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Cost to Build Our House

I think it is time to explore the cost to build our house to date. We are close enough to completion to get a fair estimation of the final cost. About all that is left to buy is gutters, deck material, steps and walks.

Final cost to build can be estimate when completion is near

Close enough to completion to estimate the final cost

Yes, the weather is getting colder, and I am more inclined to work less, and to spend more time on this blog. From now on I should be able to get back to doing a couple of posts or more per week. It is about time, as my mother used to say, when I dragged myself from bed.

We are not quite within our original cost expectations, although we did not completely blow our budget. This, however, is not unusual or unexpected so does not create any major problem. I was prepared for overruns of up to 20%. The importance of planning for the unexpected is emphasized. As I have mentioned before, it is important to have as much as a 20% buffer.

Our original cost to build estimate was 85,000 dollars (Canadian), which included the cost of land.. I am not certain of the accuracy of my accounting, but it appears that our cost to date is just over 90,000 dollars.There is still some cost to go, but our final cost to build will be considerably less than 100,000. This is for a 1008 sq. ft. house, with a 16 ft. by 24 ft. detached garage, on a 100 by 120 ft. lot. For most of the world that is a 93.6 m^2 house, a 4.9 m by 7.3 m garage, and a 30.5 by 35.6 m lot. Approximate conversions of course.

Related posts you may find interesting. – A house for less than 100000 dollars – The footing ,foundation and floor is in progress – Buying wisely, buying for less, buying early – Installing Water and Sewer .

The house is on a crawl space. Adding a full basement would have increased the cost by 10 to 20 thousand, mostly because I am to damn old to pour a concrete floor and would have been forced to hire a contractor. .

Part of the purpose of building  was to prove a point. The goal was to build a good quality home for less than 100,000. As a result, a lot of time was spent bargain hunting. A lot of used tools were purchased, All the appliances were used. As much material was repurposed as possible. Care was taken to purchase only what was necessary, at least until time became more important than cost.

An unexpected expense was the cost of installing a sewer main extension. Estimated extra cost-7000 dollars.

ICF foundation a sinificant partof the cost to build

ICF foundation

A change from a planned wooden foundation to  an insulated concrete form foundation (ICF) cost, very roughly, about 3000 extra. This type of foundation took less labor and considerably less time. Important, since we were delayed about a month in starting.

I somehow managed to order about 300 dollars worth of unneeded drywall. I can use it on other projects

I paid extra to have drywall and shingles delivered and placed where needed. Worth every penny when you do not have help.

No time was available to bargain hunt for siding, soffits and the like. I do, however, believe the local store gave me a very fair price.

Several hundred dollars worth of extra electrical, plumbing, and gas fitting material was purchased to reduce travel time making up shortages. The time saved was the primary motivation, but travel is a major consideration when much of the material is not easily available locally.

The natural gas installation cost about 600 dollars more than I had guessed.

All the utility suppliers were different from those I had used before and required substantial deposits. This is not an expense, but still requires cash.

I used a standard of construction somewhat higher than normal. This cost a few hundred more. Examples are, heavier than required wall and roof sheathing and higher rated shingles. Weather conditions may be a little more severe in the future, and I wanted a little extra strength.

All these items added up to substantial extra cost, but I was able to save more than half this amount in other areas. For example, I had planned for the cost of hiring a little extra labor for jobs that cannot be done alone. Friends, family, and neighbors were all there when I needed them, and I spent nothing at all on labor.

We did find tremendous savings in many areas which greatly reduced the cost to build.

All our light fixtures were purchased used from yard sales and habitat for humanity. Cost was likely only about 10% of new retail.

Kitchen appliances

Range and dishwasher— total cost $200. microwave—$75.

All our appliances were used and cost a total of 625 dollars. The surprising part is that we ended up with far higher quality units than we would normally buy. The style in favor right now is stainless steel. Good, nearly new, white appliances are easily available, very cheaply. We purchased almost all ours through Kijiji.

Sink and faucett

Sink and faucet—total cost $150

We found a new kitchen sink for 100 dollars. This one retails for over 600. We acquired a new kitchen faucet for 50 that usually costs about 400. Lavatory sinks complete with faucets cost only 50 dollars each from Habitat for Humanity Restore.

My water heater, which retails for as much as 2700, I found for 600. About 200 worth of extras was included.

Similar bargains were found for windows, flooring and cabinets.

Since I had disposed of most of my construction tools at retirement, I had to repurchase many. Almost all were found on Kijiji or at yard sales,for a  very a  low cost. Their cost is included in the cost of the home.

Our old living room suite was getting shabby so my wife, Bobbi, spent a couple of months watching ads for a good used set. She found a set for free. We only had to travel, about 80 km (about 50 miles to my American friends), round trip to pick it up. It is in new condition but a little dated in style. Included was a hide a bed, love seat, swivel rocker and cushions. The colors suit us perfectly. We didn’t care that it is a little out of style since myself and Bobbi are a little past it too. We gave our still usable old set to a family that could use it.

mitre saw

an almost essential tool—cost for saw $40 cost of stand $50

I think I have proven that the cost to build a home can be less than 100,000. Of course I am reasonably adept at all aspects of home building and have had considerable experience. I am good with my hands and familiar with the tools of the trade. My wife and I are adept at bargain hunting and bargaining. Remember, however, that I am nearly 71 years old and not nearly as quick and tough as I once was.

If you do not have at least some of these skills, or feel you can not acquire them, then a project like this could be considerably more difficult for you. You may need a couple of years for planning, and acquiring knowledge and experience.

Total cost includes the purchase of the land. We acquired our site, which included the garage, for 35,000 dollars. This leaves the total cost of the house alone at about 60,000.

It should be noted, though, that our end result is considerably more than just a basic house. We are very happy with it, and feel it suits our needs very well.

We do live in Alberta which has no sales tax. Our national sales tax, the GST, is partially recoverable when building a new house. Taxes could be considerable in other jurisdictions.

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A house for less than 100000 dollars


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.

a house for less than 100000The first requirement is land.

. 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 20,000.

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 3,000. I will use 2,000.

There are several ways to build a house for less than 100000

By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Natural gas, electricity, and telephone are usually available from the alley. Bringing them to the house should cost less than 1,500. I will use 1,500. 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, 1,800.

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 1,500 on my last couple of house builds. It might be a little optimistic but I am going to use 1,500.

you can build a house for less than 100000 using locally sourced material

Using locally sourced material

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 50,000 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.

To build a house for less than 100000 it is necessary to do considerable work yourself

Working on your house

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 100,000 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 25,000.

Wise buying choices.

Planning for savings

You might have the time, and the inclination, to do practically all the work yourself. Savings could be up to the 20,000 allowed for labor.

You could go the cheapest possible on material and equipment and save 20% or more. There is another 10,000.

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 40,000, if you already have the land. Even less, if you are fanatical about it.

It may seem crazy to try to build a house for under 100000

Not so crazy ideas

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 1,800 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 2,500 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 5,000. Cabinets were purchased ready to assemble, inexpensive, but not the cheapest available. My actual material cost was about 65,000. 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 1,500 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 100,000 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 85,000, including land.

I have now nearly completed my new house. For a look at costs follow this link

To build a house for less than 100000 rquires bargain hunting

Bargain hunting

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.

Take the time to explore this site.There are many money saving ideas and alternate solutions to some costs.

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Buying wisely, buying for less, buying early

Buying material and tools at the best possible price, is where you can reduce the cost of your new home considerably..

One popular do it yourself talk show host used to classify material, methods and tools as good, better and best. I think he missed one classification. There is quite a bit on the market that could only be considered “junk,” or practically worthless, and should be avoided when building your house.

I am not an advocate of the old adage, “you get what you pay for,” because I have seen that you often do not get what you pay for. I have purchased tools that did not last through their first use, and material that I found nearly unusable.

I once bought a skid of utility grade studs because of a very good price. When I cut the strapping, I found that the only good edges were to the outside of the skid. When freed, they immediately sprung into multiple configurations, none of which were near straight. It took me about 3 years to use up that skid for small pieces and firewood.

I will sometimes buy cheap tools, and material depending on the usage, but I still try to make sure the quality is adequate for the job. I will very rarely buy the most expensive, as I believe you are often paying extra, for no more than a well known brand name. I guess I am saying, that I buy the product that makes the most economic sense for the situation. Don’t cook four eggs for breakfast if you are only going to eat two.

There has been a lot of talk in the past about the environmental cost of packaging.

I agree to some extent, and am not a fan of bubble packaging. I will buy bulk when I can, and likely at a far lower cost. I am a advocate of hardware stores, and lumber yards, that sell bolts, screws and nails by the pound (or gram). I usually buy more than my immediate needs, just to have some on hand. On the other hand, it is difficult to get 50 lbs. (or 20 kg.) of nails home without the box.

ReStore outlet

There has been considerable concern with the off gassing that may occur from composite material used in your home, and the effect this might have on indoor air quality and your health. The rub is that, even natural material such as wood will off gas for a period of time, and may be even more likely to promote mold growth. Unless you have special health problems, I would spend more time and money on good ventilation, and filtration, rather than agonize over the properties of common materials. This is not to say that some products will not give off unpleasant and possibly dangerous fumes. You can be less certain of material made from recyclables, as it may be impossible to determine exactly what goes into the mix. Best to be careful, and to check reviews when possible.

All in all, most manufacturers are very conscientious, and do their best to provide the best product they can for the price. The exceptions do not usually stay in business for long, or have to change their name often.

One of the most important considerations is your own taste. There are literally thousands of choices out there, and you are almost certain to find something you like that you can afford.

Restore outlet

When buying material or tools, don’t spend extra on something that does not provide some degree of extra safety, durability or beauty. Don’t spend extra, for durability if the product will be rarely used, or on beauty that no one will see. Don’t spend money on a bunch of bells and whistles that you will rarely use, they are just added maintenance issues. At the same time, do not skimp on things such as strength, if there is any reasonable chance it will be needed.

Always hire the best tradesmen you can find and afford. Don’t take the advice of any tradespeople without a grain of salt. They may want to sell something, and they usually have a bias.

We began buying items for our current project some time ago, watching carefully for opportunity buys in both new and used. We have so far purchased light fixtures, a one piece tub surround, a four foot walk in shower, house wrap, sinks and faucets, kitchen cabinets, and much more. Much of this was new, but all was purchased at one half, or less, of new price. Yesterday, we were able to purchase a tankless water heater that had been installed but never fired, so essentially new. List price on this unit is over 2600.00, but can be purchased on sale for around 1800.00. Our cost was 600.00 with about 200.00 worth of fittings included.

Kijiji, or other free internet classified ad sites, are good sources for finding new or used bargains. Internet shopping sites are a good place to check prices, before going on your buying trip.

This is just one example of savings you can effect with diligent searching of the web, and by buying at outlets such as ReStore. Restore is an outlet for new and used building material that is operated by Habitat for Humanity, a very worthwhile charitable organization. You have the added satisfaction of knowing your buying is helping a good cause.

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