What alternatives are there to bricks and mortar in London?

Houseboat London

With the ever-changing climate of a wet small island, bricks and mortar have proven popular in the UK over the centuries, leading to a hegemony of bricks and mortar in creating what we call the “home”.  However, there are always exceptions to the norm, and the high prices of a brick-and-mortar postcode are inspiring some to look for alternatives.  Here are some classic alternatives and some innovations on the scene.  


  1. Houseboats in London
  2. Tiny Homes
  3. Cargotechture
  4. Life on the road in the UK 
  5. Shepherds Huts
  6. Off-grid garden rooms and offices 
  7. Downsizing for a minimalist space
  8. Aussie storage solutions in London 

Houseboats in London 

Living on the waters in London has had a surge in popularity of late. In London, there has been a 60% increase in boats registering to be moored in the city

Obviously, one factor aside from the romance of Little Venice, is the perceived financial saving. However, for a mooring in central London, expect to pay more than the value of the boat you will have to buy in that location.  Suburban locations may be around £4,000 per year, but in the city centre prices can climb to £20,000 per year. While your council tax band will stay low there is a lot more to living on the water than meets the eye from the towpath.  The Canal and Rivers Trust has a comprehensive system and they provide guidelines, so that people understand what they are really getting into when they dream about living on the water. 

Tiny Homes 

Tiny homes, which have gathered a passionate diaspora of dwellers in the US, are also appealing to folks in the UK. Looking for a place to live without having to vault onto the property ladder makes a tiny home an appealing option. What is required is the right to live on the land that the tiny house is on. If the building  keeps within the required dimensions, planning permission is not required for a tiny home. Generally in the UK, they function as dwellings at fixed addresses, whereas in the US, there is a roaming Tiny Home culture.  However, Tiny Eco Homes can build you a custom design road-legal tiny home you can take around the country. 


The versatility of the shipping container is now part of the city skyline, as homes, restuarants, and temporary and permanent housing solutions.  The industrial aesthetic and the stackability of shipping containers makes them a great building block for inspirational design. MAC container homes make container homes, as domestic alternatives to extension and houses. They also work with charities and church groups to provide housing solutions for those in immediate temporary need. Steel containers are easy to recycle and repurpose as they make desirable quirky Airbnb add-ons to existing properties. To learn more about shipping container homes available on the market, go here

Life on the road in the UK 

Since the Criminal Justice Act in the  1990s the legalities  for living in live- in vehicles only really afford something equivalent to holiday-making in the UK. Since the 90s the traveller community has had fewer mobile sites where they can live, as land is increasingly sold for development. While vanlifeing is a thing in the US, as seen in the 2020 film Nomadland, it is not so easy in the UK. There is more of a supportive structure set up for those who choose to live on the canals and waterways, as well as the natural community that comes with that way of living.   However, the adaptation of horse boxes and vehicles into live-in spaces continues, whether to stay fixed on a particular piece of land or to head over to Europe. Bespoke joinery and carpentry can make the interiors of these vehicles charming beyond belief.  Festival culture has propagated the aesthetics of live-in vehicles, often utilised for specific creative purposes and not for all year round living. 

Shepherds huts

Another industry fueled by the festival scene is glamping, which is where shepherds huts were born again.  Without a sheep in sight, a shepherds hut is now synonymous with a luxury-level micro dwelling, usually set in a picturesque surrounding.  While they have boomed on Airbnb and in the glamping sector, they have also become perfect add-ons to houses, for guests,or as a separate studio or office. The industry around them is very bespoke often with  exceptional joinery and carpentry innovations to create functional spaces in narrow confines.  Blackdown Shepherds Huts create custom Shepherds huts, blending garden aesthetics and providing super-functional accommodation or office spaces.  While the trend in these has developed in accord with the uptake in short-term letting platforms like Airbnb and Canopy and Stars, they do find their way into city spaces too.  

Off-grid garden rooms and offices 

The garden office industry also had a mini boom during and after the pandemic, when people opted to increase the potential of their homes and open up more space for work and other family members.  Many new designs for these garden rooms incorporate sustainability principles to create energy-efficient spaces. SIPS panels are generally standard to seal in thermal efficiency and these buildings are a mixture of timber, insulation and plywood.  London Garden Rooms won the Chelsea Flower Show award in 2024, and their site is a good place to explore options and get ideas.  It is easy to make these spaces energy efficient and to run a carbon-neutral off-grid space, which is going to make you feel good. 

Downsizing for a minimalist space 

The more compact the space you may inhabit, a functional and minimal streamline will be in order. If you are considering the flexible options of living in a smaller space, like a tiny home, container house or shepherd’s hut, then you will have to slim down your stuff. Since the Baby Boomers, as houses were secured and families raised, there has been a lot of expansion into ownership and consumerism, resulting in – lots of stuff to store. Bricks and mortar have been good at this, with garages, spare bedrooms and lofts; but the times they are a changing

LOW COST Secure storage IN LONDON, From Aussie 

It can be overwhelming to reduce down all your posessions if you are changing your living space. However, with a storage solution, you can ensure the protection of your belongings, without living amongst all of them.  Many of our customers use our storage facilities to temporarily secure expensive equipment and materials needed for work or the home. Having a storage inventory system and a guarantee against rodents, dampness and deterioration gives them peace of mind, and keeps things organised.  With self-storage in Chelsea and St Johns Wood, you can easily access your CCTV-monitored storage, at your convenience.  We have three storage packages, depending on your needs which allow us to keep our prices flexible and competitive. If you use our container storage facilities we will need 5 working days notice to prepare access for you.  To see how this could work for you, get in touch with our team to discuss options and get a quote. Check out our reviews while you are at it. 

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