Building My Cabin For Free
How I Am Building My Cabin For Virtually Free
I recently bought some vacant land, about 1 acre in the next county up the road from me. It's about 60 miles away and pretty heavily wooded..
I am in the process of building a small cabin on this land to use as my pied-à-terre. I am currently building it for free and not only that, I am also building it without having to pull a single permit (so far).
The zoning inspector dropped by and he said I was totally in compliance!
The land is located in an unincorporated part of the county, and I don't need a permit for any structure under 100 square feet. I know 100 sq. ft. (10' x 10') sounds small, but what I did was make cantilevered "bump-outs" on each wall that extend out about 4 to 6 feet, depending on its use. I was also able to make this a 2 story structure for increases living space. I also built a shed which I am going to convert into another bedroom, connected to the main structure by a covered breezeway, for a total of about 380 sq. ft. of usable space.
I got most of my building materials for free, mostly on craigslist. As a matter of fact, I have too much stuff now, as I would find better materials than some of the stuff I found earlier. People are so happy to give these items away for free, as they don't want to throw it away if it's still usable and they don't want to hassle with trying to sell it. I have gotten lumber, windows (new), roofing materials, doors (new), wiring, plumbing, wood burning fireplace box and chimney, appliances, toilets, vanities and cabinets, all for free - I just had to load it and go. When I would tell these people what I was attempting they would often give me other things to help, such as nails, screws, paint, caulk, tools and whatever else they would have that was just lying around taking up space. I even got a brand new 2 compartment stainless steel sink and new kitchen faucet!
Another great place to find materials is construction projects, especially large projects like apartment buildings and condos. I just had to find the superintendent and ask. They are happy to have people haul off what they consider scrap, especially if I would haul it off for free (one time I actually had a guy PAY me to haul some bricks and concrete blocks away, which I used every bit of). One place I have good luck with was a truss manufacturer. They had a mess of trusses made wrong and all I had to do was go out to the construction site they were delivered to and pick them up - this saved them much time and labor and I got a bunch of nice, relatively clean 2 by 4s.
Once my friends and acquaintances found out about my little project they were calling me whenever they found or heard about something they thought I might need. Like I said, I now have too much of some things.
Right now my project is trying to get wired for solar panels to power my well pump (pump and tanks - free!) and lighting - hopefully about 6-8 15 amp circuits and a couple of 20 amps plus one 220 outlet - need some juice!
So far, my only real expense has been the property purchase itself - about $7,000.00.
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