Houses Made of Pallets for Disaster Relief

Back in the late nineties, we ran a little theatre company in Vancouver (also Darren’s First Web Design). We needed a coffin for one of the shows (George F. Walker’s excellent “Theatre of the Film Noir”, if I recall correctly) and, in light of our shoestring budget, couldn’t afford to buy one.

A member of the creative team had a day job in a retail store, and the store had a ton of pallets in the basement. He got the excellent idea to ‘borrow’ a few of these pallets, tear them apart and build a half-decent coffin out of the wood. It worked out nicely.

I remembered this little anecdote when I read about making temporary housing out of pallets:

Pallets are great material for this application because they are sturdy, inexpensive and readily available. In most cases in a disaster relief effort many of the pallets will arrive as part of the transpiration of food and materials requiring no additional logistics to procure them. If more are needed I-Beam states that they can be built by hand at a rate of 500-600 pallets per day. One transitional shelter measuring 10′ x 20′ would take 80 pallets to build and cost approximately $500.

After those darn plastic chairs (put to great use by Brian Jungen), pallets feel like one of the most ubiquitous human-made objects on Earth. Plus, other forms of aid usually arrives at disaster areas on pallets, so nothing goes to waste.


  1. Very interesting. This post reminded me of the little known fact that the St. Louis arch was built from discarded conestoga wagons.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: