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How to Build a House Made from PET Plastic Bottles

Updated on April 8, 2013
platic bottle house
platic bottle house | Source

If you thought building a house or any other construction using plastic bottles as bricks was impossible, think again.

The type of bottles used in this type of construction are called PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, and are the type considered safe for containing beverages for human consumption.

While I haven't personally constructed anything made from plastic bottles, the basic premise is the same as using bricks, and so if you are a brick-layer, you will find this easy to do.

Plastic bottles are land-fill waste; no-one knew what to do with them. The world has mountains made from plastic bottles which, although lightweight and cheap to buy, are a throwaway from today's consumeristic society.

Till finally, some wonderfully green people decided to try constructing not just houses, but water wells, raised bed gardens, garden sheds - in fact any construction you can think of can be made from plastic bottles.

Third world countries are starting to see the benefits. Plastic bottle houses in hot countries make cool dwellings, that are not only solid, windproof and waterproof, they are bulletproof which is eh.....handy to know.

Did I mention cheap?

They are free! Other people have already used them and tossed them away. All you need to do is set up a collection point in your local village or town, and you will soon get a skip or full of plastic bottles to build with.

The other things you will need is sand, lots of it, perhaps a little cement (depending on climate - the cooler the climate, the most cement needed). A long length of string - the plastic type you see in garden centres. Earth, the more clay-type earth, the better.

loads of PET bottles filled with compacted sand
loads of PET bottles filled with compacted sand | Source

Advantages of Using PET plastic bottles over Brick

1. Low cost
2. Non-Brittle - (Unlike bricks)
3. Absorbs abrupt shock loads - Since they are not brittle,there can take up heavy loads without failure.
4. Bio climatic
5. Re-usable
6. Less construction material
7. Easy to build
8. Green Construction - an average house built as outlined below frees up 12 cubic metres of land-fill.

For each house you plan to build, assuming it has one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room, you will require approximately 7,800 plastic bottles.

Hotels, bars and restaurants are a good source for large supplies of plastic bottles.

Lots of willing helpers are a must, because each bottle must be hand-filled with sand. This provides weight and durability. The sand must be pushed in so that it is compacted. Experts believe a compacted sand plastic bottle is 20 times stronger than brick! Impressive.

The sand must first be filtered to remove any stones to make filling the bottles possible, as everything has to pass through the narrow neck of the PET bottles.

When filled tightly with sand, replace the lids to prevent any sand leakage.

While you have all the village kids or someone filling the bottles, you must dig out a foundation for your house.

All good constructions need a solid foundation, without which, any building is at risk of falling down like a pack of cards should the earth tremor, or a high wind blow.

Once prepared, fill your foundations with a good quality cement mix. You may wish to call an expert in to complete this part for you.

Now you are ready to build.

building support columns from plastic PET bottles
building support columns from plastic PET bottles | Source

First, build your support column and corners.

Lay your sand-filled bottles flat on their sides, and make a tight circle with all the bottles pointing pouring end inwards.

Secure them into position with a sand/cement mix, or mud if your soil is heavy clay.

Place a second layer of bottles immediately above and fill the gaps with mud or a sand/cement mix.

When your plastic bottle construction column has reached the desired height, you then need to bind them all together with string, entwining the string round the base end of the bottle which will be sticking out, and joining each bottle together in a criss-cross pattern.

This is in preparation for the final rendering.

building plastic PET bottle walls
building plastic PET bottle walls | Source
bing your plastic bottles together with string
bing your plastic bottles together with string | Source

Next, build your walls.

It is normal to have the base end of the bottles sticking out, so line them all on their sides, side by side, in this fashion. Using a spirit level as you go along to ensure they are in line, carefully use cement or mud to hold your bottles in position.

When your wall has reached the required height, then you have to bind all the bottle neck ends together in a cross-cross fashion with string.

When your construction is completed, the plastic bottles walls will be rendered in a cement/sand and water mix and the string will help keep everything in position.

building a plastic PET Bottle house
building a plastic PET Bottle house | Source

A Living Roof on your PET bottle house

If you want an environmentally friendly house, then the roof can be constructed of sod and turf, which I'm assured is great for insulation. They call this a 'living roof' which I'm personally not so sure about as that would possibly mean having to haul a lawnmower up there to cut the grass after the rains comes.

It certainly sounds as if it could become a very comfortable home for insects. Yuk!

 a PET bottle house with a living roof. How do you get the lawnmower up there?
a PET bottle house with a living roof. How do you get the lawnmower up there? | Source

Roof for a PET plastic bottle house

I am tempted to think for aesthetic appearances, a normal tile roof would look best on your PET bottle house, as shown in the picture top right.

While roofs can indeed be constructed from an unlimited range of eco-friendly materials, you will have already saved a fortune in building your plastic bottle house that really using normal materials would not break the bank at this stage.

Plastic bottles walls can weight-bear as much if not more than brick, so you could put steel girders up there up you chose, without problem.

You can also fit normal glass windows, and wooden doors into your PET bottle house.

What I saw that was a nice idea too was to string a lot of bottle tops together and hang them up as door curtains to keep out flies, which is a great theme for your plastic bottle house.

door curtain made from plastic bottle tops in a plastic bottle house
door curtain made from plastic bottle tops in a plastic bottle house | Source

How to Build a Plastic PET Bottle House

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Make a start on your PET plastic bottle collection


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    • Charles Karoro profile image

      Karoro Aziz 4 months ago from New York, US

      This is the most beautiful blog ever i read. good idea can change and recycling is one of them. great work..............

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 6 months ago

      Hi IzzyM! Wonderful hub! This is an amazing idea for recycling plastic waste and providing low cost building material. I have plenty of sand. I can see it being very hard to convince my local building inspector to sign off on it.

      Danielle- That sounds like a chicken mansion!

    • profile image

      lenuta39 2 years ago

      Bine ar fi daca s-ar gasi unele intrebuintari a acestor peturi, sa nu se arunce in mediu inconjurator ,care duc la alte pagube !

    • profile image

      Danielle 2 years ago

      This would be a good way to build an everything proof chicken coop for a decent price, as well. Bears, raccoons, mink... Come at me.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Now that is an interesting way to recycle plastic bottles, and build a shelter to live in. I call this cord-wood style, minus the wood.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      I've seen articles about these environmental constructions and I appreciate the reminders. I believe there would be so many ways these bottle constructions may be used. I'm thinking of garden retaining wall might be nice. Blessings, Debby

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks guys! I think it is quite an amazing use for PET plastic, which is a top of the range plastic designed away for the throwaway consumer society, and therefore wasteful. While they make super houses, I've no doubt they would make fantastic garden sheds and outbuildings for those of us with a brick house.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

      Make houses from plastic bottles is a great idea in recycling those polluting materials. A very interesting hub. Vote up !

    • simonsez profile image

      C. A. Simonson 5 years ago from Missouri

      Very interesting hub. Good job at pulling it all together.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 5 years ago from UK

      I've seen houses made from plastic bottles, but not glass. I supposed they used re-cycled glass? Interesting concept!

    • FoilBoard profile image

      Foil Board Insulations Pty Ltd 5 years ago from Melbourne

      Interesting Article.. I have seen a house made from glass bottle's in an almost identical fashion. Amazing idea, due to the thermal property's and cost effectiveness! Thanks for this post.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      You never know, it might take off and become the building choice in industrial nations in the future! Thanks for commenting :)

    • Bldg an Architect profile image

      Bldg an Architect 6 years ago

      Great hub. I always find alternative construction methods fascinating! Great ideas for developing or disaster-stricken communities.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Yes I was reading that they are weather-proof and bullet-proof so make ideal and affordable homes, especially in Africa where they keep out the heat of the sun out too. They seem better suited to African climates than others.

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 6 years ago from Lagos

      This is serriously gathering momentum in the northern part of Nigeria. It's a welcome development which will make our environment a safer place to stay.

    • isisinanna profile image

      isisinanna 6 years ago from Taos,NM

      They are a pain to have to fill, but are essentially free :-)

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks Sally, I read about the plastic bottle skylights myself and it was an amazing idea that worked brilliantly. I myself am in the process of collecting plastic bottles to build a greenhouse, and for us in the West, that is a superb idea. That hub is linked above, if you'd like to visit it.

    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 6 years ago from Only In Texas!

      What a grand idea! Plastic is just a scourge in the landfills and the oceans. This is an excellent way to reuse it. I also saw a good video about people in 3rd world countries who made a regular business of installing 2 liter bottle skylights in corrugated metal houses. It makes a huge difference to the amount of light available in the house, and it's a good business for the entrepreneurs! Voted up, useful & shared! :)

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Plastic bottles filled with sand are 20 times stronger than brick, and are believed to last for at least 300 years which is longer than the mortar that holds them together!

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 6 years ago from India

      Once again it is very beautiful.. but my real concern is how strong the house is which is made of plastic bottles?

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks, took ages because my internet is almost at a standstill, and photos took ages to upload. Still...

    • Keith Matyi profile image

      Keith Matyi 6 years ago from Denton, TX

      Great story! Something off the beaten path read and see the pictures as you go along...keep up the good work!

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      It sure is! Thanks for commenting :)

    • healthyfacts profile image

      healthyfacts 6 years ago from United States

      Great idea for recycling plastic bottles. Certainly better than tossing them in landfills.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Yes it would be time-consuming filling all those bottles, but it might be worth paying the local kids pocket money to help out!

      Who'd have thought that plastic bottles would make such sound houses. Might be a new trend starting...

      I go through a couple of soft drink bottles a week, but I bet all your neighbours do too, so add them all together and it won't take long to collect enough.

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      This is a fantastic idea, I'm sure we could have all built a house in our lifetimes quite easily if we'd started collecting our bottles from young. I know i've drank a lot of fizzy drinks in my time!

      Fantastic eco-building too

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great stuff! great idea! I guess the time consuming job would be filling the bottles with sand...