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high desert. small house.

Spending thus far

I keep a running tally of our build costs so we know how much we’ve spent and in what categories (i.e. flooring, hardware, etc).  I do this both because I love data and because I think it will be informative and helpful for others who want to build their own small home.

While adding items to the spreadsheet this morning, I glanced at the total and was pleasantly surprised by how low it still is.  We’ve spent $6705 over the past 7 months on tools, materials, the door, windows, appliances, hardware, fixtures and small miscellaneous things.  If you do not include the windows, door or appliances (HRV, heat exchange and hot water heater), our total is at $3550.

That means we’ve spent an average of $507 per month on building our house (We’ve actually been accumulating things for about 10 months which works out to be $355 per month; the bulk has been in the last 7 months though).  While that may initially seem large, it really isn’t that different from a fancy car payment or the total spent on ‘entertainment’ objects/services (i.e. internet, satellite, netflix, etc).

While patting myself on the back for doing a good job being responsible in our spending, I thought, “Now, Chelsea, that total doesn’t include the house kit and labor.  Maybe this isn’t such an accomplishment after all.”  Okay, let’s look at that number.

For the kit, the upgrades and the labor, we spent a tad over $20,000.  Add to that the money we’ve spent finishing the house so far and we’re at $27,000ish.  The plywood for the walls, flooring system, tile and bathroom things will be our last big expenses, so let’s round up to $32,000.  It’ll probably be a little higher once we’re through, because I’m sure other small things will crop up (i.e. permit and inspection fees, extra hardware, etc).  But those are the big numbers.

So then I thought to myself – That number seems big but compared to the average home price of $188,900 (according to an article in The Huffington Post, published in March 2014), I’d say we’re doing a good job.  And really, I believe our total spent will be shy of what most people contribute to a down payment.  If we take the $188,900 ticket price as an example and use the real estate standard of 20%, the down payment would be $37,780.

Sooooo, yeah, that’s pretty exciting.  See this update for the spending total as of 12/24/15.

For a full summary of our experience with Arched Cabins, please read Arched Cabin Summary.


  1. I am nervous about your experience with the cap ends. Did they frame your doors and windows? Was that a job for a general contractor? Also, how much did you spend on dry wall for the whole interior – materials and labor. We are planning to buy a 24’X40′ and begin construction in Spring. Thank you for Great information – Michael
    P.S. is the aluminum siding noisy in rain? LOL!

    • They did frame the doors and windows – we sanded down the window sills to create a slight down slope and we had to sand down the door frame because it was not square. The end caps are optional ‘upgrades’. You can choose to finish them yourself or hire a contractor. Based on our experience, it would be worth it to hire a contractor (or do it yourself) so it is done right the first time.

      We did not use drywall. We covered with ~ .25 inch hardwood plywood. The cost was batched with other raw materials so I cannot say for certain what we spent on them alone. We spent about $3,700 for all raw materials. We did the labor.

      Yes, the siding can be noisy in rain. Especially during monsoon season. (Brian doesn’t think it is much different from his years in his previous, conventional, home.)

  2. This is EXACTLY what I want to do out of college!!! any tips or tick I can implement to speed things along for my build.

    • Go small enough that you can get to everything with an a-frame ladder – it’ll all be wayyy easier.

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