tiny home

The tiny home phenomenon is taking the world by storm. Image: Adobe Stock

Home is where the pod is: You can now build a house for under R500k

Can’t afford to buy a house? It’s time to think outside the box, with containers and pod units providing a nifty, budget-beating alternative.

tiny home

The tiny home phenomenon is taking the world by storm. Image: Adobe Stock

With the dream of buying a house out of reach for many, and sustainability and the desire to live off-grid becoming more mainstream, the global architectural trend of tiny homes is growing.

Following on from the container-home concept, which saw shipping containers converted into comfortable multi-room homes, the latest idea to hit the market is that of “pod” homes. These are steel-framed units that can be customised to make a two, three or four-bedroom home.

There are also mobile options that can be attached to a trailer and hitched on to any large 4×4. So, you can literally take your home with you.

How much do container and pod homes cost?

According to Business Insider, the average price of building a regular home from scratch is anywhere from R6,000 to R8,000 per square metre. Basic container units are usually much cheaper. In some cases, basic units are comparable in cost to RDP housing, which start from about R1,500 a square metre.  

Deon van Deventer, founder of Container Home SA, said a basic studio container that was fitted out could come in at about R170,000.

Pod homes are slightly more expensive. The “bare bones” pod from Idladla starts at R270,000 with other modules ranging from R320,000 for the standard pod option to R800,000 for the deluxe.

Pick your pod

There are several companies offering this affordable alternative to housing in South Africa.

Pod Idladla

Idladla offers a modular, prefabricated nano-home, designed and manufactured in South Africa. It comprises 17m2 prefabricated units that can be positioned in various configurations to form larger, multi-use living areas.

These lightweight structures only need 24m2 of open land. They can be installed as an on-grid pod and connected to existing services or as a stand-alone, off-grid pod in more remote areas.


BDI Pod Homes

The Biodiversity and Development Institute (BDI) is a non-profit company focused on biodiversity conservation and social development. BDI has created the PanGoPod, a tiny home that can be detached from its trailer and “planted” on site. It can also be re-attached to its trailer and hitched to any large 4×4.

The design was inspired by the ground pangolin, one of the world’s most critically endangered animals. The pangolin can roll itself up defensively, and then get up and go where it wants.

The PanGoPod consists of a mobile frame chassis with a 16m2 open-plan ground floor with fully functional kitchen, dining nook and seating space, as well as a separate bathroom area. Two mezzanine lofts add an additional 8m2 and each is large enough for two single mattresses or a king-size bed.

The pod is fully sustainable, running off solar power and using water from its own rainwater harvesting tanks. It also has a water-free composting toilet.  


Urban Pods

Founded by Pretoria-based duo Bernard Coetzer and Ruaan Robbertze, Urban Pods are light steel galvanised frames that can be clad with a variety of materials to form insulated structures with high-quality finishes.

Units consist of a mobile frame chassis measuring 3 x 2.6 metres at a cost of about R6,500 per square meter. The units can be customised to the customer’s specifications, and put together to make a two, three, or four-bedroom home.

Individual pods can be designed up to eight metres long, however, the limitation on the frame’s width is 2.6 metres. The pods can be combined for up to 200m2.


Wanderlust Co

Wanderlust Co offers tiny, movable living spaces with a variety of innovative designs, from an East Coast Heritage Home style to homes inspired by the Lesotho mountains and the Kruger National Park.