Man Saves Up, Keeps It Simple for Debt-Free Home Building

Eric Guldenstein incorporated energy-saving and passive solar features when building his home, so it’s efficient as well as debt-free.

| June/July 2014

Simple House Design

The author, Eric Guldenstein, kept the design of his house simple and did most of the labor himself to keep costs in check.

Photo by Eric Guldenstein

I spent several years saving up enough money to purchase a lot and construct the exterior shell of my home. After the shell was completed, I spent the next three years finishing the interior of the home. Building over a long period of time allowed expenditures to fit more easily into my budget and provided the opportunity to buy most of the materials when they were on sale at local home centers.

I designed and built a 2,600-square-foot, tri-level, super-insulated home that incorporates several basic passive solar features. The heating and cooling costs are amazingly low. Even though the local utility rates have more than doubled since I built the home, I am still able to heat and cool it for an average of $46 a month. Additionally, the home is very comfortable with even temperatures throughout and no drafts during even the windiest weather.

The home cost $92,000 to build during the time period stretching from1996 to 1999. That amount includes the cost of all materials and the work done by contractors.

I provided a substantial amount of the labor needed to complete the home. This included installing the siding, sealing air leaks, insulating the ceiling and some of the exterior walls, completing all electrical work, and installing the heating and cooling ductwork. I also completed the interior finish work, such as ceramic and wood flooring, interior doors and trim, kitchen cabinets, and electrical and plumbing fixtures.

Because the house used rather standard construction techniques, I had no trouble at all working with the building codes and inspectors. It’s important to be very familiar with the local building codes before designing a house and beginning construction.

If I had the opportunity, I would certainly do it again. Overall, building a home is exceptionally satisfying. You not only end up owning a home with no mortgage, but you also have a comfortable energy-efficient home with very low utility costs.

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