Why does a house costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to build? Why should we spend our whole lives paying back debt in order to satisfy a central need for shelter?
I posit that modern society is misguided and forced to buy into a system which enslaves them. Building codes have become bureaucratic checklists which don't necessarily fit every unique scenario. We are forced to live in standardized boxes with no creativity or ingenuity and no personal connection with the materials. To remedy this, we should take the initiative to learn how to build a house ourselves, while exploring alternative and historically sound building methods.
One approach to cutting the cost of housing is the tiny house movement. I started out researching how much it would cost to build. It varies greatly based on how much space you actually want inside and what type of construction you are planning. Additionally, I've seen people save drastic amounts of money by finding windows, doors, scrap wood, and other materials for free on craigslist and from people throwing them away.
The three main types of tiny houses I've been interested in so far are traditional stick frame on a foundation, stick frame trailers, post frame (pole barn style), and yurts. Stick frame and trailer tiny houses have the advantage of being familiar construction methods if you have to hire contractors. They require a lot of wood cost and a lot of modern materials cost such as exterior siding, roofing materials, insulation, waterproofing, and moisture management. These seem to cost around $40,000, more or less depending on if you have to hire contractors for plumbing and electric or if you can do it yourself and get it inspected. If you're creative with sourcing materials for free or cheap, then this might be a good choice, as long as you can live with the extremely small floorplans. Might be hard if you have a family, The biggest advantage of this type of construction is that it seems much easier to get building permits since the building method is so close to traditional stick frame. However, in many jurisdictions in the US, you aren't allowed to build a house under a certain square footage and would have to fight to get a permit through.
Post frame buildings are similar to pole barns; they use large wooden posts dug 4-5' into the ground with a skirting of concrete around each post as a foundation. When done right, it's very resilient against bad weather, especially since the roof can be bolted into the thick posts directly instead of fastened to the tops of stick frame walls. With this method, you put in posts about every 8' and use wood screws to tie boards from post to post. This makes it a lot simpler to frame up exterior and interior walls, since you can do it one board at a time horizontally rather than having to build the whole wall as one piece and raise it up later. The roofing ends up being about equivalent to stick frame houses, depending on if you use rafters or trusses. You can weigh the options between the two based on what kind of attic you want and how strong the roof needs to be against rain and snow. This building method has the advantage of being MUCH easier to build by yourself or with fewer people. It also allows for much larger wall cavities for more insulation and easier wiring. I don't know if post frame buildings are accepted generally or not; they likely would take a special permit and a design plan which is signed by a civil engineer. This is the construction method which I was designing for before covid jacked the wood prices to oblivion.
Yurts are weird. They are way cheaper to get a starter home down, which is appealing to quit paying mortgages or rent, but they have a lot of problems with insulation and with how flimsy the walls are. Racoons can get in for example.
I can post a lot more about each of these construction methods if anyone has questions.
In the following posts I'll introduce the alternative building methods which interest me now.