DIY Design: Plastic Bottle Homes

Ever consider building a home out of used water bottles? These people have.

@MeldrumDesign Bottle Homes

There is a solution to every problem. It’s incredible what smart people come up with when faced with allegedly insurmountable obstacles.

Nigeria is facing a huge housing crisis. They need 16 million homes and have no money to build. So the NGO Development Association for Renewable Energies and the NGO Africa Community Trust (whew, that was a mouthful!) came up with a solution.

Plastic bottle homes started in 2002 in India, South, and Central America. Nigeria took this “technology” and made it their own.

Check out this short video, your mind will be blown. 

The facts:

- Discarded plastic bottles are everywhere. Americans discard 130 million bottles PER DAY. Pause. Digest. 130 MILLION per day!! In Nigeria, where these homes are gaining traction, it’s closer to 3 million per day. But still, we humans are disgustingly wasteful.


- Plastic bottle homes take discarded bottles from restaurants, hotels, and even dumps. Each one bedroom home saves about 7,800 bottles from landfills and street litter.

- Plastic bottle homes are 1/3 the cost of traditional brick and concrete homes.


- Plastic bottle homes are BULLETPROOF and FIREPROOF. Seriously. It’s a whole house Panic Room.

- Plastic bottle homes are WAY stronger than CMU (cinder block) homes. WHAT?! These things could withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, and menacing wolves who want to huff and puff and blow… you get it.


- Plastic bottle homes are thermally massive. The walls (bottles!) hold heat so the inside space stays around 64ºF (18ºC) all year long. No A/C or heating necessary.

- Plastic bottle homes are built by anyone with a stick and a couple limbs. They give teens and struggling adults a way to affect positive change. What’s cooler than building a house with your free time?


- Plastic bottle homes can be up to three stories tall and can be any shape you want! Throw in curves and circles without any problem.

- If homeowners want to get gnarly, they can power the home with human or animal waste (methane gas).


- Plastic bottle homes are laid on top of a concrete foundation and use filtered sand to ensure compaction.

- Ok ok, but what if it rains? The bottles are glued together by mortar and cement then covered with plaster. All this keeps rain and sun from deteriorating the structure.

- Plastic bottle homes can be incredibly beautiful! Use different types of bottles and colored plaster for a huge range of styles.

Luckily, this trend is gaining traction. The first Nigerian bottle home in Yelwa has become a tourist attraction. Government officials and other leaders have paid a visit. There are entire swaths of land devoted to bottle homes. Nigerians are even using plastic bottles to build schools!

Check out this quick video to see the whole process.

"The whole world should come and look at it." – Nuhu Dangote, a trader who traveled from the capital, Kaduna, to see the house.

Don’t dismiss this for third world shenanigans! Imagine a plastic bottle cabin in the woods, or a storage shed, or garden wall. We’re waiting for building codes to catch up in order to build full size houses, but it’s only a matter of time.

Big thanks to my sister, Makenna, and her boyfriend, Jason, for sharing this news with me.

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