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1140 Square Foot Small House Made out of Salvaged Cars

Architect Karl Wanaselja and partner Cate Leger created a unique small house in Berkeley, California.

They call it the McGee House. It consists of 104 salvaged car roofs which cover the upper side walls of the home. The inspiration behind the upper siding came from fish scales.

The lower wall siding is made out of a waste product from the furniture industry in clad form called poplar bark.

The awnings are side windows from America’s best-selling minivan, the Dodge Caravan.

It’s a 2 bedroom home with two levels and a gorgeous upstairs balcony.

From the outside, at just 14′ wide, it appears smaller than it’s actual size.

1140 Square Foot Small House Made from Reclaimed Car Parts in Berkeley California

Photo Courtesy of Nicolas Boullosa

Inside you’ll find high ceilings and over-sized windows that open up to nature.

Head to the backyard and you’ll run into a work studio made out of a used and refrigerated shipping container that was already insulated.

You’ll also find a storage shed made out of car hoods, roofs, trunks, and more Dodge Caravan windows.

The couple’s daughter, when inviting her friends over, says, “Look for the house that’s different.”

Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts

Photos Courtesy of Leger Wanaselja Architects

Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts Green Small House made out of Salvaged Car Parts

Kirsten’s Video Tour of this Salvaged Car Small House

Video length: 9:22

For even more photos of the home head over to Nicolas Boullosa’s flickr set and watch Kirsten Dirksen’s video tour over at Faircompanies.com. For more details on this green home visit Leger Wanaselja’s GreenDwellings.com.

If you found this green home inspiring and know someone who might like it too, “Like” it on Facebook and share it with your friends using the buttons below, thank you.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • sesameB
    January 26, 2012, 9:03 am

    RE:1140 Square Foot Small House Made out of Salvaged Cars
    Here is my take on this:
    Unusual; marvelous; superb, honestly, I say enough about how I adore this recycled/salvaged/found old stuff made house. I love the visuals. I could see this dwelling here in rural Arkansas, ‘cause there is a lot of discarded, leftover parts, automobiles, windows, doors, abandon homesteads, junk yards, old boats that have been left by out-of-state owners, scattered in my neck of the woods. Thanks, Alex.
    Rural Arkansas on a rainy morning – 52 degrees with no sunlight!

    • January 26, 2012, 10:06 am

      Glad you found it marvelous! I did, too. Was really excited about putting this post together.

  • January 26, 2012, 11:29 am

    I love this idea! It’s amazing how salvaged cars and bark can look so good as a house. SesameB, you bring up a good point, maybe you can start to make our own home from cars, boats, etc. I’ve looked into shipping container homes, and this isn’t too far off from that. I comment a lot on http://www.shippingcontainerforum.com, if you’re interested in other sustainable homes!

    • January 29, 2012, 8:13 am

      Thanks, Shannon! Container homes are great.. I’ve got an upcoming post on one soon you’ll probably like.

  • KimiErin
    January 26, 2012, 11:59 am

    Wow, that house is amazing! Good use of recycling, especially those crummy Dodge Caravans 😉

    These are my favorite kind of stories to read about, re-using an object you wouldn’t otherwise think to use, but in a classy way.

    When I saw the title before the pictures, I thought, oh no is it going to be shaped like a car too?

    • January 26, 2012, 1:44 pm

      These are one of my favorite types of stories/houses too. When people manage to make use of reclaimed material in a classy/genius way.

      Lol on the car shape. It does have its curves, though, haha

  • sesameB
    January 26, 2012, 1:42 pm

    January, 2012 –‘Poor’ Woman Leaves Close to $2 Million to Salvation Army

    She was taught by her mother to never waste a thing. She never purchased a dryer, hanging her laundry on a clothesline in the backyard. She painted her home when it needed a touch-up and mowed her lawn until she reached her early 90s. She refused to go to restaurants, the movies or pay for cable TV. It could be said she took frugality to a whole new level. Needless to say, it was a shock when a check for $1,731,533.91 from the estate of Elinor Sauerwein was presented to a California branch of the Salvation Army last Christmas Eve. “It was a surprise and a blessing,” Capt. Michael Paugh of the Salvation Army in Modesto told ABC News.
    In many ways this is recycling or salvaging the money and helping others. There is no greed in these real life stories. Rock on!!! Readers, let’s not forget these few others from my files:
    98-Year-Old Woman Leaves Secret Millions to Home Town
    By Nate Jones | June 11, 2010 |-Why not settle in for a nice comfy feel-good story, the tale of 98-year-old Verna Oller, who bequeathed her secret $4.5 million investing fortune to her home town of Long Beach, Washington. The money will be used to fund scholarships and build the town’s first indoor pool. Remember, don’t forget this real live story, American Heart: Secretive Millionaire Leaves her Fortune to Her Washington Hometown. Also , on January 19, 2012, I learned, this was NOT a greedy marriage:
    FRANKLIN, Ind. − Franklin College is in receipt of a $4.2 million bequest following settlement of the Effie Joan Behrens estate. Effie, a longtime resident of Indianapolis and a Fort Wayne native, died Dec. 11, 2010. She had been a Franklin College trustee since 1991, actively engaged in the campus community and dedicated to enriching religious life resources, supporting campus beautification and funding student scholarships. In accordance with Effie’s wishes, 75 percent of her bequest was allocated to the college endowment for student scholarships and church relations. The Franklin College Board of Trustees followed institutional policy and directed the remaining 25 percent of unrestricted funds to the college’s most urgent need, The Future Unfolds capital campaign. The board’s additional actions included naming the new college softball facility Behrens Field and adding landscaping to the new Grizzly Park athletics complex; both were campaign goals. Effie had played softball in her youth and for most of her life was an avid swimmer. She also loved nature and gardening, especially raising orchids. The naming of the softball field and the completion of landscaping ensure that some of the simple pleasures so meaningful to Effie during her lifetime will continue to be enjoyed by future generations of Grizzlies.
    In 1842, the college began admitting women, becoming the first coeducational institution in Indiana and the seventh in the nation. Franklin College maintains a voluntary association with the American Baptist Churches USA. For more information, visit http://www.franklincollege.edu.
    rural Arkansas

    • January 26, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Great/inspiring story. Always so cool when people are like that. I’d heard a similar story of a UPS delivery man who accumulated millions secretly and much like this story, folks were surprised when he passed and was able to give away so much.

  • sesameB
    January 26, 2012, 1:47 pm

    Alex, you out performed yourself in putting this particular post together. It made my rainy day bright!!!

    • January 26, 2012, 2:23 pm

      Thanks! You just brightened mine up, too 🙂

  • sesameB
    January 26, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Yes, we can all learn from each other, no matter the race, age or country’s location, case in point, another nice read: Former refugee describes flight from Vietnam with 6 children By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS (01/22/12 22:59:36) ALASKA —
    On the window of her neon-green Fireweed Lane coffee stand, Bong Dunn advertises flavored mochas, breakfast muffins and her life story. Dunn is an elfin 71-year-old, dressed for work at Java King as if she’s going to a formal luncheon. Since 1995, she and her husband, Bob Dunn, have owned 14 Java Kings around Anchorage. Beginning in 2009, in stolen moments between lattes and Americanos, Dunn wrote by hand, in her native Vietnamese, a 271-page account of her escape, along with six small children, from the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. After a year she finished the book, which she self-published under the title “Escape to Survive.” Now her customers — not a few of whom have Vietnam stories of their own — can buy copies of her harrowing story of survival along with their morning coffee for $14. She says she’s sold a hundred copies so far. She said writing was less about selling books than letting a story that had lived inside her for decades finally tumble out. “This is my true story,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “I have kept it in my heart and my mind for 35 years.” “Words on paper will never make you feel the heat and dust and fear and death from that time,” she continued. “But they may make you understand a little bit.” EARLY CHAPTERS
    The story begins with Dunn’s childhood in Saigon, where she was one of three daughters of ethnic Chinese and Japanese traders. A teenager in the early days of the Vietnam War, Dunn fell in love with a Vietnamese air force pilot. They married and had a child before he was killed on a mission over North Vietnam. She was 18. She went to work for the American military in the seaside town of Nha Trang in Southern Vietnam. Over time, she had four more children, fathered by two U.S. soldiers. In 1970, she met Bob Dunn, a soft-spoken American GI stationed in Nha Trang, a place he described as a “vacation resort with uniforms and guns.” In 1971, they married in a Vietnamese civil ceremony, which the U.S. military did not recognize. In 1972, they had a daughter who was stillborn. That same year, Dunn was sent home as the U.S. started to draw down its forces. They hoped in time to reunite as a family.
    Though the Vietnam War had raged around them for a decade already, life in Nha Trang had been good to Bong’s family. They were protected by the American military and had money for small luxuries like fresh mango or orange soda for the children and a trip to the movies. The fighting had never felt close to home, but in the spring of 1975 that changed abruptly when North Vietnamese troops pushed south and refugees began to stream into Nha Trang. By then Dunn was alone with six children, one of whom she had adopted after her daughter’s death. She feared that the children, part-American with unmistakably light skin and hazel eyes, would be targets for the invading army and Viet Cong. “I knew that when the North Vietnam people come and see the kids, they will kill them,” she said. DECISION TO LEAVE
    She worried especially about her beautiful daughters. The oldest was 12. They had no choice but to leave Nha Trang. Dunn decided they would disguise themselves as peasants and walk on the road until they could find a car or plane to take them to safety in Saigon. “I figure if we walk on the road and we get killed with bomb, hand grenade or something, at least we die with mother and children together,” she said. Dunn cried as she burned family photos and bags of love letters that her husband had written — too risky to carry. She dressed the children in layers of clothing and their sturdiest sandals. She darkened their faces with charcoal. The youngest was a toddler. They headed south on a route traveled by others fleeing the Viet Cong. They ate salted balls of rice and drank out of streams. They slept in the forest, where Dunn tried to convince herself that she could shield her children from falling bombs with tree branches. The fighting followed them. The gunpowder smell of bombs mixed with the lingering stench of dead bodies. Daughter Jaclyn Jackson, now 47 and living in Nevada, was 10 during the trek, in April of 1975. She knew that even a minor mistake could cost their lives. “I felt like if I screwed up, my entire family would be killed,” she said. The family reached Saigon, thin, dirty and blistered but alive with the help of friends. REUNITED IN AMERICA
    With her husband in Maine as a sponsor, Dunn managed to get the family on a refugee flight to America. Up until the moment an American soldier nudged her onto the plane, she wasn’t sure whether she’d be going with the children. “I thought, even if I don’t make it they’ll get their freedom and a good life,” she said. She remembers the exact date of their arrival in Maine: May 5, 1975. She and Bob legally married, and moved to Chugiak in 1977 for job opportunities. Their seventh and final child, William, was born in Anchorage. Dunn’s one photo of Vietnam that made it to America is printed on the back cover of her book. It shows six serious-looking children in suits and matching dresses, with freshly combed hair. Once in America, the children were allowed to choose their own American names. Huyen, the oldest, became Jacquelynn Towner. She works as an oil industry recruiter. Hong became Jaclyn Jackson. She works at a law office in Nevada. (The Jacquelynn/Jaclyn issue “can be confusing,” says Jackson.)
    Tuan became Steve Dunn, an Anchorage police traffic officer. Tung became Tony Dunn, a former APD officer and now a painting contractor. Ha became Jennifer Haywood, an APD patrol officer. Hung became Scott Dunn, who works for a distribution service. William Dunn is a hairstylist. Today Bong Dunn is 4 feet, 10 inches (she says she used to be 4 feet, 11 inches). She wears bright red lipstick and wakes at 3:30 a.m. each day to perform her personal exercise routine before putting in an 11-hour day at the coffee stand. She has no plans to retire. “I am the only old lady making coffee in Anchorage,” she says proudly. She’s trying to write a second book, one about her stillborn daughter and her life in America. She wants to thank the country and Americans for giving her family a chance to live and prosper. So far, it has been slow going. “I’m too busy!” she says. But when things at Java King fall quiet, she sometimes turns down the Home Shopping Network on TV and sits down, a solitary figure in a bright-green coffee stand, putting her memories on paper.

    • Mark
      February 4, 2012, 12:54 pm

      Why is this rant on a small house website?

  • sesameB
    January 26, 2012, 2:46 pm

    So many women are uninformed and just plain out right stupid (assuming this story is true!) Why build large again? Just because one has money– money does not buy love, Elin, nor does living in a big house—-TMZ reports that Elin Nordegren has hired a high-priced architect for the job, and reportedly all of the workers building her new home are required to sign a confidentiality agreement. According to Mail Online, Nordegren told North Palm Beach town planners the mansion wasn’t big enough for her. The Palm Beach Post reports that Palm Beach County issued the permit for the home’s demolition on Dec. 16. The 17,000-square-foot home was built in 1932. It had two stories, six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, an in-ground pool and an elevator.

  • sesameB
    January 26, 2012, 2:52 pm

    Pioneer Frank Reed was great humanitarian and a leader
    (01/25/12 21:58:16)
    Frank Reed’s recent passing brings to mind a story from yesteryear. In the late 1950s when my mother was struggling to get on her feet in Anchorage after a divorce from my father, Frank Reed let her and I to stay at his Turnagain Arms Apartments rent-free. When she finally landed a job and wanted to pay back several months rent, he refused to take any money.
    In the 1980s when my wife and I were in danger of losing a piece of property because the developer refused to extend our earnest money agreement, Frank Reed, then a senior vice president at the Alaska Bank of Commerce, helped us secure an emergency loan that allowed us to keep the property and eventually build a home there. Frank Reed was a pioneer Alaskan extraordinaire, humanitarian and valued community leader. I feel honored and privileged to have known him and his wonderful wife Maxine. In a book about the history of Alaska, Frank Reed would deserve a chapter unto himself.

    — Frank E. Baker Eagle River

    Frank Reed Passes Away At 99
    By Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage | January 23, 2012 – 5:15 pm
    One of Anchorage’s best-known residents has passed away. Frank Reed, who arrived in Alaska’s tent city on Ship Creek in 1915 as a toddler, died at Providence Hospital yesterday at age 99. Reed, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this coming December, was raised in the hotel business. His family ran the original Anchorage Hotel until the mid 1930s, and Reed often told a story about a famous guest, artist Sydney Laurence, who paid his hotel bill with a oil painting of Mt. McKinley. Speaking on KSKA’s Hometown Alaska last December, Reed remembers the reaction of Alaskans the day Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941.
    Over the course of his life, Reed worked as an electrical contractor, a developer, a bank vice president and head of the Small Business Administration in Anchorage.
    Reed was married for 71 years to his wife, Maxine, who preceded him in death. He is survived by his daughter Pauline Reed, and by numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Reed’s family plans to hold a celebration of his life on December 22 of this year, the day on which Reed would have turned 100.
    Such a nice story!
    Single in rural Arkansas

    • January 29, 2012, 8:14 am

      Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Carl in SC
    January 28, 2012, 3:59 pm

    The recycled cars house looks very nice inside, but it isn’t what I expected to see. But then I couldn’t see how you’d make a house from several cars since there’d be no room to stand.

    But then I thought you could take several older and taller vans such as the Sprint and connect together with a central hub room, perhaps as a star shaped home. I realize the Sprint is newer but there are likely older delivery vans with the needed headroom. It was just a though.

    • January 29, 2012, 8:15 am

      Carl that sounds funky/cool, I like! Hehe.

  • bob adams
    January 28, 2012, 7:43 pm

    Nicely done and very stylish. Love the popular bark siding. Used to see it on cabins in the NC mountains. It’s great to hear that it’s coming back.

    • January 29, 2012, 8:15 am

      Thanks Bob, glad you liked it. I like the bark too, looks really good. I’d use it.

  • Dominick Bundy
    January 29, 2012, 5:24 am

    At first glance, I thought it was a houseboat That was anchored on land. Nicely done, Something I would live in..

    • January 29, 2012, 8:16 am

      I’d live in it too, for sure. I’m impressed with the balance he was able to achieve between making it modern while using recycled materials.

  • Mark
    February 4, 2012, 12:51 pm

    I studied architecture in the late 70’s at a major league Architecture school in the midwest, and attended lectures from many well known Architects including Bruce Goff, I.M. Pei, etc. I usually have a lot of criticism of the avante-garde designers of late, but this is very well done!! I really like the theme, the lines, and the interior spaces.


  • Holly
    January 9, 2013, 7:28 pm

    This is amazing!.

  • Brian
    June 20, 2014, 5:39 pm

    Wow this is visually stunning and beautifully designed and built. What an inspiration for using used stuff to build with. I am very impressed.
    Cheers from Australia.

  • Heather
    July 23, 2014, 9:08 pm

    I am really impressed with this house. It’s so clever and creative, and makes such good use of materials that are overlooked. Well done, indeed!

    • July 23, 2014, 9:14 pm

      Thanks Heather glad you liked it! 🙂

  • Carolyn Vick
    April 13, 2018, 5:10 pm

    OMgosh. I’ll take 2, please. Wonderful, wonderful house.

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