04/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Turning Jalopies Into Homes

Salvage is nothing new in the building industry. The deconstruction business -- dismantling houses to reuse their parts, from timber framing to copper wire -- is still healthy, and there are plenty of creative recyclers using tires, bottles, cans and even picture-frame corners to help build homes. But Miranda houses are made of steel: recycled steel crafted of junked car parts, to be specific.

Which means, says Boydstun, you don't need to feel guilty about trading in your old car for a new one (especially if the new one has better mileage and lower emissions), and you should encourage your neighbors with car-carcasses rotting in the backyard to get them to a scrap heap. He says the automobile is recycled more than any other consumer product on the market. Per the Clean Air Foundation, it takes less than a minute to implode a whole car into a fistful of metal.

Boydstun's not exactly an objective observer when it comes to cars, having spent the last 19 years at the helm of a commercial car carrier manufacturer. That business has suffered, understandably, as his own customers surf their economic tsunami; he's laid off some 400 workers. And he sometimes sounds more like a car salesman than a builder when talking up his homes. But the car parts, he says, are the least important aspect of Miranda creations. "The foundation is more impressive than the steel," he says. "It's really about the holistic approach."

Read more on Grist