House In A Box: This Tiny Flatpacked $30,000 Home Can Be Assembled With Just A Drill

This sustainable, 10×10-foot home is like Ikea on steroids.

What if building a house was as easy as putting together furniture from Ikea? The new Nomad Micro Home, a sustainable tiny house kit, was designed to be small and lightweight enough to ship anywhere in the world–and simple enough to build that anyone with basic carpentry skills can put it together.


At 10×10 feet, the Nomad includes the bare minimum: a living room, kitchen, and an upstairs sleeping loft. Several elements serve dual purposes. The stairs to the loft double as kitchen shelves, and the entire bathroom can be used as a shower. It can fit one or two people, or multiple Nomad kits can be used together for more space.

Ian Kent, a Vancouver-based architect who worked in the real estate industry for 35 years, says he was inspired to create the Nomad after consulting with larger developers who were trying to achieve maximum efficiency.

“I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see how far efficiency could go, by stripping everything away until we had a unit that just provided the bare necessities of living,” Kent says. “That included aesthetics–it’s not just a box. We ended up with something that was affordable because of its size.”

The basic house kit, without extras like solar panels, will cost less than $30,000. Using a cordless drill, an owner can screw together the home’s lightweight panels themselves. With a simple foundation, the Nomad–true to its name–can also easily be moved to a new location.

Kent says that the home is uniquely suited for a wide range of environments. The materials resist rot, so the home would work well in a tropical area or as a houseboat. The small size, coupled with strong materials, make it resilient in storms and seismically sound. With extra insulation, it can also work in the cold, and Kent reports he’s now talking to buyers north of the Arctic Circle.

The size also makes the house more sustainable than most. It uses so little energy that it can easily run on rooftop solar panels, and the kit also comes with optional rainwater collection and greywater systems. The lack of storage means lifestyles change as well.


“When you move into a small space like that, you are being forced to be less of a consumer,” Kent says. “It’s not as good for the economy, but better for the environment. You start thinking of new ways to make your life more comfortable that will likely be more sustainable decisions.”

Kent and his team began designing the prototype home in February, and plan to start shipping next spring or summer. Nomad is on Indiegogo now raising funds for large-scale production.


About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.