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Open Source Housing: Print your own Tiny House?

I’ve been wanting to talk about open source housing for a while now which is something you’ve probably never heard of yet.

For a while I’ve known that sometime in the near future housing is going to drastically change thanks to the internet and technology. When I put together this post last year is when I truly realized it.

The good part is that this will most likely reduce the price of building a house because it reduces the need for labor and design.

So today I wanted to introduce you to an idea called WikiHouse. It’s open source housing. Like Wikipedia but for real life stuff.

Open Source Housing & Construction

Open Source Housing

The idea is that you would be able to browse and choose through an ever growing amount of house and furniture designs that are free and open source.

Is this serious?

Yes. This isn’t just an idea anymore. It’s real. At the bottom of this post I’ll introduce you to some people who have already built their own tiny home using these methods. And there are photos to prove it, too! If you already haven’t, check out this Solar House in Barcelona that was built like this and continue reading below:

Open Source Housing Available to All?

Yeah! That’s the idea.. You’re able to browse and download any construction set that you want. And if you wanted you can even design your own, use it yourself and also share it with everyone else.

What the part files look like on SketchUp that you can ‘print’ out using CNC machines


The WikiHouse is a plugin for SketchUp that generates sets of cutting files that make up the parts for your house. Pretty cool, right?

‘Printing’ your house parts

Open Source Housing

And these parts can literally be ‘printed’ from a standard sheet of wood like plywood using a CNC machine nearest you as shown above.

Once you get your parts printed from a local CNC it’s time to put it all together.

Getting your parts ready to put together


Putting all the pieces together (assembly)


Securing your open source house parts


Adding your finishing touches

After that it’s time to install other parts like your cladding, insulation, windows and appliances and install them onto your house to complete it, as shown below.

More Open Source Parts and Furnishings for your Open Source WikiHouse

Images: WikiHouse

One Couple is Already Doing it.. Introducing: FoundHouse

They started with some Kickstarter funding. And they didn’t build this open source 150 sq. ft. tiny house for themselves. The project is for a Navajo family in Utah. Let me allow them to tell you the story…

CNCing a House Putting the FoundHouse Together FoundHouse FoundHouse FoundHouse Interior FoundHouse Sleeping Loft

Images: FoundHouse

How you can get involved now

Learn more how open source construction works here.

Browse the current open library of homes and parts.

Learn how you can create your own designs and contribute to the movement.

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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!
{ 15 comments… add one }
  • David McCandlish
    October 30, 2013, 1:33 pm

    What about “printing” one out of structural insulated panels? Insulation would be built in, CNC could route for windows, doors, attachment points, etc. Just a thought. Great article!

    • MJ
      October 31, 2013, 11:43 am

      They already pre-cut SIPs for doors, windows, electrical and plumbing penetrations with a CNC style machine. It is pretty cool, take just about any design to Premier SIPs in Fife, WA and they can map it out for SIP construction, pack it up on a flat bed and deliver it to your site. Perfect for tiny home construction. Very tight and well insulated construction. And talk about going up fast; helped put together a 500 sqft house that took 2 hrs to be complete, standing and in the process of installing windows and doors. We had a weather tight structure, with a metal roof on, by sunset!

  • alice h
    October 30, 2013, 1:45 pm

    Interesting concept and looks like way more fun than putting one of those 3D wooden dinosaur puzzles together. Some real possibilities there. Will definitely check out WikiHouse. Especially if there’s some knockdown furniture.

  • Thomas
    October 30, 2013, 5:02 pm

    I am thrilled to see this and reading through the comments there i also wish they had a geodesic dome-design there… but after a hour of letting it sink in, i ask: creating all the cutaway and the milling waste… is this sustainable?

  • SteveR
    November 3, 2013, 7:22 am

    While the idea of open source is great, sharing a conventional 2×4 frame design on the internet is the same thing, a lot more accessible and a lot cheaper.
    This is an interesting proof of concept idea, but it is wasteful and unsustainable. Which is easier to manufacture? a 2×4 or a sheet of plywood. Which uses more parts of the tree?
    Plywood is very expensive in most parts of the world except where we cut down trees without having planted them first and waiting the requisite 50 years for them to turn into wood (ie: North America)
    Love this idea but then go back to what you were doing and rethink again how housing should be created without special tools, without special wood, without harming the environment.

  • Simon
    December 24, 2013, 3:31 pm

    And these parts can literally be ‘printed’ from a standard sheet of wood like plywood using a CNC machine nearest you as shown above.

    I disagree with the wording above. What I see here is that this sheet of wood is clearly CUT not “printed”!!!
    (It’s impossible to print wood… for now…)
    I think that you are confusing this with 3D printing technology, which is a very different way to produce parts. And it’s only for plastic and some metals so far…

    • Alex Pino
      December 27, 2013, 1:11 pm

      You’re right about the wording, Simon, thanks for the clarification and I apologize for the confusion.

  • Brian
    June 1, 2014, 6:59 pm

    What an innovative idea to get you going on your own TH. I can see this idea expanding in the future to incorporate wiring and plumbing etc.

  • nedwired
    June 16, 2016, 9:12 am

    How about a 3d cementatious printer?
    Imagine a cement pumper truck hooked up to your printer!

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