Buying a home is expensive. You not only have to pay mortgage fees, real estate agent commission, and other closing costs, you have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to purchase the property. But on closing day, the costs just get started. Once you step into the house and start poking around, you realize that a lot of work needs to get done and it all costs a lot of money.
One young couple bypassed the expense of owning a home by doing something different. Instead of buying a home and following the traditional path, they used recycled and reclaimed materials to build a home in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California for just $10,000.
With a minimalistic look and design, their home has more space than you would suspect. They used car tires to reinforce the found-wood walls. And colored glass bottles are used to provide stained-glass windows.
But this couple knew a thing or two about building a home before diving in. Taylor Bode is an architecture student who wanted to put his lessons in class to the test. His wife, Steph, who is a yoga instructor and preschool teacher, was willing to go along for the ride. They are both 31.
Besides building a creative home, they wanted a minimalistic design so they could reconnect with nature.
“Steph and I were 25 years old and fantasized about experiencing a simpler life – the whole Walden Pond, slowing down and reconnecting with nature idea,” Bode said.
“We also believed in the potential of a minimalist, self-sufficient, environmentally conscious approach to architecture and lifestyle, particularly as a solution for low-cost housing in critically impoverished parts of the world. So on the one hand, we built the house to chase an idealistic dream of our own, and on the other hand, we built it to set an example for how others might carve out a higher degree of comfort and autonomy for themselves.”
After careful planning and a lot of salvaging, they were able to build a home for just about $10,000.
“We had observed the cavalier attitude with which unwanted things were so routinely sent away to landfills, and we chose to re-imagine those discarded items as useful building components, rather than as junk,” Bode said. “Car tires became reinforced by rammed earth bricks. Bottles became stained glass compositions. Old barn wood was reused for interior finishes. We applied that philosophy and construction method to our own circumstances and to our own site. We also kept costs down by doing all of the work ourselves, with some monumental assistance from friends and volunteers.”
Bode and his wife live off the grid in their “Earthship” home. They use solar, and wind power and have a sewage treatment system working for them. They have minimal reliance on fossil fuels and don’t need the county to provide them with anything.
“In a world where we often struggle to see beyond the screen of our smartphone or tablet, living in an Earthship-style house offers a constant reminder that land and nature is our life-supporting community, one in which we are privileged to be a part of.”