POD & SHELL™ Housebuilding

POD & SHELL™ is a housebuilding strategy that combines a compact, “manufactured-house component” with a site-built Living-Space SHELL. The manufactured component—the POD—is an integrated, Kitchen-Bath-Laundry-Off-Grid Power module. It provides—in a “ready-to-use” package—all the mechanical, plumbing, electrical, appliance and cabinetry systems necessary for a modest, fully functional, off-grid or grid-tied dwelling. In essence, the POD provides everything a modest sized dwelling needs except Living-Space!

The site-built, insulated SHELL—which provides the Living-Space—can be constructed with any suitable method and material to meet the needs of different budgets, family sizes and occupations, building sites, climates, and/or available tools and construction skills. Options range from low-tech adobe or strawbale construction to high-tech, prefab building shell kits. “Docked” together, the POD & SHELL create a complete, dwelling solution.

An exciting new logic for the challenge of affordable housebuilding!

POD & SHELL™ assigns the task of building the technically complex and finely detailed components of a dwelling—those requiring specialized tools, materials, and skills—to a workshop or factory setting. It then assigns the task of building a modest building SHELL Living-Space to a local design-builder-artisan (or DIY homeowner).

“Disentangling” these components of housebuilding achieves three major benefits:

1. The task of constructing the SHELL Living-Space alone is a much easier and faster project for a moderately skilled artisan or DIY housebuilder to accomplish.

2. The technically sophisticated and complex POD—encompassing the kitchen, bath, laundry, mechanical and power systems—can utilize the assembly efficiencies and scale-economies of a factory business model.

3. Only the POD needs to be configured for highway transport. In contrast, the site-built SHELL is free to expand and configure itself as needed to provide the living, sleeping, dining, and home-office or work accommodations a particular family or builder requires.


The POD & SHELL™ strategy uniquely resolves the dilemmas Tiny Houses face in obtaining permanent residential permits. The POD, itself, is assembled, inspected, and permitted as a “Modular Home Component” under standard building codes. Because it does not contain “habitable spaces” (the code excludes bathrooms and kitchens from this definition) its compactness creates no building-code obstacles.

The SHELL Living-Space is permitted and inspected as a site-built structure—also under standard building codes. Because the SHELL is not constrained by the need for “compactness” its “habitable spaces” can easily meet building code standards.  


The FREE-DWELL™ POD is a specific embodiment of the POD & SHELL™ strategy. Capable of comfortably supporting SHELL accommodations with one or two sleeping spaces (and a “guest”/home-office or studio space)—the FREE-DWELL™ POD can be thought of as a manufactured “Tiny House” with everything a modest dwelling needs—except Living Space!

A 2Kw fold-out Solar Array with Lithium Battery storage and inverter-controller provides power to the POD and a “docking” junction-box-panel for the building SHELL’s task-lighting and con­venience outlets. The FREE-DWELL™ POD can be configured with a propane incinerating toilet for remote off-grid applications—or a low-flush toilet for building sites with access to septic or sewer connections. In its compact transport configuration, the FREE-DWELL™ POD is easy to tow and maneuver to even the most remote, off-grid dwelling sites.

Prototype-ready Design

J.D. ALT has developed the FREE-DWELL™ POD design to a prototype-ready stage and has established a business entity— POD & SHELL™ Housebuilding Concepts—that is prepared to collaborate toward that goal. Interested builders, fabricators, and investors should contact him through this website.