Author Topic: cheapest way to build a house?  (Read 5573 times)

mohawkbrah

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cheapest way to build a house?
« on: October 15, 2015, 02:04:25 AM »
general newbie in all things house construction. what would be one of the cheapest ways to build myself a tiny/small house (not a mobile tiny house, it would have to have a foundation) is there specific mass produced building materials that can lower cost? i would like to do most of the labor myself bar the foundation and roof trusses and roofing tiles. my planned house size is 20 sq meters. Im wondering just how low i could go the predicted costs if i mainly used sub contractors for the work is about 18000-25000 (not including service charges for utilities)

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2015, 07:00:10 AM »
Get a shipping container and convert to a house.

Need a bigger house, use more containers.

Just google "shipping container homes" and see the images.

nereo

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2015, 07:35:33 AM »
Shipping containers were my first thought (as CowboyAndIndian mentioned).  There's currently an excess of 40' containers out there since the industry has shifted almost entirely to using 52' containers.  One 40' container is slightly larger than your proposed 20 sq meters (I think they are about 27).

A second option if local codes will allow it is to just purchase a large shed from a big-box store and insulate/frame it out yourself.  Home depot has a nice wood one here for about $4k.  I've seen lots of people do this for hunting/vacation cabins.

Or you could just decide to DIY and build the whole thing from scratch.  Permitting will vary, but if you build a rectangular, single story cabin and use pre-fab trussles you could probably build a nice 3m x 6m cabin for about $2-3k in materials.  There are plenty of plans on the internet for such simple structures.

Ultimately it depends on how fancy/complicated you want to make this.  If you want electricity, heating, flush toilets and a full kitchen it'll get costly quickly.  If you are ok with a wood stove, no electricity (or battery powered lights) and an outhouse you can make a comfy structure for just a few $k.

Bearded Man

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2015, 07:53:50 AM »
As someone who has gone down this road, from what I've read: Shipping container homes are expensive once you finish them up like a house. It would cost more to build an equivalent shipping container home to my stick built house, not counting the land. Keep in mind housing costs typically include the land, so when you buy a 300K house, a lot of that value is in the land.

Living in such a container will require the use of plumbing and electricity for it to be legal to live there. In most parts of the US, with few exceptions such as Alaska, it is illegal to build a structure without a permit and building codes unless it is 200 sf or less. In most places, it is also apparently illegal to live in an RV on your own property unless you have sanitation issues covered, etc. RV parks for example, are legit because they have hookups. If everyone just dumped their waste on the grounds it would become a cesspool of diseases in no time.

Sadly, it appears the man wants to keep us on the grid.

plainjane

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2015, 08:20:13 AM »
Sadly, it appears the man wants to keep us on the grid.

I'm guessing that it is cheaper per household for lots of people to be on a grid than each person setting up their own system.  Of course, then those households are more wasteful because they don't value the benefit, and the incremental costs are so small.

Bearded Man

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2015, 09:03:48 AM »
Sadly, it appears the man wants to keep us on the grid.

I'm guessing that it is cheaper per household for lots of people to be on a grid than each person setting up their own system.  Of course, then those households are more wasteful because they don't value the benefit, and the incremental costs are so small.

During my research I found that the three main components to off grid living are a composting toilet, solar/wind power electricity, or if near water, hydro, and a rain water catchment system using your roof (preferably metal) and gutters with 55gal water barrels and a solar pump. Heating, and much of your cooking can actually be done on a a wood burning stove. It may not be as convenient as a flush toilet or normal city water/electricity, but I prefer the homesteading life style. At my last house, I raised rabbits and chickens, had a huge garden, and was considering a goat. I was just about to start pulling the trigger on the solar and water, but then we moved to an HOA neighborhood, ick.


mohawkbrah

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2015, 09:05:51 AM »
Shipping containers were my first thought (as CowboyAndIndian mentioned).  There's currently an excess of 40' containers out there since the industry has shifted almost entirely to using 52' containers.  One 40' container is slightly larger than your proposed 20 sq meters (I think they are about 27).

A second option if local codes will allow it is to just purchase a large shed from a big-box store and insulate/frame it out yourself.  Home depot has a nice wood one here for about $4k.  I've seen lots of people do this for hunting/vacation cabins.

Or you could just decide to DIY and build the whole thing from scratch.  Permitting will vary, but if you build a rectangular, single story cabin and use pre-fab trussles you could probably build a nice 3m x 6m cabin for about $2-3k in materials.  There are plenty of plans on the internet for such simple structures.

Ultimately it depends on how fancy/complicated you want to make this.  If you want electricity, heating, flush toilets and a full kitchen it'll get costly quickly.  If you are ok with a wood stove, no electricity (or battery powered lights) and an outhouse you can make a comfy structure for just a few $k.

i have a feeling i would have trouble getting permission to construct anything like you suggested as i plan on building in republic of Ireland. Where there's a lot of rural neighbors all around and im sure they would complain at such an eye sore. An insulated shed would never pass regs i feel  a building inspector would not deem it safe for permanent habitation.


Maybe a pre-built  cabin kit, that could work so i'll look into that.


*EDIT* The general rule regulating log houses in Ireland states that any building under 25 sq m and less than 3.9m high to the side or rear of your house doesn't require planning permission. But since the local rules might slightly differ we highly recommend the customers to check with their local authorities prior to purchase.

So long as i find a small log cabin kit it sounds like a good idea. thank you for mentioning i completely forgot about cabins and the likes. I already planned out a house design thats 18 sqm so 25 sqm will be nice and roomy!
« Last Edit: October 15, 2015, 09:10:20 AM by mohawkbrah »

nereo

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2015, 09:07:07 AM »
...but I prefer the homesteading life style. At my last house, I raised rabbits and chickens, had a huge garden, and was considering a goat. I was just about to start pulling the trigger on the solar and water, but then we moved to an HOA neighborhood, ick.
ok Bearded Man - I just gotta ask.  How on earth did you go from a homesteading lifestyle complete with rabbits and chickens to one with a HOA?

nereo

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2015, 09:15:03 AM »

i have a feeling i would have trouble getting permission to construct anything like you suggested as i plan on building in republic of Ireland. Where there's a lot of rural neighbors all around and im sure they would complain at such an eye sore. An insulated shed would never pass regs i feel  a building inspector would not deem it safe for permanent habitation.

Maybe a pre-built  cabin kit, that could work so i'll look into that.

Yup - local permitting will make or break most ideas for a very inexpensive permanent dwelling.  Heck, some municipalities won't even permit anything under 400sqft (~39 m2).  Shipping container homes [http://www.houzz.com/photos/1261619/Port-Ludlow-House-modern-exterior-seattle]don't have to look like crap[/url] - though you can spend a ton making them chic. 
Pre-fab cabin kits are great if you want to construct them as quickly as possible, but if what you're after is the bottom dollar, building a bare-bones square cabin from scratch isn't terribly difficult, especially with some approved plans and permits.

Fishindude

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2015, 09:25:12 AM »
Sticking with conventional systems and staying away with whacky methods like; rammed earth, straw bale, modified shipping containers, etc. ....

In my opinion, the most economical and still livable house would be slab on grade construction with; insulated 2x4 stud walls, insulated attic with wood trusses, shingle roof, vinyl siding and basic insulated exterior windows and doors.   Interior walls would be painted drywall and heating and AC could be accomplished using a simple thru-wall electric unit with no need for ducting.  Keep kitchen and bathroom plumbing back to back and simple to control costs.  A few wall outlets in every room and ceiling mounted light fixtures.

Finishes; appliances, cabinets, flooring, etc. could be whatever you can afford.   

Gone Fishing

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2015, 10:05:59 AM »
As someone who has gone down this road, from what I've read: Shipping container homes are expensive once you finish them up like a house. It would cost more to build an equivalent shipping container home to my stick built house, not counting the land. Keep in mind housing costs typically include the land, so when you buy a 300K house, a lot of that value is in the land.


Sticking with conventional systems and staying away with whacky methods like; rammed earth, straw bale, modified shipping containers, etc. ....

In my opinion, the most economical and still livable house would be slab on grade construction with; insulated 2x4 stud walls, insulated attic with wood trusses, shingle roof, vinyl siding and basic insulated exterior windows and doors.   Interior walls would be painted drywall and heating and AC could be accomplished using a simple thru-wall electric unit with no need for ducting.  Keep kitchen and bathroom plumbing back to back and simple to control costs.  A few wall outlets in every room and ceiling mounted light fixtures.

Finishes; appliances, cabinets, flooring, etc. could be whatever you can afford.   

Yep, 2x4s, fiberglass, drywall, and siding (the shell) really are pretty cheap.  There is a reason most homes are built that way.  Also consider that if you get too far outside the norm, you might run into trouble with getting subs to "build on" to what you already have.  That said, I do keep an eye on earth bag and straw bale as they seem to have the most promise. 

This is what I would do:

As others have mentioned, call the code office and find out what the max size structure you can have without permitting.  (I think it is only 144 sq ft here, a little shy of what you want).  Avoiding permitting/code/inspections will give you the maximum flexibility when it comes to materials and building methods.  Get creative with the limits, think about high ceilings, sleeping lofts, and things you can add on later without changing the foot print.

If you can't make that work, ask the code office directly what types of "alternative building methods" that they have permitted in the past.  It'll be lot easier to repeat vs. breaking new ground.  There seem to be "hot spots" where these things are more accepted.     
« Last Edit: October 15, 2015, 11:45:19 AM by So Close »

Jack

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2015, 10:36:57 AM »
There's currently an excess of 40' containers out there since the industry has shifted almost entirely to using 52' containers.

I thought the excess of containers were because there's a trade imbalance between China and the US, and the empty ones weren't worth shipping back?

clarkfan1979

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2015, 10:45:34 AM »
The cheapest way is with your own time. However, how much salary would you give up to build a house with your own time?

thd7t

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2015, 12:11:58 PM »
You can do conventional wood framing very efficiently with a house of this size.  You can do it all yourself and with few tools.  At 20 square meters (218 sf), it will probably be cheaper than a shipping container and give you a better space.  In addition, the materials are readily available.

Regarding small structures not being regulated, this almost definitely does not apply if the structure is the primary domicile.  Even the wording you give shows that a larger house is expected before the smaller structure will be permitted.

nereo

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2015, 03:39:34 PM »
There's currently an excess of 40' containers out there since the industry has shifted almost entirely to using 48' containers.

I thought the excess of containers were because there's a trade imbalance between China and the US, and the empty ones weren't worth shipping back?
there is a plethora of containers in shipyards all around the US because of shipping inbalances, but most shipping companies have switched rapidly from the 40' containers to the "high-cube" 48' containers of economy of scale.  the combination has resulted in plummeting demand for used 40' containers.  Our lab has recently bought 2 for secure (and somewhat mobile) storage of field equipment, each for around $1k.

Fishindude

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2015, 07:17:13 AM »
The whole shipping container house thing get thrown around a lot, but the idea is pretty is nuts.
They make a good substitute for an unheated storage shed, but a pretty poor housing option.

Unless you are a skilled fabricator / welder, just putting a simple window or door in one will be a major chore.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2015, 07:24:59 AM »
The whole shipping container house thing get thrown around a lot, but the idea is pretty is nuts.
They make a good substitute for an unheated storage shed, but a pretty poor housing option.

Unless you are a skilled fabricator / welder, just putting a simple window or door in one will be a major chore.

You can buy modified containers.

http://www.cubedepot.com/container-modifications/

nereo

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2015, 07:41:06 AM »
The whole shipping container house thing get thrown around a lot, but the idea is pretty is nuts.
They make a good substitute for an unheated storage shed, but a pretty poor housing option.

Unless you are a skilled fabricator / welder, just putting a simple window or door in one will be a major chore.

given all the homes and sheds build out of storage containers that I see popping up everywhere, how can you conclude that 'the idea is pretty nuts'?
Certainly the cheapest method is your standard 2x4 framing, but shipping containers don't take any great technical skill.  Interior framing and insulating is still done with normal 2x4s, and cutting holes for a simple window doesn't take much more than a cutting torch.  We let our intern cut a hole for an exhaust fan in our "mobile field unit" and she could barely swing a hammer.
The advantage to storage containers is that they are cheap, deliverable-on-site, weather-proof from the start and strong as hell.  If permiting isn't an issue (and it often is) they can offer you a shelter from day 1, and you can work from the inside out at your schedule.

Bearded Man

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2015, 08:51:23 AM »
...but I prefer the homesteading life style. At my last house, I raised rabbits and chickens, had a huge garden, and was considering a goat. I was just about to start pulling the trigger on the solar and water, but then we moved to an HOA neighborhood, ick.
ok Bearded Man - I just gotta ask.  How on earth did you go from a homesteading lifestyle complete with rabbits and chickens to one with a HOA?



Keep in mind I had just started the homesteading and was doing it for 8-9 months. We loved it, though we didn't realize how much until we moved into the HOA and had to give them up. Never will I buy in an HOA again. Thankfully the old house is in a suburban farmland type city (but still close to Seattle) and allows all of this, right in my back yard.

Mr. Green

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2015, 11:17:19 AM »
Definitely check your local ordinances. There may be loopholes that will allow you to do something under the auspices of farming or something else, provided you can meet the requirement for that. The state where we're moving defines farming as "the productions of crops." No minimum acreage requirement or sales for commercial gain requirement. A garden technically qualifies. In that state, farms open up the rule book a little bit if you can navigate the laws. You may find something similar where you are.

Building the place yourself is definitely the cheapest. In the US, a general rule of thumb I've seen is the building material only costs 25% of the total cost. 25% is land, 25% labor, and 25% profit. The percentages for each piece can very some but overall the materials are still a very small piece of the overall budget.

rebel100

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Re: cheapest way to build a house?
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2015, 12:06:39 PM »
The diy, onsight,  stick built idea is a known winner.  plenty of education material out there to glean knowledge from.  There is bound to be someone doing it near you that would let you watch/help so you could learn what you need to know (I used the local habitat for humanity as a simple volunteer).  The materials are generally readily available, and the local building authority won't have to strain itself to understand what your doing.  Lot's of good reasons to go this route.

This is a hell of a good book on building low cost traditional homes http://www.amazon.com/Habitat-Humanity-Build-Revised-Updated/dp/1561589675

A shipping container strikes me as difficult to insulate which will ultimately add to costs down the road to make it comfortable.  Also, when you elect to move on I think your pool of buyers or renters will be nearly non existent.  Not saying it can't be done...but I would really work through the difficulties in my mind before making that leap, doesn't seem at all worth it to me.