Building a Recycled House


I recently discovered the work of Dan Phillips, who makes houses out of recycled materials. Something like 85% of the material he uses in his houses is recycled. By doing this, he can build a house for a fraction of the cost it takes to typically build a house, because most of his material is free.
He builds floors out of wine corks, mirrors from glass shards, windows out of relish plates, and ceilings from frame corners–those display frames that you can see in frame shops. He hauls things from stores and dumps and construction sites and re-uses them.
What I like about Dan Phillips is how nice his designs look. This frame-corner ceiling is cool:
savvyhousekeeping recycled houses
savvyhousekeeping recycled houses
“Old shingles, arranged by color, to build the roof of what he calls “the storybook house.””
savvyhousekeeping recycled houses
A counter out of slices of osage orange wood–rather like the wood slice walkway.
The above images are from a slideshow in the New York Times on Dan Phillips.
Phillips has also developed a housing initiative to help a low-income family get their own house. The new home owners pay for the land and material (I assume) and help build the house. Phillips has built over a dozen houses so far, according to the NYTimes. But even though the monthly mortgage is only between $99-$300, over half the houses were lost to foreclosures. Which is kind of depressing.

Some of those people simply disappeared, leaving the properties distressingly dirty and in disrepair. “You can put someone in a new home but you can’t give them a new mindset,” Mr. Phillips said.
Although the homes have resold quickly to more-affluent buyers, Mr. Phillips remains fervently committed to his vision of building for low-income people. “I think mobile homes are a blight on the planet,” he said. “Attractive, affordable housing is possible and I’m out to prove it.”

Here’s an interview with Dan Phillips:
Part 1:

Part 2:

And oh look! He has a website. I love the Internet.

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3 thoughts on “Building a Recycled House”

  1. I never get tired of hearing about Dan Phillips. Imagine if he teamed up with Jimmy Carter… Houses for Everybody!!! LOL What I like is he takes items that even Habitat for Humanity wouldn’t take and uses them.

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  2. lol that makes me imagine them dressing up like superheroes and running around bestowing houses on everyone.

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  3. Too funny, I came to your site for something else but landed on this first. My parents are friends with Dan, love what he does.

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