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Using Salvaged Materials To Build Micro Homes

Derek Diedricksen's tiny houses are surprisingly cheap and are made from discarded junk.

Naresh Kumar
Naresh Kumar on March 1, 2011.

Derek Diedricksen builds small homes out of junk and when we say small, we mean really small. Take the “Gypsy Junker” for instance, which at 24 square feet, is the largest of his creations and uses everything from discarded shipping pallets to dumped kitchen cabinets to old washing machine spares in its construction, and has its bunk and heater running on vegetable oil. Or “The Hickshaw”, a sleeper home which has its foundations on an abandoned cedar deck chair on wheels. The “Boxy Lady”, at 4 feet high, is the smallest of his microhouses, and is basically a pair of plywood cubes mounted on a slab of wood, and features two wheels and a post leg, and again all of it coming from salvaged materials.

Diedricksen’s creations, all of which have been set up in his own yard, were built at an expense of less than $200 each and while not too practical for everyone to live, can be taken as an inspiration for setting up environmentally-friendly homes with minimalistic features.

New York Times took a tour of his homes:

He leads the way down the hill to his backyard, where there are three structures of diminishing size, and shows the reporter into the Gypsy Junker. With a roof height that ranges inside from 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 10 inches, this is one that Mr. Diedricksen, who is 6-foot-4, can almost stand upright in, at least in some places. Like many a fancy camper, it also has a bump-out — an 8-foot sleeping pallet — although this bump-out is permanent. Guests can sleep on the four-by-six-foot floor, although if they are tall, they would have to sleep diagonally.

Sawed-off yellow, blue and green wine bottle bottoms make for a colorful lower-level window in the guest area, and there is a heating unit with an exterior vent built from a frying-pan base, with a broken brass cymbal that serves as a heat reflector. (Vegetable oil is the suggested fuel.) The most expensive items were the four sheets of corrugated plastic on the roof, which came to $80.

NY Times: “The $200 Microhouse”

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