, the whole (larger) home is sandwiched between thick and solid concrete slabs that rise straight up on either side of an extremely narrow building site. But step inside, please, and see an even smaller surprise.

Within the thick exterior walls, a wood cabin-shaped box serves as a suspended loft bedroom space. The wooden siding and conventional cabin (or mini-house) shape make it seem almost like a forest retreat … except that it sits within a living room area in an already-small house. This curious little home-in-a-home part even has windows and a skylight of sorts.

Kitsch or not, this room-within-a-room concept turns a somewhat cramped-feeling master bedroom interior into a cozy sleeping quarters – the wood serving to warm the space and set it apart from the colder concrete and bare white surfaces around it.

A multi-story vertical space serves to create some breathing room in the middle of the house while also acting as a light well....

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Shipping Container Home – Photos of the Building Process Thumbnail

Shipping Container Home – Photos of the Building Process

Posted on Mar 01, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: Dornob

Plans, designs and drawings are neat – but in action photographs is where we see the real wonder of shipping container home construction. Building becomes as easy as stacking giant modular metal LEGOs – prefabricated, pre-cut cargo containers already sized, scaled and structured to be transported.

Designed by architects Claire Helene Drouin and Jean Marie Sanchez – and appropriately set in an industrial part of a southern French city – this amazing container structure was, as you can see from the photos, assembled piece by piece on site after each shipping container unit was taken there by truck (after being shipped many times before by both land and sea vehicles).

Strangely enough, DIY used shipping container house plans have become so popular that there is a growing shortage in areas in terms of the used containers themselves – but for those able to find and buy them locally the actual building process is much cheaper and easier than most kinds of construction.

For folks not interested in the interesting process of actually starting their own cargo container homes from scratch, there has also been a corresponding increase in shipping container homes for sale – the flip-side of the used container supply shortage....

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Simple Yet Modern Shed Home Thumbnail

Simple Yet Modern Shed Home

Posted on Feb 18, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: Dornob

green prefab shed home

Sheds do not sound like something you would want to live in, but as modern modular, mobile and miniature houses become increasingly popular sustainable living space options, well, even products dubbed with titles like the Big Shed and Little Shed is not such a bad idea.

green prefab home plan

There is an art to designing  smalls-space structures so they are convenient and compact but also comfortable and livable – and a certain lifestyle of simplicity sought by many that makes them a good match for some people. Plus, these designs by Dwelle are relatively affordable as home prices go: you can buy ones of these all-in-one buildings  (and not worry about the hassles of construction) for between fifty and eighty thousand dollars.

green prefab house plan

This surprisingly cheap and simple-yet-modern shed home is has its own living area complete with fireplace, elevated bedroom loft space and separated restroom and cooking areas. It also comes equipped with highly insulated walls and windows to conserve indoor heat or cold depending on the season, radiant solar-powered in-floor and water heating, low-energy lighting, energy-efficient appliances and a variety of sheathing and roofing options for custom sustainability and style.


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Prefab Shipping Containers House Students in Architecture Contest Thumbnail

Prefab Shipping Containers House Students in Architecture Contest

Posted on Feb 05, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures


From its modular modern design to its shipping container components, Olgga’s student housing complex struck us as a pitch perfect project for prefab friday. The French architecture firm designed the complex to be constructed from 100 repurposed shipping containers. Talk about putting your students in a box!

The project was developed for a contest promoted by the Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires (CROUS) of Haute Normandie (an administrator of student assistance in France). The contest challenged architects to explore creative designs for student housing complexes that utilize shipping containers, with the aim of creating the first such structure in the country.

Olgga came in second place with their design, which comprises 2,900 square meters and would cost around 4.5 million euros. Each container is a room for one student, complete with a study area, bathroom, and living room.

See more at

Floor Plan of Shipping Container Home

Floorplan of Student Housing in Shipping Containers


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Cheap Luxury Tiles?  Pennies per Square Foot! Thumbnail

Cheap Luxury Tiles? Pennies per Square Foot!

Posted on Feb 02, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: Dornob (Great website)

unique custom round tile idea

A cheap-but-clever custom solution, using a penny as a floor tile makes a luxurious statement with ready-made pieces, but the legality of this alternate application by the Standard Hotel and Restaurant in New York City may be questionable.

unique penny tile design

Pennies are the notorious most useless part of American currency, so for the do-it-yourself folks this could work as a clever way to upcycle their dusty jars of these copper-coated discs by turning them into unique DIY tile with easy-to-design patterns.

unique glazed round tiles

This also makes you wonder: what else could be reuse into tile for your home floors or as other forms of surface material? Already there are manufacturers creating recycled glass countertops, but there must be a lot of other standardized waste or cheap leftovers that could be used in new ways to save you the time and effort of buying and installing standard tile....

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Industrial Interior Ideas for Shipping Containers or “Modern Metal” Thumbnail

Industrial Interior Ideas for Shipping Containers or “Modern Metal”

Posted on Jan 05, 2010 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: Dornob


Russian, raw and radical, this apartment design in Moscow may seem cold to some but also seems curiously cozy despite (or because) of the repetitive use of industrial materials for everything from the steel walls, windows, doors and floors down to the built-in corrugated room dividers, flat glass table surfaces and other furniture and furnishings.


Originally a singular,  largely undifferentiated open floor plan, a major part of this remodel by designer Peter Kostelov involved dividing the wide-open space into a series of individual rooms, including a newly-divided set bedroom, kitchen, guest bathroom and living room areas.  [COULD BE APPLIED TO SHIPPING CONTAINERS, AS WELL]


Metal corrugation, visible welds and exposed rivets break up what might otherwise be an overly harsh minimalist series of spaces. These and other details bring a smaller scale to large planes of single materials and undifferentiated surfaces all around.


The finished remodel has little by way of traditional decoration – instead, material qualities that were a natural part of the construction process and materials chosen became the core elements of style and decor in the final project....

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Attending Duke University While Living in a ’94 Ford Econoline Van. In the Parking Lot.

Posted on Dec 08, 2009 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Kevin Hayden –

By Ken Ilgunas

I live in a van down by Duke University

How do I afford grad school without going into debt? A ’94 Econoline, bulk food, and creative civil disobedience.

I was lying on the floor of my van where the middle pilot chairs used to be, trying to hide from view. This is it, I thought. They know. I’m going to get kicked out of Duke.

Moments before, I had been cooking a pot of spaghetti stew on top of a plastic, three-drawer storage container, which held all my food and my few meager possessions. I figured the campus security guard had parked next to me because he spotted the blue flame from my propane stove through the van’s tinted windows and shades.

I held my breath as he shut off the engine and opened his door. I was in my boxer shorts, splayed across my stain-speckled carpet like a scarecrow toppled by the wind.

As I listened to what sounded like a pair of Gestapo jackboots approach the driver-side door, I thought about how I’d almost gotten away with it....

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Carre d’etoiles: Tiny, Portable Prefab Cube from France Thumbnail

Carre d’etoiles: Tiny, Portable Prefab Cube from France

Posted on Nov 26, 2009 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Source: Tiny House Blog

Materialicious discovered the neatest prefab cube and I had the hardest time waiting until today to share it with you.

The concept of the design is for a vacation getaway for resorts where you can experience a window to the sky, and an island of liberty. You can rent these at several places throughout France and use the included astronomical telescope to penetrate the mysteries of the universe.


Designed with luxury and modern appliances, this tiny cube which size I estimate to be approximately 10 x 10 x 10 foot has everything you need in a very compact space. It will sleep four people, has a corner kitchen, toilet, shower, cabin bed, and parquet floors.

It has all the modern conveniences including a flat panel TV, mp3 player ready, telephone and Internet ready.

I want one of these in my back yard, or on some remote piece of property for a get away cabin.

Visit the Carre D’etoiles website to learn more.










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City Center Lofts; Salt Lake City’s Newest Container Condos Thumbnail

City Center Lofts; Salt Lake City’s Newest Container Condos

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

 Images Home-BuildingLocal readers probably already caught wind of this; a seven story condo made of orange shipping containers dubbed “City Center Lofts” is planned for construction in downtown Salt Lake City. I’ve always been interested in shipping container construction for it’s affordability, and I am eager to see if in this project it will transfer that affordability to the end user. My guess is probably not. Still with radiant heat expansive windows and a great downtown location, this could still be one cool place to live. More than anything it’s interesting to see modern architecture and design become more accepted in such a conservative state. The container building is designed by container pro Adam Kalkin (who’s website rocks), and backed financially by Adam Price, a lawyer and developer.
For more information check out the article in the Salt Lake Tribune

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The Most Unusual RVs, Campers, and Homes on Wheels You’ve Ever Seen Thumbnail

The Most Unusual RVs, Campers, and Homes on Wheels You’ve Ever Seen

Posted on Nov 20, 2009 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

by Willy Volk (RSS feed) on Jun 19th 2007 at 10:55AM

rvHotels are nice. Motels are cheap. Earth ships are, well, you know earthy. But for real travelers — the wanderers with a lust for wheels — there’s nothing more intoxicating than traveling the countryside in a camper.

Watching the scenery glide past; getting a sunburn on the arm hanging out the window; reveling in the freedom to stop anydamnwhere you please…ahhh, this is when traveling becomes adventure.

There are many different kinds of mobile living quarters: campers, RVs, and mobile homes are for the common person. For the true wandering spirit, only a unique rolling room will do. What qualifies as a “unique rolling room”? From the Train RV, to the Little Bugger Mini Home, to the ass-kickin’est overlander imaginable, here are 10 of the most unusual rolling rooms on the planet.

Road tripping is nothing new, of course. If you think about it, the exploration of the Old West was just one long, nation-wide road trip. Covered wagons, though, were not the ideal medium for cross country caravanning.


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Shipping Container Homes (or “Why Would I Want to Live in a Metal Box?!”) Thumbnail

Shipping Container Homes (or “Why Would I Want to Live in a Metal Box?!”)

Posted on Nov 16, 2009 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Not just for resourceful squatters, container architecture is taking the world by storm. Recycled freight containers bring efficiency, flexibility and affordability to innovative green buildings, from small vacation cabins to movable cafes, schools and skyscrapers.

Invented more than five decades ago, the modern shipping container is the linchpin in our global distribution network of products. In the containers go toys from China, textiles from India, grain from America and cars from Germany. In go electronics, chocolate and cheese.

While a number of resourceful people have converted shipping containers to makeshift shelters at the margin of society for years, architects and green designers are also increasingly turning to the strong, cheap boxes as source building blocks. Shipping containers can be readily modified with a range of creature comforts, and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor and resources of more conventional materials.

So what is this incredible box that faces wind, rain, salt, typhoons, and extreme weight for years?

The common ISO shipping container is either 20 feet or 40 feet long; 8′ wide; and 8’6″ tall.  ...

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Unusual & Creative Staircase Designs Thumbnail

Unusual & Creative Staircase Designs

Posted on Nov 11, 2009 in Alt Energy, Tiny Homes, & Structures

Unusual and Creative Staircase Designs

November 22nd, 2008 | Inspiration |

Unusual and Creative Staircase Designs

Collection of unusual and creative staircase designs from around the world.


Floating Stairs

Creative “floating” stairs designed by Florence architect Guido Ciompi for The Gray Hotel in Milan, Italy. [link]

Floating Stairs

Skateboard Stairs

Creative stairs made from skateboard decks. [link]

Skateboard Stairs

Skateboard Stairs 2

Hanging Box Stairs

Creative inside-out hanging box stairs. [link]

Hanging Box Stairs

Hanging Box Stairs 2

Disappearing Stairs

With a press of a button–and some hydraulic pistons–this staircase folds up and disappears into the wall. [link]

Disappearing Stairs

Stairway Drawers

What a great way to utilize a generally overlooked space! Step and store in style, using each step as storage for a different item. [link]

Stairway Drawers

Glass Staircase

Glass cantilever staircase with full height independent glass panel balustrade and wall mounted handrail. [link]

Glass Staircase

Glass Staircase 2

Longchamp Store Stairs

Creative stairs at the Longchamp Store in New York City. [link]

Longchamp Store Stairs

Longchamp Store Stairs 2

TAF Stairs

Creative stairs in a private residence in Stockholm designed by Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom. [link]

TAF Stairs

Storage Stairs Ideas

No matter how much space you’ve got you probably need smart storing solutions.


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