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World’s Easiest-to-Build House

This lightweight, panelized mini-house is so simple to build, even you could do it.

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Teal Panel house

This house can be built using just a screwdriver. Image: Teal International Corporation

If your tool skills are limited to a screwdriver and a bottle opener, you can still build your own house.

Teal Panels makes structures from molded polyethylene panels that fasten together using nothing more than a Phillips head screwdriver. The wall and corner panels can be configured into pod-like playhouses, fishing cabins, guest suites, and backyard offices.

You can build a 10-by-10-foot structure in about 90 minutes, says Teal Panels president Lawrence Drake. Pretty zippy if you’re into the tiny house movement.

Drake originally designed the panels to make lightweight camper shells for pickup trucks, but quickly realized the potential of the modular design.

“Everything has been designed to use the fewest number of parts and the simplest building techniques,” says Drake. “It’s easy, accessible construction.”

Highlights of a Teal Panels structure include:

  • Interlocking tabs help the 21-inch-wide, 20-lb. panels fit together, and waterproof gaskets between the panels seal out air and moisture.
  • Panels can be ordered with windows and polyurethane insulation. The panels nest together to reduce shipping bulk, and for compact storage.
  • Lightweight canvas roofing is available, but home owners may decide to build their own roofs from plywood or metal.
  • Flooring is not part of the package. You’ll have to provide your own using a wood deck or a concrete slab. You can put a Teals Panel structure right on the ground — it’s rot-proof — but you’d be wise to add a PVC vapor barrier over the ground or under a gravel bed to ward off dampness.
  • Cabinets, vanities, dinettes, and other accessories are available. Space-saving designs include wooden cabinets that fold up when not in use, and canvas “bag cabinets” that collapse to save space.

Right now, Teal Panels is putting the finishing touches on their production facilities, and Drake estimates the panels will be available for purchase in late fall. Expect a basic wall panel to cost $175 to $200.

And when you’re done assembling your own mini-house, you can use your other tool — that bottle opener — to celebrate.

Would you live in a tiny house? How would you use a DIY house pod?

John_Riha John Riha

has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Follow John on Google+.

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