Skip to Content

The Simple House Budget – Thinking Outside The Box To Lower Costs

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, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. You can also check out our new book, Growing Simple, now available on