$300House   (+5)  [vote for, against]
Missed my submission time, so I will submit it for your review

An automatic Google search found out about a contest from Ingersoll-Rand for designs for a $300 house to house the homeless but only about a week ago (link). I developed one but didn't have decent drawings and ran out of time learning Google Sketch-Up, so I submit it here instead for your review. The contest must have closed some time today. :-(

A $300 house would be nice, but a $300 home would be better. A home is not just a dry place to sleep, but a foundation to build a life and family. These require safety, efficiency, clean water and a clean living environment. Also a $300 house is not $300 worth of products bought at a home supply store, but a set of materials that can be put in place and assembled on site for $300. As IKEA proved, transportation costs have to be accounted for. Building a single $300 house is tough, the correct solution allows for delivery of materials to create large numbers of homes utilizing efficiencies of scale to drop costs even lower and allow for the efforts of a whole community to be employed to solve the community’s problems. Almost all of the materials selected are delivered in rolls, which should be easy to pack and ship.

First part of the solution is to use as much locally sourced material as possible. To this, Earthbag construction for the walls of a single room house seems the best solution. Windows are nice to let in light, but they are expensive, fragile and compromise both security and insulation. The solution is to create security-block style windows out of local or inexpensively imported materials like clear plastic and glass bottles.

The idea is to spend as little money as possible on the walls to allow the majority to pay for the roof. Nearly 1 Billion people suffer from the lack of clean drinking water, so access to clean water is a key feature of a good home. So our Earthbag walls will be topped by a bamboo lattice, which is topped by pre-cut waxed cardboard pattern over which is foam backed Mylar sheeting to create multiple cylindrical mirrors. Rain water or well water will be filtered thru sand filters and then used to fill a feed tank located on the roof. Water from the feed tank will be run down black PVC pipes loosely wrapped by clear plastic located at the focus of each of the mirrors. When that water reaches 65-70 Degrees C, it will activate an automotive type radiator thermostat to let the water drain into a storage tank.

One or part of one of the mirrors will also focus on a set of solar cells cooled by the feed water. These will produce power to charge a battery and run a set of white LED Christmas style lights inside the house. By using focused sunlight, fewer solar cells are necessary, but some cooling may be required. Using Christmas style lights take advantage of the efficiencies of scale. Extra Mylar can be supplied to allow for solar cooking.

The complete list of delivered materials are: 1. Earthbag(s)

2. mosquito netting

3. bamboo poles (unless available locally) to support roof

4. pattern cut waxed cardboard to support curve of mirrors

5. foam backed Mylar with foam cut in strips to allow bend but support width

6. black PVC pipes

7. Connective piping

8. Photovoltaic cells

9. a small 12V battery

10. A small pump to move filtered water to feed water tank (can be omitted if performed by home owner)

11. String of 12V white LED Christmas lights

12. Four plastic barrels rated for water storage, one on roof to fill system, one for the sand filter, one for filtered water and one for clean water storage

13. Low temperature automobile type thermostat

14. Clean Sand or other filter media (if not available locally)

15. Clear plastic sheeting to loosely wrap solar pipes to insulate while allowing solar heating

16. Interior ground cover (anything from Linoleum to Tyvek to woven mat to allow for clean interior)

17. Door and hardware

Home provides safety, warmth, cooling, and clean water.
-- MisterQED, May 26 2011

$300 Home Contest http://inhabitat.co...r-developing-areas/
[MisterQED, May 26 2011]

$300 Home Contest http://www.jovoto.c...ts/300house/landing
[MisterQED, May 26 2011]

Picture created in Google Sketch-Up http://www.flickr.com/photos/36168889@N02
[MisterQED, May 26 2011]

Confused deadline http://www.cees.ing...00_House_5.9.11.pdf
[Sir_Misspeller, May 26 2011]

Earthbag building http://www.earthbag...g.com/slideshow.htm
[MisterQED, May 27 2011]

Edit for less terseness, retaining ponky rant: this is an interesting design, it reminds me somewhat of benders and other temporary or improvised homes used by itinerant and travelling people. However the land ownership regimes in most developed countries, with the monopolisation of land and the extracting of rent by a landowning class makes the cost savings of the building pale into insignificance beside the amount of cash that you would have to pay to someone else just for being there.
-- pocmloc, May 26 2011

Sturdy idea to build upon, of Priceless good intention.
-- Sir_Misspeller, May 26 2011

Challenging competition, and a nice attempt.

Was this intended for people in 3rd-world countries? (From the use of the word "homeless", I thought at first it was for the homeless of first- world cities).

Does it have to be "environmentally friendly"? If not, I suspect that it you'd be better off using more plastics (which could be recycled). Maybe some sort of double-skinned shell, with the gap filled with sand for solidity and insulation? If the shells were designed right, they could be nested for shipping.

I like the water collection and sterilisation idea.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, May 26 2011

This contest would have been a fun thing to attack with a group effort... .
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, May 26 2011

By the picture, I'd say you're off target by a factor of ten.
-- ldischler, May 26 2011

The problem with the competition is the one-size-fits-all approach. Before we can solve this type of problem we really need to know things such as: climate, available raw materials, the permanence of the building, the existing problems that caused homelessness in the first place etc.

Also, if we're just shipping in materials (and are probably subsidizing or fully paying for them as well) then the $300 limit seems arbitrary and stingy.

What is really needed is know-how that can be applied to particular problems/situations. For example, got plenty of clay? Here's how you make bricks.
-- xaviergisz, May 27 2011

[pocmloc] That is a valid point. The contest literature pointed to several areas that I were just seas of corrugated steel sheds with people living in them. I agree that those people can't just start building homes, but I can see situations where an NGO could go into an area and microfinance seed houses in several different towns in an area. Maybe make a school house or something.

[MB] Yes, definitely third world. I had Africa and India in mind during the design. The only first world application I can see would be some kind of wilderness lodge, but all that Mylar is so out of tune with nature, that is even doubtful. //better off using more plastics// No, no requirement on being Earth friendly other than the harsh constraints set by the budget which limit the bulk of the items that can be imported which forced maximum reuse. Earth bags are usually plastic, but obviously shipped empty. As generally assembled the Earthbag walls will end up being over a foot thick which provides good insulation.
-- MisterQED, May 27 2011

[xaviergisz] I completely agree. The best solution for India is not the best solution for Africa, but I think the discussion has merit. It is the reason I went with Earthbag as it is nearly universally usable. I was thinking of adding an addendum for a solar column to continuously draw air out of the house to improve circulation. What are the bugs like? A coworker mentioned that my design would collapse or at least have problems in a monsoon, and I'd agree. I think the key was to find as many universals as possible and try to apply them. Economy of scale could make a universal solution cheaper than a dedicated solution. I could do a pretty easy rework on this design and make it work in cold climates. Definitely have to alter for monsoon areas. Have to solve some big issues with salt infiltration near oceans, etc.

Is the $300 arbitrary? Yes, but still meaningful. You have to pick a number to set the mindset. I know that because if you look at the submissions you will agree that most people didn't understand that. They are creating 3 and four room houses. Houses made out of plywood. You have to start at a seemingly crazy number to shock to thought process into thinking differently. I think in bulk my design could be delivered near budget in some areas and it could change lives and that is meaningful.
-- MisterQED, May 27 2011

These homes should be developed in combination with waste handling. Earthbag construction seems a good fit with digging a hole. Dug for using the removed earth for construction material; like the walls, and site features, like raising the elevation under the home. Some hole(s) could be designed, site specific, for construction of a means for waste management/handling.
-- Sir_Misspeller, May 27 2011

// Earth bags are usually plastic,//

Ah, that's good then. However, if I understand correctly, you then have a house which is not so different from a sand-bag construction.

If you used moulded shells (for instance, just two cup-like shells which nest together, with a gap for filling), then you would have something which looks more like a "house", rather than like a temporary emergency structure. Shiny plastic may look tacky in a city, but I don't think the people most in need of this are keen on appearing to be in harmony with nature.

The shells could incorporate openings for doors, windows - they could even include some moulded- in features such as wall-mounted basins, shelves, seats, bed-bases etc

Tooling up to make big mouldings is expensive, but these would not need the absolute best finish, and could probably be made by vacuum forming or blow-moulding. If produced on a large scale, my guess is that the shells would cost only a few dollars to produce - probably not much more than earth-bags (and with the advantage of giving the occupants some integrated basic fittings to boot). You then have more to spend on essentials like water.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, May 27 2011

18. Pontoons.
-- Grogster, May 27 2011

[Grogster], Earthbag construction is maybe not the absolute best choice for housing atop pontoons.
-- Sir_Misspeller, May 27 2011

// not so different from a sand-bag construction// Nearly identical, except Earthbag sometimes uses a continuous bag filled in position. As opposed to segmented bags generally associated with sand bag construction. This approach is much harder, but I'd think it creates a stronger final structure. Also due to the material the Earth bags can be molded to create flatter edges.

The downside of your shell design is delivery cost. Even if the shells a feather weight, they fail the IKEA test as they would cost more to transport than they are worth. The advantage of the Earthbag is it arrives as a roll of material.

//18. Pontoons.// Another good point. Whether you are coming from the flooding or the mobility standpoint. There is definitely something to be said for floating houses, though not Earthbag ones. :) I even debated on creating a trailer house, but doubt I could add more than a modernized version of the covered wagon or a Yert, and also doubted they had any way of moving it. You could create a land or waterbourne velomobile that could be slept in, but not for $300.

//define house// Another good point and discussion. The contest described noted security as a requirement, so that discouraged tents. As for whether tents are a proper house, I'd say there are lots of people living in yerts who would disagree.

My vision for this was for a launching point for a poor worker who somehow managed to get a small plot of land and wanted something permanent in his life that would save his time and his money that he could later build on. This house is secure, can be made warm or cool, has access to clean water and lights at night. With some slight modifications it could even cook a meal or two a day without need for firewood. It needs a bathroom, and maybe a good porch, but other than that it is a good if VERY modest home.
-- MisterQED, May 27 2011

One cause of homelessness in the US is the regulations designed to ensure each home is sufficiently safe. Alternative materials, be they ever so safe, are forbidden by regulators. And in many places it's forbidden to build a home without utility hookups. These requirements function as a de-facto tax on anyone building a home with some going to the local electricians/plumbers/etc, some going to the local government, and some wasted on undesired material. In fact most of the cost of obeying regulations involved in building a house go to corruption. Less than half go to things that are actually needed. Reform the regulations, tell the electricians guild/board/group to stuff it, and hang half of the local council/housing board/housing studies group/special council for designing blah de blah and making the world better for absolutely everyone and totally not for funneling money to politicians via demented and twisted third party pathways. Do this and housing will be enormously cheaper at the same quality.
-- Voice, Oct 29 2020

Yes, isn't representative democracy just wonderful ...?

How like humans to carefully engineer a system that invariably produces the one compromise outcome that pleases absolutely no-one.
-- 8th of 7, Oct 30 2020

the value of a house is typically not the building. the value is the proximity/access to other people who live near there. in many locations the cost of the land is 2x or even 10x the cost of the building itself.
-- sninctown, Oct 31 2020

random, halfbakery