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Sunsites, Ariz.
Sunsites, Ariz.
The house plan the Miller's are using to build their Sunsites, Ariz., home.
Type of development: Do-it-yourself single family home
Number: 1
Price: $150,000

Claire and Tom Miller are Wisconsin natives who moved to the high-desert county in southeastern Arizona about 10 years ago. They've built or renovated houses before, including an earthworks house in Wisconsin and a couple of conventional places in the town of Sunsites, Ariz., where they now live. And, despite the poor economy, they're taking the plunge and building a new house.

"We held off for a while, but about six months ago I told Tom if we have one more house in us, we better do it now," said Clair.

They plan to do most of the work themselves, subcontracting out the plumbing and electrical work, the roof and trusses. Tom is 61 and does not want to do the heavy work. The couple had a plastering business for 35 years, so they'll do all the exterior and interior finishing.

The housing bust has benefited them to a degree because materials are less expensive and contractors have been sharpening their rates a bit, according to Clair. "Some of them don't have a lot of work," she added. "They're more flexible now on their schedules."

The Miller's chose plans provided by HousePlans.com and are putting in the house on a two-acre plot a mile or two from town. It will be a modest 1,650 square feet, "small and plain," as Clair described it, costing no more than $150,000.

"I don't want anything bigger," she said. "Not in this economy."

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Last updated April 07 2009: 10:14 AM ET
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