I arrived home last week to find my wife busy with a tape measure and a pad of graph paper. When I asked her what she was doing, she showed me her plans for a new master bathroom.  New, as in she wants to knock out the back wall of our bedroom and build an addition.

My wife is a realtor and she told me we needed to upgrade the bathrooms and kitchen for resale value.  I was surprised  at this, since we just moved in last year.

When she told me how much money the addition would cost, I volunteered to do some of the work myself.  Still, she said we would need to involve an architect, a general contractor, and possibly a plumbing specialist.

This was on my mind as I researched my next post for project of the day, I learned of the Open Building Institute.  I sent her a link and she liked the concept of DIY modular units.  Best of all, their plans are open source.  I won’t have to pay an architect, although I will donate to the Institute.

Still, I’m a bit curious about her sudden interest in resale.

Extracted from: http://openbuildinginstitute.org/about-who-we-are/

The Open Building Institute is a collaborative effort made possible by the invaluable contribution of volunteer advisors and developers. The Open Building Institute is a collaborative effort  made possible by the invaluable contribution of volunteer advisors and developers.

Extracted from: http://openbuildinginstitute.org/about-what-we-do/

At the heart of the project is a library of building modules—walls, windows, doors, roof, utility and functional modules, etc.—that can be combined to create a variety of structures: studios, homes, multi-family houses, greenhouses, barns, workshops, schools, offices, etc.

This means that the system pays special attention to water-catchment, passive heating and cooling, photovoltaics, thermal mass, insulation, off-grid sanitation, and hydronic heat.

Designs and build instructions are contributed by designers around the world and are reviewed by experienced builders. A shared pool of designs means that each one of us does not have to reinvent the wheel. A greater number of designers means faster development. And the larger the number of contributions, the greater the diversity of approaches and solutions we can choose from.

All modules and procedures are OPEN SOURCE—forever and with no exceptions. This means that everyone is free to use, modify and redistribute them. Our OSHWA-compatible license also ensures that you are free to profit from these designs—by using them, for example, in design and/or build contractor work.

The modules on the library are designed specifically to be easily and quickly built by non-professional builders. A 4×8 ft insulated wall module, for example, takes a team of two people 1 hour to build.

Extracted from: http://openbuildinginstitute.org/buildings/

We’ve been developing the methodology for the Open Building Institute through a series of builds.

The process began in October 2013 with a microhouse—a 144 sq ft tiny house with a loft, a bathroom and a kitchen. To this we then added a bedroom, a mud room, a porch, a library/work space, an office, another bathroom, an utility room, and an aquaponic greenhouse. Together, these structures form a 2000 sq ft living and working space at Factor e Farm (Missouri, USA).

Infographic- How It Works

Extracted from: http://openbuildinginstitute.org/about-what-we-do/

This open source and modular approach to building also allows for social production.

In the 18th and 19th century, rural communities came together to build barns for each of their members. In our modern version of barn-raising, builds typically take place in 6-day workshops, during which participants collaborate to build a structure.

During workshops, participants acquire skills and hands-on experience with the system in order to organize their own builds. The barn-raising approach not only enables rapid builds, but also provides organizers with a stream of revenue that helps offset the cost of materials.

To further encourage adoption, replication and entrepreneurship, all workshop/build organization materials—from workflow and budget to publicity plan and logistics—are also open source. And for those who wish to build a business on top of this system, we are developing a training program geared specifically to entrepreneur-builders.

Extracted from: http://openbuildinginstitute.org/contribute/

Get Involved

The goals and scope of the Open Building Institute are extremely ambitious and could not be achieved by our core team alone. That’s why we’re calling out to all interested designers, developers and supporters to help us make affordable, eco-housing accessible to everyone. Just like Linux is developed by thousands of programmers around the world, we believe we can all get together to fix housing.


Photo by grongar

Photo by Scott Meis Photography

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