Final Craftsman House Proposal

Craftsman Bamboo and Plastic Bottle House (click to enlarge)
Craftsman Bamboo and Plastic Bottle House (click to enlarge)

I submitted my final house design proposal for the Shelters for All housing competition. As posted previously, I chose a bamboo and plastic bottle wall design that best meets the design criteria. Entry requirements called for a one page summary of the project, detailed time and cost estimates, and up to five pages of drawings. Winners will be announced in about one month. Key facts are summarized below.

Summary: The high cost of housing is the number one problem that must be addressed in order to solve the world’s housing crisis. At a cost of just $3.50 per square foot for materials, the Craftsman House provides safe, disaster-resistant, comfortable housing that is affordable for those in poverty.

Specifications: 940 square feet, 72 square feet loft space, 3 bedrooms, one bath, footprint 23’x40’, plus 118 square feet covered porch

Features: The spacious, modern kitchen includes base cabinets made of rot-proof low-fired brick, a pantry and broom closet and dining area; the living room includes built-in bench with storage below (extra sleeping space if needed), coat closet and wood stove; children’s bedrooms include desks and loft space for additional sleeping or storage space; all bedrooms include ample closet space and two windows per room for cross ventilation and emergency egress; the bathroom has a shower, composting toilet and sink; the open-air laundry creates a pleasant work space that keeps excess moisture out of the house and helps clothes smell better and dry faster; garden area includes trellises and raised beds for fresh food production; three water barrels – including one gravity feed water barrel to the kitchen sink – provide potable water for plants and household use; the front porch includes built-in benches for relaxation and social interaction.

The primary building method is bamboo frame with infill panels of plastic bottles stuffed with plastic trash. The main benefit of this design is its low cost and simplicity of construction. We know the concept outlined here is viable because similar projects have already been constructed by numerous groups in Latin America.

Total Materials Cost: $3,292
Total Labor: 2,016 man hours
Unskilled Labor Cost Total: 1,792 man hours x $1.70/hour= $3,046
Skilled Labor Cost Total: 224 man hours x $2.25/hour= $504
Total Materials and Labor Cost: $6,842
– based on actual costs in Guatemala and other developing countries
– 940 sq. ft. house for $3,292 = $3.50/sq. ft. for materials
– 940 sq. ft. house for $3,550 = $3.78/sq. ft. for labor
– Total: $7.28/sq. ft. for materials and labor (PV and solar hot water heater not included, recycled materials used whenever practical)

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7 thoughts on “Final Craftsman House Proposal”

    • It depends on the species, harvesting and processing techniques, how it’s preserved, how well protected it is (good design). Some bamboo buildings are centuries old. Most should last 50-100 years or more if built properly. Search ‘bamboo preservation.’

  1. HI Owen, We are having a soft drink bottle drive and hope to build a restroom with a baby change room etc. for visitors to a not for profit children’s farm in Qld Australia. It will enclose an existing portable toilet facility with access at the back for emptying. The building method is not yet decided,but this method seems to be the easiest for volunteers and I was wondering what sort of foundation one would use with this method. Interested in your thoughts.


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