A Homebuilt Low-Cost Home Makes Retirement Easier

Duane and Dee Mark find that changing one's lifestyle when retiring is made easier with a homebuilt low-cost home.

| December 2001/January 2002

Saving money in retirement with a homebuilt low-cost home.

My wife Dee and I realized a few years ago that if we wanted to live the way we were accustomed after we retired, we'd need a lot more money or a lot fewer living expenses.

We have both been self-employed most of our lives and, contrary to popular belief, not all business people are wealthy. Our retirement income will be very low. With the realization that we would be trapped by our monetary situation if we didn't do something prior to our retirement, we began to develop a plan to construct a homebuilt, low-cost home to save money.

Since the late 1970s, I have followed the evolution of solar energy and straw-bale construction, as well as other energy-efficient methods, so our plan centered around building a home that would be low-cost to build and maintain.

We wanted a place away from the beaten path, but not so far away that a trip to town would be a major undertaking. We selected 2 1/2 acres 20 miles west of Kingman, Arizona, on the eastern slope of the Black Mountains. The view is spectacular in all directions, with wonderful sunrises and the mountains to the west for early afternoon shade. The 2 1/2 acres will allow plenty of room for a straw-bale home, a large workshop and a garden.

Although we've been planning for years, only in the last year have we begun to fulfill our dream. For the sake of saving someone else making the same mistake we made, I will tell you how we began and then had to backtrack.

We bought an old, single-wide mobile home for $600 to live in while we built our house. We tore out the inside and made it all new — kitchen, two bathrooms, new plumbing, new wiring and a bay window in the kitchen. It was beautiful.

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