A house becomes a home in many ways: the people in it, how you decorate it, and its location are all factors that can make it a place you want to spend time in. Of course, most people make their home in houses that are already built, that they found through a realtor. Some folks have the resources to plan their own home, while a select few have the energy to make their dream a reality with their own two hands. Not everyone can afford such a luxury, but some very creative individuals discovered that they could build their fantasy house on a budget. And when traditionally built houses didn’t seem to cut it, others turned to abandoned buildings in which to make their home. Here are 10 examples of the kinds structures that have been repurposed and turned into gorgeous houses.

1- School buses

Yes, those clunky and sometimes smelly buses can be given a second life after they’re done transporting children to and from school. These buses can be a great investment option for amateur home builders: they’re sturdy and solidly built, and if they’re still in working condition, can be transformed into a motorhome. Relative to other options, they are also inexpensive to buy. While the prospect of tearing out all those seats or living in a narrow space can be daunting to many homeowners, consider a few examples of renovated school buses (affectionately called “skoolies”) that are perfectly livable. A standard 72-seat school bus has about 200 square feet of floor space, and may cost about $3,000 to buy, with an additional $30,000 to renovate (if you want a fully-functional kitchen and bathroom). Of course, to create a comfortable home, it may take some careful planning and consulting, but the results are absolutely gorgeous!

2- Churches

Take advantage of an abandoned church’s layout: these structures can make great homes with the right materials. The beautiful stained glass windows filter light differently than the standard window, so you can create an ambiance unique to every room. There is a surprising amount of abandoned churches all around the United States, and many homeowners have seen the potential they have to become a home: though they may come a little pricey without the planned renovations, the result is sure to be breathtaking!

3- Barns

Another unlikely option in which to make your home is a barn. Like churches, barns offer an amazing opportunity to get creative with a large, mostly empty space. If you choose to purchase a barn to renovate, you also have the advantage of making a loft space, if you desire, or two separate stories. Barns tend to have a regular shape that may allow you to transform it into a multipurpose space. Basically, with such a structure, you’re working with a totally blank canvas!

4- Bomb shelters

For the more ambitious homeowners, you may have the opportunity to purchase a stand-alone bomb shelter. While “untouched” ones are decidedly harder to find, you may be lucky enough to find a totally renovated one on the market. Many of these large, solid structures have been transformed into luxury homes filled with upscale amenities, such as a pool or a games room.

5- Airplanes

How cool would it be to say that you live in an airplane? Well, some people thought about the idea and turned their dream into reality — without even needing a pilot’s license. While there’s a lot of square footage to work with (a Boeing 727 may have about 1,066 square-feet of interior space), living in a retired aircraft is no picnic: you’ll have to find an appropriate (and legal) place to put it. And like in several other of the structures on this list, you’d have to install the plumbing and electricity yourself. If you’re an ambitious homeowner who is willing to live in a long and relatively narrow space, has the resources to basically build your home from scratch, and wants a cool project to show off, this may be the kind of place for you!

6- Airstreams

Like school buses, airstreams can be a great way to live life on the road while investing in a beautiful vintage space to live in. The same types of renovations and installations may need to be made, or you can purchase a partially renovated one that you can customize. In such a space, you’ll likely learn how to downsize in a relatively extreme way — even if you plan on having more than just one or two people share the home.

7- School houses

We’re not just talking about small, one or two-room schoolhouses from the early 1900’s. We’re talking about multi-storied buildings that may prove to be tricky to renovate. The sheer amount of space may be a little overwhelming, but provides an excellent opportunity for ambitious homeowners to create their fantasy home while taking advantage of the large rooms, wide and tall windows, and, in most cases, existing plumbing and electricity. While efficiency may be a concern, you can help solve this problem by adding special features to your new house, such as solar panels. While the outside may not look like a house, the interior will almost certainly feel like home!

8- Containers

Perhaps the most popular structure that can be repurposed and transformed into a house is the humble shipping container. Shipping containers are not to be looked down upon: they are relatively cheap to acquire (the average cost is $2,000 per container), are made and structured in a way that’s excellent for building, and are considered to be environmentally friendly. Plus, using them to make your home is a great way to upcycle them. You don’t have to just live in one solid box: you can arrange them in a creative way and can add windows, insulation, and many other amenities that may make all your friends want a container home, too! Many container homes don’t give away what they’re made of, so your design can easily conceal that aspect, if desired.

Designing your dream home from scratch may seem like a daunting task, but with so many ways you can go about it, the sky’s your limit!

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