Temporary Housing

Once you buy your property, you might need some temporary housing until you’ve finished building your new home. Whether you’ve hired a contractor to build your home for you, or you’ve decided to build it yourself, you should always assume the worst when it comes to a building schedule. It’s better to count on not getting into your house until the spring than to be living in insufficient temporary housing midwinter.

The first step in finding temporary housing is to determine your budget and your needs. If you are building in a temperate climate you might be able to get along with a less substantial shelter. However, if you are facing a cold winter or damp spring, you will want to be sure your temporary housing is well insulated and suited for your conditions.

Recycled Options

Recycling can not only save you money, but it also diminishes your carbon footprint by reusing and repurposing items already created. Consider using 20-foot or 40-foot shipping containers for housing. Solid and often insulated, these large metal boxes can provide you with many options for housing. There are a variety of websites with images and ideas for shipping container homes.

One that has garnered a lot of attention is the site run by Keith Dewey, owner and designer of Zigloo.ca. A website called Greenupgrader.com gives directions for creating a home from pallets for temporary housing. There are also prefabricated temporary shelters made from recycled materials that can be purchased for under $10,000.

Shipping containers can be readily modified to accommodate a range of creature comforts and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor, and resources of more conventional materials.

Mobile Homes and Trailers

Mobile homes and trailers are another option for temporary housing while your home is being built. You can purchase a used mobile home or trailer and move it to your property and have all the comforts of home. There are websites that advertise used mobile homes across the country, like MHBay.com.

There are also companies that rent mobile homes and trailers, like Pope Housing. They specialize in temporary housing for people whose houses have been destroyed by fire or natural disaster or who are building a new home and want to live on their property.

Tents and Yurts

Depending on your location, you might be able to temporarily live in a large tent, like an army surplus tent. Tents are often used for temporary housing after a disaster. Many new tents offer cut-outs that allow you to place a small stove and stack within the tent. Some off-gridders in Hawaii have successfully lived in tents for years.

A yurt is a round structure, somewhat like a tent, that is generally made of a feltlike material laid over a frame lattice of wood or bamboo. Yurts were traditionally used by nomadic tribes in Central Asia and can be used in all climates. Yurts vary in cost, depending on the manufacturer and your specific needs, but a 30-foot-diameter yurt can cost less than $10,000. To learn more about yurts, go to Yurtinfo.org.

Can I stay warm in a yurt?

Yes. The shape of the yurt is very thermally efficient. A large yurt can be easily kept warm using a small wood-burning stove down to 23°F without any additional insulation. In Central Asia, layers of thick felt keep the yurt warm as the outside temperature drops well below -40°F.

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