Twelve Materials to Build a Homestead on the Cheap
By: Tom Chatham
When a person with limited funds wants to build a homestead the conventional way is to save until you have enough or to borrow the money in order to build a conventional home that costs a lot of money. Neither of these is likely an acceptable solution to someone who wants to get started as soon as possible with minimal funds. The primary expense in starting a homestead is the purchase of land. Usually this action leaves the person with little or no excess funds to build up the land and provide the necessary structures to operate from.
When a person decides to homestead on limited funds they will need to proceed in a similar fashion to days gone by when a homestead was built out of the land itself. The majority of people that seek to start a homestead usually have a certain amount of creativity and unconventional attitude toward the future. They are usually ready to embrace the old and tested ways already known but long forgotten by modern day suburbia. There are some time tested ways to build on your land with little or no monetary expense.
Logs – Where stands of timber can be found, logs offer a ready source of quality building material. This can be in the form of logs or milled boards.
Adobe – The earth itself is a source of building materials to provide shelter from the elements. Adobe is usually found in arid regions such as the American southwest.
Cob – This type of building material has been used for centuries and is very durable. Some homes in England that are made from cob are several centuries old and still inhabited.
Straw bales – This is a type of building construction that offers a viable material where agriculture is practiced.
Chord wood – Where whole logs are not available for construction, small sections of wood can be used to produce a sturdy structure with walls over a foot thick.
Compressed earth blocks – The compression of mixed materials results in the formation of blocks or bricks of earth that can be used as conventional masonry to build structures.
Sod – The most basic of earth construction is the venerable sod house that many pioneers built in the early days of the nation.
Rammed earth – When packed into forms, rammed earth offers a cheap material to provide walls for a structure
Stone – The availability of stone on your land can provide a building material that will last for centuries if built properly.
Recycled materials – The use of reclaimed wood from older homes and buildings, old tires and many other discarded materials can be the foundation of a sound structure to utilize at a small expense.
Bamboo – In areas where it can be grown, bamboo offers a good building material to work with to frame small structures or provide reinforcement to other materials.
Grass – This material has been used for centuries to shelter man from the elements. In the drier areas it may provide a good building material until something more permanent can be built. It can also offer internal reinforcement to soil type materials giving it more strength.
This article only touches on the types of materials that may be used for shelter construction on your property. An in depth look at each can cover many chapters so it is left to you to do further research into the systems you feel relevant to your situation. These building materials provide a person on limited budget or in a survival situation the ability to construct a shelter that will protect them and their family utilizing the minimal of tools and equipment. In a desperate situation where you may only own raw land, these building systems offer you the ability to live a somewhat normal existence until you can improve your situation.
The ability to own even a small piece of land in troubling times gives you the ability to provide the basics to your family and live up to your responsibilities to them. With just a few tools such as a shovel, saw, ax and a few seeds, you can provide shelter and food in the most basic way. This is the most basic system to resort to when you are thrown back on your own resources which may be few in number. When you think about it, it really is amazing what you can do with some dirt, grass and logs.
The early pioneers relied on these most basic systems but today they are mostly forgotten by a society that lives for the moment and cannot wait for anything. The inability of people to utilize the resources around them can and will cause hardship unless this knowledge is maintained by them for future use when the situation dictates it. Even knowing the basics of one or two of these building techniques can be a major factor in maintaining the confidence to get through a difficult time when all seems lost.
Knowledge is the key to open many doors. As Ben Franklin once said, when a man pours his wallet into his head no one can take it from him. Keep that in mind as you prepare for the future.