Building in Stages

Gravel bag foundation with threshold and rough in plumbing complete
Gravel bag foundation with threshold and rough in plumbing complete

The biggest way to save money on your home is to not get a mortgage. This is possible if you use locally available, low cost materials such as earthbags, earth, stone, wood from a local forest and so on. You can also build in stages on a pay as you go basis. This is common where I live. People want to save money and they’re willing to build a little here and there as they can afford it, even though the building process takes longer. When you think about how much money you can save by not getting a mortgage, the extra wait is well worthwhile (or even necessary).

Possible stages of construction (adjust to your situation):
– Research and planning
– Gradually acquire building materials, including recycled items
– Site preparation – clear and raise the building site if necessary
– Plumbing rough-in and optional underground electrical
– Rubble trench, earthbag foundation and threshold
– Pre-build door and window bucks
– Build the walls as quickly as possible, keeping the bags protected from UV rays
– Bond beam
– Roof
– Interior walls
– Electrical and plumbing
– Exterior plaster
– Ceiling
– Interior plaster
– Set doors and windows
– Floor
– Finish work – cabinets, tile, trim, staining, painting
– Final plumbing and electrical

The above list isn’t set in stone; adjust as needed. You might want to do the floor before doing the doors and windows. Or maybe you’d prefer to lock things up before the floor is finished. Some steps such as insulation can be done most any time once the roof and/or ceiling are finished.

2 thoughts on “Building in Stages”

  1. Owen,

    How about building a house in separate self contained units? I would like to build something small in order to get us quickly into a shelter and then add additional connecting rooms. For instance, build one round of the roundhouse dome cluster with plans to add the main round next year. Then as needed the 3rd round could be added.

    Have you written anything on this type of construction?

    • Yes, I’ve talked about this repeatedly. It’s the best way to go in my opinion to keep costs low. It saves trying to build a larger house all at once. It means you can build without a mortgage and do it in stages as you can afford it.

      Roundhouses are the easiest shape to build in my opinion. Roundhouses can be built side-by-side, connected by joining structures (vaults, etc.) or pergolas, or set apart. Plan ahead if the units are joined. You don’t want to cut out doorways later due to lack of planning.


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