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How to Build a Debt-Free Home

Tips on how to build a debt-free home. This family’s mortgage-free house includes many energy-efficient materials and strategies.

| August/September 2007

  • Learn how homesteaders build a debt-free home using off-season purchases and unique building materials.
    Learn how homesteaders build a debt-free home using off-season purchases and unique building materials.
    Photo by Photo by Fotolia/siimsepp

  • Learn how homesteaders build a debt-free home using off-season purchases and unique building materials.

This family learns how to build a debt-free home using off-season purchases and clever choices of building materials.

How to Build a Debt-Free Home

My family built our home without a mortgage. To start, we used savings of $15,000 and sold our used car and horse trailer to come up with an additional $2,200. We paid a locally owned steel yard to install the foundation, steel beams, siding, doors and windows. They also put R-11 insulation against the outer walls. After completing the all-steel exterior, we shopped around do-it-yourself businesses and asked managers to compete against other quotes.

We wanted the old-time look inside, with the best wood we could afford. Every Friday, we took our paycheck and headed into town for supplies. On weekends, family and friends came and we installed the new lumber.

I shopped for oak cabinets at a surplus store and found new ones far cheaper than those at retail home centers. I found wonderful antique reproduction light fixtures on clearance for $5 and bought store display items that were available at huge discounts. The gas fireplace insert was priced at $700, but I got it off-season by offering $150. We made another deal for insulation and put it on the inside walls, giving us 9-inch walls with some air space. We etched the easy-to-clean concrete floor so it looks like tiles.

When finished, we had spent $42,000 in six months and had a beautiful new home that appraised at $100,000. We saved on insurance because the house has a low fire risk due to the steel exterior.

We thought we did great, building a 1,736-square-foot home debt free, but that was only the beginning: Last summer our electric bills in the all-electric house were about $80 a month. We’re so well-insulated that we can’t use the fireplace in the winter because the house gets too hot! And the all-steel exterior is carefree and keeps bugs and mice out.

1/12/2015 8:30:57 AM

We are going off grid with our debt free log home.. With reducing our energy needs its actually less expensive for us to build off grid than grid tied. Love the information on the energy efficiency though!

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