Homes for Less Than $3000: John Wells’ Field Lab

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After purchasing a 40-acre piece of Texas desert two years ago, John Wells built this tiny house in 8 days for $1,600. He completed some more detail work in about 5 months and for another $800. He uses solar and rainwater collection, a homemade swamp cooler and a sawdust toilet.


John thinks of his home as a sustainable and self-sufficient homestead, or the Southwest Texas Alternative Energy And Sustainable Living Field Laboratory. The Field Lab for short. His next building project is a workshop/greenhouse made from shipping containers.

Yes it is isolated terrain but our bearded subject is most certainly not without the internet. You can visit him in his home live via webcam. There’s also his website, blog, flickr photos, and YouTube channel, especially this cute little ditty. Treehugger calls him a modern Thoreau. Michael Janzen calls John Wells his newest hero.

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r.r. alder
01/03/2013 at 10:43 pm


Little House 10/30/2009 at 6:44 am

This is a great little house. I love that he included a rainwater collection system, solar, and a sawdust toilet. Terrific eco-friendly options. I especially love the bright, southwest colors in the interior walls.

Rudy 12/10/2011 at 11:03 pm

How is it possible that he was allowed to build that small? What hoops did he go through with zoning? Please explain. Can you give me advice on where I might be allowed to build something similar?


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