Here’s how to build a 1000 square foot 2 bedroom 1 bath off grid cabin for only $10k, including the land. WOW! That’s impossible you might say. And sure, it might be impossible for most people, but you’re not most people. You’re smart and creative and you aren’t afraid of hard work. You know the value of labor and tools and you use the right equipment for the job.
To build such a large log cabin for $10k you’re going to have to really be frugal with your budget. You’re going to have to maximize your budget and watch every single penny. You’re going to have to do your homework and have detailed plans. Just kidding. It’s really not that complicated.
Here’s how to do it. Don’t buy materials. It’s a waste of money. Don’t hire a contractor. It’s a waste of money. Do all the work yourself. You will save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The main thing here is to do most if not all the labor possible yourself. It’s how we all used to do things way back in the day. It’s how the pioneers and settlers built their cabins. Did it cost them $250k to build a home? No! It didn’t. They found a place and built a cabin out of the timber and rock they found on the land. They got water from the creek running across the land. They made their own mortar to build a fireplace and chimney. They hunted for food in the woods nearby. They grew their own food in their garden from the seeds they brought with them to plant so they could feed their family.
This is the off grid way. This is how all our ancestors lived. It’s how people in remote areas of the world live yet today.
We’ve been accustomed to living life in a monetary society and everything has a price. All the things we need to survive and live life in a monetary society costs money. We’ve been conditioned and brainwashed into thinking that we cannot do it ourselves. We’re ridiculed to be humiliated for thinking we could do it ourselves. We’ve been trained to follow the rules, stand in line, wait our turn, don’t buck the system, be a good little citizen, pay into the system and the system will take care of you.
We can do it ourselves. Our forefathers did it! Without money. They traveled across long distances and built cabins and forts and larger towns and communities and all of them were “off grid”. Electricity didn’t exist back then. We didn’t have all the regulations we have now. We didn’t have all the rules and permits we need to live life now.
But we can find pockets of freedom across the country, any country on earth has these little pockets of freedom. It’s where the building codes aren’t enforced, it’s where there are counties and provinces and parcels where the population is low and you know your neighbors, even if they live 10 miles across the valley.
These pockets of freedom exist. They’re remote. They’re where there are no utilities. There’s no one out there on those lands. Those lands are backed by public lands which extends your range and provides valuable resources for your homestead like lumber and rock and other building materials.
If you follow the rules of the status quo you will never make the move off grid. If you follow the rules of the monetary system you will always be subject to the restrictions that prohibit your way of life.
Living off the grid means being disconnected from the electrical grid. But it’s much more than that. It’s a way of life most people have forgotten. It’s a way of life that we all need to relearn. It’s a way of life that is free from the confines of the system that doesn’t care about you and your family at all. It’s a system that puts a greedy high price on all the things you need to live a happy healthy life.
Housing, food, utilities, education, healthcare, all are so expensive now that it’s ridiculous to think about when you compare the prices of today versus what it cost just 20 to 30 years ago. Every 20 years the price of everything doubles. The inflation rate is 3.22% annually. This means that your home will cost you twice as much in 20 years as it will today.
This means if you don’t buy land today, now, this year, it will cost more next year, and the next year, and as the population increases the price of land will continue to go up as that demand increases. And the demand will increase because there’s less and less land available for more and more people. And if history is any indication of the future, then this increasing demand for land will most likely cause a land rush over the next 10 to 20 years the likes of which the world has never seen.
So that’s where you must start today. Acquire the land. That’s your first goal. And if you’re going to buy the land and build your 1250 square foot off grid cabin for less than $10k you better not be too picky about where you want to live off grid either.
WOW! So let create a hypothetical but realistic scenario for you where you must make the move off grid to survive.
How To Build a Cabin For $10k
You only have $10k and you have to go off grid now because you lost your job for some reason, you can work remotely online (because we still have technology and cell service and satellite internet and we don’t live in a bubble separate from the world).
So you decide to work online from home remotely, but now you need a place to live. That means land!
You will need to be extremely frugal and smart with your money.
Put half your money or less into the land (which means you’ll have to buy a small piece of land only a few acres.
Put the rest of your money into tools and equipment to build your cabin. Food will have to come later or from other funds. Right now we’re just talking about land and cabin for $10k.
The first thing you need to do is find cheap land. Very cheap land. Not too much. Not too little. Most of the good land has been taken or is out of your price range so with only $10k to work with you have to settle for remote land, probably desert land or land high up in the mountains (which might be good, but winters will be a little rough).
PRO TIP: Build according to the land you’ve chosen. In other words you won’t be able to build a cabin out of wood if there are no trees. People in the desert southwest built Adobe homes out of earth and clay. Clay bricks, sun-fired (sometimes kiln-fired) homemade mortar and covered in a thick layer of mud/clay to fortify the exterior. These are all building techniques that you can learn on Youtube. Youtube is a great source of how-to videos that show you step-by-step how to build just about anything you want to build for yourself.
AWAY WITH YOU NAYSAYERS! You naysayers and purists who say “if you’re online you’re not off grid” need to go crawl back into your cave. This ain’t the place for you. You want to live primitively, go for it, that’s your way. You don’t get to push your way on others.
Remote Land: BUDGET MAX $5k (If you are willing and able to pay a monthly payment then you can buy land for no money down or $500 to $1000 down; this means the remainder of your budget can be redirected into tools and equipment and other necessities to build your home)
You can buy remote land far away from towns or cities for cheap. $500 to $1000 an acre is about average. Remote land is usually cheap land. The cheaper the better. I was able to find a 10 acre parcel of desert land for $5k in Arizona for $500/down and a couple few hundred a month.
Desert land means building an adobe and clay brick home if I’m using the building materials available on the land. You can find small mountain properties with trees that back up against national forests and other public lands and you can get a permit to cut or harvest enough downed trees to give you the logs to build your cabin. The point here is to think creatively. Even if you’re rich, having millions of dollars means nothing if you can’t think creatively. You end up wasting money on things you don’t need to spend money on. Being poor (like I am) makes you think more creatively in how you’re going to build everything. This isn’t to say all rich people aren’t creative or that it’s good to be poor because it makes you more creative. That’s BS. It simply means you need to be creative if you’re going to build a house and buy land for $10k. Think outside the monetary system. You have a budget and you have to stick to that budget. That budget makes you think more creatively.
NOTE: Harvesting downed trees is better because you’re not cutting down the forest. These logs are also aged and dried already, so you don’t have to wait to build. Also, our forefathers didn’t really let the logs dry every time they built a cabin either. They needed shelter and a lot of the time they built them with “green” logs and those cabins are still standing today, hundreds of years later. You can’t say that about modern stick built homes built to modern day code.
Land Payment? Owner Financing
You’re not going to want a land payment each month, ideally. But if you’re ok with a couple few hundred dollars a month payment you can buy land for $500 to $1000/down. Though these deals are usually higher interest rates and you’ll end up paying more for the land per acre than you would if you bought larger parcels.
Also, you won’t own it outright right away if you finance it. It’ll be years of payments. You don’t really want a monthly mortgage payment do you? So if you can, pay cash for the land so it’s paid for and then all you have to worry about is property taxes. Which if you did your homework you found a nice piece of agricultural zoned property with lower taxes.
Tools & Equipment: BUDGET MAX $2k Battery powered tools (so you can use your solar power and not have to spend money on fuel), battery powered chainsaw, drill, sawzall, lumber attachment (so you can cut boards from the logs you will cut; you can make one of these lumber attachments for your chainsaw; there are videos on Youtube on how to do everything). Hand tools. Here’s a list of 125 tools you’ll need for your homestead…be picky, only choose what you absolutely need to build your cabin with and nothing else.
PRO TIP: SAVE MONEY, BUY USED! Save money by buying used tools and equipment. It’s much cheaper than buying new. You can find good deals on Craigslist and eBay and Facebook Marketplace, pawn shops and thrift stores, garage sales etc. FB Marketplace is probably the fastest and easiest and perhaps the most safe because most people are attached to their accounts with their real name and there’s a lot of merchandise on there. The same can’t be said about Craigslist. Be careful, safety first.
Cabin: 20×50 1000 square feet total. 2 bedroom, 1 bath log cabin or adobe home. You will source 99% of materials from your land and public land (with a permit).
You’re going to need cabin/home plans just to give you an idea and picture of the layout/floorplan and for when you apply for the building permit.
You can find cabin plans and floor plans for homes for free online. They’re everywhere. Free cabin plans are easy enough to find online and you’ll need them when paying for the building permit because the county will want a drawing of the cabin to approve the permit. You can do these drawings yourself in most areas, especially if you’re building remotely because the rules are usually more lenient in rural and remote areas.
Water: MAX BUDGET $500 (filter and tank for hauled water) You’ll need water. With only a $10k budget most probably you’ll be hauling your water from another water source. This means a tank and filter system. You can buy a good sized plastic tank for a few hundred dollars and the fittings and PVC pipe to get the water to your cabin. Put the tank on a hill (you can pile dirt up high or you can build a big tower from wood.
If it were me I’d locate my cabin in a place down hill from my water source, but not too far from the hill because of the cost of PVC pipe to run the water line to your cabin.
You can drill a well yourself in most areas if the water table is close to the surface and the ground is soft enough. But don’t count on this in the desert as the water table can be hundreds of feet or more below the surface.
Ideally you need to find a place with a well already on the property. This will increase the price you pay for the land but a well is well worth it. No pun intended.
You don’t want city water because there’s usually a very high fee to connect to city water which is a completely corrupt system if you ask me. These connection fees can run $10k to $20k in some areas.
WELL: Find a property with a well if you can. This is the best option.
STREAM SPRING OR LAKE: This is the second most attractive option. You can filter the water and boil it to treat it to make it potable.
CISTERN: This will save you money if you are able to use the materials on your land. Or you can build a cistern if the county allows it. If you’re lucky you might be able to find a piece of land with a well already on it or even a shared well. You may not own the well, but, it’s better than nothing.
HAULED WATER: You could also haul water. Though this has a monthly cost attached to it and you will need to buy a water tank if you can’t build a cistern on your land. Check with the county to see what their rules are.
NOTE: Hauling water is not ideal. The idea of living off grid is being self sufficient. If you have to depend on someone else to haul your water for you then it’s not worth it. Having said that, if you choose a piece of desert land within a few miles of a major river you can harvest water from the river with a simple pump and tank in your pickup. You’ll need to filter and/or boil or treat your water to make it potable, but it’s possible. I personally don’t like the idea of hauled water simply because if something goes wrong you’re stuck in the desert with no water and that’s a bad thing.
RAINWATER CATCHMENT: In most areas you’re allowed to catch rain and use it to water your garden. This also provides you with a backup. You can build one for a few hundred dollars if you’re creative. Source the plastic barrels wisely and make sure they’re new or clean. You don’t want to drink water from a chemical soaked barrel. It’s best to buy new food grade plastic barrels in my opinion just to be safe.
WATER PUMP: You may need a pump. You’ll use solar power for everything. You don’t need a DC pump if you have an inverter in your solar power system. You can use DC if you want though. It might save you energy but I’d have to run the numbers on that to be sure. If you’re creative you won’t need a pump at all, but, if you want to move water uphill you’re going to need a water pump. There are lots of good pumps you can purchase on the cheap so don’t sweat it. You won’t pay more than $100-$200 for a pump.
Septic System: MAX BUDGET $1k Build a self contained septic system to save money (DO NOT DUMP YOUR SEPTIC IN THE GROUND OR WATER; Not only is it illegal and you could be fined by the EPA, it’s just not cool. Don’t do it).
You might be able to get away with an outhouse if you’re up for something that primitive. That would save you a lot of money, especially if you use used wood to build it. If not you can purchase the materials you need to build the septic system to code. This is important and you must choose a piece of land that allows for a owner/builder septic system. Also in some areas they will require a PERC test to test the land for drainage. This costs more money, so you can do a little homework and save money by searching for neighboring properties to see if they passed the perc test. If they did there’s a good chance that the land you’re looking to purchase will also pass the perc test.
All of this means picking land that’s in an area that allows you to build your own septic system and allows self contained septic systems.
This is where your homework comes in. Do your due diligence. Research counties in states you want to live and find a county that will allow a self contained septic system because that’s literally all you will be able to afford. Composting toilet, outhouse/vault toilet, RV septic system, etc. Think creatively. The cheapest septic system is one you can build yourself with the fewest restrictions. This is a big one, so shop around and choose your land wisely.
Solar Power & Battery Backup: MAX BUDGET $1k How much power do you need. 1000W to 1500W solar power system is more than adequate to power almost everything you need to run. Battery backup system. And a 400W-500W wind turbine. If you shop around you can get solar panels, batteries, and a small wind turbine for about $2k or less. I know, I’ve done the research. Here’s a link to an article that will give you some creative ideas.
There’s your $10k budget.
This article assumes you already have a temporary shelter like a travel trailer or camper or Yurt or other shelter you can live in on the land while you build your off grid home.
Now you can start building. Assuming you paid for the building permit for your cabin which can run you up to $1000 or more but shouldn’t be more than about $500 for a 1250 square foot cabin in a remote area. In fact it should be extremely reasonable, maybe even a couple hundred bucks.
Labor And Materials Makeup The Bulk of Building Costs
The idea here is since you are doing the labor and sources the materials naturally from the land you can save up to 90% on the cost of build a basic home.
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Electrical Plumbing and Fixtures: MAX BUDGET $500 Wiring and pipe, plus fixtures, outlets, insulation, and connectors like nails and screws. Wow! That can eat up your $10k budget and even double it if you’re not careful. How do you solve this problem and stay under budget.
Easy. Your electrical and plumbing will be just
There are only two main types of homes we’re talking about here. A log cabin and Adobe clay/mud brick.
So that means siding and roof and insulation you need not worry about. It won’t take you through the whole Roofing World of Alabama. The flooring will be hardwood flooring or clay brick or stone that you use from your land. Then an underappreciated aspect of quality living is the control of unwanted noise. This is where the value of investing in acoustic flooring comes into play. As a homeowner, I’ve found the difference it makes to be remarkable. The flooring absorbs sound, creating a more tranquil environment and reducing noise pollution. For a selection of some of the best acoustic flooring options, you can click this link to visit Instacoustic: https://www.instacoustic.co.uk/product-technology/acoustic-flooring/. A proper log cabin has its own siding and hardwood flooring installation. You can use the lumber you cut with your chainsaw to provide the roof and cut the wood shingles of scorch the outside of the wood and make it waterproof and double layer/overlap the planks on the roof to make it watertight. You can make clay shingles as well from the materials on your land. (this assumes you did your homework and chose a piece of land that has these materials in abundance).
Furniture Appliances and Electronics
This article assumes you already have all the appliances and furniture for your home. The $10k budget is only for the land and the home itself.
Your Time & Labor Saves You Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars
Every bit of research and labor you do yourself saves you money.
Your labor is what builds it. Technically speaking you will not need much money at all. If you have the tools already you can save that money or put it into a larger solar system or more elaborate cabin/adobe home.
Here are some videos to motivate you:
Log Cabin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rgGEkI510Q
Adobe Bricks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWBz9kl-hTA
Compressed Earth Block: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9cDy9XkXPw
Building an Adobe Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kmjKjgZGcs
The process of building will take some time. There’s a learning curve but you can do it. Take your time. It’s not as complicated as you might think. And there are plenty of areas across the world that have these pockets of freedom to build your off grid dream.
Our society has been conditioned to believe that building is more complicated than it actually is. Look at the earthen homes and cabins from hundreds or even thousands of years ago are still standing.
Now compare that to modern stick built (wood frame) homes today. Those stick built homes are not meant to last hundreds of years. Yet those old cabins and adobe and stone homes built hundreds of years ago still stand today as a testament to the ingenuity and creative building techniques used by our forefathers and ancestors.
You can build it yourself and save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That’s how you build a home and buy land for $10k. If it going to be the nicest little cabin or adobe home? No. But it will be yours. And you will have a greater sense of accomplishment than if you were to just buy it.
If you had a budget of $25k you could build something even nicer. You can do it. Don’t let people tell you it’s impossible. The biggest factor here is you and your ability and you do have the ability inside you to do it. It will take some study and research and you must do your homework to find the right piece of land. There will have to be some compromises on location due to the cost of land and your budget, but like I said, if you can increase that budget to $25k you will have more options and can be more picky about where you build your homestead.
You can go off grid now for $10k.
You can build a 1000 square foot cabin and buy land for $10k.
It is possible. Build it yourself.
Build your off grid dream.