Building on a Budget
"Our house may look expensive, but the reality is that we only have about $10 a square foot into it. The whole house cost about as much as the average new car. Yet I have seen some million dollar homes that looked like junk. Appearance, like energy efficiency, is more a product of design than of cost. You can take the same materials and arrange them poorly or arrange them well."
"With a combined income averaging $10,000 to $12,000 a year we lived simply and invested everything we could in building materials. Construction proceeded slowly throughout the process, due to our chronic lack of money. We moved into the house after the second summer, with no doors, few windows, and no insulation in the roof. Winter stopped about three feet from the stove. This might all seem a little rough, but I later realized that we saved at least $150,000 in interest payments by eliminating the need for a loan. That is not a bad wage for a couple years of camping out!"
--Thomas J. Elpel, author of
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
and Direct Pointing to Real Wealth
Is it still possible to build a low-cost, high-efficiency passive solar house of stone? Read the step-by-step account of the process of building the 2,300 square foot stone house pictured here.
Thomas J. Elpel's House-Building Projects:
-Building a House on Limited Means
-Building a Passive Solar Stone and Log Home
-We've Gone Solar!
-Building a Slipform Stone Workshop
-Building a Passive Solar Stone House - Part I
-Stone House: Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
-Masonry Fireplace DVD
-Slipform Stone Masonry DVD
-Slipform Stone Masonry Class Information
-Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale
-Building a Little Castle / Guest House
More Stone Masonry Construction Articles and Resources
-Stone Masonry: A Brief Overview
-Helen and Scott Nearing, Slipforming Pioneers
-A reader builds a Slipform Stone Mansion
-A reader builds a Stone and Log House in France
-A reader builds a Stone House at the Center of the Universe
-A reader builds a Slipform Stone House on the Prairie
-A reader builds a house of Stone and Straw
-A reader builds a Wilderness Cabin of Stone
-Tilt-up Stone Masonry
-Masonry Stove Overview and Books
Log, Timber Frame, Strawbale and Earthen Construction Resources
-Log House Construction, Overview and Books
-Timber Frame Construction Books
-Strawbale Construction, Overview and Books
-Rammed Earth Construction Books
-Earthships, Tire Houses
-Earth Bag Construction
Question & Answer Pages
-Breaking Free and Living the Dream
-Questions about Buying Land
-Questions about Low-Cost Construction
-Thermal Mass Questions
-Footing and Foundation Questions
-Concerns about working with Fly Ash
-Slipform Stone Masonry Questions
-Tilt-Up Stone Masonry Questions
-Fireplace & Chimney Questions
-Log Home Construction Questions
-Strawbale Construction Questions
-Home Heating, Insulation & Energy Efficiency Questions
-Roofing Options Questions
-Renovating Old Homes
Looking to buy or sell land in the West?
More three million acres in Montana have been subdivided into small parcels over the past 25 years. Most of the parcels were ranches, which provided habitat for wildlife, especially during harsh winter months. Now that hayfields are filling up with houses, wildlife are looking for new homes, and human/wildlife conflicts are increasing. What can you do to make a difference? Go to the Western Sustainability Exchange and download their Welcome to the West guide.
We just wanted to thank you for the time you have spent sharing your research and knowledge with others. We recently received our copies of Living Homes and the Slipform Stone Masonry Video and were so thrilled to learn about your work. Your book is the most complete and detailed work we have found on the subject of alternative building (and we've read an awful lot of them!). It is absolutely worth the investment!
When we stumbled upon your website we knew we had found a gold mine. Your articles immediately inspired us. We decided once and for all that we were tired of the rat race and ready to make the drastic change of creating our own sustainable homestead in a rural area. Thank you so much for the time and effort you have put forth to help others achieve their dreams of sustainable living. I don't know if we would have found the courage to take the first steps if we had not been able to hear your story, and learn from your experiences. It will be quite an adventure for our family, but we are looking forward to every minute of it. There won't be a person that knows us (or meets us!) who won't hear about how your book has inspired us. We hope it will be contagious.
Thank you again,
Scott & Marie Greene & Boys