15 Ancient House Designs That You Can Build Really Cheap (Potentially For Free)

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Want to learn how to build a cheap house? Look no further. Let me ask you; how would your life change if you never had to pay rent or interest on a mortgage again? I bet it would take a significant weight off your shoulders. It sure would for me.

You’re not alone, in fact today most people in “civilized” parts of the world don’t own their homes but are indebted to banks or rent from a landlord. But it has not always been this way, as Henry David Thoreau so truthfully writes in his book Walden:

In the savage (Native American) state every family owns a shelter as good as the best, and sufficient for its coarser and simpler wants; but I think that I speak within bounds when I say that, though the birds of the air have their nests, and the foxes their holes, and the savages their wigwams, in modern civilized society not more than half the families own a shelter. In the large towns and cities, where civilization especially prevails, the number of those who own a shelter is a very small fraction of the whole. The rest pay an annual tax or this outside garnment of all, become indispensible summer and winter, which would buy a village of Indian wigwams, but now helps to keep them poor as long as they live.

Is this the best humanity can do?

Is it impossible to imagine a future where humans, just as other animals, own their shelter free and clear and don’t have to pay a “tax” their whole lives just to stay protected from the elements?

Of course not. This is crazy!

In the list below you’ll find examples of homes that “savage” people throughout the world built with their own hands using locally available materials that Nature provided for free. No mortgage or rent required.

Most of the examples on this list are small house designs. They are small because a small house takes less fuel to heat, less time and building materials to build, and for some of the more portable designs a small home is much easier to move.

What you take away from this list is up to you, but I have no doubt there’s a lot to learn from how our ancestors lived in harmony with their surroundings and adapted perfectly to their environments, no matter how harsh.

1The Tipi

Tipis (also spelled Teepees) are tent-like American Indian houses used by Plains tribes. A tepee is made of a cone-shaped wooden frame with a covering of buffalo hide, and originally they were up to 12 feet high. Like modern tents, tepees are carefully designed to set up and break down quickly. As a tribe moved from place to place, each family would bring their tipi poles and hide tent along with them.

Plains Indians migrated frequently to follow the movements of the buffalo herds, and it’s said an entire Plains Indian village could have their tipis packed up and ready to move within an hour.

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