Roof FramingAlthough many of you are still living with frigid temperatures and snow, spring is officially here and the weather will catch up with the date before you know it. If you plan to build this year, I hope that you have already solidified your plan and started to line up contractors. If not, there is still time and the overall timing may indeed be perfect.

One “good” thing about a slow economy is that there are lots of people, contractors included, looking for steady work. As such, you may have more opportunities to get a good price on your project. It’s quite possible that high quality contractors will be willing to lower their prices in order to stay busy. Don’t expect a half-off sale, because that’s not likely; however, discounted prices can still translate into major savings. Consider that the average home sale price in the US according to is roughly $152,000. Saving  5-10% would be a $7,600-$15,200 discount, and that is well worth it.

Building PermitThere is no question that people are looking for work, and there is also no question that the economy has slowed significantly, bringing real estate prices down with it. When comparing average home prices on, one can see that prices have literally been cut in half from February 2008 ($301,200) to February 2013 ($152,000). That drop in prices also translates into new construction as “new home starts,” a major benchmark of the overall economy based on new building permits, have continued to decline over that same time period according to the Commerce Department. If there are less homes being built, then there are less contractors with full schedules and more contractors willing to offer incentives to their clients in order to stay busy and keep their employees working.

Chances are that the top contractors in your area may not be handing out discounts because they are probably still doing just fine for business. When the economy drops and housing starts fall,  the top contractors tend to stay busy while those contractors who are already “scraping by” tend to go out of business. Those contractors who land in the middle are likely to make adjustments in order to stay in business. These are the ones you are after…the best of those, that is.

Straw Bale HouseThere is also an impact specific to those of us wanting straw bale houses. Contractors who might not otherwise be interested in building a straw bale house may be more intrigued in a slow market. After all, work is work, and a once preoccupied contractor may find his or her interest peaked by something new and exciting that might not have otherwise been on their radar. This brings me to an important point: make sure that your contractors are excited about your project. If you feel like you are dragging them to the job, don’t bother. If, however, they show up excited to be a part of the project, they will likely be a good addition to the job.

I’m not a fan of a slow economy, but I do see bright sides to the situation. If you have been thinking about buying land and/or building a straw bale house, now may be the perfect time to get started.

About the Author

Andrew Morison is a specialist in straw bale and green construction. He has shown thousands of people how to build their own straw bale projects through his comprehensive series of instructional straw bale, concrete foundation, and plastering DVDs, as well as his hands on workshops. You can check these out at

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