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Cheap Accommodations While Building A House - My Story

By Edited Sep 16, 2015 1 1

Finding cheap accommodations while building a house, is usually the first priority. Depending on your situation, you can go through a lot of money renting an apartment or hotels while building a house. Money that could go to upgrades in that new house of yours.
We went through this scenario seven years ago. We could not find a house we liked (or could afford) in the area we wanted. We were faced with either huge farms or falling down shacks that still wanted a pretty penny for purchase!
We made the decision that we would build our own house. We had two grown teenagers at the time, that were still living at home, and were all about it. At 20 and 18, they had strong backs and energy, so we decided we would save money where we could, and do as much of the building ourselves.
We sold the house we were in, and while waiting for the closing date, we found a one acre lot that we liked, and then we thought we would rent somewhere. Well good luck with that! Finding rental accommodation for 4 to 6 months, was next to impossible, most places wanted a year lease, plus we had a cat, dog and a pet rat at the time. This was not going to be easy.
Next we checked out local motels, but even with their monthly rate, it was going to eat i

1976 RV with Flower Power Cushions
nto our building budget, and they would not take pets, so now we were faced with boarding the pets, and either living in these motels, which were at least 10 miles from our site, or come up with a new game plan!
We had no relatives in the area, and we did not want to make enemies out of our friends by living with them.. so we decided to go out looking for a cheap trailer.
The town we were building in, quickly squashed that idea, as the concern with mobile homes and trailers, is that they will end up staying, and you will rent them to all kinds of rednecks, so they had rules for this, which meant NO.. So, we looked carefully at their huge list of rules they handed us, and my husband found a loophole. An RV!
Anything on front and back wheels and its own engine, was considered a vehicle, and there were not rules on vehicles on your property.

We Became the Proud Owners of a 1976 RV with Elvis Presley on the Door!

So, there we were scouting the classifieds for old RV's. We finally found one in our price range, and I thought I had gone back to the 70's. This was a 1976 RV, that still ran, was still road worthy, but was being sold off in an estate sale.
Apparently the senior that used it, drove everywhere in it, and started showing signs of senility, when he was found taking it through a car wash and got stuck, had to give up driving. The air conditioning unit on top, was pushed into the ceiling from the car wash. There was lots of duct tape, (their idea of fixing that problem) and lots of roof sealer. I just laughed, and couldn't believe my husband was actually serious. But he was.
We got a good deal on the RV, (note there was no air conditioning), and got a trip permit to drive the 40 miles to our house. (I held on for dear life) but it made it. The inside had that lovely brown paneling and the cushions were that flower power pattern from the 70's. We got it onto our lot where our kids were waiting, I can still see the look on their faces when this thing drove up. It took everything this poor old engine had to climb the driveway and onto the back of the lot. I think my daughter was expecting a new streamliner or something. Our cheap accommodations had just arrived!

We had a "Red Neck" Look to The Yard to Our Neighbours Horror After Setup

Hubby had to level out the front wheels, so they were up on ramps, which totally added to the redneck look. Our new neighbors were a few acres away, but you could see them off in the distance peering at us!
So, now how do we run this thing? Hydro would not give us a temporary permit, because we did
cheap accommodations
not have a house or pole or even a hole dug yet, so off we went in search of a generator. Watching our money, we found a beat up battered thing from an old constructions site for a few bucks, and I know why! You needed earplugs when it was going. So, we came home with that.
Next was water... hubby was all excited about this camping experience while building a house, and talked about those camping showers, where you put up a screen and hang a bag from a tree and pray the sun has warmed it up! Not going to happen, he saw the looks on all our faces and sighed. So, we found a place that rents water tanks to events, and got one, then he would come with his water truck weekly and fill it.

We Had to Light The Water Heater From the Outside

So, in order to have a shower, you had to go outside, and pull start the generator, then go over to the water tank, and start the little pony pump to pump water into this ancient RV. Then light the little 5 gallon propane water heater and wait a about 15 minutes or so, then have your shower, then go around and turn all these things off!
Great... little house on the prairie!

The Things You Will Do for Cheap Accommodation While Building

So for the sake of cheap accommodations, we were able to get started on our house, be on site for deliveries and saved a lot on insurance, because no building supplies would disappear while we were living on site. We went to the town office and asked for a street number, and they said they would give us one once the house was mostly up, since we were not living there.. We said we were in that "trailer office" and so we got a house number, therefore change of address from our old place was easy.
There are a lot of good points and pro's for living on site in a RV. Cheap accommodations being the first, but after that, it just looks good on paper! Everyday living was hard, although, I will say, these old RV's are built to take a beating, because the shower was a full size, and the bathroom... oh, yes that was the other thing. The town did now want any "mess" with our bathroom, if you know what I mean!
Once they found out we were living in this old RV, and they could not legally boot us out of it, they said we had to have a chemical toilet, so we rented one long term but it was at the end of the driveway, so that walk in the night could be a long one!

Even the Cat Adapted Well

cat right at home
The hardest part about cheap accommodations is getting into the cold months. We moved on site in June, and the house did not get started until end of July. We did lots ourselves, but also hired contractors when needed. But it still took us six months to be able to move in.
In the beginning, we thought we would be in there 4 months tops, and we all decided we would not move in, until every switch plate, every piece of trim, everything right down to a fridge full of food was there. But this slowly changed as we got into the colder months. The poor old RV, was having trouble with freezing pipes, the furnace was a good one, but it drank propane like it was going out of style, and so many days we had to send out troops to get propane. Many stations do not fill propane bottles in the winter... so another glitch.

Have Lots of Propane for the Cold Months

We drooled when the furnace was installed in the house, and by the 6th of December, it was one of the coldest nights on record, and this poor old RV, could not take it anymore. We moved in, slept on the plywood floors, washed dishes in the bathtub, had to be careful as there was no tiles. The day the one toilet got installed, was the day we all felt like royalty!
We finally finished the house, it only took 5 more years! So, I would say YES you save money living on site, YES it made life easier to just walk out the door and start working on your house. But unless you are a true backpacker, and love working hard just to survive, and don't mind worrying about outhouses, propane bottles and loud generators, and don't need things like blow dryers, and warm tubs, or TV, or the internet, then these cheap accommodations would work for you.
I think next time... if there is a next time, I will double mortgage myself, and build the other house, while still living in comfort in the first one, and just make bigger payments for my sanity!

Found a New Owner for the RV and Fondly Said Goodbye!

Note: We sold that poor old RV, to another couple who wanted to do the same thing, have cheap accommodations, so its life goes on! The door of this RV had a screen with a picture of Elvis Presley on it from the previous owner. So, I could safely say "Elvis has left the building" the day I saw it roll down the road. I felt such relief when I saw that thing leave! Now there is talk of renovations!...
Living In a RV While Building a House Will Your Sanity Survive? - My Story
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more tips.
Building Your Own Home For Dummies
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Read as much as you can. It is rewarding to build your own home or even organize it. You will know it well from the ground up!


Oct 3, 2009 5:19pm
What we won't do for our dreams! Great article! What a great idea!
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