How to build a cheap house

How to Build a Cheap Home – An Economist’s Recommendation

I am a real estate agent and an Economist. I also am a do it yourself/quasi homesteader. That being said since I have been a real estate agent for years and a cheapskate all my life, I have observed how others construct a home cost efficiently. I have lived in different parts of the world I have observed how people build their homes.

You can have it all for less than $20,000 in the United States of America. You can live in a tiny home for less, but I am talking about a nice home, that you and your family can live in and feel comfortable.

Build an inexpensive home and save money

nice small home
A nice small home

Tax deed, not auction

Buy land on tax deed. Buying land on tax deed is not the same as tax auction, buying on auction or tax liens. Buying on tax deeds means buying land after the county has tried to auction it and they can not sell it. You can find these on any county website.

I personally know farmers in my area who have bought land for $100 dollars an acre. They put a few dairy cows on their land and they make more than you do at your office job working 48 to 50 weeks out of the year. I am not saying that to be rude, I am not a rude person, just to make you aware and I wish people made me aware long ago. I had to find it out the hard way.

Buying land that is in growing or popular area is not possible. Expectations drive up prices. People watch too much HGTV and want it all for a bargain. For example, in my popular beach town, real estate prospects want a few acres on the beach to ride horses. Maybe in the 1820s but not today. Set your expectations on a homestead that is fairy-tale like, not hype.

largge homes waste resources
Large homes waste capital, resources and need constant cleaning. This is an old fashion idea, to have a ostentatious house. For what? To impress people, to flex?

Read my post here – buying a big home is a waste. If you have a big home I would sell it and consider all the alternative economic and life opportunities there are with the free capital generated from the sale.

You need to buy land in a remote place nobody wants to go or be. Then you can buy cheap land. If you write to me I can recommend some places. I can recommend states and areas and no flood zone regions.

developer homes with an HOA
These will be cookie cutter homes and the developer will have a nice profit and you will pay an HOA and have no freedom.
Being poor can make you rich if you use your brain

Zone A not R

I recommend an agriculture area. You will have the freedom to do what you want. You do not want an agriculture area next to a large farm as the pesticides and herbicides are airborne and will affect your health. You just want some backwater place.

Homes not to buy.
These homes have no space and you will pay a lot for them. I would not buy a home here. Yes they are spacious, but there is no freedom and you pay a mortgage all your working life. You will be thinking about your neighbors. I really do not want to do that.

County Taxes and regulations

Most rural areas have less restrictive building codes, but you want to make sure. You want to check with the country. For example, my county requires an $11,400 dollar impact fee to put a shove in the dirt.

  • You want a $50 dollar to permit not a $10k building permit.

If I were ever homeless

My goodness I would just beg for a few thousand on the street and buy a piece of land and start from there. Colonists homesteaded for hundreds of years and they built a great country. I see so many homeless people living their cars. I understand for multiple reasons, but I would just buy a saw and start to build.

What about location and culture

The whole world has a culture. For example, in Alabama, once the state where sitcoms joked about, as My Cousin Vinny, it now has high tech regions, a branch of the US Chess Federation, and the Mises institute centered there.

My point is the world has grown up and people are educated and there is something to do everywhere. I teach college and it almost seems the smarter students come from the countryside, and the city slickers just know about cell phones.

You also have the Internet and Amazon to buy anything anytime you want. So do not worry about culture or consumer deprivation. Your mission is to have a place to live that you do not work your life away.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang home
Think of the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, you want a good life not a showy life.

Location is the most important

I would say the Southern US is easier because the winters are less serve and you do not need heating. You also do not have Lyme disease. You need to think like a homesteader even if you are not. You can grow more seasons out of the year, so your garden can provide most of your food.

Garden saves money.
A garden saves money

If you can find a nice plot of land say, five acres you can call your own for a few thousand at most, perhaps a few hundred, you will be all set. Here is my post on gardening to save money.

  • You can get a logging company to clear it for free and they sell the lumber.

Ironically from tree companies, you can request free wooEconomistd chip and this will mulch what will be your future garden as the decomposition of wood chip turns into rich soil no matter what the initial soil status is.

low cost fence
Simple deer fence from local bamboo and will grow grapes on it, it will look nice. To buy 500 feet of fence would cost thousands of dollars. This was free.

New technology for your home construction

You do not have to worry about the grid, because new technologies circumvent this.

  • For building materials consider aircrete.

For building material, I would use aircrete as the price is about $8 a square foot to construct with. This could be your base and obviously, you add more around it later. But if you use aircrete for your construction, and you build this yourself, your cost is a fraction.

I was initially thinking hempcrete but aircrete is cheaper. It is concrete with a compressor and water and soap. If you mix seashells into the concrete it will make the strucure stronger. This is the basis of coquina. Coquina in my town of Saint Augustine is standing strong after 500 years.

The ancient Roman’s used coquina. If you can mix shells and concrete and the right combination of mortar air use a compressor for air. You will have light strong bricks that will last. Research coquina and aircrete.

Six homes and no job

You can look into other types of construction material. Cordwood homes are another alternative, but cost more. This guy as six homes paid in cash and never really had a job, I think. When making economic decisions think about all costs including opportunity cost of building a home. I do not know any top executives who worked their lives away who own six homes in cash.


Use Pex. You can start with a manifold and do a home run on each connection. Pex will last and the total cost will be less than $400 dollars depending on the size of your home. Pex you can do yourself. You can run it through the roof and drop it down the wall. If you ever need to replace it, all is visible and you will not be digging through concrete. You also have total control over every connection to shut them off if you need to. I would add a water filter at the end for your drinking water.

If possible I would dig my own well. You can rent a machine or do it with a shovel depending on how deep your water table is. I started with a shovel here with my garden well. If you want to go deeper there are techniques with compressed air.W

Water heater

  • Day 1 Hot water is overrated, you can use a cast iron stove/heater.
  • Day 2 Tankless or solar.


Day 1 You can use an outhouse. You can roll your eyes but be mature. This was used for most of human history.

Day 2 Think Roman arches. You can bury the plastic tank and then have a drainage field with arches like an infiltrator system. You can dig this with a shovel.


The price of solar has come down so much. Consider this. However, there are many new alternative ways to get energy. For the actual wiring, that is one place you might need help as I have only done a little electrical work.

  • Build that cheap house

You get the idea. The point is you do not have to spend, a half million for a house. You can build most yourself. People in Poland where my family is from almost all build their own house and have it paid off before they are 30 years old. Can you image that?

What is the point of working so much if all you are doing is paying off a life debt called a mortgage?

Mark Biernat

What will you do with your savings?

With all the money you save, just bank it. Create a stash of money and invest in your own businesses. My friends that work in NYC in professional environments have a sad life. They work all day and live for a few weeks vacation. Better is to be human. Live life and let your creative talents shine doing things that are out of the box.

Also, there is great satisfaction in knowing everything is new and works and you are not fixing other people’s problems.

So if you are thinking of buying a cheap home, maybe better is to build one. You can live in a temporary structure while you build it. To an American, it might sound alternative at best or hippie-ish. But much in much of the world, this is normal.

You can build a home for less than $1,500. But for nuder $25,000 you can live in the lap of luxary.

Another Economic Crisis

There will be another server economic crisis. I do not know when. However, the debt bubble can not last and an over extension of credit is causing malinvestment in the capital structure. Therefore, start thinking in terms of your economic future now.

If there is another financial crisis then you will be well positioned to purchase homes and property cheaper or stocks or just ride it out.

Remember, the grasshopper and the ant in Aesop fables. You want to be sober and industrious for yourself and your family. Even if others around you are do not see the metaphorical winter coming.

You can have a magical life with your family and more than you ever dreamed, as long as you learn to make wise economic choices. Investment should be based on real savings not an extension of credit. Remember the I=S equation in economics, make this real and if it is, you will be fine in any economic crisis.

Even if you do not build your own house, start thinking in terms of frugality and prudence. Think in terms of economic virtues. Ultimately living a good economic life is synonymous with understanding economic virtues.

I can recommend you read about the ideas behind the Austrian economic school of thought or simply how Americans when they built this country did it with little more than rugged individualism.

Inexpensive home like Thomas Kinkade
Inexpensive homes can be nice like Thomas Kinkade.

Why not leverage the best of both worlds and have the convenience of obtaining tools and capital goods to construct the home within the US and the concept of how other people do it with alternative methods in the rest of the world or other times in history in the USA. This is how you build a cheap home. Write me if you have questions as I have experience in real estate and economics.

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