Can you build a house for less than 100000 dollars? Yes, it is possible. In fact, you may be able to build for much less than that.
There are many designs available, or you can use your own design, that can be built very inexpensively. Here is how.
I am going to use a hypothetical location typical of a small town in central Alberta. You may be able to do much better.
. Property values are quite low in many areas. For this discussion, we will include a value for the land, which may or may not be applicable to your area or situation. In my area, you can buy a single lot of 5000-6000 sq. ft. (465-557 sq. meters). for 25,000 or less. Sometimes much less. Two serviced lots, near where I live, were recently sold by closed tender, for under 5000 each. In some cases it just takes a little luck. I will start with a land cost of 20000.
To keep keep cost down, services need to be along your property boundaries. In many subdivisions, water and sewer are located under the street in front of your property. Material. labor and equipment cost, to bring it to the house, should be less than 3000. I will use 2000.
Natural gas, electricity, and telephone are usually available from the alley. Bringing them to the house should cost less than 1500. I will use 1500. I am going to assume that the property does not need undue shaping, or leveling, before you are able to build. Twenty four hours with a skid steer at 75 dollars should do the leveling, excavation, and back filling. Total cost, 1800.
Hey, we haven’t even started, and we have already spent over 25000, you are thinking.
Land cost, services and preparation is a significant portion of the cost of a house, and one over which you have little control, other than the choice of location. There are a few areas where you can effect savings. Perhaps you could rent equipment and do your own excavating and site prep. Maybe a plumber friend could help you run the water and sewer services.
Now you need your permits. Cost for these can vary enormously, depending on many factors, but permits have cost me less than 1500 on my last couple of house builds. It might be a little optimistic but I am going to use 1500.
It is time to build. We know that to build a house cheaply, we must use simple and efficient design. The house will be rectangular with a gable roof. Patios, decks and landscaping will be left for when we have a little more cash available. We will look for the best for the least, but will try to build so that future operating costs are as low as possible.
In many areas, building on a concrete slab will have the lowest foundation cost. In others, a preserved wood stem wall will be the least costly. In my area there is not a lot of difference in cost, but PWF might win if you are doing your own labor.
We want a comfortably sized house, so I have settled on a two bedroom ranch style of about 1000 sq. ft. (93 sq.meters) for this example. Many people would be happy with less than this.
We will try to plan the house for ease of future expansion. This means planning the house with the extra additions included, and then removing them. Possible additions would include an attached garage, bedrooms and bathroom.
Although this could vary, depending on location, my recent experience is that material costs for this type of house will be about 50 dollars per sq. ft.. Our 1000 sq. ft. house will have a material cost of about 50000 including all plumbing, electrical and mechanical. This should allow for upgraded shingles, colored vinyl siding, extra insulation and perhaps an extra bathroom. Cabinets will not be the cheapest but will be in the lower range. Windows and doors will have to be in the mid to low cost range. There should be room in this for a few frills, such as shutters, for appearance. It should allow for a high efficiency furnace and water heater. If your main goal is economy, you can probably lower this cost considerably.
I am, of course, assuming that you will be doing almost all the work yourself, without resorting to trades people. I am also going to assume that you will need to hire some help, just to stay on a schedule. Although it is more than I usually require, I will allow for 2 laborers for 12 weeks at 40 hrs. per week and pay them 20 dollars per hour. Remember, this is Alberta. Our labor costs are quite high. There goes another 19000.
There are a few more costs, which would include insurance, interest on interim financing, property taxes while building, deposits on services, and material for a driveway and walk (Just gravel for now). The 4000 we have left from our 100000, should cover that nicely.
This little exercise has left us with a house that has a cost of about our target of a house for less than 100000.
Could we build for even less? The answer is an emphatic, yes.
We have included the cost of the land, which is not really part of your house building costs. It does, however, contribute to what money you have available. You may already have the land, or you may find a less expensive location. We have assumed an easily serviced property, but the costs could be more, or less. Perhaps you will be replacing a mobile home, or something similar, and the required services will already be there and usable. These scenarios could lower the cost by as much as 25000.
You might have the time, and the inclination, to do practically all the work yourself. Savings could be up to the 20000 allowed for labor.
You could go the cheapest possible on material and equipment and save 20% or more. There is another 10000.
You could build smaller and realize a proportionate saving on material.
It is theoretically possible that you could end up with a livable house for as little as 40000, if you already have the land. Even less, if you are fanatical about it.
About now you are probably thinking, “this guy is a total loony.” Well, you don’t have to be crazy to build a house on your own, but it helps. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work, and perseverance, and I am not putting any monetary value on that. If you have a career paying a couple of hundred thousand per year, you would be a damn fool to take time off to build your house. It is for someone like me, who would not be doing anything else of value, or would be building for someone else anyway. The advantage is, I do not have to pay any taxes on the money saved building my own house.There are other little perks as well but they are a good subject for another article.
As an example, I built my current house in 2006, and the cost was less than 100000. This was just under 1800 sq. ft. including the attached garage. It included two full baths and the garage is fully heated. The high efficiency furnace and demand water heater were considerably more costly than they are today (the water heater alone was 2500 with out fittings or vent). I used shingles rated for 30 years which were more costly at the time. The windows were all awning or casement for less leakage. My backyard fence was included. A jet tub and a one piece 4 ft. shower was installed instead of cheap tubs. All the appliances including a freezer and central vacuum were paid for. I used 2 helpers for two months at 15.00 per hour. The cost of land was included but, I had purchased the lot for only 5000. Cabinets were purchased ready to assemble, inexpensive, but not the cheapest available. My actual material cost was about 65000. The only things left to do when I quit counting was the driveway, walks, deck and landscaping. I even managed to pay myself a modest 1500 dollars per month for the 5 months it took me to complete the project.
We moved in 3 months after I did the excavation.
There is no doubt about my accounting since 100000 was all I had, and I did not borrow any money.
From what I can tell, the costs today, are not substantially different. In some areas, they may in fact be lower. Alberta is not known for low construction costs. I expect my current build to cost about 85000, including land.
I have now nearly completed my new house. For a look at costs follow this link
Of course, I have had a lot more time to shop for bargains.
I hope this makes you a little less hesitant about starting on your own project.
One thing to remember, everything depends on careful preparation and diligent planning. If you take enough time to do this well, the rest will be easy.