4 Cheap and Green Living Spaces (That Don't Slack on Design)

Looking to Retire, Downsize, or Go Green?

We’ve all heard of the tiny home movement by now, and you’ve probably also heard of shipping container houses, as well. (No? Click here.) But if those standard housing alternatives have you feeling claustrophobic or like you’re living in a metal cave, check out these four options. Most of them are constructed with sustainable materials, and at such low price points that you could live mortgage-free. One of them even packs down so you can move wherever the wind carries you. (Click through to learn more about this house that comes together at the actual snap of a finger.)

1. Modern Grain Bin Silo

Like shipping containers, grain bin silos are a common structure DIYers are converting into living spaces. But this one takes the idea to new heights with its modern white coating and sophisticated interior. (Click the link below for more photos.) Spray foam insulation offers soundproofing and heat in the winter, while a sliding 9-foot door opens up the space to the outdoors. Photo courtesy of Dwell.com.

2. Eco-friendly Cob House

Cob houses are constructed with a mixture of clay, sand, straw, and water. If you’re guessing that this is an ancient technique, you’re right. These earthen homes have existed for thousands of years, and still to this day house about 30 percent of the world’s population. But the technique is growing in popularity for those in developed areas who want a sustainable yet strong building material, (extremely) cheap construction costs, and energy efficiency. Building a cob structure is a true DIY project that can involve an entire family or community. Photo courtesy of Motherearthnews.com.

3. Portable Flatpack

This two-bedroom house offers quick construction with its panels that can be clicked together sans nails or adhesive. The lightweight wood pieces snap together like Lego blocks, but instead of becoming a layered multicolored fortress you built as a kid, they form a sleek 1,250 foot living space. And because the walls and other surface areas are simply slotted together, the house is easily able to deconstruct and move with you from location to location. Photo courtesy of facit-homes.com.

4. Sleek Straw Bale Construction

On the outside, this structure may look like any standard house. But underneath the modern architecture sits stacks of straw bales. This type of construction uses standard bales of straw as part of a home’s structure and insulation, hidden under plaster, stucco, or cement. This sustainable material offers superior soundproofing, a natural living environment, lower heating and cooling costs, and up to a 75 percent decrease in overall construction costs compared to standard construction. (And straw bale houses are 3 times less likely to catch fire than standard buildings.) Photo courtesy of strawbale.com.