Bricks or beer bottles? Building with alternative materials


WHEN you picture your ideal Spanish property, is it made of bricks and mortar? Or is made from timber? For many the answer is neither.
Certain things seem obvious to us. When we think of a building we think of only a small range of materials that they should be built from. Bricks and mortar, wood and stone seem the logical choices for most buildings. Since uniformity is dull we are lucky that there are those who think outside the box when it comes to building
With the ever increasing market of alternative living options now becoming popular in Spain, you can find people living happily in all sorts of homes made from unconventional materials.
From a converted London bus, to a treehouse, from a metal storage container to a boathouse, you will be surprised what some people call home. But even more so at the quality and luxury that can be reached with a little imagination.
Shipping containers are flood and fire proof, making them a great home-building material. Ranging in length from four to 10 meters, shipping containers are typically only used for 10 to 15 years, but they can last much longer. It is estimated that there are 24 million empty shipping containers in the world that will not be used for cargo again.
If a life on the water suits you more, Spain has always been a very popular destination for live-aboard cruisers. It has a magnificently long coastline, beautiful islands and welcoming people. As it sounds, a houseboat is a boat that has been designed or modified to be used primarily as a home. From that point on whatever your imagination comes up with is your only limitation, that and the fact it has to float of course.
Large vehicles are also becoming a favourite. What may immediately spring to mind is a broken down double decker bus, or old coach left in a field being exploited to the fullest extent of its life by the more hippy side of society. But you only have to look at some of the world’s most luxurious limousines to see what is possible.
Motorhome manufactures charge extortionate amounts of money to build what is essentially a caravan with an engine, so taking the custom limousine theory to a larger scale, articulated lorries can also be a huge luxury home. And frequently are.
It’s not only materials like metal or plastic that are becoming more and more common within the building trade – internal fixtures and fittings can also be seen to be having a mini revolution.
High-density cardboard walls, beer bottle windows, paper maché furniture – all possible if you are willing to step outside the box.


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