Possible to build anything for sub $35,000??

8 Replies

As demand increases and foreclosure inventory continue to shrink I'm finding the competition for single family homes in the $25-$35,000 price range to be getting out of hand.

Not long ago I acquired a parcel of land that sits right out of the city limits in a nice middle class neighborhood.  The property is accessed through a subdivision, but wasn't part of the subdivision and doesn't carry restrictions. 

I have approximately 5 Acres that is level and could be built on..  Just curious if there's any way to build a sub 1,000 sq/ft 2Br 1Ba home for $35,000?   

From renovating and random construction projects I know about what the foundation, Roof, HVAC, interior finishing would cost.  

The plumbing, electrical, and framing I have not a clue.

My goal would be to develop out the 5 Acres and build 10-15 of these small homes over the next few years.  

Here are some photos of "Man Camps" I saw out at the Eagle Ford Shale in South Tx.  I had a chance to tour a couple of these during construction and I really liked the practical simplicity of their construction.

Metal Roofs

Hardie Board Siding

2Br + Loft

1 Bath with stacked washer and dryer.

Stained concrete floors.

Mini Split HVAC

I dont see how it would be possible to do them for $35k each.   By the time the foundation is poured, electrical and plumbing, HVAC and roof laid, it seems like it would be more.  You could get away with only having window units for AC and leaving out a few other items.  

Maybe its possible but who knows.

Medium buymemphisnow stacksCurt Davis, Buy Memphis Now | [email protected] | 605‑310‑7929 | http://www.BuyMemphisNow.com

I think the only way you could approach 35k per property without personally supplying a good chunk of labor would be to do very low end duplexes. I can see you just getting in at $70k on them if you were to build them on piers with hotel style in wall units for AC/heat.

The bigger question is, is there a market for these homes? What would you be trying to sell them for?

You would be taking a huge risk in attempting it because in order to pull it off you would be using hack contractors.  No Gen. Liab. insurance, no permits, no work comp.  Totally "fly-by-night" and good luck hitting your timelines.  I don't know what comps are like out there, but you'd have to skimp incredibly on every possible option.  You'd basically be building cabins.  Don't forget the horizontal development necessary: roads, sewer lines, electrical service, and data/internet running to each unit.  Realistically, I'd be surprised if these units were feasible much over 600sqft ($35,000 is $58/sqft...very very low)

But then again, maybe you're the guy who figures out how to do it after others said it couldn't be done :)

In an effort to contribute some positivity here, I'll add this.  Consider looking at how modular homes are built, since they're done on the cheap.  Not quality, but they still get done.  You would definitely need to be the GC on this.  Being your own GC means that you need to run the numbers yourself, as well.  Shop around, and see what you can put together.  Keep in mind that you're not just trying to build homes, you're trying to build an investment portfolio.  Your numbers will have to be absolute and your labor contracts air tight.  Maybe you discover that this plan doesn't work for you, but maybe in the planning process you'll have a brilliant idea that makes it all worth it.

Odd sequence of events happened the other day..  I've seen these "man camps" set up all over texas in the oil fields.  I've only seen them set up in 1 place here in Mississippi and it's about 2 hrs from where I live.

Lou and behold I meet my sisters new "significant other" and it's the guy that owns those cabins... Small world...

I picked him for details and heres what I've came up with.  Cypress siding, 20x30' built on piers so they could be moved at a later date.  His were averaging $45 per sq/ft for 600 sq/ft cabins.  The first one being the most expensive due to running utilities and dirt work, and the later units getting down to $22,000 once the details were hammered out.  

He brought up a good point about the advantage of building on piers vs a slab so that they could be moved at a later date.  It leaves another exit strategy, and also frees up the land in case it needs to be repurposed.  

I'm going to continue picking him for details and drive over to check out the interior layout of his units.  

At the moment it seems like a plausible alternative if the distressed home prices continue upwards.  That said I'm still seeing the occasional deal and will probably continue buying fixer uppers as long as they are available.

@Ed Lee  A couple of thoughts

1) Building code. My experience with man camps is that they are modular. Built in a warehouse and hauled to the site and sat on "foundation". Permanent buildings have different building codes. Check the county for their standards.

2) Outside the City limits. How do you get water and sewer? Most Cities require annexation to get City services. Annexation means building to City standards for water, sewer, drainage, and roads. Don't underestimate the cost to properly deal with drainage.

Often building cheap is not the difficult part. It's meeting code and building cheap.

Medium rre 1to1 small sizeBill S., Reliant Real Estate, Inc. | 720 207‑8190

Originally posted by @Bill S.:

@Ed Lee A couple of thoughts

1) Building code. My experience with man camps is that they are modular. Built in a warehouse and hauled to the site and sat on "foundation". Permanent buildings have different building codes. Check the county for their standards.

2) Outside the City limits. How do you get water and sewer? Most Cities require annexation to get City services. Annexation means building to City standards for water, sewer, drainage, and roads. Don't underestimate the cost to properly deal with drainage.

Often building cheap is not the difficult part. It's meeting code and building cheap.

The utility situation is a pretty major concern.  I have access to power, water, sewer, cable, and even gas out on the frontage.  

The problem being is my building site sits approximately 600' from the road.  There is also probably 20' of elevation change from the building site to the road frontage.  I'm also concerned about the elevation change from the utility access to the building site.  According to my Topo maps the utility access and the building site are at about the same elevation, but the road going back to the building site drops, and then rises 20'.  I'm guessing that would necessitate a lift for the sewer???

It may be more economically feasible to drill a water well $3,000 & install a large septic system & field line $3,000+/- if the soil will properly perk.   I could probably charge the tenants a flat $30 per month for water and sewer to recoup the cost & help offset future maintenance.  

I believe the Electric provider will run up to 1/4 a mile for no charge, but again I would have to make sure the service would be expandable for adding units in the future.

Back during Katrina we had a camper park set up on a single well and septic system and it serviced 15 camper trailers without a issue.  Granted that was only for a year or so.

I was really drawn to the idea of building the units on a slab and having stained concrete for the floors.  There's a pretty huge demand for pet friendly properties, and stained and sealed concrete is about the only way to accommodate people and their muts..

They would be pretty low maintenance with the metal roofing, hardie board, concrete floors, mini split hvac.  There wouldn't be a lot for tenants to screw up.

I put up a couple steel warehouses for $28/sq foot with concrete, electrical, plumbing and labor. But those were shells (no interior finishing) and we got a hell of a deal on the buildings. I would be amazed if you could pull it off. Maybe convert cargo containers. :)

No one has mentioned the site work , road ,paving , grading etc .