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Can You Build A House for $5,000?

Building a house is an expensive prospect. Whether you opt for a kit or purchase a ready-built home, the costs are high and generally run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This puts home ownership out of reach of many people, but even those with a limited income can afford a home as long as they have the property to build it on.

Examples of these types of homes can be found in how-to books and online. Most of these were constructed to be earth-friendly or eco-friendly. Regardless of why you choose to build this type of house, constructing your own home from materials found on your property will save you a considerable amount of money. A further benefit is that these types of homes are generally energy-efficient and inexpensive to heat, reducing your costs over the lifetime of the house.

Modern houses have a number of components we’ve come to take for granted, and which can be replaced by their former counterparts. For instance, builders incorporate modern insulation into every structure. Rather than pay thousands to insulate a home, you can use hay bales or earth bags – basically, sacks filled with dirt – in the walls of your house. As dirt is readily available everywhere, this is a minimal expense that provides you with a solid, long-lasting structure.

One excellent example of a handmade house can be found at This house, constructed in Wales, cost roughly $5,000 to build and incorporated features such as trees cut down on the site. The trimmed logs were used as posts and beams, and the house was built around that frame. Rocks collected from the site were used to build the foundation and walls. Hay bales were incorporated into the floor, walls, and ceiling for insulation, and plastic sheeting protected the hay from water and dampness.

Wooden planks were placed over the hay bales to serve as a floor, and the interior and exterior walls were coated with lime plaster.  The house, one large round room with a loft, was heated by a wood stove. Further design elements of the home included a root cellar to keep food from spoiling, and a patio and shed. Cottages such as these were originally given thatched roofs, which are very durable yet easy to replace.

Earthbag homes can be constructed in a variety of shapes and styles, and will be cool in the summer while being easy to heat during the winter. A further method to conserve on insulation is to build your house into the side of a hill. This reduces the amount of wind that can hit the structure, and allows you to make the most of passive solar heating during the day. Skylights and southern-facing windows will significantly reduce heating needs for this type of home.

The one crucial issue for you to consider is what you require out of a house, and what you can live without. You can have a septic tank and well installed on almost any type of property, but this will generally cost between $10,000-30,000 depending on the ground and how far down they have to drill to hit water. The house mentioned above had an outdoor shower and a composting toilet. This avoids the costs for a septic system, but provides an unacceptable lifestyle change for many people.

Some forms of hand-built homes incorporate earthen floors into the design, further cutting costs by eliminating wood floors and sub-floors. Earthen floors come in two different varieties: poured and tamped. The poured form is much like poured concrete, and forms a solid layer that feels and ages like leather. Tamped earthen floors involve layers of particular types of soil carefully tamped down to provide a sturdy floor. The final layer is sealed with a mix of oil and turpentine.

If walking on dirt doesn’t sound appealing, consider purchasing sawn lumber or milling trees from your own property. You can create your own plank flooring and use any remnants or cast-off pieces to build your own furniture, or use it in your home’s woodstove. You will need to sand your plank floor smooth and varnish it to protect the wood.

Other hand-built homes incorporate different elements while achieving energy independence. People living in the desert can make extensive use of passive solar power to heat their homes. Found materials such as rubber tires and bottles can be incorporated into walls to absorb the sun’s heat during the day, and they will slowly release that warmth throughout the night, heating your home at no cost.

These are a few examples of building homes from materials that can be found on your property. If you have the time and a few simple tools, you can build an inexpensive house that will be easy to heat and maintain. Adding elements such as solar panels, or wind or water turbines, will allow you to be completely off the grid while still having modern amenities such as running water and electricity.

Carefully evaluate what you need from a home: how much overall space, how many rooms, how much storage, the basics for your kitchen and bathroom, and what type of heating system you wish to use. Certain styles lend themselves to an open floor plan while others provide a better framework if you need to have several bedrooms. Open floor plans or multi-story dwellings work well with a single source of heat such as a woodstove, and an open floor plan makes the best use of passive solar for light and additional warmth.


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