Details of House Construction

We had the house plans drawn by a draftsman in Tucson who charged $1 per square foot, plus a little additional for all the deck area.  I spent a great deal of time researching straw bale homes and passive solar design, attending workshops, measuring furniture and thinking about what I wanted and needed.  I did find that straw bale homes are just as expensive to build as regular homes, perhaps more, unless you are willing to do much of the work yourself. Of course the walls are only a part of the house and there's all that other stuff like plumbing and electric, that's just as complex as any other house,  especially when you have to deal with building codes.
We, of course, hired out the perk test and septic tank installation.   He charged $1,500 and cleared my house area for free because he took several weeks to get the job done.  Normally a company would charge about $2,000 for the smallest septic possible, for a 2 bedroom house.  I have no idea what it would have cost to have the building site cleared. 
Windows and Doors
I bought almost all my windows and doors at a recycle yard and found some great values.  I got double paned windows and nice, wood, carved doors.  I believe I would easily have spent twice this much if I had bought them all at Home Depot and probably easily five times this amount if I had gone to a real quality, wooden door and window company. The hours reflected are for construction of the large bucks for a load bearing structure, as in the photos, and for lathing around them.  Refinishing recycled doors and hanging them took many hours, too.  The windows had to be purchased before the bucks were made and then stored where they wouldn't break until they could be installed. 
Wow, this was a bunch of dirty, hard work.  These costs reflect the materials to build forms, hire tractors to dig the trenches, hire a professional to place the rebar and pour the footer.  My son and I laid the CMU block stemwall ourselves, then hired some help to run the mortar mixer and help pour concrete into the stemwall, fill the center of the house with 9" or gravel (AB mix) to raise the floor 12" per building requirements.  Using earth-colored CMU block for the exterior stemwall really increased the amount of work and those things are heavy and hard to cut, but made for a much more attractive base that will blend with the earthen plasters.  Doing this over, I'd probably have a concrete truck come and fill the stemwall and hire out the entire footer construction. 
Bales and Walls
I got the bales from a local farmer for $4 per bale, including delivery and needed about 200 bales.  They only come in truckloads of 80 or 90, so I ordered extra to make steps up the walls, and later benches and walls with. I hired Matts Myhrman to over see the wall-raising for $300 per day and then everyone else, bless them, raised the walls for free. A joyous day! There were still costs for metal lath, nails, rebar, allthread, etc.  Many hours went into framing the high gable ends, also.  I filled the west gable with half-bales and framed the east gable with 2 x 6's.  I included the ceiling work with the walls and with this high ceiling, it was many hours of insulating and drywalling from a very high scaffold to get that done - and thanks to good friends who came to drywall the ceiling with us. 
This is an estimate on what I might have paid a consultant.  Jon Ruez, my friend and consultant, has not charged me, but he has put in many, many hours of labor and consulting, along with lending me many tools. 
Roofing and Trusses
This is a very steep pitched roof to make room for the loft.  I hired a crew of four to install the trusses, which was difficult because, lo and behold, the walls weren't perfectly square!  I can see now that it's very important to build the top plate to fit the trusses, not the bales - and then make the bales fit under it. Having the house slightly out of square made the roofing and sheathing difficult, and then on the inside, the drywalling was in rhomboids, also.  So, there are many reasons to raise the walls as straight as possible.
Earth Plasters
Because of the porch, I had permission from the county to cover the walls with whatever I chose, so I chose earth plasters with no stabilizer.  I patched them with lime and found it a pain to work with caustic materials.  We had much more fun at the plaster party dealing with pure mud.  After much research and learning from friends, if I had to put earth plasters on a house with no porch, I would mix asphalt emulsion with it.  This doesn't stink like hot tar, it's just like adding oil to the plasters and makes them very durable - has been used in adobe for years.  No sense doing all this work and then having to redo it in a couple of years or ruining the bales.   On the interior, I used a base coat of cob to shape the walls and then I covered them with a fine coat made of pottery clay and silica sand.  
We used Pex plumbing, which was fast and convenient, since there are no joints in the walls that might leak.  Tubes run from a main manifold all the way to the fixture.  There is a photo of the manifold in the photos pages.
This was where I really needed Jon, my consultant.  Okay, and just about everywhere else, too.  Electricity was very complex, even in a small house and beyond what I could learn from a book at this late stage of construction, when there really wasn't much time to study. 
Loft and Stairway
The loft was beyond what I could possibly construct myself.  Jon and a carpenter built it and put together the spiral stairway, which I got in a kit from Stairways, Inc. in Houston for about $1,000.  While this house is charming and inexpensive, it was not easy to build with the high ceiling, steep roof and loft.  This required huge beams and heavy lifting.  I love having a curved wall around it, too, but that was difficult to build, also. 
I love the porch, both for its protection, shade, and alternative living areas.  I have my laundry out on it, outside dining area and tool shed.  As time goes by, I'm sure I'll fill every niche of it.  However, it took lots of expensive lumber, mainly the large beams between the posts - and many rafters.  Along with the loft, it was beyond what I could build myself, so I hired a carpenter.  I could barely even help him lift one end of the beams.  The sunroom gives the house plenty of light - we also put translucent roofing over the windows and a skylight on the north side.
By the time I got to the cabinets, I was really pinching pennies, so instead of spending $5,000 on standard cabinets, I am purchasing the base of the cupboards from Home Depot and then I'll build my own doors out of saguaro ribs later. 
Grand Total and Hours
Yup, cost three times what I expected and took three times as long!!