How to build a decent house without money or a mortgage

Once you do manage to secure a piece of land there are plenty of opportunities to build low-cost, maybe even free, sustainable homes from waste materials. Looking at everything from strawbale homes to earthships, it’s clear that human creativity, hard work and a little scavenging can go a long way to replacing cash for those who are so inclined.

If your dream is to build a house, but you have no money, I suggest you get the material for free by using second hand building material which would otherwise go to waste. Because if you lend money from the bank to buy expensive half made products and hire people to build a house for you, that’s great for the bank and for the companies who sell those products and services. But it’s not going to be good for your economy, and it’s not going to be good for the planet in the long run, either. So by lending yourself your own spare time, learning how to do the work yourself, and using recycled material, you will end up with a better personal economy, and the environment also benefits.

So, the first thing you need to do is to find a house which is about to be knocked down. There are plenty of those, and many of them there’s absolutely nothing wrong with, they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In other words, they are to be replaced with new houses. Offer the owners to knock it down for them, and have the waste transported off their property in time for them to start building. That way you will get all the material you need for free.

Knocking down a house can be plenty of fun, and very quick, if you use a sledge hammer and go savage on the place. But if you are going to re-use the boards, you need to be pretty careful. And you have to pull out every single nail in the entire building. That takes time. All your friends will also come in handy, so make sure you have a lot of friends. Calculate three weekends and some 20 people for a modest cottage of 40 square meters. Most of the time will be spent pulling out the nails from the boards. People might say it isn’t worth it to recycle boards because of all the rusty old nails, but I hate it when perfectly fine boards go to waste. If you have enough time, you can even reuse the nails – old nails are such good quality.

You could cut down own trees for wood and make compacted blocks for the walls.