Houses of recycled materials
Name: Lynn Slezak
Is it possible to build a house completely out of recycled materials without
any substance that was not recycled in it?
Thanks for your question. I believe it would be possible, though most likely
some allowances would have to be made for substitution of what is considered
"traditional" in a home with more natural materials. For example, I do not
think a home's paint could be recycled, but a substitution might be made from
coloring a recycled material for use as the walls of the n home.
Considerations in recycling for use in building a total home would include
three major issues: cost of recycling the materials for reuse; structural
integrity (i.e. strength of the home components compared to materials normally
used in construction); and finally desirability of such a home to a purchaser,
related to options and substitutions made. Cost of the home would involve how
difficult recycling each of the materials might be, and this would translate
For a person for whom cost is no problem, this might not be a
limitation, but that would not apply to most people.
Strength of such a home would affect such matters as insurability and feeling
of safety while living there in storms, floods, etc. This would differ
depending on area of country and typical weather. Desirability related to
substitutions means how much someone might not like a "paint substitute" as
described above, or perhaps the look of a reconstituted wood product instead
of the original solid wood product. A serious recycler might think this
Another point to consider is building code requirements.
There are numerous municipalities and county ordinances which do not allow for
the use of some recycled materials already available on the market. The
reasons for this are mainly due to structural integrity and safety (many
recycled materials are not very fire-resistant. This is because of the
degradation caused by the chemicals used to treat the recycled products.
I agree fully with the previous post concerning consumer wants, needs, and
demands for recycled products. Right now (except for paper), there is little
demand for recycled products that can be used in home construction.
Center for International Trade in Forest Products
Forest Products Marketing
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Update: June 2012