Dan Phillips turns backyard scraps into whimsical Texan houses




Transforming wine corks and bottle caps into flooring, cow bones into countertops, frame samples into ceilings and old deck boards into doors, Dan Phillips believes a second life is possible building refuse.

His company, Phoenix Commotion, turns trash into homes, employs “unskilled” workers and creates shelter for low-income families, but it’s not a non-profit. Instead, Phillips is trying to show that there are many good reasons to reuse construction waste (estimated as high as 10-15% of the materials that go into a building) and provide a whimsical alternative to mobile homes or other affordable housing.

With no formal training in architecture or construction, Phillips is a self-taught carpenter, plumber and electrician, but he has no problem complying with local building codes. “Every building code has a provision that alternative materials and strategies are allowable provided you fulfill the intent of the code. The only thing codes do is protect the public health and safety. So if there is nothing dangerous about it I can do whatever I want.”

He estimates his home are 75 to 85 percent salvaged material. He employs 5 minimum-wage workers, but also requires the home’s eventual owner (usually single mothers) to work on their future shelter. Since founding Phoenix Commotion with his wife 20 years ago, Phillips and his ever-rotating crews have built dozens of homes in Huntsville, Texas for low-income families and artists.

We visited his plumbed-and-wired treehouse home built in a bois d’arc tree (part of an artist’s compound with a 350-square-foot rental cottage and separate studio space), his “bone house” (made from donations from the “bone yards” of local ranchers) and his latest project, a home shaped like a cowboy boot.

Original story:

Previous ROBOTS! plus a Shop Update
Next 3 Tips to Minimize Team Conflict, Improve Leadership Skills, and Build a Cohesive Team

35 Comments

  1. Andreas Stie
    August 17, 2017
    Reply

    Love it!!!

  2. Etienne Sugihara
    August 18, 2017
    Reply

    Love this Man

  3. WP45
    August 19, 2017
    Reply

    At 8:32 he says the only difference between bone and ivory, is that ivory is illegal. He gets a big fat FAIL on that, but a big fat A+ on his house.

  4. openyoureyes
    August 20, 2017
    Reply

    Who throws Teak away???? ARGH!

  5. openyoureyes
    August 20, 2017
    Reply

    Dan Phillips, you are my hero!

  6. Diablo Ed
    August 22, 2017
    Reply

    Wow he gave me a boat load of ideas for the floor at my house awesome thank you for making and showing us this awesome video

  7. Dinesh Kumar
    August 28, 2017
    Reply

    so nice

  8. Colleen Mcdermott
    September 18, 2017
    Reply

    Wow…Crepe Myrtle is a beautiful tree & VERY EXPENSIVE out west here. Many years ago, they were $1000 @ nursery.

  9. see you in the bathroom
    September 19, 2017
    Reply

    Notice she didn't have a comment about the boneyard décor 🙂

  10. KlunkerRider
    September 20, 2017
    Reply

    I love what he does with salvage materials 😀

  11. Dina Hanau
    September 23, 2017
    Reply

    Good point…when you don't care about money and you're creating art. It automatically comes! Blessings from above. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Leaf Roblox
    September 24, 2017
    Reply

    insanely awesome. id love to do this myself.

  13. Kevin F
    September 26, 2017
    Reply

    This guy is the best.

  14. Beautifully Mastered
    October 4, 2017
    Reply

    This is so dope! Amazing and refreshing that someone is doing something for the enjoyment and it's benefiting families in need!

  15. SoCalFreelance
    October 5, 2017
    Reply

    "I get all the free granite I want"…[lady] whaaaaaat???

  16. Deanna Taylor
    October 11, 2017
    Reply

    He is so talented. Amazing!

  17. Kade Hettrich
    October 15, 2017
    Reply

    17:08 tree house/ tiny home. Love it

  18. Novella Cinephile
    October 20, 2017
    Reply

    Unbelievable. Relative. Lovely. Appreciate how knowledgeable he is.

  19. J. B.
    October 22, 2017
    Reply

    Puhlllllleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeeee Come to Colorado! We need you here, Dan.

  20. roleat
    October 23, 2017
    Reply

    genius guy

  21. Ash Mahan
    November 1, 2017
    Reply

    This man is fascinating .I truly enjoyed this video!

  22. bettybaker 55
    November 1, 2017
    Reply

    I would to build my own with him as my mentor.

  23. We have always been anointed
    November 6, 2017
    Reply

    I'm so inspired by this man! God bless you sir, and your team, amen!

  24. Marie Bruno
    November 12, 2017
    Reply

    He is so creative..wow I would love to have a home built by him.. just awesome

  25. husky500cr
    November 22, 2017
    Reply

    Amazing

  26. Kimmie Elzain
    November 24, 2017
    Reply

    WOW!!! No other words seem adequate. WOW!

  27. Kimmie Elzain
    November 24, 2017
    Reply

    "My great advantage is, I don't care about money" Quote by Dan Phillips. How rare.

  28. Marianne Lottes
    December 3, 2017
    Reply

    my dad built a 20 square m house with all rubble in fact post war rubble . he was also an artist . it was amazing and i grew up in it .
    he was ahead of his time .

  29. Brett Richardson
    December 5, 2017
    Reply

    where in texas is this?

  30. HollywoodCreeper
    December 10, 2017
    Reply

    This is awesome. I hate to think of what the hurricane did to some of your beautiful properties. I hope they came through it ok.

  31. Darrell Olson
    December 13, 2017
    Reply

    You have a lock for your front door, really???

  32. Elena Beza
    December 26, 2017
    Reply

    Dan Philips bacyard texan suberb

  33. Miles Rose
    January 4, 2018
    Reply

    This video is a real breath of fresh air, compared to all of the videos of hipster yuppie tiny houses that cost $75,000+ for 200 sqft

  34. Lisna Wati
    January 4, 2018
    Reply

    Waw

  35. Brandon Burrell
    January 8, 2018
    Reply

    Outstanding!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *