Alternative House Construction Approaches

A desire to save both money and natural resources has fueled the interest in other construction methods for many home builders. The site Improvement Web reports that some building methods utilize materials that may have otherwise ended up in a landfill. As an additional incentive for environmentally friendly contractors, if the home should need to get ripped down, the materials might easily be recycled after demolition.

Adobe and Cob

According to the site Green Home Building, adobe is one of the earliest known materials used for building. Adobe consists of water and soil. To the mixture, other fibers or straw are occasionally added for additional strength. Traditionally, the adobe was created into hand-shaped blocks and allowed to dry in sunlight, though now hydraulic presses and controlled drying methods are occasionally applied. Following a structure is built from adobe bricks, then a smooth coating of adobe mud or cement might be applied to seal the structure. Cob building is similar to adobe, except that cob can be stuffed into forms or applied free-form in”gobs” (or even cobs). Homes built from cob take on an organic, sculptural form. While cob may be a beautiful and inexpensive material for home construction, it is likewise labor-intensive.


Papercrete is a natural building material that’s created by repulping recycled paper and adding clay, soil or cement to it. Any type of paper may be used to make papercrete. It’s repulped by putting it within a large mixer with water. The addition of cement or clay transforms the paperpulp to a slurry which may be formed into building bricks or pumped straight into wall types. Once sealed and dry, papercrete is stable in addition to fire- and pest-resistantnonetheless, if used underground or in high-moisture locations, papercrete may deteriorate.


Buildings made from cordwood possess a rustic and natural appearance. The basic technique of cordwood building would be to pile cordwood with their ends coordinated and join them together with mortar, much like laying bricks or stones. The endings of the cordwood make an interesting design and texture for exterior and interior walls. No additional complete or maintenance is necessary, and cordwood structure is easy to learn.


Superadobe is a phrase and method credited to architect Nader Khalili, who developed this technique while developing ideas for NASA on how to build lands on Mars and the moon. Kahlili innovated the concept of filling sandbags with onsite earth, organizing them in coils and strengthening them with barbed wire. Superadobe is an extremely stable building material/method that’s fire-, flood- and hurricane-resistant and effective at fulfilling seismic building codes.

Aluminum Cans

One easy way to incorporate recyclable materials in home construction is to use crushed aluminum cans as an alternative to classic aluminum siding. Builder Ron Gobel is taking this idea several steps further. His home is assembled from water-filled aluminum cans he bought from a brewery. To make the structure, the cans were stacked in layers and enveloped in fiberglass insulation. The home is powered by solar panels.


Australian architects Pape and Stuchbury have developed a prototype of a cardboard home made from 100-percent recycled materials. The prefabricated cardboard structure can be packaged flat, shipped to the consumer and place together in about half an hour. Though modest, the cardboard house is useful as a temporary or emergency shelter. Its creators hope that their low-tech alternative structure will”challenge the housing industry to reduce housing and environmental costs.”

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