As we learn more about the impact of typical human life on the environment, many of us have become a little more conscious about our actions. Some people begin practicing the three Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle—while some people started making their own clothes, or installing green technology into their homes. And some people choose to build themselves a brand new eco-friendly house from scratch.
The costs associated with such a move are typically assumed to be enormous, and with good reason. Buying a green-friendly house is an absurdly expensive process. Eco-friendly technology and building tends to be more pricey than material that’s cheaper to make but harder on the environment, which leaves many with the impression that green living is for rich bougies. However, there are ways to build cheap eco-friendly homes for much cheaper than the cost of buying a house in today’s economy.
Many people have figured out how to build an eco-friendly home for cheap, oftentimes less than $20,000. The process of building a home requires a lot of time and effort, but the end-result is a sustainable, environmentally friendly home that you can be proud of.
Different kinds of eco-friendly homes
When setting out to build an eco-friendly home, the first thing you need to do is determine what you want your home to look like. How much space do you want? Will you be able to use stairs or should it be one floor? Look around for inspiration from other green homes, like tiny homes. Consider your local environment and what will be most practical. If you’re in Florida, your home will need much more emphasis on airflow and staying cool than a home in Maryland, where custom home building will require heavy insulation to protect from the cold winter months.
Some people build eco-friendly homes by using a starting point, like an Airstream traveling van or a boat. For less than $6,000, you can purchase and convert an Airstream van into a tiny eco-friendly home. Or you can build a cabin yourself for less than $2,000 and with enough room to allow six overnight guests, as LaMar Alexander did. His 14×14 cabin has an off-grid power system, a water harvesting system, and a propane-heated shower. He’s even published instructions for others to copy his hand-made cabin.
Staying green on a budget
For most people interested in green living, eco-friendly often implicitly suggests living off of the power grid. That means thinking about an electricity source, as well as a water supply, and how you will control temperatures in your home. Save costs on these by constructing your own systems, and using recyclable or salvaged materials when possible.
Save costs on cooling your home by strategically building it under shade-providing trees, which will block heat from pounding on your home all day long. Use windows to control airflow and light into the home, but keep in mind that where there are big windows, there will be big temperature fluctuations. Use smart, green architecture to control temperatures and airflow in your home, and save on future heating or cooling costs with whatever power system you eventually adopt.
Look for materials that will last to construct your home. Although many “green homes” are built with metals, they’re usually salvaged and not as environmentally friendly. Durable woods can provide a beautiful and cost-effective outer surface, and are cheaper than metals, as well as more energy-efficient.
Use natural water sources when available. Learning how to construct a well can save you water bill costs in the long run if you’re in the right place to build one (check local and state regulations, as well as what piping may be around you). Or use rain and greywater recycling systems, which can cost less than $500 to build and install.
Building an eco-friendly home is a serious task, and keeping it under budget is an additional challenge that can throw a wrench in. But it’s very possible to create an eco-friendly home on a budget, and with some research, effort, and hard work, you can surely construct an environmentally friendly home to be proud of.
Featured photo credit: Geneva via flickr.com