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How Cheap Can I Build My Home?

  • under $50,000

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1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:smile:I am a 22 year old living on the Kenai peninsula in Alaska. I have saved up my money and plan on trying to build a home up to code out of pocket or as close to out of pocket as possible. my current plans are for a 16x24 foot 2 story home with a crawlspace and single pitch roof. I hope to put radiant in floor heat and a wood stove. hoping to fit 2 bedrooms and 1 1/2 bath. I am seeking advice, tips, tricks, estimates on keeping cost as low as possible. my father is a heavy equipment operator and will save me big time on dirt work cost. Please help with any additional information.

37,460 Posts
Google "tiny home".
Seems to be a trend to build some off grid and for mother in law suites.
Building in an area where permafrost is going to be an issue?
Talked to your local building dept. yet about insulation issues in the walls ceiling and floor?
About 99.9% of the people here are from the lower US states and will have little knowledge of what your going to be dealing with.
Building codes are the bare minimum, so when it comes to insulation always add more.

13,790 Posts
Hi Checketts and welcome to the forum. I'm a retired energy auditor and live in Maine, not quite as cold but I doubt you are dealing with permafrost on the Kenai. A 16 x 24 2 story isn't exactly a "tiny" home and can easily accommodate your plans. There is a learning curve so look for a friend or relative with experience to you on track. Where we can there are some great people here on the forum with a wide variety of skills.

Your first step is to determine what building codes you will need to follow. Alaska has some modern energy codes and by adding a little to them you can get a home that heats very easily.


19,142 Posts
Whatever you come up with as a guestimate to build.

DOUBLE IT before you start, then you will have enough to cover those extras that always occur.

I have built Log Cabins bigger than your base dimensions, off the grid, as well as stick built and brick, on the grid.

You have been advised to get all the information from your Building Inspectors office that you can.

Do a lot of studying, planning, and designing.

Have a lot survey done, and lay the outline out on the ground, to see if you like the view, because you are stuck with it after you start.

As others have stated , there are lots of good advice to be gotten here, so listen.


4,538 Posts
One way to figure it out is to start a list.


Designer/architect/engineer (I did my own drwgs but had a few pages engineer stamped)
Excavation (free from dad, good score)
Lumber for footing forms
Blocks or concrete foundation walls (form lumber)
Underground plumbing parts/labor
Septic system
Framing lumber
Steel beams/posts
Floor sheathing
Roof sheathing
Eaves troughs
Plumbing pipes
Stair treads/stringers/hand rails
Interior doors
Plumbing fixtures x 1-1/2 baths
Plumbing fixtures, kitchen
Outside stairs, decks, porch

I'm sure I've missed a few but I don't you see getting done until you've spent at least 100 G's, probably 150.

You may save yourself a bit of money by building a bungalow.

5,149 Posts
What skills you have? How much of the work do you have the time and skills to do? How organized are you and how well do you understand what it takes to build?

Organization is helpful to estimates. Let's take an example of building a simple wall to divide a space into 2 rooms. A lot of people would figure the cost of studs and drywall. Many would never factor in the cost of screws, nails, tape, mud, the wiring that needs to be in that wall and a breaker to connect it to, baseboards and toe, a door and the trim for that door, paint ........ and I suspect I missed something.

When you do an estimate that includes every component of the construction then that estimate will be reasonably accurate (within 25%) and there will be no need to double it.

The big expense areas of new construction are the foundation, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and roof. The surprises come when adding in electrical and plumbing fixtures, kitchen cabinets and appliances. The cost difference between well made wood cabinets and the high end stuff can be $20K for a small kitchen.

Appliances; why someone would take out 30 year financing for a high end appliance that has a life span of 10-15 years has always eluded me. Basic stuff and paid for will allow you to buy what you want next and have the money to pay for it.

When it comes to $ estimates Alaska is all alone and those must be done local. I recall my Uncle saying milk there was $3 per gallon when it was selling for 89 cents here. Milled lumber may be on par with the 48 but cement products looked very pricey when I was there in 09.

71 Posts
If you're going to do this on a tight budget you'll need to get creative. I've been there and pulled off some minor miracles on a tiny budget. You'll need to get compulsive about trolling Craigslist and other want ads for materials and appliances. I picked up a two year old stove for $100 that listed for $900 because the guy was switching from electric to gas. I picked up a truckload of EPS insulation sheets for $50 ($1,000 value) from someone cleaning out all the crap her ex husband contractor left behind. Re-use and recycle. Buy leftovers and returns at your supply houses. Limit the nice stuff to the small spaces. Learn some new skills. Call in some favors. It's possible to build something nice on a small budget, but it will take time and effort. Good luck!
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