Responding to a more ecological, minimalist and economical lifestyle choice, the different concepts ofalternative habitats appeal to everyone.

Whether you are alone or as a couple, with or without children, there is necessarily, among all the solutions for cheap accommodation mentioned in this article, the one that corresponds to your desires, your budget and the comfort you need.

Each alternative dwelling has its own characteristics of course, but there is, however, one thing in common to all of them: their small size.

No more excess! We are aiming for a return to our roots, to lead a simple life and to devote ourselves to what is really essential for us. All that remains is for you to choose your future atypical home to carry out this beautiful project


Modern and bright tiny house

The Tiny House concept was born in the United States in the wake of the 2008 property crisis, making it possible to become a homeowner at a lower cost and take your little home with you wherever you go. Less polluting and more robust than motorhomes, this small house on wheels will strongly develop these last 10 years thanks to the development of a more ecological and anti-materialistic way of life.

Recognized for its qualities in terms of mobility, solidity and economy, the Tiny House is now aimed at a wider public. Fully customizable, it is the ideal solution for different needs: minimalist accommodation, extra room, professional office, itinerant business, camping accommodation, etc…

With dimensions ranging from 8 to 30 m², the design of the Tiny House gives it thermal characteristics closer to a standard house than to a type of mobile home (caravan, camper or mobile home).

Although more comfortable than a caravan or a simple cabin, you have to think carefully about its interior layout to make this small space optimized for everyday life. So don’t hesitate to be accompanied by professional designers! (The team of Bimify is at your disposal here for the tailor-made layout of your mini house)

You should also not neglect the trailer of your Tiny House and its insurance. You must hold a BE licence (7 hours of training in addition to the B licence) for a total authorised weight in charge (PTAC) of between 3.5 and 4.25 tonnes.

Hence the importance of thinking carefully about the construction materials of your Tiny House. Bimify uses the TITAN construction process in galvanized steel, 6 times lighter than concrete, guaranteeing the structure for 100 years! (Learn more about our concept here )

Please note, if the weight of your small house on wheels is 3.5 tons or more, the BE permit will then be indispensable for towing! It’s hard for a car weighing less than 700 kg to pull this much weight…

On the insurance side, “|…] When it runs, this Tiny House has thecar insurance of the vehicle that’s pulling her. When it is put down, it becomes a homea home insurance policy may be appropriate. Be careful however to insure this trailer for all damages and not only for those caused to third parties. It is advisable to contact your insurance company in order to find out the most complete guarantee to protect this mobile habitat” according to the site .

As for the legislation, it states the ALUR Actfor a private individual wishing to install an alternative habitat on a building plot or not.

He must:

  • Proof of planning permission or a prior declaration (unless the floor exceeds 20m2: you will then need a building permit).
  • Have a plot of land that meets the same requirements as those imposed on conventional housing: public water and electricity distribution networks and sewerage system.
  • Must be located in a constructible zone, whose capacity is limited and defined by the local urban plan.
  • The dwelling must also be dismountable or movable, as well as all outdoor facilities and equipment.
  • Be subject to an impact study environmental if you do not connect it to the public network (e.g. mobile septic tank or dry toilet).
  • Be occupied as a main habitat, i.e. a minimum of 8 months per year.
  • Do not have a foundation and be autonomous.

Finally, this type of housing is not subject to local taxes or housing tax. However, if you use it as your principal residence, you will have to pay an annual tax of 150 euros (or 100 euros if it is more than 10 years old, and except in the case of exemption).


Container house
image source Pinterest @Architectural digest

It is certainly the most symbolic alternative habitat in terms of construction using recycled materials.

Initially designed for maritime transport, the containers are particularly robust and watertight. Many of them are thus transformed into dwellings.

Lightweight, these types of sheet metal habitats must be firmly attached to the ground. Beware, they have little resistance to extreme temperatures and suffer from humidity. Good ventilation must be provided to avoid infiltration and mould.

This style of container-based architecture (called Cargotecture or Arkitainer) is especially popular in contemporary, very cubic construction.

As far as legislation is concerned, think above all about the development of your land. Then you will need a building permit and the declaration of completion and conformity of the work (DAACT). This last document, issued by a professional, contains the summary of the thermal study, the list of insulation materials used and the air permeability test.


Atypical hobbit house
image source Pinterest @Archzine en

Halfway between real life and Middle-earth, the Hobbit House (or semi-buried house) is the emblem of unusual accommodation for nature lovers.

This ecological habitat can be used as a main residence or rented as a holiday home, and is integrated into its environment with its vegetated surface. As with any construction, check with your local council to find out what is required.


Atypical house yurt
image source Pinterest @Planète déco

Very often when we talk about alternative habitats, we think of the yurt. Traditionally used by the Mongolian people, this atypical housing solution corresponds to a real lifestyle choice.

Originally designed to be mobile, this type of housing is now inspiring many architects for a more contemporary design, with new materials such as wood and new configurations: mezzanine, windows, double glazing, etc…

The legislation governing the installation of a yurt is also the ALUR law, mentioned above in the description of Tiny Houses.

Check its regulations according to the duration of its installation on the land (plus at least 8 months) and its surface area.


Earthship geo-dome
image source Pinterest @Decomagz

This type of housing built with curved lines, often self-constructed, has the particularity of being designed from essentially renewable or recycled materials.

In this style ofgreen architecture, the priority is not aesthetics but the use of local materials provided by nature.

The construction of this passive house is based on the principle of bioclimatism with objectives to be reached: thermal and energy performances naturally efficient, use of waste (tires, cans, bottles,…) and natural materials, total autonomy.

Often long to build, it is important to look at the French thermal regulations to design this type of passive house.


Straw house
image source Pinterest @Sima wooden houses

Straw houses are actually built with a wooden structure and insulated with straw bales. It is only since 2012 that their construction is standardized by the Professional Rules for Straw Construction . Different techniques of use exist according to the professionals.

This material, classified A +, is an insulator with a VOC toxicity level well below the limit standards. However, it is important to remember that straw is essentially harvested from fields that are not certified organic.


Eco-dome (earthbag)
image source Pinterest @Engenharia 360

The frame of this type of alternative habitat is designed with sandbags or earth bags. Notably known for its resistance to fire and earthquakes, the eco-dome is both ecological and economical, and is essentially intended forself-construction.


Floating house
Pinterest image source @18h39

Originally designed for wetlands, the floating house is becoming increasingly fashionable in large cities to expand housing areas.

Not recognised by the French State, these constructions are for the time being considered as ‘vessels’ and must therefore be subject to certain rules: authorisation to occupy, approval and registration of the DDTM, safety standards, fees depending on its location.


Wooden log house
source Pinterest @Restoring our victorian house

Robust, the fuste (or log house) is particularly adapted to northern climates. Indeed, the horizontal assembly of thick trunks allows a better insulation.

Some species such as Huon pine, eucalyptus, some cypresses and sequoias do not rot and other species secrete waterproofing resins that repel insects. It is therefore essential to choose your wood carefully!