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


•   Original Concept
•   Basic Layout
•   Prelim. + Planning

Main Panels
•   Floor Panel
•   Side frames
•   Bed-side fit-out
•   Table-side fit-out
•   Roof details
•   Front Panel
    • L Bed-support
•   Back Panel

•   Water Closet/toilet
•   Divider Cupboard
•   Hot-Water tank
•   Electrical/safety

•   Erection sequence

•   Major variations
•   Materials
•   Plywood pattens
•   Super's guide



© Plateau Group


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

Main Index


  • Original Concept:
    1. The basic idea is to have the cheapest possible fully-featured home with washing, showering, toilet and
        cooking facilities.
    2. The same design is intended to be useable inside (old warehouses or carparks, etc.) or outdoors. It can also
        be stacked in two layers if space is at a premium.
    3. The design was for mass production (by decentralised 'factories').
    4. This is the design of a basic home that can be quickly built using unskilled labor and basic tools. It has
        cavity-insulated roof and walls, and basic ventilation for summer.
    5. The concept focusses on the building's demountability, "flat-packing", and storage for emergency use.
    6. We are also concerned with later handling, and the ownership and deployment problems, potentially
        through a cooperative structure.

  • Basic Layout:
    This is the design and layout for the minimum unit -- essentially a single-person occupancy, but with enough flexibility to handle a young couple, or even a small family, for emergency accommodation.
      The basic design can easily be extended in both length and width using the same basic design features to allow for small families.

  • Preliminary + Planning:
    The tools, materials, components, and resources. This is everything needed to set up this fabrication project in almost any covered location (ie. an underground car park) with electricity. Most tools would be provided by the volunteers themselves.
        • Main material lists:
        • Plywood cuts for maximum use:
        • Guide material for Supervisers

  • Major variations
    It is relatively easy to expand the size of this home using the same basic design. It can be expanded both in length and width with only minor modifications.

    Main Panels

  • Floor Panel:
    The floor panel is obviously fairly basic and it serves also to create a wide flat bench when raised on a few milk-crates and possibly a couple of railway sleepers. This is the first panel to make.

  • Side frames:
    The two side-frames are mirror-images, and also fairly simple to construct. We use butt-joints, and the walls have no noggins. We assume that the timbers will be pre-cut by someone with a docking-saw. Electric handsaws and unskilled volunteers should be kept quite separate.
        • Bed-side fit-out.
        • Table-side fit-out.

  • Roof details:
    The roof is flat and covered with galvanised iron, and lined with light plywood. Very simple construction. It involves "tie-downs" which are certainly needed outside in the weather.

  • Front Panel:
    The front wall panel involves the more complex job of swinging a lockable door. It also has some diagonal strength issues because of the door-way gap in a building only 1.8 m in width.

  • Back Panel:
    The issues with the back wall are mainly thorough it being raise 300mm above the ground (allowing sewerage systems to interconnect many cabin units) and the possible need for clusters of these homes to be assembled from the inside because of their proximity to each other, or to walls, etc.


  • Water Closet/toilet:
    The problems of providing an easily-cleanable toilet in a demountable home are mainly to do with the fragility of porcelain -- especially when units are thrown onto the back of a truck. We believe that the WC unit has solved these problems.

  • Divider Cupboard:
    This is a very straightforward kitchen cabinet that also divides the main living area from the raised shower and toilet area.

  • Hot-Water tank/Shower:
    This is the major design problem we have encountered, and one which has only been solved to a limited degree. Hot-water units are heavy, power-hungry and expensive. Safety is obviously a main consideration also.

  • Electrical/safety:
    The main feed for electrics in the house depends on a bog-standard Builder's Electrical Reel, equipped with earth-detection/drop-out switch for safety.

    Finishing off:

  • Finishing Off
    The final polish ... adding bits and pieces that make the unit more flexible and suited for more situations and a greater range of potential occupants.

    Miscellaneous + notes on materials

    Miscellaneous bits
    Some explanatory material also. Why we have made design changes, and why the approach being suggested does not follow normal building practices.

    Erection Considerations

  • Assembly and Site Erection:
    The design aim was for a demountable home that could be erected by two men in about two hours (with variations mainly depending on the complexity of the sewerage system). It should also be demountable in about the same time, and all the components (including the sewerage system) should be cleanable and reuseable.
        The site needs to have water deliverable through a normal garden hose, a standard three-pin electrical power-cable, and some form of access to either a sewerage drop-point, or to a septic tank or pump-out service.