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Old 09-30-2010, 02:29 PM
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Default what's the cheapest style of house to build?



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Say you were going to build a 2,500 square foot house. If you wanted a short build time, small material cost, and high energy efficiency, what style is cheapest assuming the same quality of materials?

2 story, 1 story, 1 story plus basement, 1.5 story?

ranch, cape cod, alexander, A-frame, etc?

open interior vs. several separate rooms?
Old 09-30-2010, 02:36 PM
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im far from expert but id start off looking into one of those modular homes. they are very nice.
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Old 09-30-2010, 02:38 PM
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Dome home!
Old 09-30-2010, 02:41 PM
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im far from expert but id start off looking into one of those modular homes. they are very nice.
What style though? There's lots.
Old 09-30-2010, 02:52 PM
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pick any two; good, fast, cheap. You are asking for all three, not going to happen.
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Old 09-30-2010, 02:57 PM
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I think it would depend on your needs, intentions, circumstances, etc. Having said that I also think an open interior A-frame structure would be the easiest to build and meet with success. The triangular structure is strong. The roof is two of the walls. Snow loading or rain runoff is not going to be a problem. Don't bother to conceal the plumbing or electric wiring. Just attach it to the inside walls.

(I've heard that these are hard to live with because of the oddly shaped interior space, but if you need to get it up fast with minimal skill and cost this is it.)

Someone mentioned a dome, and I've seen a plan for a simplistic geodesic dome structure that looked pretty easy. You'd need that plan, though

But build an outhouse first. You're going to need that while working on the main structure.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:03 PM
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pick any two; good, fast, cheap. You are asking for all three, not going to happen.
I don't think that's the case at all. As for "good"... I'm stating that it will be the same quality materials and same size so this isn't really a consideration since good vs. bad would simply be a style preference.

As for fast and cheap... it really should be no surprise that a traditional ranch style home can be built faster and cheaper than the same size home with 7 different roof angles, trey ceilings, and four octagon shaped corner rooms.
Old 09-30-2010, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Mule Skinner View Post
I think it would depend on your needs, intentions, circumstances, etc. Having said that I also think an open interior A-frame structure would be the easiest to build and meet with success. The triangular structure is strong. The roof is two of the walls. Snow loading or rain runoff is not going to be a problem. Don't bother to conceal the plumbing or electric wiring. Just attach it to the inside walls.
I like those, but can they be 2,500 square feet? I need 4 bedrooms plus an office.

I want a 1 story ranch style but I'm afraid it would be massive and would add to cost as compared to using a basement or switching to a 2 story cape cod. I'm not sure which of those will be the most energy efficient either.

We looked at a normal looking house the other day who used $1,300 worth of propane and electrical in a 1.5 month period. I want to be on the opposite end of that spectrum.
Old 09-30-2010, 03:13 PM
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I'm a young contractor.

Hands down, 1 1/2 story cape cod. Simple rectangle structure. Your basement is your cheapest living space. 12/12 pitch roof to accomodate extra living space upstairs. Bonus room over garage.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:30 PM
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A big portion of building costs come from getting out of the ground. If you build using multiple stories, you don't have to pay for the out of ground costs for that square footage. I hate multi story residences but if you want lower cost, that's the way I see to go.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:35 PM
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A big portion of building costs come from getting out of the ground. If you build using multiple stories, you don't have to pay for the out of ground costs for that square footage. I hate multi story residences but if you want lower cost, that's the way I see to go.
Which is better, a basement, or second story, and why? I'm afraid a basement will be a maintenance issue unless I find a great sloping lot.
Old 09-30-2010, 03:43 PM
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second story is cheaper but basement offers you better insulation for that level of your home and if constructed right a good storm shelter. My friends have main living areas in basement and kitchen , living room in the above ground floor. They have very little heating or cooling cost having bedrooms underground.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:49 PM
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We're outgrowing our home, but I really like the ranch style with a full basement. Safe place to retreat in tornado weather, cool in the summer, insulated in the winter. Put in some egress windows and you've got natural light and legal bedrooms also.
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Old 09-30-2010, 04:14 PM
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For speed of construction, the A-frame wins. Simplicity abounds. Floor, walls and roof comprise one unit that is easy to modularize and assemble. You negate the main feature of the A-frame (Open plan) when you state your preference for 4 bdrms and office and for economical utilities.

A high mass home will put you on the economical end of the spectrum, energy-wise, but will take more time to construct. And possibly more money, depending on your location. The same constraints apply to straw-bale homes. If either one is common in your location, the costs will decrease, but if uncommon, the costs increase.

Stick-built homes are the most common and can be put up rather quickly, but in general offer poor economy of utilities (2X4stud walls = little insulation). Building to achieve energy efficiency will cost more and take longer. No matter what style you choose.

The book I always recommend to prospective home-owners/designers is "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander.
In the book, he describes a process for establishing the features you desire in a home and how to incorporate them into your house design.

Last edited by Highplains; 09-30-2010 at 04:17 PM.. Reason: clarity
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Old 09-30-2010, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corndogggy View Post
Say you were going to build a 2,500 square foot house. If you wanted a short build time, small material cost, and high energy efficiency, what style is cheapest assuming the same quality of materials?

2 story, 1 story, 1 story plus basement, 1.5 story?

ranch, cape cod, alexander, A-frame, etc?

open interior vs. several separate rooms?
Here are some that may help you on that issue!

http://www.naturalspacesdomes.com/

http://www.monolithic.com/topics/domes

http://biohome.net/

http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/index.htm

http://www.earth-house.com/

With these dome houses you save material, are more energy efficient, warmer at cold temperatures and colder in warm, they cost les to build and are pritty nice to, if you do it right
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Old 09-30-2010, 04:53 PM
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My dad designed and built his home for less than 30 grand.....(took him 20 years to do it though).
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corndogggy View Post
Say you were going to build a 2,500 square foot house. If you wanted a short build time, small material cost, and high energy efficiency, what style is cheapest assuming the same quality of materials??
I'm an old builder, 3 decades, so forgive any hidden sarcasm, although intentional, its really meant in a good way.
You failed to mention where you live, so I must tell you to go talk to a couple of your local builders, residential AND commercial. And know this, the more of that living space that you can put underground, the cheaper it will be on utilities. Design latterns, low volt lights and wood stoves/fireplaces into the structure. Position the house to pick up on the winter sun, while avoiding the summer sun. Try to catch the summer breezes to use them to cool. Heat rises, position intake vents low, with exhaust vents to suck heat out of the home. This list could go on for pages. So, contact a few local builders.
IMO, avoid the hype in the igloos, and etc. very high maintainence. Go track someone down that has one and pick their brains.
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:48 PM
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hethedad( 30 plus years in architecture and construction) says 4 square 2 story because it is less foundation to pour, less roof overhead, and can use standard lumber. every turn, angle, corner costs more money to put in, longer runs for heat and ventilation, plumbing, more roof for overhead and foundation if you make a ranch type.
less land needed, too.
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Old 09-30-2010, 06:17 PM
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I would look at a 1200-1500 hundred sq foot ranch on a full finished basement. Use 2x6 studs on all your outside walls for more insulation or use the spray foam insulation, which I think is the best way to go.
Old 09-30-2010, 06:28 PM
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http://www.modulardirect.com/modular...nchers/page/2/
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