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Looking for any and all ideas/advice for building my own eco home on the cheap Answered


I am looking for any and all info related to building my own low cost eco house. Off grid if possible. I moved to France last year and purchased a 1 Ha piece of land. I had a good job and the world was our oyster. Then, on Friday the 13th, 2013 I lost my job. I also lost everything we owned in the world when it burned to the ground along with the storage facility it was in - and almost no insurance. This all happened within 90 minutes.

I am not looking for sympathy or charity, just good advice. My wife and I are not going to give up on the dream, we just need to chase it on a much reduced budget!  

Currently I am clearing the 2 acres (1 Hectare) which is overgrown with about 3000 pine trees, and, thorn bushes that are 3-4 yards tall in some places.

I hope there are some fellow dreamers here willing to share their ideas, designs, experience and knowledge.

Thanks so much.



You need to have Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Tax Credits. A Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Tax Credit is the privilege given to consumers who need to cut down on their costs.Here are the energy-efficient home improvements products eligible for the tax credits and tax credit values:
Exterior windows – you could get credit by installing these products by 10 percent but not to exceed 200 dollars;

Central air conditioner, water heater, and heat pump products – can credit you of as much as 300 dollars;

Insulation equipment, pigmented metal roofs and exterior doors – will bring up to total credits of 500 dollars;

Furnace and boiler products – maximum of 150 dollars.

In addition, you could get federal tax credits of up to 2000 dollars for purchases made for some solar water heating property and photovoltaic property equipments. These products will be qualified provided that they are utilized for purposes other than heating your swimming pools or hot tubs.

What are the benefits of installing home energy efficiency improvement products on your home other than tax credits?

Aside from saving you more value for energy dollar you earn from the use of these products, you could also send your home a higher resale value. This means, that by adding those products, your home would worth higher than it was originally priced for. And of course, this is not to mention that those products are a way to maintain a quiet, convenient, comfortable household.

By applying for this program, which would only require you to file for the right application form together with your taxes, you would be reaping its benefits in the end while providing you the ease of life.

Hi rjamallo,

Thanks for your input. I think you missed one important point in my original post though. This will be a house in France. I don't think the US government will be too interested in paying tax credits for a house in France ;)

But, your points are still valid. Using solar, wind and best practices for energy conservation are always a good thing!

Well... Instructables is making it hard to post answers, I keep getting an error but here goes anyhow:

I don't have any experience with this myself but Earthships seem to be relatively low budget constructions which can allow people to live largely off the grid. Inclusion of recycled materials and designing with local environment in mind seems to offer many interesting solutions.

Good luck, i look forward to see your progress but dont just keep it to pinstrest, show us here at instructables as well!

I've had a look at the Earthship stuff a few times. I like the principle but I'm hoping to find something that looks a little more mainstream. One variant of this that I've found that keeps many of the good attributes of the Earthships but looks a little more like regular housing is earthbag homes (ie bags filled with dirt to form the walls). This looks quite promising. I'm also looking at prefab/modular homes and houses using cargo containers as the frame.

I'll definitely update instructables when I make progress :)

you got pine trees then use those as building materials. make a log cabin. People in North Korea would burn brush for heat during the cold winters.

Dig through the rubbish bins for tires and other stuff to make walls.

Unfortunately the pine trees are too thin to use that way. Thanks responding though.

Forgot to mention that I will be creating a Pinterest board for all off these ideas if anybody wants to follow it.