Creative Alternative Housing Options that are Trending  

Creative Alternative Housing Options that are Trending  

Would you like to own your own home? How much of an impact would that mean to you? Picture it. A life where you no longer stress about rent and don’t struggle with loans to pay off expenses. 

The truth is that this life of freedom is possible. If we open our minds to inexpensive mortgage alternatives, we can give ourselves and our loved ones a lovely home to live in. 

Let’s look at the unconventional housing options that are taking over the world by storm. 

  1. The cob house 

A cob house is a shelter made from clay, sand, water, and straw. This house is the ultimate eco-friendly home because it’s made from natural materials. 

Humans have used earth materials like clay, sand, and straw to build homes for 10,000 years. We observe birds using twigs to build durable nests and termites carving through mud and wood to make unique homes. As such, the idea of cob houses came from observing animals in the wild. 

A cob house is safe and strong (the strongest cob house has lasted 10,000 years. When structured correctly, it can withstand wind and rain. Modern creators use a protective lime wash, putty, or earthen plaster to protect the cob walls. The roof is constructed to have a large overhang that protects it from rain. 

Presently, supporters of green construction and sustainable housing are inventing cob houses and fitting in energy-efficient solutions like solar energy, rain-capturing systems, propane gas for cooking, and many other environmentally friendly systems. As a result, the house is far cheaper than the modern home and more friendly to the environment. 

Curious to learn more. You can check out Alexander Sumerall’s book How to Build a Cob House.‘ 

2. Bricks 

The earliest recorded history of building with bricks dates back to 7000 BC. This is one of the oldest known building materials. Bricks are:

  •  Resilient
  • Low-maintenance
  • Fireproof
  • Noise-canceling
  •  Flexible when it comes to design
  • Durable
  • Energy efficient. 

Brick houses are easy to make, and hundreds of people built their homes using bricks. You can buy or make the bricks yourself using a brick-making machine. They say finishing a house is where the money ends. Yet, there are natural finishes for interiors that you can explore, e.g., natural plasters. Just get your DIY brain running, and you will be surprised at how cheap it is to own your own home. 

3. Container homes 

Container homes are trending. The latest statistics show that the global market for container homes is projected to grow from $59.27 billion in 2022 to $87.11 billion by 2029. 

Containers are designed for durability. They were created to withstand harsh weather conditions because we use them to ship things on the ocean. As such, you can use shipping containers to construct a stylish, comfortable home at only a fraction of the price it costs to build the typical stone house. 

Are shipping container homes cold? Well, you can insulate the house to make it livable. For instance, you can use low-cost insulation materials like styrofoam, mud bricks, hempcrete, straw bale, or rammed earth. 

Container homes are affordable, easy to use, and construct. 

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4. Iron sheet house 

In certain cultures, metal houses are frowned upon as houses for the poor. This culture of disrespecting poor people in a world intoxicated with materialism is one reason cheaper housing alternatives are frowned upon. The media and the real estate market exalt the big, stone houses as status symbols. But it is possible to have a neatly constructed, functional metal house fitted with kitchen equipment like a fridge, cooker, laundry machine, or any other gadget you can’t live without. 

5. Woodhouses 

Constructing a house with wood is one of the most ecological and economical alternatives that you can go for. Like bricks, wood has been used to construct homes for a long time. This natural product can be used with other recyclable materials to make the ideal home. 

Although wood is considered a sustainable material, overharvesting and deforestation can do more harm than good. Still, there are solutions, as you can use timber or log. You can buy your wood from certified, responsible manufacturing companies that deal with logs. 

There are different types of wooden houses. They are:

  • Log houses 
  • Mobile homes 
  • Light wooden framework houses (This is common in Canadian houses). 

Wood is a good material for insulation. Therefore, it helps keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter. You can use various materials for finishing, e.g., natural stone or artificial stone. There are diverse ideas of what you can do with wood. In addition to this, the house can be constructed to last long. For instance, in Europe, wooden houses have lasted over 200 years. 

6. Straw bale houses 

When I first told a friend about a straw bale house, they reminded me of the three little pigs’ story. The story goes that when the three little pigs hid from the big bad wolf in a straw house, the wolf threatened to ‘huff, puff, and blow the house away.’ This story captures the mindset of most people. There is the belief that straw bale houses are not durable. Yet, if you use a dry, tightly baled straw, you can build a beautiful, durable home. 

Straw bale houses are an eco-friendly, healthy, and affordable alternative to housing. Straw bale walls are customizable, meaning you can use them for any room size you want. Also, the house is a low-fire hazard since the straws are tightly packed during construction. Straw bales can easily be sourced as they are available locally. 

The only concern with straw bale houses is the learning bit. Although building one is fairly easy, there is a learning process that you have to contend with to avoid the challenges that may come with this type of structure. 

7. Earthbag 

An earthbag house is a type of house that’s constructed using local soil. As the name suggests, you take bags and fill them with either sand, the local soil, or other earthen materials. The typical materials for constructing an earthbag home are:

  • Woven polypropylene bags filled with moist, compacted earth or other soil mixtures
  • Barbed wire
  • Gravel
  • Various adhesives and sealants.

The construction of an earthbag entails stacking bags of compacted earth-like bricks using barbed wire as a kind of mortar. Once the walls are set, a base coat of cement stucco is applied to waterproof the house. You can learn more about how to construct an earthbag home here. 

Earthbags are highly versatile and can create various structures, from a simple home to a large multi-storeyed building. Once this house is complete, you will never guess that it’s made out of dirt. 


Building a home with traditional building methods is quite costly. When you check the real estate market, you can quickly lose hope of ever affording a home as the price tag reaches the heavens. But did all our ancestors live in stone houses? The truth is that there’s a lot of hype surrounding conventional methods of building a house.

 Our culture has been fed this notion of a stone house as the ideal and best. Yet that is just a myth. If you’re open to learning, you’ll discover many alternative housing materials to build a beautiful home for you and your loved ones, from straw bale houses to wood, iron sheets, bricks, earthbags, and others. 

Has this article inspired you? Kindly share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below. 

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Nancy Wambui

    The comb house is something new to me… but it seems warm judging by material used

  2. Shukrani Maina

    The straw seems like it would fall over

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