$200 Earthen Geodesic Dome Cabin Uses Salvaged Materials

© Jeffrey the Natural Builder

Living in a tiny house means deliberately learning real life lessons of economy, resourcefulness and simplicity -- and even more so when you build one of your own using entirely salvaged materials.

Originally hailing from the UK, industrial designer-turned-natural-builder Jeffrey built this geodesic dome cabin using recycled wood, earthen plaster and other various local materials that he collected as it became available, ultimately taking him two months and costing only $200 for nails, screws and roofing material.

© Jeffrey the Natural Builder

Seen over at Inhabitat, this tiny home was constructed on land provided by Aprovecho, a sustainable education and research center in Oregon. The aim was to use materials destined for the landfill, to familiarize himself with new techniques and to test out the possibilities of "pod living" as a way to get out of the rat race. Says Jeffrey:

I also see pod living as a possible solution to my generation’s dilemma of homeownership. How do we live in our own homes without building up crushing debt and being stuck in jobs we hate for most of our lives. What if you could build a small affordable pod and join a like-minded community?

© Jeffrey the Natural Builder

The process of building this little abode has some interesting details which Jeffrey recounts:

To begin the project I constructed a nine-foot, ten sided deck using wood salvaged from a torn down shed and concrete pier blocks that were found on site. I built small walls, known as ‘pony walls’ to raise the dome so the occupant could stand in the middle. I then built the dome structure from pallet wood fastened together using plumbing wire around hubs made from PVC pipe.

© Jeffrey the Natural Builder

For waterproofing the roof against the rainy Oregon climate, Jeffrey wanted to use billboard canvas, but this proved elusive, so a combination of tarpaper (not too eco-friendly) and salvaged cedar shingles was used in the end.

The insulation also was an exercise in making do with what was available and in bartering:

To insulate the dome I used a combination of materials. I reclaimed rigid foam from a pile of deconstruction waste. After I ran out of that I used a “slip chip” made from wood shavings coated with clay slip and packed into a form. I was also interested to try using sheep’s wool as insulation because it is a natural, inexpensive insulating technique and sheep are abundant in the area. At a farmer’s market, I learned about a local woman who let me swap a days work on her land for six bags of her sheep’s wool. I then washed the wool to clean it, carded it to fluff it up, then sprayed it with borax to prevent insect infestation.

© Jeffrey the Natural Builder
© Jeffrey the Natural Builder
© Jeffrey the Natural Builder

Best of all, Aprovecho's interns helped out with some of the construction as part of a workshop, proving that structures like these aren't always done alone by the rugged individualist, but are as much a product of communal efforts.

© Jeffrey the Natural Builder

Before plastering the outside, Jeffrey collected vine maple from the forest and wove a lath surface to hold the protective earth and lime plaster.

© Jeffrey the Natural Builder

It's a simple but honest little home for life in the woods, and it's always enlightening to read about diverse approaches to the building process. More over at Jeffrey the Natural Builder.

Tags: Architecture | Less Is More | Living With Less | Oregon | Small Spaces

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