Countless calls from estate agents for properties that don't tick the boxes; house viewings packed into Saturday mornings and mortgages that are difficult to grasp - this is what house hunting looks like in 2014. First-time buyers must now pay 10.5% more for a property (in the UK) than they would have 12 months ago and the process is hardly a walk in the park.
However it's a common problem around the world and there are a few remarkable people who have decided to opt out of the property rat race and build their very own house. At a fraction of the cost and with no less charm, we take a look at an alternative route to getting your home.
Gabriella and Andrew Morrison, Oregon, USA
New Yorker Gabriella, 43, and her husband Andrew questioned how much their lives revolved around paying a mortgage. They were working hard to support their lifestyle, which in turn compromised their time with their two teenage children. For that reason, they sold their dream home, purchased five acres of land in Oregon, and created 'hOMe', their mortgage-free, self-designed property.
It took the couple four months to build and cost £13,061($22,000) and £19,591 ($33,000) including their high end appliances, cabinetry, furniture, and fixtures. It includes a full-sized kitchen, a set of stairs, a master bedroom, space for a home office, storage that doubles up as furniture and a bathroom with a full-sized sink, shower and toilet.
"We are now debt free, off grid, joyful, closer as a family, and enjoying living our lives full time in hOMe," said Gabriella Morrison.
(Images: TinyHouseBuild/Rex Features)
Malissa and Chris Tack, moving home, USA
Having lived in New York City for two years, Malissa and Chris Tack knew all too well about high rents for tiny apartments. "One of the things that really hit home to me was finding out that one of my friends was paying less for his monthly mortgage payment than we were paying in rent. That was really an eye opener," said Christ Tack to website Portland Alternative Dwellings. Having seen friends' apartments and studio apartments and realising how tiny they were, they concluded that building a small, mobile home would be no different and it would save them from that 30-year mortgage.
Macy Miller, Idaho, USA
At 27 years old, architect Macy Miller found herself divorced, unemployed and in the process of foreclosure, which forced her to rent, leaving her without a space she could really call her own. She needed to make a change that would ease the burden of her debt. This is when she decided to make 196-square-foot home in in Boise, Idaho, which cost £6527 ($11,000).
Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller, Colorado, USA
As graphic designer and videographer Christopher Smith approached his thirtieth birthday he decided he wanted to settle down after a decade of travelling. When he realised that since 1970 the average size of a new house in America has almost doubled, he asked himself what makes a good home. For him bigger wasn't necessarily better. Visiting smaller homes inspired him to build a tiny home. He bought a 124 square feet space of land in the mountains of Fairplay, Colorado with his girlfriend and logged the process of building a house in a documentary titled Tiny.
Lee Manning and Mike Ellis, Devon, UK
Lee Manning, a finance director and his partner Mike Ellis, a nurse, bought a quarter of an acre of land for £120k and built a dormer bungalow on it for £110,000. "I started checking the Rightmove website every day at our 10.30 coffee break, for building sites or derelict houses to knock down," said Manning, 33, to Devon Life magazine. "This became an addiction and went on for years! Then one day in February there it was... a pretty ¼-acre site for £120k in Kingsteignton."