How to build your own home

Humans, as most of the other creatures on earth, have a need for shelter. While the other creatures just go ahead and build their shelters without many hesitations, humans have managed to complicate the matter immensely for themselves in a matter of decades. In this article we are going to give you some tips on how to build your own home in spite of this.

Before you get to the part where you can actually put a shovel in the ground (if your home requires that) there are quite a few hurdles to overcome. One of these is finding and buying the appropriate land.

There are also several other things you need to determine when you build your own home. Things such as: Budget, location (does it need to be near schools, grocery shops, your job, medical care etc), building method and if you are going to do it yourself of are you going to hire builders to do it for you.


start building your own home

Ideas on how to build your own home

Determine your budget and find a method that suits you

Even though budget probably will at least partly, dictate the answers to many of the above questions, do not despair if your budget seems low. You may still find an option to build within your budget. If you budget is tight and you cannot afford a plot of land with access to services as water and electricity, you may need to be a bit more creative when it comes to how and of what, you build your home, and you can still end up with a very decent home.

At the lower end of the budget range you will find a tiny house. To build a tiny house you don't even need to own land, you just need a spot to put it on. A tiny house is technically a an RV, which means you do not need to get a permit and you do not need to hook up to water and electricity etc. However for convenience you will probably find ways to hook up eventually. You can build a tiny house for around 23,000$. Read more about tiny houses here.

Natural building methods like traditional straw bale, rammed earth, adobe, cob, light clay straw (also called slip straw), cordwood, turft, earth bags techniques are all generally cheaper to build. This is off course supposing that you can use dirt from your own land and that you do the work yourself. On the other hand these are labor intensive building techniques. An other point of advantage to these natural building methods is that they are relatively low maintenance once they are built, if they were built correctly.

From natural building

The natural building techniques are generally easy to learn and the building of a natural house is technically not difficult, but it is hard work.

Our modern building methods like the regular stick and beam home, masonry construction, modular home etc are usually quicker to build than the natural building methods. However, to build with these methods is a craft and not something you can learn on a workshop. But skilled workers are relatively easy to find. Also, these methods will normally easier comply with current building codes. This is because these methods are usually the ones that are being considered in the building codes and best known to the inspectors. Another advantage is that you will be able to find plans online that are ready to go. But if you like these can also be adapted to your specific needs.

On the lower price range of these modern building methods you can find quite affordable options, like for instance self build kits, as these log cabin kits.

Log Cabin Kit

Log Cabin Kit

You can find cabin kits for under 20,000$. However, depending on where you are you may not be able to legally live in it. Also it would be a bit optimistic to say that anybody can assemble a home like this. It is not like assembling an Ikea shelf unit. That said, there are kit manufacturers that claim that their kits are DIY kits. So it is certainly advisable to take a look around. And if you can, get in touch with folks that has assembled one of these kits themselves. That is the best way to get a feel for what it takes to assemble.

Logically if the kit is easy to put together, even if you have to hire help, you would surely be able to save a chunk of money by putting in some muscle yourself.

All these are important choices to make and choices that will affect you and your family both economically and perhaps even health-wise for years to come. Plus as the world is becoming more conscious about the environment, you may also want to consider the ecological impact or footprint your choice will have.

If you go for a prebuilt home or a modular home, you should consult with the supplier and use builders recommended by them. This way you know that you get people that have experience putting up this suppliers house and thus minimize the costs for delays or mistakes made.

If you go for the natural building methods do proper research to find methods suitable for your geographic area. This will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Because high thermal mass, like rammed earth, may not be the most suitable option if you have long cold winters in your area. But it may be a good option in your areas the days are sunny and hot, and the nights are cold. If you live in a predominately cold area you might want to consider options with high insulation properties, so called R-value. This could be straw bale or slip straw options.

Many of the different techniques can even be combined so that you could put a high R-value wall on the coldest side of the house, usually north facing wall and thermal mass on the south facing wall. This way you will not get a huge heat loss on the cold side and the thermal mass will store warmth from the sun and radiate it back after sunset.

There are lots of ways of learning how to build your own home with these natural building methods, you can find lots learning material on Internet, there are books about but perhaps the most useful of them all is to assist a workshop. And another good thing is that there are ever growing amounts of people who wants to learn these methods, so when the time comes for you to build you can also organize a workshop. This way you do not only spread the word, people actually comes to work for you on your project for free, just for the learning experience.