A Below Grade (Space) Upgrade?
I briefly entertained the idea of sinking a shipping container under the ground and cutting a hole for an access hatch in its ceiling, but the amount of additional work that would go into reinforcing the side walls from lateral pressure from the soil (to say nothing of the long-term issues associated with moisture in the soil rusting out the steel) dissuaded me.
The next most economical option seems to be having a concrete foundation poured and then building the basement walls with CMU concrete blocks, and I watched a few d.i.y. YouTube videos on the process of excavating the dirt, pouring a foundation, and building the walls. In terms of square footage, 250 would be nice. 500 would be really nice...
With a budget that's probably already maxed out, we'll have to get pretty creative to squeeze enough money to add that to the d.i.y. to-do list. We'll see. I called a guy who does excavating and dirt hauling, and he estimated the cost for that to be $1,500 - $2,000, if he doesn't run into any overly rocky soil, for a hole 8' deep and a few feet wider, on length and width, than the CMU wall. I don't think I could rent an excavator and haul the dirt for much less than that - the dirt hauling's the main issue, as it'd take many, many trips to the quarry with my pickup. The guy estimates he could do the entire job in one day. (After the wall would be built, the dirt on the exterior would be backfilled). I'd prep for a foundation but have a concrete guy pour it, then build the concrete block walls myself. Its ceiling (studio floor) would most likely be made with wood rather than poured concrete. Not sure yet if I'd build a staircase or have a hatch and some version of one of those attic ladders. Staircase if I could afford a larger space, hatch if I couldn't. Of course, any basement storage at all may be a pipe dream, cost-wise.
On the docket for today is to use my chainsaw to cut down a mature apple tree in the yard that has been a "root" cause of annual sewer line backups in the house on the property.
There's another, much larger tree closer to the house that'll probably also need to be felled, as it also contributes to to the root buildup and has lost a number of limbs in recent years. I'll leave that one to an arborist.