making a living, making a life

If you had a choice between making a lot of money cranking out houses in the traditional manner and selling them at a high profit….or, like Dan Phillips, featured in this video, use recycled materials and a lot of skill and imagination to make houses that are both attractive and creative…but not make a big profit…..ummmmmm…..which would you choose?

I guess that we all have the choice….but, we don’t all have the skills this guy has.

Maybe “traditional” is so common because it doesn’t take the kind of imagination and time that this type of building takes?

Maybe status quo is an easier row to hoe?

Another great Kirsten Dirksen video… of the really cool ones this time.

It’s inspiring to see these.

Here’s the description from YouTube:

Transforming wine corks and bottle caps into flooring, cow bones into countertops, frame samples into ceilings and old deck boards into doors, Dan Phillips believes a second life is possible building refuse.

His company, Phoenix Commotion, turns trash into homes, employs “unskilled” workers and creates shelter for low-income families, but it’s not a non-profit. Instead, Phillips is trying to show that there are many good reasons to reuse construction waste (estimated as high as 10-15% of the materials that go into a building) and provide a whimsical alternative to mobile homes or other affordable housing.

With no formal training in architecture or construction, Phillips is a self-taught carpenter, plumber and electrician, but he has no problem complying with local building codes. “Every building code has a provision that alternative materials and strategies are allowable provided you fulfill the intent of the code. The only thing codes do is protect the public health and safety. So if there is nothing dangerous about it I can do whatever I want.”

He estimates his home are 75 to 85 percent salvaged material. He employs 5 minimum-wage workers, but also requires the home’s eventual owner (usually single mothers) to work on their future shelter. Since founding Phoenix Commotion with his wife 20 years ago, Phillips and his ever-rotating crews have built dozens of homes in Huntsville, Texas for low-income families and artists.

We visited his plumbed-and-wired treehouse home built in a bois d’arc tree (part of an artist’s compound with a 350-square-foot rental cottage and separate studio space), his “bone house” (made from donations from the “bone yards” of local ranchers) and his latest project, a home shaped like a cowboy boot.

About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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