"Homes-for-the-Homeless ‐ built by the homeless"
A design for small, low-cost demountable homes with full facilities (cooking, washing, shower and toilet).


  • Basic Layout
  • Assembly

    Main Panels

  • Side frames
  • Bed-side fit-out
  • Table-side fit-out
  • Floor Panel
  • Roof details
  • Front Panel
  • Back Panel


  • Water Closet
  • Divider
  • Water tank
  • Shower-tray
  • Electrical


    © Plateau Group

    Stewart Fist
    70 Middle Harbour Rd.
    LINDFIELD, NSW, 2070
    +61 2 9416 7458

    This H4H design is available to any volunteer groups for non-commercial use, but please make a formal request.

  • H4H Fabrication Details

    Both side-frames (mirror images)

      Note: The dimensions detailed given below are down to the millimetre, but the required accuracy is only within 3-4mms.
      However, have the timber cut as accurately as possible.

    See separate sides for the lining, shelving and fit-outs.


    Fabrication details:

    Main Frame:

    All wall studs are the same height so the roof is flat. Outdoors in weather it will need the floor to be slightly raise on scrap-wood chocks under the front of the floor-panel to provide some rain run-off.

    Overall length of these frames are 3.6 metres - the length of the top and bottom plate timbers. The side walls are all 70mm thick and insulated for 2/3rds of length with glass-wool insulation. We have not included any noggins, mainly for reasons of simplicity in the fabrication, and the need to nail, etc. We doubt that they are necessary in such a low-height wall.

    The outside height of the frame is 2.14 metres (2100 mm ply height + 40mm for exposed top and bottom plate width) This leaves 10mm of overlap top and bottom for tack-gluing the ply. The same for both Stud 1 and Stud 5 (10mm of overlap).

    We suggest cross bracing (using 30mm flat gal strips) on outside across the unlined back section from studs 5 to 7. The exterior cladding will be in contact with these braces, but the cladding is probably not strong enough to stop flexing in some circumstances.

    I apologise in advance to tradesmen and expert home builders and maintainers for the exaggerated details and virtually 'trivia' in these explanations. We are dealing with homes which we hope will be built by the homeless themselves, and by totally unskilled volunteers.

    Stub legs:

    The two stub legs are made from 700x30mm timber off-cuts. They would be ideally made in two parts, screwed (but not glued) together. The main leg timber would be 325mm of 70x30, with a small 'pad' of 15mm timber 15mm screwed to the bottom to extend the overall length to 340mm.

    The idea here is that:
    ‐ the top of the stub leg is normally level with the underside of the raised floor support plates on each side. The back panel has a 'plate' of 700x30 sitting horizontally on top of these, and it is the 40mm of projection that carries the weight of the back floors and wall. With this arrangement, the sides floor supports and the lower timber of the actual back panel are now all level, and all are 300mm above the frame of the floor panel. [Note: not the floor itself.]
    [Note: the overall length of the stub leg (total 340mm) now virtually extends that length of the Stud 6 in both side panels so they reach the nominal ground level (since the floor panel doesn't extend this far back.]

    These Stub legs add on 70mm of height -- the thickness of the floor frame -- since the floor panel is about 600mm shorter than the side panels. And since the 15mm thick pad is screwed to the end it is easy to remove on uneven ground, or outdoors where the whole unit will be tilted back to provide for water run-off.
    ‐ [Note also that the top of the stub legs bear the back panel weight, which itself carries the weight of the raised floor sections (shower tray and dry area).]

    These two floor sections are almost the last components added during erection, so all underfloor fittings and utility connections are accessible until the final stage (adding the Divider Cupboard, and water-sealing around the shower-tray junction.)

    Metal Work

    In Revision 3 we have abandoned the more elaborate idea of cutting and bending corner angle-iron in favour of a simple system which only uses gal iron hold-down straps when and where needed. The previous approach was complicated through trying to do too many things, using one length of iron, by bending and cutting the angle.

    When the panels are being erected on-site there must be a very simple and quick way of locking them together at right-angles without needing more than two men. The joints need to be both strong and air-tight and held together by just a few screws.

    We now use 2.1m and 1.8m lengths of moderately thick (1.2mm), 30x30mm galvanised angle-iron which are pre-drilled and attached to the sides of both the front and the back panel. This iron is strong yet it gives the joints a small amount of flexibility, and it also allows the addition of short tie-down metal straps for the roof and floor panels when the units are erected outdoors. To handle severe weather conditions, the angles can also be linked to ground stakes (short star pickets driven into the ground)

    Angle corner locks:

    We suggest the use of 20x20 or 30x30 angle gal for the front and back corners.
      Front:The angle would be cut to 2.1 m lengths for the two front-panel junctions. This height would be extended later by two flat straps to the roof, and by further straps to the floor panel below (sharing the same screw fixing points).
      Back: For fixing the back panel to the side panels, the two angle-irons lengths would need to be 1.8m.

    Drill a half-dozen holes (5mm countersunk) through the fixed tongue of the angle and then screw the angle to each side of the front-panel using 25mm countersunk wood screws. This is now a permanent fixing.

    The free tongue of each angle must be on the outside (cladding) of the frame, and it effectively extends the width of the face. The front panel can now be attached to the side-frames with only three screws in each corner (one top and bottom, one at the mid-point), and this fixing during the erection of a unit can be done from outside.
      [Note: If you have a little extra length on the angle, it can extend down to reach over the corner of the floor panel, and then also be screw-attached onto this as a tie-down ... alternately use a separate strap.]

    Outdoors: You will need to tie the roof panel to the walls; then the walls to the floor panel; and the floor panel must be tied to ground pegs. You can create a full-distance, lightening proof, metal strength link by including the metal straps under the top and the bottom screws of the angle's fixing points.

    The back corner angles need to be fitted from inside the unit so they are a bit more complicated. These are shorter lengths of angle, and thy need to fit between the inside top-plate of the side walls, and the raised floor support. So the spare fitting tongue must extend the inside (liner) face of the back panel, and be positioned 30mm from the top of the back wall. The strap tie-downs of the roof panel are already built in. The tie between the floor panel and side walls at the back can be made by a screw (or a strap) through the bottom plate. The tie-down of the whole back in the cavity space of the unit (with its stub legs), would be to star pickets driven into the ground. It is probably best made by solid fencing wire to the lowest of the corner fixing screws.

    Obviously these angles should be made in mirror-pairs and packaged together. At the same time, there is need for a fifth length of 1.8m angle, which will be used as reinforcement and an air-seal across the bottom of the front panel, and door opening. This is set back from the outside cladding line by 10mms (the front wall overhangs the floor frame by this amount). This length of angle is an air-seal which holds the door frames together during transport and strengthens the whole front panel. All of these angles iron sections need to be drilled: ideally 15mm from the top and bottom (so the screws are firm in the centre of the top and bottom plates, and at least once in the centre. The holes in the metal should be 5mm and countersunk so the screws seat down tight.

    Hold-down straps:

    Hold-down straps are best made in bulk, because, while only a few are used during the panel-fabrication process, a few will be needed during the erection, and a few spares should be included in the Step-Box for later-date erections. They will be lost, and they are often need.

    These straps would be very simple sections of flat 20mm or 30mm gal iron cut to lengths of 70+30 = 100mm. They would all be drilled with 5mm holes in the straps centres at distances of 15mm from each end, and with a mid-point hole 50mm from the ends. [Note that the screw would now be in the center of a 30mm wood face, and allow two screws in any 70mm wood face.]

    A strap can be looped back on itself (screw through one end hole, then through the middle) to create a ring through which strong fencing wire can be used to tie the sides to the floor, and then tie the floor to a couple of short star pickets driven into the ground.

    See also the note about adding corner straps to the back roof frames at the time the ceiling interior lining is being installed. These straps needs to emerge through saw cuts in the lining, and extend downwards for wall attachment during erection.


    Plateau Group Convenor: Stewart Fist
    Click here to email