9 Unique Alternative Housing Ideas

If you are looking for an alternative shelter for your property, there are many options available. I picked some of my favorite alternative housing options for consideration when planning a bug out home, storage unit or improvised shelter.

1. Shipping Containers

Shipping containers cost a little bit more than some of the other methods mentioned in this post, however their durability more than makes up for the cost. some amazing homes have been built out of shipping containers.




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68 Responses

  1. Bee Man

    A few of those look 'shopped.

    • Anon

      You can tell by the pixels, right?

      • anonymous

        And from seeing quite a few shops in his time

      • MrBalloonHands

        And because he's seen a few in his time, of course

      • Andrea Neil

        The best option is a storage container home. It’s cheap too and some look nicer than traditional homes! I built my storage container home using EASYCONTAINER.INFO – I’m currently living in it writing this post! I’m so thankful I discovered that website! There are SO many benefits to container homes. They are affordable, designed well, strong, environmentally friendly, and unique. I was able to build mine so fast! If you are looking to get started with a container home, I can say with confidence; EASYCONTAINER.INFO is the best resource ever! You’ll find a lot of 3D designs and easy to follow instructions. I was going about the construction process entirely the wrong way and the tips on that website saved me so much money… not to mention time! It’s easy to make your container home dream a reality!

      • Survival Spot

        Thanks for sharing! I have always been interested in container homes because it seems like a cheaper/easier alternative compared to some of the other options.

    • guest

      which? out of interest

  2. Tara

    This is a great post. I would have never thought to use some of the materials listed here, such as the bottles. I'm also glad you introduced some new great alternatives =]

  3. dormanted

    I have to admit these are some ingenious ideas. Some of the materials used, I too would never have thought of. I love these posts. I do wish that in some of the tree house posts they had shown more of the inside design.

  4. Jln

    does anybody know where to get plans or outlines on how to do somethin like this?

  5. drugsNguns

    Safety first.. just kidding. Awesome!.

  6. D.

    You miss the point.
    The difficulty is not in finding materials to build a home but in finding a place to put them where you won't be attacked by officialdom, road builders or pop-fans.

  7. connie

    I am seriously interested in the bottle type house… maybe a bottle greenhouse.. My husband loves beer and it wouldnt take long to build up an abundance of his beer bottles.. weekly.. can you water proof a house of bottles.. how..

    • Survivalspot

      That's classic! I bet it wouldn't take long for a lot of people to build up enough empty bottles for one.. myself included. ;) I would guess that if you sealed off the little spaces in between the bottles with some kind of clear sealant it would do the job just fine.

    • Spaceman

      I have heard of an additive that you can mix with your mortar to make it waterproof. I’d also give each bottle a very quick rub with a rough wet or dry sandpaper (use wet) for better adhesion, though you can get away with not doing this. Most of the structures here work better with very large eaves or verandahs for longer durability and better weather protection, say straw bale, earth bags, mud brick, pallets, bottles.

  8. Zombie head

    alot of these ideas would be great in the event of a zombie appocolipse :P

    • Guest

      Especially the cargo containers, lol!!

  9. Eric von Kleist

    Think about school busses! I have lived in one for the past 6 years while going back to college and grad school. They are similar in size to the containers, but have panoramic windows. They are easy to gut and modify to live in. Lots of school busses and ideas here: http://www.skoolie.net. You can see my bus at the Paradigm Shift link attached in the posting.

  10. Burmapez165

    Thank you Congressman Ryan. I think in the House yourself and Congressman Ron Paul are the only two, besides Congressman Kucinich who put the People first.  Please run for President! Those lifelong politicians should be listening to you – you embody people our age, I know, I’m one of them!

  11. Intelligence

    Shipping containers get really hot, the hay & earth bags are a stupid idea (Joplin; Mo., Ohio)

    <img src=http://www.csmonitor.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/0607-ohio-tornado-damage/8078881-1-eng-US/0607-ohio-tornado-damage_full_600.jpg>

    • practical

      Haybale houses are very well insulated, the nature of the materials ensures that, they don't get over hot and are easy to heat in the winter. The shipping containers can be insulated too, against both hot and cold, as well as having windows cut into them for air flow. Earth bag houses and the 'dugout' type again tend to be well insulated against the elements and keep an even temp. Living in NZ the only thing I would be very conscious of is what is the earthquake rating.

      • gonzolawler

        Yeah…the container idea is actually very simple to plan and can be insulated around the outer perimeter in a very cost effective manner. Those who otherwise could never afford a conventional home ….can have a home…

    • Photowalla

      Straw Bale, not Hay Bale. Hay is eaten by livestock, straw is otherwise a waste product or used for livestock bedding. My wife builds Straw Bale houses for a living. The walls are more than a foot thick of some of the best insulation that exists. Entirely natural & no off gassing. They are extremely efficient to heat in the winter and cool in the summer. The walls are plastered over with a cement plaster mix that renders them extremely strong. There are straw bale houses that are inhabited today that were built in the early 1800's. Because the bale walls are encased in a cement mix, there is very little chance of fire or pests coming in contact with the bales. We are building a container house now and of the ones we've visited, heat isn't a problem in the summer. Between airflow, insulated walls and a living roof, they can be a comfortable environment.

    • John

      Do some homework before you pronounce something stupid.

      • Guest

        AMEN, it shows your immaturity and questions your IQ.

  12. Ward

    These are so cool, I would love to live in something this creative, if just for a little while!

  13. david

    This is so cool and inspiring. Id love to design and live in one of these some day.

  14. brearbear

    earth ships are awesome…

    i am also interested in Chinese Hakka designs…

    for retreat architecture, i suggest CEMENT TIRE BRICKS:

    1. old used tires…the outer part of the tire, where the air goes, filled with cement.
    2. once the tire brick's are "layed", like a brick, fill the inner "donut hole" part with rammed earth or more cement.
    lay several rows of bricks to make very thick walls.

    also, check out cement cloth/fabric. man carry-able sized rolls, cut to size, pour water over it, 24 hours …presto!

    sandbags are great for defense, use cement bricks/cement cloth/and sandbags together for a cheap bunker, expedient fallout shelter. check into berming.

  15. J.D. Linn

    very interesting site. If anyone in Tampa Bay wants to build two alternative houses on a track of land e-mail me, and on the subject line, list best time for me to call you back. [email protected]

    • Christel

      You live where there is a lot of moisture, I would begin with a rubber tire/cement foundation to avoid mold.Then carefully select materials that are" tried and true" to ward off moisture penetrating the structure. I wish i could help you! It would be a serious hoot! But I have my own "project house", what a long strange trip it's been…. Hahaha, Good luck with your dream… Christel/NV/USA

  16. Elizabeth

    simply wonderful, please continue

  17. Doug

    I am inspired!! keep up the good work

  18. pacific_waters

    One of the so called geodesic domes is not a geodesic at all. Things like this on a website lead me to believe they don't have a clue about they're talking about so why should I trust them at all?.

  19. wolfjflywheel

    the one one thing we have in eastern ky are caves and old worked out coal mines, should be great for shelter?

  20. Tha Real

    Dome homes are the best structures.. Build them the correct way with the correct materials and you can live for ever i it with out ever leaving it.

  21. cooldesignlover.tumblr.com

    Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I love the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get

    home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m

    not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, fantastic site!

  22. hughonabike

    Love the container idea. I can would go for that. Brilliant solution for low cost housing. Can be beautiful as well but I can't see Governments councils and planners liking or encouraging it.

  23. phillip

    I'd have to go with the Earth Berm concept

  24. Ifonly

    If only they would legalize growing hemp, hemp brick houses could be on this list.

  25. losangelesrealestate

    It's really a great post. The materials for build this house is unique. I never thought that this junk materials can be use for make any home,where anyone cab be live. It's really a great and unique idea.

  26. Sam

    These are incredible designs and ideas! Very inspiring, I love it. Keep up the good work!

  27. Martin Elks

    Overall, a nice list of alternatives housing – especially those tree houses. I'm not too keen on the straw bale houses though. It's all to easy to accidentally burn down.

  28. alfred

    There are many good ideas that I can get from this article. Thank you.

  29. Waterson

    Hey friend, A lot of thanks for give us alternate housing ideas. I was searching such kind of content since long but eventually today my search is over and all thanks to you. Your blog is not only informative but constructive too. one time afresh esteem.

  30. Richard

    This is a great round-up! And such intricate architecture. Some of these designs look like they've been picked out straight from a fairy tale

  31. Catherine

    Oh Man,…
    These are one of the best ideas, about which I could hardly have think about.
    I liked watch of these housing ideas,,
    I am sorry that I can't distinguish among these to say which one would be better.
    Too good…

  32. Home Builder

    Definitely unique and very inspiring to see these ideas people have crafted for use as homes. I personally love the tree houses and the earth berm. I can see how it would cut down quite a bit on utility costs since it functions like a cave. Love it!

  33. Julie Matthewson

    Very interesting breakdown, indeed. It’s nice to have such information available in one location and some ideas for new and different directions to take to help one stand out.

  34. denver hardscape

    I would think that concrete would have difficulties sticking to the mortar since it has very little structure. But it would be exciting to listen to from someone who has designed one of these before.

  35. Castlerock xeriscape

    What about earthships and papercrete house ? Both of these use reprocessed components as fantastic solutions

  36. Off-Grid » Top 9 Unique Alternative Housing Ideas

    […] So here is a great list of ideas (with some good photos) to open your mind to some of the possibilities. The list even includes sturdy shipping containers, affordable straw bale homes and pallets, which sometimes come free in most places. If those do not interest you a bit, try earth sheltering à la Hobbit for some protection against the weather or recycled bottles to add a breath of beautiful uniqueness to your shelter. There are other options still, check them out: http://www.survival-spot.com/survival-blog/9-unique-alternative-housing-ideas […]

  37. JoeAnnett

    Hmmm … i like the tree houses but always wonder: isn't there a degree of movement in the tree (continued growth, wind, rotting) that could cause structural damage.
    wouldn't the amunt of shade fro large trees make the home too shaded?

  38. Bill Seavey

    There any many fine ideas here, and illustrated. My book, Home Dreams for Hard Times, lists 20 such ideas, although some don't have to do with building, just mortgage-free housing such as property caretaking, apartment managing etc. I have personally built a strawbale house in Mexico which you can see on my site. I've also built a geodesic dome. The book contains contact information and links so you can get started right away with whatever strikes your fancy (also the downsides dealing with building codes etc.)

  39. Willetta

    Keep up the excellent work. It has a really excellent content on this subject and your comments are quite accurate.

  40. BigGoofyGuy

    I think those are not only cool looking but also very creative.

  41. Drew Peters

    Honestly those are very cool ideas of house. It's small but very phenomenal. I love it!

  42. Ronnie Pistons

    The shipping container home in the tree has been one of my all-time favorites for a while. I'd love to have one of those.

  43. Anonymous

    This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me.
    Many thanks!

  44. Shipping Container Modifications

    Awesome images and ideas. We build custom shipping container offices, homes, modular buildings, and more. Check out our website for further information

  45. Zoe Henderson

    Oh my god, can I have the hobbit house??? That is just perfect for me since I am not that tall of a person! I maybe real life hobbit! Hahaha. But honestly who doesn’t want a hobbit house?! I am loving the tree house as well. I wish I can have them all! This type of houses definitely are the basic greenhouse! If you are interested in this greenhouse and cost-effective project, say no more, http://www.biesterbos.nl is your best buddy! They are the most amazing developers out there! Go check their website out and see how right I am! Thank you.


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