The first step of the beat unemployment plan for living a self-sufficient lifestyle and reaching financial security is getting rid of your mortgage. After you have bought your cheap rural land, you need to house on it to live in. Two important things you can do to keep the cost down is to owner-build the house yourself and to build small. I found this design for a nice 16×32 gambrill barn roofed cabin or cottage designed by LaMar Alexander. The cabin has 512 square feet of living space downstairs and a full loft above which could be used as extra bedroom space, office, or storage area.
This house is a pretty simple design which lends itself well to owner-building. The outside envelope of the house is simple rectangle and it has a minimum of interior walls, making it easier to construct and saving materials. Here is an ouside view of the house.
In this next view, you can clearly see the porch which wraps around two side of the house and the balcony off the upstairs loft. These porches provide covered outdoor space which work well to make a small house feel larger. The porches provide extended living space at a much lower cost than building a larger house.
This cutaway view shows the loft, which would be a great space for another bedroom, especially for children. It would also be an ideal location for a home office or other workspace, and you could use it as guest space when family comes to visit overnight.
The floor plan is simple and maximizes usable space, which is very important for a small house. The kitchen, dining, and living areas are all open and flow neatly together for efficiency. The downstairs bedroom and bathroom are seperated by very few interior walls. A ladder or stairs to the loft could be placed in a variety of locations. The kitchen is well-designed with plenty counter space, cabinet storage, and room to work.
LaMar estimates that this cottage can be built for about $12000, not including the cost of appliances. I believe that it could be built for much less if you purchase materials from a salvage building supply, which I have done a number of times. These places typically have a wide range of good usable building materials, but they may have some slight barely noticeable imperfections. Many of their materials will be top quality – they have just been purchased from others who are overstocked or who have gone out of business. You could also save a great deal of money by searching out used materials. A contractor could never afford to do this, but as an owner-builder, you can take as much time as you need to collect materials.
This cottage would be perfect for a single person or a couple and could be quite suitable for children by using the loft as bedroom space. LaMar has designed a number of small house plans which are available from his web site Simple Solar Homesteading. He also maintains a blog and a youtube channel with tons of great information on building small, off-grid solar power systems, gardening and raising livestock, and other homesteading topics. I highly recommend his web site and youtube videos for anyone who is interested in living without a mortgage.
LaMar lives year-round in a 14×14 cabin that he built for under $2000! It is completely off-grid so he has escaped both mortgage payments and utility bills. Please see LaMar’s web site for more information on this 16×32 cottage or to find other plans for small houses.
Leave a comment. What do you think of this little house design? Could you live in a house this small? What other small house ideas do you have?