What does your dream house look like? Is it covered in solar panels? Surrounded by plants? Flooded with light? Maybe it's all about location--tucked into the forest or perched on the coastline. For many people, dream houses remain dreams, but not for individuals profiled below. We've rounded up six people who refused to accept the fact that a comfortable, eco-friendly home has to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rather than wait the years it would take to afford a traditionally-built home, these enterprising folks took matters into their own hands, building amazing yet efficient homes for $20,000 or less! Read on to find out how they did it.
Tiny House Family
In most traditional homes, we end up paying for space we don’t really use. Sure a guest bedroom, office, den, and two car garage sound great, but is it really worth the three times a year we utilize these spaces to their fullest? For the Tiny House Family, wasted space wasn’t an option. Hari, Karl and their son and daughter’s small living adventure began when the sour economy caused their award-winning restaurant in Florida to close. Knowing they needed to save money, but still wanting to live mortgage-free, they bought a parcel of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains and built a 320 sq. foot new home using salvaged materials for just $12,000. See pics!
Homesteader and author LaMar Alexander lives in a tiny, self-sufficient 400 square foot cabin that he built himself for under $2,000! Powered by a 580-watt solar system and a 400-watt wind power system, this cute little cabin includes a rainwater and gray water harvesting system, a solar composting toilet, propane-heated shower, and sleeping space for up to six people. Better yet, he’s authored a series of e-books so that other people can build their own off-grid cabin. See pics!
Idaho architect Macy Miller dreamed of owning her own home, but preferred to avoid the 30-year mortgage. Rather than fork over a ton of money to a contractor, Miller decided to design and built her own dream home. The result is a tiny 196 square-foot home built on the bed of a 24-foot long, 8-foot wide flatbed trailer for maximum mobility. It features a composting toilet, a recycled, 4-burner, small oven and gas stove, under floor electric radiant heat system, and siding repurposed from old wood pallets. Final cost? It’s still a work in progress, but Miller says she’s on track to meet her $12,000 goal. See pics!
Hold on to your hats Hobbit lovers! After a long career as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, Steve Areen (pictured at top) decided to settle down in Thailand. Rather than buy a house, he decided to build his own and the results are magical! The main section of the house is a perfect sphere, which sparked the nickname “Dome House.” Built entirely by Areen and two helpers, the home was constructed in just six weeks using locally-made concrete bricks. The bedroom dome is capped with a beautiful grass roof and the bathroom, like an atrium, is filled with plants and completed with subtle touches such as a bamboo faucet that funnels water into a beautiful bowl – like cupped Buddha hands. Total cost? $8,000. See pics!
Housing that is both high quality and affordable can be hard to come by in rural areas. That’s why students from Auburn University are working with Rural Studios to launch a line of attractive homes that can be built for just $20,000! The studio has already built 12 houses, the last of which featured passive heating and a safe-room in the shower, which proved to be necessary after 23 people died in the devastating Moore tornado in 2013. See pics!
Derek “Deek” Diedricksen
Derek Diedricksen is a well-known designer of tiny houses, and his work has been featured and duplicated all over the world. One of his most recent creations was this Gypsy Junker micro cabin. The dwelling was built for Diedricksen’s Tiny Yellow House program, and was created out of reclaimed materials that he found one piece at a time. Inside, there’s a platform bed that can double as a desk, three windows provide ample natural light and a Dutch door made from used kitchen cabinet doors, and a colorful window treatemtn made from spent wine bottles. Diedricksen priced the 32-square foot cabin at a cool $1,200. See pics!