When it comes to the Simple House budget, one of the ways we have been able to keep the overall cost down is by using a variety of organic and industrial materials in place of more expensive “standard” building materials.  

simple house project
The first homemade rolling barn door was installed this week. We are getting closer to move in day!

For those that follow along every week, you have probably figured out by now that we love to be a little different and unique. When it comes to building and finishing the house – that quality has been allowed to run wild!   See: Simple House Project

Early on, we decided we wanted to combine more industrial, readily available, and inexpensive materials into a modern “Farmhouse” feel and look. And by doing that, it has been much easier to keep the Simple House budget in line. I am always shocked when watching remodeling and DIY shows how much money can be thrown at projects. We really wanted to show that a custom look can still be done without breaking the bank!

We thought we would share a few of the cost saving and unique materials we have used so far in building the Simple House. With about 20 days to our hopeful finish date – we are getting close to the dream of finally living at the farm full-time!

Shiplap Walls / Metal Ceilings In Place Of Drywall

When it comes to finishing off the inside of the house – there is no drywall to be found. Not on the ceilings or the walls.

simple house budget
The metal accent wall for the staircase going in

For the ceilings and the stairway accent wall, we used corrugated metal. It really gives a unique look and feel to the house – and keeps it brighter as well. Beyond the cost benefits, it goes up easily, and is completely finished when installed!  We saved close to $5500 by using the metal and installing ourselves vs. using drywall. Not to mention a lot of dust and aggravation. 

We used shiplap on every wall of the home as well as our garage in place of drywall. It took a total of about 3500+ board feet, all purchased for under $2500.00. Including the cost of paint, it worked out to about $1.40 per square foot. Considering drywall quotes were somewhere in the range of $5,000 to $8000 before painting for just the house, it was a big budget saver!

For the master bedroom wall, we actually created a “barnwood” accent wall with old barn wood we had on hand. Beyond the free cost of the wood – it really gives a unique look to the room.

DIY Insulation 

We originally had planned on using the new expandable foam on in our home – both on the walls and in the open beams of the ceiling. That idea changed when the quotes for the ceiling alone came in around $11,000.00.  

simple house budget
DIY insulation saved a ton on the overall budget!

That’s when we decided to tackle it DIY style. After a bit of research, we instead opted to use super thick 12″ R-38 batt insulation in the rafters, along with R21 6″ batts on the walls. We also installed air baffles in every eave to help with any moisture at all. The result is a very well insulated house, completed for less than $2000.00 with the help of a few friends and family in a single weekend.

Kitchen – Combining Stock and Custom

simple house budget
Combining stock diy cabinets with an original island build will keep the kitchen costs down.

We went back and forth on the kitchen a hundred times – and finally decided on a combination of custom and stock cabinets for finishing. For the main set of cabinets, we are using IKEA stock units that we assembled. I have to say, I am really impressed with the quality of the units – and we were able to assemble them in a single day.

We will then finish it off with a custom barn wood island with a homemade concrete countertop. The total cost of the kitchen should be well under $7000.00. A far cry from some of the $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 estimates we received early on.

Shower / Bathroom

This is another area where we combined a little custom and stock together to keep things in line. We used two off-the-shelf sink and vanity units we found on sale for the main area. Then built a custom shower frame to give a unique look.

simple house budget
Stock vanities with a custom shower in the bathroom.

We were lucky enough to have Mary’s cousin, a professional tile man to help us finish off the look with the shower. 

With that said, we need to get back to the farm and get cracking on the house! There is still lots to do before move in day. 

Happy Building! – Jim and Mary.  To receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, β€œLike” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. You can also check out our new book, Growing Simple, now available on Amazon.com.




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7 thoughts on “The Simple House Budget – Thinking Outside The Box To Lower Costs

  • September 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm
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    By the way, what are you using for the walls? I’d like to skip the drywall in my studio but hubby thinks shiplap would be too expensive. Thanks for the info ahead of time!

  • August 29, 2016 at 11:37 pm
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    I watch Fixer Upper with Chip & Joanna Gaines on HGTV & they are crazy for shiplap. I had never heard of it before but really like the look! Your house looks beautiful & you are an inspiration for building a very nice home without breaking the bank. When I watch these shows & people pay large amounts for homes & then have to put a huge amount of money for renovations I wonder how they can afford it.

  • August 29, 2016 at 8:50 am
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    Love how you are being creative and thinking outside the box! Goes to show you can build a house and not break the bank! We bought an existing smaller home and farm to move to eventually. We’ve been slowly adding our stamp to it and updating what needed to be updated (bathroom and kitchen mostly). It’s amazing what a coat of fresh paint can do! We opted to keep the current cabinets in the kitchen – they are sturdy if not pretty. I’m painting them and boy do they look nice! We did splurge on granite for the counters but used beadboard for the backsplash. We are doing most of the work ourselves. I’m fortunate to have a husband who knows how to do a lot of things.
    Thanks for sharing! It’s very encouraging to know there’s others out there who are living smaller and making it work! I can’t wait to see more pictures!

  • August 28, 2016 at 12:12 pm
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    Love how you’re doing so much of the work using creative materials, and impressed how you are able to come up with solutions when your first choice doesn’t work. You’ll have a one of a kind gem when you’re ginshed.

  • August 28, 2016 at 10:58 am
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    AWESOME πŸ™‚ really enjoy following along with you. will you be sharing “building the doors” in your home? (ps thanks for sharing the ceiling ~ we had not thought of that & did put ours up last week ~ turned out really neat & so much easier to install for our old bag-o-bones … we did pre-paint ours a soft white before putting them up.) again thanks so very much for all that you share πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • August 28, 2016 at 10:53 am
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    I love your house plan, and think this shiplap would be a lot easier to work with than the drywall plus because of the cost. I had never heard of it before till you guys have been talking about it. Is that galvinized tin that is under your stairs? Why did you go with that instead of the shiplap? I know it will contrast from the other but just wondering? With that one sink being right there doesn’t leave a lot of room getting in and out of the shower or toilet which ever that is there. I know it will still work for you but my thought is that you could hit yourself on the corner of that sink top if you happen to not think about it being so close. As for your sliding barn door (love the idea of that kind of door) but does it open to the outside? Because I see that gap on the floor; that would let a lot of cold air in and hot air out unless you are going to have carpet. My husband and I have kind of been tossing around the idea to move closer to our kids in Texas in 5 or so years and I am wondering about doing something like what you guys are doing. Can’t wait to see your place all finished. I know you are very excited about how it is coming along. Oh yeah I am getting two emails at a time. One say’s it is new yet it is the same as the other one I am getting. I think it is because I sign on twice thinking I had to do it over again when you changed to this new way your site is. Also I don’t know if you will reply to this or not but if you do I’m not sure if I have to click on one of those at the bottom in order to get your reply?

  • August 28, 2016 at 8:33 am
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    I just have to say, thank you so much for forging the way ! We are behind you in our very similar process but have gleaned a lot of good tips , including the shiplap vs drywall from your last blog, Funny thing is, now I’m looking at cabinetry to use & actually thought of IKEA stock cabs! I had checked Lowes stock cabs & they didn’t seem to have the best quality. Excited to see the next blog entry!!!!

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