Three ways to build your own home

I have a confession to make: I really want to build a home for myself and my family. And I don’t mean I want to pick out a style from a builder’s portfolio and customize the paint schemes and flooring. I want to actually put together my abode myself.

In the years I’ve been afflicted with this desire, I’ve found a number of awesome ways to build my own house. Here are three awesome self-built house types (in order of increasing skills required).

Home-made house #1: Life in the round

yurt exterior

Traditionally, a yurt is a circular yak-skin tent with a hole in the middle of the conical roof for the smoke of the fire to escape. Modern yurts like those sold by Pacific Yurts are circular tent-like structures with canvas-covered lattice sides, timber-framed roofs that are built on a platform to keep them off the ground. If you have a small family and don’t mind togetherness, this is probably the cheapest way to build your own permanent house. And they can be amazingly beautiful places.

yurt interior

Home-made house #2: Timber-framing for beginners

First Day Cottage exteriorFor those of us who use our house hard, a yurt can be a little too bare-bones. Mostly, I need more rooms. I work from home, so I need a home office. And while we’re very attached to our children, we are very happy with a bedroom that’s ours alone. As the hub of a homesteading family, a multi-room traditional home is almost a must.

First Day Cottage interior

If I were to buy a plot of land today and have the opportunity to build a house, I would build a First Day Cottage. These cottages use timber-framing principles but with dimensional lumber, making them cheaper and easier to build for beginners. While these built-up timbers aren’t as fashionable as traditional beams, they are beautiful in their own right. And they are perfect for hanging drying herbs from.

Home-made house #3: The woodsman’s abode

Ben Law's Woodland Cottage

Ben Law is a woodsman and a timber-working guru who is reviving the lost art of traditional round-timber framing in England. His cruck-framed woodland cottage is an inspiration of locally-sourced, artistic construction. In Law’s view, the building style should not only be suited to the local environment, but it should also be designed around locally-available building materials.

Exterior of Ben Law's Woodland Cottage


12 thoughts on “Three ways to build your own home

  1. Love all of them! I’m personally thinking of adding an outhouse to our urban backyard. Five people and one bathroom is pushing us a bit!

  2. I have a confession to make: I built a home for myself and my family. It looks something like house #2, the timber frame. Like you, I was obsessed with the notion of building a house, my house. And finally it
    happened. On 11 acres halfway up a mountain in NH. Best thing I ever did. Actually, I built an entire farm. I’m still at it. 10 years and counting. I hope to be building a farm until the last day. All the best.

    1. Will, you probably didn’t notice because you were actually replying to my husband, Jason, who shares this blog with me and wrote this post. Will, meet Jason. Jason, meet Will.

  3. You forgot straw houses..there are some awesome ones too. I would love to build my own but it’s not meant to be. We actually found a nice house that the lady wanted the same things I did. We hope to buy it this spring/early summer. It’s perfect..but not homemade 😦

    1. Ben Law’s house has non-load-bearing straw bale walls, so it’s semi-included. 🙂 You’re right, though straw bale is another self-built possibility.

      I’m glad you found a house that’s perfect for you. I wouldn’t mind finding the perfect house instead of building, but they don’t come around too often.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. My wife and I are building a Firstday Cottage as we speak! We are building a 1500 sq ft “T-Shape” home on a full ICF basement in North Dakota. We should be finished in a couple of months. WE LOVE IT! What an amazing journey! It has been tough becuase my wife and I have done ALL of the work, but I would not trade it for the world!!! The house build is VERY fiorgiviing which is nice for 1st time home builders.

    1. Wow, Shawn! That’s wonderful. Do you have a blog? We’d love to follow your building process. We have tried to get in touch with a few FirstDay Cottage builders near us to talk with them and tour their homes, but we haven’t been able to do that yet.

      1. Unfortunately, we do not have the time to blog. Send me a friend request on Facebook if you have an account. I have photos there.

        Shawn Ray

  5. Has anyone thought of a barn and converting to living quarters. I’m just thinking on this. Selling our house since the land we own is where my barn is. Actually its a metal barn. Don’t know if this is doable or not.

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