Millions were inspired by the story of single mom Cara Brookins, who, armed with nothing but a desire to rebuild her and her kids’ lives and a couple of YouTube tutorial videos, managed to build a 3,500 square foot, five bedroom home including a three car garage virtually from scratch. From laying the foundations to putting up the wooden frames that would become the home’s skeleton, she and the kids did virtually everything themselves by studying up on YouTube, even though none of them had any kind of building experience. And they managed all of this in only nine months, and with just a $150,000 construction loan for materials from the bank.
When we think about our futures and our dream homes, it just doesn’t occur to most people that they could even possibly do it themselves. But Cara’s example, and that of countless others, is a great reminder that we’re capable of almost anything if we really put our minds to it. And with so many Millennials being forced out of the housing market due to crippling student debt, this is a trend we can expect to see grow. If it’s something you can see yourself doing, then we have a couple of pointers and examples to inspire you!
Log cabins have always been a popular choice for self-builds, and these days you can find step by step instructions on how to go about building your own from scratch for free online. Organizations like the Log Home Builders Association have been around since 1965, and have offered advice and training to thousands of self-builders. Log cabins offer a uniquely satisfying option for people who want to be involved in every step of the process, from choosing and treating their own logs to erecting beams and rafters to hold the roof in place.
Wendy houses: Far from the garden shed-like structures we might associate with the name, modern Wendy houses can be extremely elaborate – including double story designs, houses on stilts, tiny houses and everything in between. You can create custom designs fairly easily, or order a preexisting kit that you just need to assemble and lay a foundation for.
Speaking of tiny houses, here’s a trend that has really taken off in recent years! They are especially popular with young couples looking for a more affordable option that minimizes the environmental impact of the build as much as possible. These houses are a great option if you have a flair for thinking outside of the box, and can come up with clever ways to maximize space and take maximum advantage of every nook and cranny. They also force you to get rid of clutter. Tumbleweed tiny houses, which are built onto a flat trailer, offer all the joys of your own home with the ability to pick up and move whenever you feel like it!
Prefab buildings and homes made from shipping containers are another option for innovative self-builders, and come at a fraction of the price of buying a preexisting house.
Hobbit homes, eco-cottages, houses made entirely from recycled waste, and innovative green builds made from adobe or mud bricks, cob houses and ‘rammed earth’ buildings have also seen a huge surge in popularity, with new techniques and ancient practices merging to create some truly beautiful and highly energy efficient homes for next to nothing. Throw in a green roof and a couple of solar panels, and you’ve got yourself a charming home that’s as good to the planet as it is to your pocket!
So what’s involved?
Obviously you need a piece of land to build on (or a trailer, if you’re going for a tumbleweed tiny home, of course!) and the right building permissions pertinent to your area. Don’t spend months on planning and research before you have a clear idea of what you want, and if the local authorities will allow it.
The right tools for the job:
If you’re planning to do most of the work yourself, you’re going to need the right equipment. When heavy materials like logs and beams are involved, a forklift is a must. Companies like Forklift Guys and Red Forklifts offer you the option of renting one at a daily, weekly or monthly rate, and will be more than happy to offer you some advice and moral support too! If you’re buying prefabricated parts, then make sure to check with the manufacture about what tools and equipment you’ll need for assembly.
Most importantly of all, you need to understand that things aren’t always going to go according to plan. You need to steel yourself to face setbacks and unexpected challenges when you least them! At some point, it’s probably going to feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew – but trust us, once that house is finally complete, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that will keep you and your family smiling for years to come!