Pallet House, Garden Shed, or?

Check out this Pallet House by I-Beam Design!
The Back Story:
The architectural team of Suzan Wines and Azin Valy had entered an International Competition for Temporary Refugee Shelters in Kosovo. They were brainstorming/sketching building material possibilities for their structure–  searching for something modular, ubiquitous, recycled, recyclable, available around the world. Suzan stumbled upon the answer, “One night I was walking home and I thought– I have to find the solution by the time I get home… and I literally tripped over a wooden shipping pallet in the middle of the sidewalk–brought it back to the studio and that was that.”
The Possibilities:
They seem endless. Refugee housing can be constructed quickly and then made permanent and more comfortable by filling the voids between slats with gathered insulation material (mud, foam, cloth, etc) and cladding the surfaces with local practices (plaster, shingles). Or–closer to home–this technique is modern, attractive, saves money, and is green to boot. There are a few issues to be aware of when selecting pallets for reuse, so be sure to check out the links below.
Plans are available for the I-Beam design for a mere $75 US – Pallet House Construction Plans.
Want to Know More?
We sure did. It’s an inspiring idea and story from two very interesting and talented women. Here are two nice videos– one longer at 8:39 minutes featuring the architects,, and another at 1:12 minutes, I-Beam Pallet House. Enjoy!
Dividing walls or screens of pallet wood
All photos used by permission of I-Beam Design
OK– just think of all the ladder and loft potential here…
What Can Go Wrong:
I did a little research regarding pallets. I started with an inquiry at Washington Toxics Coalition, one of my all time favorite resources. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Pallets can pick up contamination or bacteria during their travels so be cautious  of oily, moldy, or excessively dirty wood.  (food prep table, kid’s toys– no!). QA
  • Pallets made for international shipping must be either heat treated (HT) or fumigated (methyl bromide, used infrequently). They will be stamped or branded with a mark of compliance (MB or HT). Wikipedia

What Can Go Right:

  • Pallets made for domestic shipping are heat treated only and will bear an “HT” stamp. (No chemicals used) I’m looking for these!
  • Only a few percent of the pallets used for international shipping are treated with methyl bromide (MB).
  • It’s best if you know where your pallets have been.

So, be an informed up-cycler – do your homework, check the stamps, and use for appropriate projects!

3 thoughts on “Pallet House, Garden Shed, or?

  1. Love the shed made from recycled materials. So when are y’all going to start making house calls to help the rest of us finish our projects? I think you would be in high demand! Can you possibly recommend an electrician?


    • Should we start renting ourselves out? I don’t know, we can’t even get our own stuff done! Monica may know of an electrician, she’s out of town, but will have her get back to you tomorrow!

    • Hi Candace, Monica here. I WISH I knew an electrician! I’ll send out a request on our neighborhood email list and see what pops up. I do know a fabulously awesome plumber… Amen Ptah 206-251-5875. Smart, reasonably priced, and very pleasant to be around. Cheers!

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