The $100 House

Owner-built homes made with locally available materials can be constructed very inexpensively.
Owner-built homes made with locally available materials can be constructed very inexpensively.

A few years ago my girlfriend called me into the living room to see an adobe house on TV. “Quick”, she said, “it only cost $100”. I thought there must be some mistake, but I rushed over to see the house out of curiosity. To my surprise it was quite nice.

The rectangular adobe house I saw on TV looked to be about 13’ x 27’ (351 sq. ft.). It was a simple rectangular home, similar to the photo, with thatch roof. The family had built 99% of everything themselves using local materials. They had even made their own thatch roof panels like these. The $100 budget probably went to things such as hardware.

The main point is you can build very inexpensively if you use locally available natural materials and do the work yourself. This is the main topic on our blog due to the world’s housing crisis. This is how humans provided shelter all through history up until recently. The materials will vary from place to place, so you’ll have to research what works best in your area. Of course, this assumes you’ve chosen an area with few or no building codes. Otherwise that $100 house could very well cost $100,000. But the sad fact is the $100 house might outlive the expensive house and not have all the toxic crap in it.

Image source:
I caught plenty of flak in the $300 house contest for my design entries. Even though my designs were smaller than the one profiled in this blog post, people kept saying it couldn’t be built for that price, yada yada, yada. Of course it can’t if you buy all new materials. But go to developing countries and you’ll see millions of houses built in that price range because poor people have no other choice.

4 thoughts on “The $100 House”

  1. Hi Owen.

    MANY Thanks to you and Kelly for all you do.

    MANY Thanks to everyone reading these posts and comments FOR ALL YOU DO IN YOUR OWN LIVES!

    We are dreaming the everchanging world into being.

    Many thanks for this great post.

    Sharing resources for how folks can live differently from the past paradigm, this is of much greater value than all the artificially overpriced houses and apartments on the planet–combined.

    Here are a few of my understandings about resilience.

    We each have our pieces of the puzzle to share, on these adventures together.



    We are magical powerful beings. We take action in whatever manner is appropriate for each of us.


  2. Hi Owen,

    I like this article a lot. Yes, it is possible to build with local materials. Some of the materials I buy local however, I am seeing that individuals are charging a high price sine they are the only suppliers around (sometimes within hundreds of miles). However, I estimated my 900 sq. foot home made from local soils, some cement and sandbags, with reclaimed doors, windows, lumber, etc. will run about $1,000. I did find out however, in Navajo county there is a beautiful older adobe home of that size, selling for $150,000! due to newer and newer code enforcements. What a shame. Some of us are soo poor in this area, many sleep in tents.

    • We understand. That’s why we do what we do. The housing market is totally out of sync with reality. When a system (building codes/banking in this instance) doesn’t provide for the vast majority of people to afford decent, safe housing then in my opinion it’s broken. It’s that simple. The system is broken. But instead of just complaining about it, which does no good, Kelly and I have spent years trying to show realistic alternatives. This includes tiny homes, cabins, earthbag building, adobe, using poles from the forest, recycled materials, etc. We now have around 3,000 pages of free information about natural building on the Internet.


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