Author Topic: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box  (Read 8170 times)

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Offline ionosphere

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Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« on: December 01, 2010, 09:10:33 PM »
I have been reading here for months, searching and searching the web, reading about home building, but even the plans here look overwhelming to build on my own.  Particularly some of the tall roofs, seconds floors and such. I want to go as simple and cheap as possible.

I am on a budget and I am not working so I want to do this now before my cash runs out if it takes me way too long to find my next gig.  I am getting prepared to tent it while I build a home on a remote cheap piece of land so I have a place to live.  So I figure the cheapest and simpliest route would be to build a 1000 square foot box for shelter and eventually over time add the rooms.  Nothing fancy, no second floor or tall roof.  Just four walls, windows, doors and a low roof.

Any recommedations for step by step simple plans for something like that which do not require a crew?  Something a novice like me could build on my own. I am also unsure whether the cheapest route would be an all wood floor or have someone come in and pour a concrete foundation? Any advice there to would be appreciated.

btw - I am looking at along the lines of the 20x30 cottage and possibly reducing my needs to 600sf.  My concern was the roof height and whether it is the cheapest way to go. http://www.countryplans.com/20wide.html

thx
« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 09:50:29 PM by ionosphere »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2010, 03:14:17 AM »
For any thing that size you need to develop a few skills - the 20x30 single story could be extended in length -not width, easily.  You could order trusses from a truss company, then all you would need to do is frame walls and install the trusses on top.  Possibly you could find help from an out of work framer for a reasonable price.

Still not a completely simple job but lots of our members have done it.

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Offline AdironDoc

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2010, 03:45:10 AM »
I found a local builder who discounted the price because we're using my own timber. Roughed in price is around $35/sq ft. I could have had it done a bit cheaper but he's doing some upgrades, like log rafters, posts and other visible areas, for looks. I asked that the loft will be thrown in but not be included in the price. He said sure. That's pretty inexpensive. The last he did was a 12 x 24, weathertight and stained for $15K including a nice loft and 8ft log porch.

I agree that a local framer could do it for you on the cheap, especially if you can offer a local mill some timber on your remote piece. They'll cut yours up and ready it, and keep some as trade.

Looking at a quick fix for a place to stay, I found Amish built cabin sheds "Shabins" ;) which are dropped anywhere you want. 14 x 36 for $4300. You'd need to do your own interior work and upgrade some things. Small and limited, yes, but hey, not a bad option for a summer camp. I opted for the builder.

Good luck with your project!

Doc

Offline ionosphere

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2010, 06:03:28 AM »
Framing seems straight forward but the problem is knowledge in securing to the foundation, roof and trusses.  If I started with the 20x30 cottage, do the plans have all instructions for that?  I would hire a local carpenter to help guide me through certain steps like that but was hoping some of this is laid out in the plans so I am not totally at the mercy of whom I hire.

Offline Squirl

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2010, 06:45:49 AM »
I pretty sure the plans do, but I don't have them.  A simple framing book listed on the home page can be found at any Home Depot or Lowes for around $25.  It shows how to connect everything.  One of the easiest ways is with metal straps and nails found in the lumber/masonry section of each of the above mentioned stores.  If you are looking for a certain square footage, it may be cheaper to build up than out.  Two of the most expensive parts of a house are the foundation and roof.  Wall framing is significantly cheaper.

The answer to a few of your questions is "it depends".  Where are you located?  Is this just for you or a family?  Do you plan on making additions?

Offline jbos333

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2010, 07:30:06 AM »
I'm kind of going through the same scenario. I'm kinda leaning toward a poured walkout basement with a roof, 24 x 40. That way if I want to go "up" I have a nice start.

I have entertained the thought of a pole building, I can have a 30x40 with a 12x40 shed dried in with slab for 25,000. $20.83/sf dried in, not counting the lean-to.

But the more I think about it, I really do want a basement and want to take advantage of earth sheltering, and I have a nice south facing slope to do so.

Poured 24x40 with 40' walkout         8500.00
Poured floor                                  4000.00
Excavation/drainage/waterproofing    5000.00
Std. gable truss/steel roof               5000.00
(materials only)

                                                  22500. or 23.43/sf



Slightly higher/sf for below grade AND I would be providing labor for the roof.

Offline bgarrett

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2010, 09:19:09 AM »
The cheapest and simplest is a pole barn.
They are putting them up in two days after the pad is ready.
and yes, people are living in them

Offline h0rizon

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2010, 11:09:21 AM »
Welcome to the forum!  w*

Just my 2 pennies, but have you checked out your local zoning/building codes/inspector?  My thoughts are two fold: 

1.  Some areas restrict "Camping", even on your own property.  Some will allow you to camp if you have a building permit for an extended period (perhaps a year); otherwise, you may be restricted to camping in "bursts" of a few weeks at a time. 

2.  If there are no restrictions on "minimum living area", you can probably get away with building something smaller - such as a "granny cottage" or a tiny house - to live in until you can afford something a bit bigger.  That approach my be a little less risky from a financial point of view.

Personally, if i was unemployed, I would be cautious about investing in constructing a home.  For one, that's valuable time spent on the building process rather than the job search.  Two, if you find a job but need to relocate for it, what then?  Three, if you can't finish the initial shell for some reason, it'll be very hard to get a loan to finish it off.

Sorry, I tend to play the devil's advocate.  Not trying to discourage!

That said, I'm in a similar boat - trying to find something to build that I can actually afford, but a bit concerned that I can't do it by myself. 
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Offline jbos333

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2010, 04:27:33 PM »
I priced out the materials for a 24x48 pole building shell. Came out to $4000 +/- including steel roof and rough cut hemlock board/batt siding, very similar to a 24 x 24 I already have, Amish built about 10 yrs. ago.

Add $4.0/sf for a concrete slab floor = $4600.00

So if you're willing to do all the labor, under $9000 for 1100 sf dried-in. Or $8/sf and a LOT of work.

According to my local building code "enforcer" all I have to do to make a "pole frame with slab" eligible for a cert of occupancy is insulate the slab with at least 2" rigid foam board. And of course, the pole frame depth makes it very easy to insulate walls well in excess of r30.

So if you are in an area requiring inspections, you may want to check to see if a pole frame is even acceptable before you try to make up your mind. But if it is, as mentioned in other posts, it may well be the most bang for the buck. Especially if you are willing to do most/all of the work.

I'll be following this thread too because I have not completely made up my mind as to what I'm doing yet.

Offline mldrenen

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2010, 05:21:32 AM »
are you married?  any children?  if not, then i would just throw together the builder's cottage: http://countryplans.com/cottage1.html , or even something a bit smaller.  you could finish one for small money, and have a place to live until you can afford to build bigger.  if you buy the "big enchalada" plan set, you will have plans for the builder's cottage and ideas for adding on and incorporating it into a bigger house in the future. 

the idea of building a big box and finishing off sections over time isn't appealing to me. 

Offline Erin

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2010, 11:30:43 AM »
Quote
Framing seems straight forward but the problem is knowledge in securing to the foundation, roof and trusses.  If I started with the 20x30 cottage, do the plans have all instructions for that?  I would hire a local carpenter to help guide me through certain steps like that but was hoping some of this is laid out in the plans so I am not totally at the mercy of whom I hire.
In that case, just get a couple of general-knowledge building books.  These are my three favorites:

Independent Builder: Designing & Building a House Your Own Way by Sam Clark
Do-It-Yourself Housebuilding: The Complete Handbook George Nash
Graphic Guide to Frame Construction (For Pros By Pros) Rob Thallon

All of the above provide instructions, details, and code references for how these differing components tie together.  
I refer to each on a regular basis

I agree.  It can be hard to visualize how things come together.  But truly, building is not rocket science. 
The wise woman builds her own house... Proverbs 14:1

Offline altaoaks

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2010, 03:59:10 PM »
 w* w*hi ionisphere, you have lots of good advice here already.  im in the same boat, especially given i just recently found out my building permit for a 1000 sq ft will be 20 grand.  that hits the building reserve real hard.  anyway, i wish i had gone into the building/planning dept. BEFORE buying the land.  i may have researched more and gone out of state where its more affordable, or bought something much bigger and more remote so i could build without eyes!

i love this site.  i would much rather go to them for guidence as opposed to learning the hard way.  knowledge is power!

Offline h0rizon

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2010, 12:21:00 PM »
holy smokes  [shocked] $20k just for the building permit?

Are you building with Gold?  I thought building permits were supposed to be a percentage of the building cost, between like 1% and 5% or so.  A $20k permit puts your building cost between $400k and $2 million dollars.

That really makes you wonder.  I can understand permit fees from a "covering our costs to handle the necessary paperwork" perspective, but at $20k, it better buy you a government official helping you build your house - full time - for the summer.

Erin, thank you for the book references.  I will have to check them out, particularly "Graphic Guide to Frame construction" which from reviews covers some of the related building codes.  I'm most interested in reading up on codes; it's pretty easy to slap wood together with some nails, glue and duct tape, but I need to know I can do it well enough that the inspector smiles (or at least grunts) with approval.
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Offline BlueRidge

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2010, 03:54:39 PM »
A long time ago John discussed a pole barn home idea he had for a builder that wanted to build as cash allowed.

Gravel base, pole construction with a roof for dry storage of materials, dry in and "camp" indoors while building, finish out as cash allowed.

John said he was working on the plans, but I haven't seen them here ... I'm sure he busy enough as it is, but it sounded like a great concept for what you have in mind, and for many who have limited funds, or can't get a construction loan for their project (many banks balk at lending for homes less than 1400 sq.ft.).

JD

Offline altaoaks

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2010, 06:58:47 PM »
yep, $20 K is what i said, and at least $15 K would be park fees, school fees, road fees, and some other "i dont know what that is"fee, and something called a 7a fee, that would have to be paid even to just put in a garage, or a shed with electric or plumbing, or a 1-room cabin,  then they charge you the 1%.  by then, your already broke.  someone, don p, surmised they are trying to keep poor people out.  very possible!  if we wanted to build a mini mansion over 3000 sq ft it would be over $40K for the permit.  maybe they just want to keep everyone out!

that pole barn thought above posted by blueridge sounds like a workable plan.  it would be easy to dry in.  make that trip to your local building and planning departments first, they can really let you know what will work for them.  i hope you get better news than i did though.

Offline h0rizon

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2010, 04:37:56 AM »
The pole barn does sound like a good idea, i'd be interested in seeing plans for it once John has finished them. 

Ion, As mentioned before, it really does come down to what the local officials will allow.  You could definitely go round-and-round on these forums all day looking at plans, choosing between a yurt, garage, barn or tool shed for your home, but it all comes down to what Uncle Sam wants you to do in your area.  See how flexible they are in allowing something other than a cookie cutter $250k McMansion in the area.  If they seem unreasonable or unwilling to work with you, it may be in your favor to look into moving to a different, more flexible area.  Speaking of which, do you own any land yet?  ???

alta, found your other post.  I'll comment there.
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Offline Squirl

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2010, 04:58:38 AM »
A long time ago John discussed a pole barn home idea he had for a builder that wanted to build as cash allowed.

Gravel base, pole construction with a roof for dry storage of materials, dry in and "camp" indoors while building, finish out as cash allowed.

John said he was working on the plans, but I haven't seen them here ... I'm sure he busy enough as it is, but it sounded like a great concept for what you have in mind, and for many who have limited funds, or can't get a construction loan for their project (many banks balk at lending for homes less than 1400 sq.ft.).

JD

Isn't that amazing?  I heard on the radio that the median new home size in the 1950's was 950 square ft and the current median is 2400 square ft. BTW, horizons, on a side note, building departments are usually municipal, not Uncle Sam.  Many times being friendly with you local town or county representative can get you very far.

Offline altaoaks

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2010, 06:16:00 AM »
i can agree that being friendly can get you far with your build and inspections, but it wont help with exhorborant fees!  and they may be municipal, but they just follow the lead of uncle sam and in some cases, such as placer county, they gouge people to death and only within the framework of uncle sam.  the $20K i mentioned was for anything from 120 sq ft all the way up to 1000 sq ft.  if i wanted a mc mansion i would have passed out and needed 911 right there on the spot.  my advice to everyone is BEFORE you buy the land. go to the building department.  i doubt many places charge an arm, leg, and 1st born child to build, but check.  i wish i had.

Offline h0rizon

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2010, 06:48:03 AM »
Perhaps my general plan (feel free to critique) will help you out, ion;

1.  Get an idea of what I would like to build (and can afford). 
2.  Call up the townships (+inspector) in the area I would like to purchase property on.  Let them know I am interested in buying land in the area and this is what I would like to build. 
3.  Determine which areas seem to be the most relaxed code and fee wise and size up land availability in those towns
4.  Narrow down land choices and areas
5.  Walk in and talk to the inspector face-to-face.  Maybe bring some donuts.
6.  Verify land can perk/has water for a well
7.  Verify permits, etc with health department
8.  Buy the land and move forward
9.  etc.

Squirl;  more of a Freudian slip of the tongue there.  Anytime I think of Municipal/county/state/federal taxes/fees, I imagine the uncle sam "I want you!" poster, but instead of him pointing at you, he has his palm facing upward and there is an additional sub-caption in size 1 font that reads "To give us more money".

After writing the post, I decided to google my imaginary poster.  Seems others are thinking along the same lines: http://tinyurl.com/25drrp8 and http://tinyurl.com/24ydqr2
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Offline Squirl

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2010, 08:28:20 AM »
Good plan.  Good joke.

Offline altaoaks

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2010, 08:43:11 AM »
after my experience in placer county, hOrizon has a VIP, (very important plan).  i wish i had been armed with all of this info BEFORE buying in that county.  they just are not very neighborly.

seriously, you dont know until you go to the rats mouth what they will gift, or garnish from you.  hOrizon has a plan that would have saved me a lot of distress.  for what they charge to build, they shoud give away land for free.  never in my wildest nightmare would i have expected so much $$$ to do a very small, simple build.  i had hoped we could be dried in for no more than $20k including the permit.

lesson learned, do your homework.

Offline h0rizon

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2010, 12:28:47 PM »
I'm just glad I was directed to this site first.  I had the original idea of homesteading/shoe stringing it for a few years, but honestly no idea about what hoops I really had to jump through to do it.  If it wasn't for everyone's help and direction here I would be standing on a few acres of property completely broke and scratching my head wondering what went wrong ???.

Even with a solid plan things can still go south quickly.  Hence my original concern that ion is without a job at the moment.  I'd hate for something to go wrong in the build and end up not having the resources to correct it.  Depending on ion's situation, a minor mistake could delay things or get into a bad situation.

Again not try to spook or deter.  Just throwing on my horns and trying to play advocate so to avoid doing this ---> [frus] [noidea'
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Offline shallyman

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2010, 01:48:10 PM »
Im assuming you do not have a wife/kids since you have considered camping.  Why don't you think about the 10X14 plans that john sells.  You could put a shed roof on it and a small sleeping loft along the taller side where the roof slopes up.  John has some pictures in the builders gallery of it.  I think he built it for less than 2 grand.  That is undoubtably what I would have done if it was just me who was going to be living there.   you would have a place to live for however long, gain the skill of building a house (just on a small scale), and should be affordable for anyone who can afford to buy a piece of land.  Just my thoughts.  Going small and being able to live in a finished space sure beats going bigger and living in an unfinished space.

Offline Don_P

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2010, 03:16:43 PM »
Don't take donuts, it'll just make them uncomfortable and they'll have to refuse. Save them for the subcontractors  ;D, we don't need em but sure do like "the construction diet". Most building officials are good, honest people just doing a difficult job. Like a cop, they didn't write the rules, they just have to enforce them. I had a sit down with our toughest one recently, and I do consider him a friend and good guy. He said that he would be in my chair having exactly the same conversation if our roles were reversed. Usually they are more than willing to help and explain things and would much rather get you straightened out before construction than have to fail you after the boards are nailed up.

horizon; This is a link to my version of the '06 IRC, every state and sometimes within a state there are modifications but it is fairly stock. Our mods are noted by a double bar in the margin. there are other states in this series of free codes, back out mine and type in yours, it may be there;
https://www2.iccsafe.org/states/Virginia/Residential/Res-Frameset.html

Offline h0rizon

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Re: Cheapest and simpliest to build 1000 square foot empty box
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2010, 03:41:01 PM »
Heh, i wasn't actually planning on bringing donuts  :)  I sometimes have a dry sense of humor.  Sometimes mixed with some cynicism.

I think for ion's benefit (and so i don't hijack his thread) the books Eric posted is a good starting point.  Codes, fancy building drawings and the like will just serve to confuse you further, until you study the build process from top to bottom.  That will help with questions like securing foundations and the like.  Just a case in point, I ripped off my parent's shed roof (the wood had rotted through), replaced all of the rafters, decking, and roofing material.  Basically built the roof over from scratch.  I have little construction experience.  Hasn't leaked yet!

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy