Top 5 Uniquely-Designed Homes That Didn’t Cost Much

Lifestyle programs are constantly showing homes that are unique when it comes to design. However they often cost too much for the Average Joe. Thankfully, there are options when it comes to building uniquely designed homes at a much lesser cost.

Architects and interior designers who can provide unusual and unique looks for their clients are often in demand. This demand allows them to charge high fees for their services, limiting the availability to certain individuals who can afford to pay for it. Consider yourself lucky if you can get a designer and your home for less than $100,000.

These days, more and more talented individuals are sharing their skills at a lesser price. As more designers are willing to push the envelope on what makes home designs stand out, more people are able to get dream homes into reality. More designers are also experimenting on building techniques allowing flexibility when it comes to creating unique homes on a budget.

Here are our top five choices for uniquely designed homes that didn’t break the bank.

1. House of Straw by Carolyn Roberts

The first pig brother built a straw house that was immediately blown away by the big bad wolf due to its lack of support and strength. That’s not the case with Carolyn Roberts’ house. Located in the middle of the Tucson desert, it still stands after eight years. There’s a whole community of straw house builders, and Carolyn was able to get their help in building her house. The house was designed by Wayne Bingham, who continues to design straw bale houses that meet the building codes implemented by various states and counties.

The house is 880 square feet, but the interior measures only 640 square feet. It has a sleeping loft and glass sun room on the house’s south side that allows passive solar heat to enter the house during the winter season. The straw walls act as an insulator from the summer heat, and the earthen plasters allow it to maintain an even temperature. Carolyn collects about 500 gallons of rainwater from half an inch of rainfall and a handmade solar water heater heats it up. Discounting the cost of the land, she spent a little over US$50,000 for the house. Friends and neighbors pitched in during the building, helping keep the cost of labor down.

With proper planning, research and support of people who knew how to build a straw house, Carolyn was able to build one that even the strongest huffing and puffing can’t bring down.

2. Alchemy’s weeHouse

The weeHouse is Alchemy’s line of prefabricated, single module homes that can be dropped off any site. The city, a forest, the desert, by the lake and even a rooftop are just some places where the weeHouse can stand. A basic unit is made of steel frame and wood, with bamboo floors and storage from Ikea. They also offer “Not so wee houses”, which involves stackable modules and the addition of various elements like porches and stairwells. This results in bigger prefabricated homes that often occupy a larger space and can go beyond one storey.

The starting price of a weeHouse is at US$125 per square foot. While Alchemy already has a stock of weeHouse plans and designs, you can customize your own weeHouse.

3. Low Impact Woodland Home by Simon Dale

This house built by Simon Dale and his father-in-law in Wales is straight out of the Lord of the Rings. It looks exactly like what houses at the Shire would look like. Like the majority of unique low-cost homes, Dale wanted to build one that had a small amount of carbon footprint; used little fossil fuels and was “considerate” of the environment around it. They wanted to have a house that was easily accessible as they worked in ecological woodland management in the area surrounding their house. Not to mention that it had to be low-cost, as the couple’s finances were not exactly overflowing.

Dale had but one experience in building a similar house. That, along with much trial and error resulted in this cozy and eco-friendly abode. With the help of family, friends and the occasional passersby and using natural materials and tools like the chisel, a chain saw and a hammer, they were able to cut back on the costs and finish building it in four months. The cost? $5000.

4. The Storybook House by Dan Phillips

Having seen his family go through the Great Depression, Phillips grew up learning to value whatever he had on hand. He learned how to build things from scraps, and has never stopped. He went on to become an architect, and today he designs homes that are 75% made out of recycled material.

The Storybook House was inspired by everything Phillips knew about fairy tale houses. From the outside, it may not seem like much, but the Normandy-style house catches your eye with its striped roof and wooden doors decorated with glass bottle ends, giving it a stained glass effect. Inside is as cozy and comfortable as any storybook house.

5. Tumbleweed Homes
Jay Shafer designs houses that measure 89 to 100 square feet. He’s been building Tumbleweed Houses since 1997, inspired by the need to decrease his carbon footprint yet still live comfortably. Tumbleweed Houses are prefabricated homes much like the weeHouse, yet the latter looks like little dollhouses with wheels (for easy re-location should you wish to, er, move). Tumbleweed houses can be purchased already constructed, or you can buy plans if you want to try and build your own. Each house comes complete with a kitchen, a living area, a bathroom and a sleeping loft.

With a little ingenuity, it’s easy enough to own a lovely home but still be under a small budget. You don’t have to be a Hollywood star to have a unique home you can be proud to call your own.

Ally is part of the team that manages Budgeting Spreadsheet and How To Save Money, which are personal finance guides, based in Sydney, Australia. Before joining the team, she was a Media Planner with McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.

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