Can You Actually Build a House with Recycled Tyres

Posted by: Lydia on 31/05/2017

Category: General


When it comes to cars, there are always devotees keen on customising their rides and taking on DIY modifications. It’s no surprise, then, that their love of all things wheels can spill over into other areas. To many motorists, this may begin and end with a tyre swing for their kids in the backyard - but some take it to another level entirely.


You might not have known before reading this piece that it was even possible to build a house with recycled tyres. In fact, it’s been done for many years now. Here’s a look at what you can do when you find you’ve got a lot of spare tyres hanging around, and are keen on building a holiday house that’s sure to be very unique.


Where the idea began?


The possibility of building a home with tyres really captured the imagination of Australians with the story of the Earthship. For those learning of this for the first time, David Alder, an Australian from New South Wales, decided to pioneer the next step in Australian inventions (after the Hills Hoist and boxed wine).


Alder built a home made of tyres - and while it may have been done a bit tongue in cheek, it also came at an important time, as interest in building homes with new and more environmentally-friendly materials was growing substantially.


It’s also important to note, since the trend is shifting, that recent statistics show that 50% of Australians own property. This means Australians still have a lot of interest in buying and owning their own homes, and so maximising affordability in this area is vital.

Why tyres?


Even if you’re confident your next house should be made of recycled tyres, many people might be thinking “Why?” Sure, the idea sounds pretty amazing - but just like those cool concept cars that sound great on paper but are disasters when brought to life, the reality might not be as great as the concept.


However, instead of being just a thought bubble, the idea of a home made of recycled tyres actually has a number of things going for it, especially because old tyres are used in new ways all the time.


It’s not news that we live in a world where the need to recycle and be more sustainable is growing. It might not seem like the auto world is an obvious starting point for making things more sustainable since billions of us use cars on a daily basis, but any small improvement in efficiency can be scaled into something really huge. Recycling tyres is a great way to achieve this.


Building homes with alternative materials is also important to other aspects of Australian life. With housing prices in many Australian cities among the most expensive in the world, many home buyers are understandably seeking out ways to maximise bang for their buck, and look for new solutions to help make housing more affordable.


For first-time home or investment property buyers, building with sustainable materials can save hundreds of thousands of dollars, and can mean the difference between being able to buy a property today, or at some time in the very distant future.


So what’s stopping us?


While Australia is a great country for the overall freedoms we enjoy every day, anybody who has ever tried to get a building permit from the local council knows that making a change to your property can be really hard. Even getting approval for a cubby house or simple alteration to your fence can sometimes be a lengthy process. While most of the time you can manage to get through the process pretty well, it’s fairly likely that anybody looking to build a house made of old car wheels will win the local authorities’ ire.


To some degree, the approval process can just be an annoyance and the result of outdated red tape, but actually it also deals with a number of more complex factors. With relatively few houses being built with non-traditional materials in Australia, it might take a while before builders and homebuyers shift their thinking to accepting homes made of tyres and other recycled materials. Just think about how long it took for power steering and air conditioning to become the norm in cars.


Design challenges


While it seems like building a home with recycled tyres would be much cheaper than doing so with other materials, the need to source, mould, and treat the materials also adds to the cost. This latter point in particular is important. While nobody wants to see any house on fire, a tyre home fire could be especially dangerous, with all the tar and rubber involved.


There is also the problem of maintenance and repair. While you may not be delighted to pay a tidy sum to call your tradesman to fix something in your home, at least you know you are calling someone with expert knowledge to fix the issue. The problem with homes built out of tyres is similar to the problem of servicing an electric car - while a few mechanics can do it , and do it very well, the rarity of their existence is a big problem. With a tyre home, it’s very likely you’ll have to make all repairs yourself - or not at all.


The building blocks of a home


While you may be unlikely to see a new home on your street built out of old Dunlops or Michelins anytime soon, David Alder’s Earthship did create a new debate in Australia surrounding how we build our homes. While tyres might seem a bit too futuristic at the moment, it must be remembered that we’ve seen big changes over time in Australia. For example, traditional brick houses have transitioned to weatherboard and other materials.


It may be hard to imagine now, but one thing is certain: more homes will be built using recycled materials in the future, and it stands to reason that some of those materials might be old tyres. In the meantime, though, if you find you have a lot of spare tyres laying around and you don’t want to try building with them, look instead to make a really great tyre swing or one of the other amazing things you can make with recycled tyres.



Would you happily live in a home made of recycled tyres, or would you prefer to stick to the traditional brick and mortar? Let us know in the comments below:


Image: Pixabay