This Innovative Home Building Kit Lets You Construct A House In Just One Day

Tired of relying on flakey contractors? Building a house is now easier than a flat-pack construct from IKEA.

By Jeff Vasishta December 8, 2016
Photo courtesy of People's Architecture Office

If IKEA made houses, they would look a little like Mrs. Fan’s gleaming white, airy Plugin House in a cramped courtyard in Beijing. Here’s the good part—the pre-fab home can be assembled with a single Allen key in 24 hours for around $10,000. That’s with no drills, electricians or cement trucks. If you’re used to builders juggling jobs and never finishing what they’ve started, this DIY home could be the answer to your prayers—if it ever makes it to the U.S. Mind you, if your self-assembly projects leave you with lopsided shelves and wobbly beds, getting some skilled friends over to help with construction may not be a bad idea.

The company responsible for this striking piece of innovation is People’s Architecture Office (PAO). With property prices in Beijing hitting stratospheric highs, their Plugin House can be installed in back yards or by the side of larger homes or standalone. It only costs one thirtieth of a conventional new construction of a similar size.

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The home is based on the same prefab technology used in the Plugin Tower and comprises modules with insulation, interior and exterior finish, wiring and plumbing all squeezed into one molded part. The modules attach to each other with an integrated locking system tightened by hex—or Allen key. POA have the proprietary technology and are currently in the process of building more such homes as part of the Dashilar Project, an initiative aimed at rejuvenating a historic district in the center of Beijing.

If wondering about plumbing, in the case of Mrs. Fan’s home, as her neighborhood has no sewage system, public toilets are usually the only option for residents. Not with a Plugin House. An integrated off-grid composting toilet system makes the inconvenience and sanitation concerns of public facilities a non-issue. The residence equals or exceeds the energy efficiency and living standards of new apartment towers.

From an socio-environmental perspective, the technology behind a Plugin House means that urban renewal, does not mean destruction, displacement and the disruption of a communities.

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According to POA, training is not necessarily a requirement for putting together the home and can be done by two people in 24 hours—assuming sleep isn’t a requirement. In today’s tiny house economy, this mini-crib is a plush palace with laminated flooring, a dishwasher, radiators and even a roof deck. The interior floor space measures around 300 square feet with double height kitchens and lounge and numerous windows to ensure abundant daylight despite the smallest of locations. The shape of Mrs. Fan’s home is a little odd but it’s not the norm. There’s a method in the madness. It was at the neighbors’ demands not to disrupt their view. Modifications were made on the fly.

There are various styles and applications for a Plugin House. One is simply constructing an inner home within an existing exterior thus blending in to the surrounding environment. Although several DIY home kits are being pioneered in the US, so far, nothing exists on the level of POA’s Plugin House, where a an entire home can be constructed in hours rather than weeks. We eagerly await its arrival.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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