DIY: No Mortgage Home
This isn’t going to be a full guide as I haven’t actually built one of these for myself, but I’ve seen some of these projects over the years and I’m going to share what I’ve learned about the realities of these projects from those whom have built these. I would like to construct my own home should circumstances permit. Oh that’s another point make sure to get all relevant permits if your county requires them (depends on size, use, plumbing and power requirements).
If you google a lot of these projects they’ll say you can build a 400 sq foot cabin for 1000 dollars or 2000 dollars which isn’t entirely false. If you don’t need permits, insulation, plumbing, solar/wind power or grid power then yes that is possible. If you plan on living in one of these more than just a weekend get-away during the summer then you’ll probably want to add those features and with that a more accurate pricing would be closer to around 5000-11000 USD depending on the deals you can find on windows, doors, appliances, permits and what ever else you need. Even at that rate if you build 10 of these over time and connect them for say on the high end of 110,000 that’s 4000 square feet (27.5 USD a sq foot for a self sufficient, efficient home) I don’t think there are too many places in America at-least that you can find 4000 square feet for 110 grand. It would probably be less than that considering if you share a wall between each structure that cost is cut, plus you probably wouldn’t have a kitchen in each of them (personally I’m a fan of an out-doors kitchen when possible).
Like any major project, can you do it by yourself? Yes if you’re in good shape have a decent idea of what you’re doing and have a lot of time on your hands then yes you can do it by yourself. Although if you have some help you can easily cut your time and effort by more than half, in-fact if you really pushed it you could probably finish one of these in a long weekend not including a poured foundation.
This book is said to have been quite helpful as a fall-back and basic guide to help you along the way. As long as you have a basic knowledge of the processes you should be able to build one with little trouble. If you have a little more in your budget and you’d like the cabin to be more efficient then I’d recommend going with 2×6’s instead of 2×4’s for the outer framework because that will give you more space for insulation and increase the heat/cool retention of the house thus requiring less power to heat/cool. Also you could set up a rain catchment system with a grey water reclamation system for a few hundred dollars more (depending on how much water you want stored).
Land you can get anywhere from 100 dollars an acre in the badlands to 100,000+ in cities. If you were truly setting up a full homestead say 5 acres and one of these on an out of the way property would be easily under 25,000 now not everyone has 25k sitting under their mattress but think that is about the same price as a reasonable commuter car. So even if you got a loan for the house and property saving on power,water, rent say it comes to around 700 dollars a month if you paid that towards your house it’d be paid off in 3 years, and if you grow your own food it could be even faster. It’s an interesting thought to not be bound by an excessive mortgage but it’s a different lifestyle one of efficiency instead of excess, it isn’t for everyone.