Many ‘alternative’ construction approaches (e.g., straw bale, rammed earth) were beyond our budget
for two reasons:
a) While the materials for these designs are cheap, they are labor intensive, and thus extremely
expensive if you don’t have the time and/or skills to do it yourself.
b) With very little equity, we needed a construction loan to realize the project.
It is very difficult to convince a traditional bank to fund a construction approach
that does not fit within their standard check boxes.
Given these constraints, we used a local contractor who was extremely open and flexible,
and who’s common sense advice and knowledge of local resources were invaluable. In this
light, it made the most sense to choose a form of construction that he was most familiar
with – a ‘stick frame’ with 2” x 6” studs for better insulation over the 2” x 4” frame.
To reduce construction costs without compromising on quality we did two things:
a) We simplified the design to eliminate complex angles,
dormers, etc. and
b) The contractor agreed to do enough work to meet the
county permitting requirements, but we did most of the
detailed finishing work ourselves. We quickly learned
that “the devil is in the details” -- Doing as much
of the labor-intensive finishing work as we could was
key for staying within budget without compromising too
much on quality.