Building a home

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You may have noticed, there is a page on the wiki How to build your first house,
but it doesn't actually show how to do it.

I was going to fix that page, but as it turns out, there is a lot to think about before putting down the first stone...

First we should consider

  • What is our situation (as in, creative-mode, or first day in a survival game) ?
    • What landscape is around us (as in, forest, mountains, or desert) ?
    • What server, what game, what mobs, is pvp enabled ?
  • What do we need (as in, urgently need now) ?
  • What do we have (as in, tools, materials, food) ?
  • What can we do (as in, right here, right now, until sundown) ?

In creative-mode, we can just skip to House-Building, and build something nice.
Same if you already have enough tools, building materials etc.

Otherwise, we might just need a home / shelter for the night, and maybe the next few days.

With standard-settings, a 'day' in Minetest lasts 20 minutes.

See also my notes on TNG.


Axe - to cut down trees and other organic stuff (such as cactus)
Pickaxe - for mining stone
Shovel - for mining sand, gravel etc.
Torch - light, for working at night and underground
Other: screwdriver, flint, ...
  • Building materials
Dirt - the most basic building material
Leaves - 'cheaper than dirt' (when trees are around), can be used as fences, scaffolding, etc.
Wood - basic - almost everything has some component that is made of wood
Stone - comes in several variants (cobblestone, sandstone, etc.)
Coal - for making torches, and as fuel for the furnace
Iron Ore - for making steel tools
Wool - for making a bed
Dye - for making a bed
Extras / non-essentials
Sand - for making glass for windows
Clay - for making bricks
Other ores - eg, copper, mese, diamond ...


Torch - light
Door - to keep critters out
Chest - to store stuff
Furnace - for smelting ore, and other recipes
Bed - for setting the spawn-position
Other (depending on installed mods): Workbench, tables, chairs, bookshelves ...
  • Building ground - Location, Location, Location: some things to consider:
is the terrain suitable for a house? (i.e. big enough, flat)
are the immediate surroundings clear (i.e. no place to hide for hostile mobs)
how far is the distance to the 'workplace' (i.e. for mining/harvesting etc.)
  • Time, Food
stuff you need while working

Collecting stuff

Finding stuff also needs time, and travelling / exploring.

After playing a few games, it is still amazing to find situations were some basic stuff is not available.

E.g. a desert with no dirt and no trees.

Blocks of sand fall down,
so you cannot make a roof out of sand.

Also, finding coal (for torches) near the surface is often a problem.

Note: some mods have a recipe for making coal from wood
(eg. tree => wood charcoal, then 2 wood charcoal -> 1 coal-lump),
so you should check what your game provides.


Surviving the night without building a home

Without mobs, building a house is not really urgent.
So the following is written with an eye to dangerous mobs, and nighttime.

We will consider the available options in order of required resources, starting with no/low requirements.

Timeskip / Fast-Forward

The really cheap&lazy option: logoff, wait a few minutes, login again.

If a complete day lasts 20 minutes, the night should last about 8 minutes

Hopefully, your timing is right and the night is just over when you return.

With permissions, you could also give a command like "/time 6:00"

Beach / Desert / Snow

Stay in the open, on light-colored ground, like sand, ice or snow.

These terrains provides better visibility in the dark.

This is risky, but you might even get some work done, e.g. collecting sand.

If the game has mobs, beware of sandmonsters in the desert.

Water / Air

  • If there is an area of water, you can go swimming.
Some monsters are hurt by water, eg. dirtmonsters and sandmonsters.
  • With permissions, you could also fly around during the night.
So you would stay out of reach of all nonflying mobs (i.e. all except ghosts)

Podest / Column

This is not a 'home' or shelter, just a quick installation for spending the night
in an emergency when hostile mobs are around.
Build a stack of 3-4 blocks of dirt, sand or leaves, and stand on that.

So most common mobs like zombies cannot reach you.
This doesn't work against flying mobs, e.g. ghosts.
Also, beware of smart mobs !

Climbing a tree would serve the same purpose, but there might be places with no trees around.

Also, treemonsters spawm near trees

Digging dirt and sand can be done with no tools.
You can build directly beneath you by jumping up (space-key), while looking down
and building dirt or leaves (selected on the hotbar) by rightclicking at the right moment,
just when you reach the high point of the jump.

Resources needed Type Amount
Tools -none- -none-
Building blocks Sand or Dirt 2-3
Work Digs 2-3

Building a home

Cave-home / Bunker

Digging in.
Needs a place where the dirt is at least 2-4 blocks deep.

There are places with solid stone under one block of dirt,
and digging stone needs a pickaxe.

If there is a hill or cliff, you don't need stairs down,
just dig straight into the hillside (viewed from the side):

D i _ _
D i _ x

With i=Player, S=Stone or dirt, _=Nothing, D=Dirt, x=Dirt placed as half a 'door'.

Construction site: hillside
Cavehome-entrance after first dig
Small cavehome ready

Note: at this site there was stone under the first layer of dirt.
So, a pickaxe was needed for digging.

In the first picture, you can find a block of coal-ore,
that came in handy for making torches.

Resources Type Amount needed
Tools -none- -none-
Building blocks Dirt or sand 1 ("half-door")
Work Digs 6

Instead of a door, a single block of dirt is placed.

You could wall yourself in completely, but then you wouldn't see when the night is over.

See also Cavehome2 below, how this might look when expanded to complete base/lair.

With flat terrain, and no hill or cliff, we also need some stairs to get down,
e.g. underground shelter viewed from the side:

D D D _ _ _
D i _ _ _ D
D i _ x D D

The player has a height of 2 blocks, and needs one more free space above to climb stairs.

Resources Type Amount needed
Tools -none- -none-
Building blocks Dirt or Sand 1 ("half-door")
Work Digs 3+4+3 = 10
This is 10 digs, for the stairs down, and the place to stand.

You might want to extend that place, but you might also want a torch for light.

Making a torch needs a stick (made from wood), and a lump of coal.
Coal comes from stone-with-coal-ore (it might need time to search and find such ore),
and digging stone requires a pickaxe (needs at least wood).
So, don't count on having a torch ready on your first night.


This is the first building that looks like a house/hut/garden-shed.

It can be built on places with solid stone under one block of dirt, when you don't have tools yet.

Construction site: stone covered with 1 layer of dirt
Wall and corner is built
Dirthut completed

The design is pretty much like the small cave dug into a hillside from the above section, but now with a roof.

The walls can be made of sand, but the roof needs dirt, because sand falls down.
Construction site: sand
Sandhut with dirt-roof, completed

We collect dirt that covered the stone, and use that for walls and roof.

Viewed from the side:

_ W D D D
_ W i _ _
D W i _ x _ D

With i=Player, _=Nothing, S=Stone, D=Dirt, W=Wall (dirt or sand), x=Dirt placed as half a 'door'.

This minimal shelter would result in 1 space to stand on, 1 free space, and 1 space for the 'door'.

Resource Type Amount needed
Tools -none- -none-
Building blocks Sand or Dirt 2+6+6+1 = 15
" Dirt 3
Work Digs 18

Making a real door requires 6 wooden planks (needs 2 blocks of tree).




The next step up is building with wood.

In the standard game, the player can cut trees by hand, without other tools,
but there are some mods that make it more diffcult.

Cutting wood goes faster with an axe.

We also want torches for light.

Making a torch needs a stick (made from wood), and a lump of coal.
Coal comes from stone-with-coal-ore, and digging stones requires a pickaxe.

The most simple tools just need wood.

So, first we need some trees to chop down, and/or loose wood.

Note that sometimes blocks of wood lie scattered on the ground.

If you are in a desert or similar, you might need to travel until you find some trees.

There might be bushes in the game - they have a stem inside, that is worth one tree-block.



  1. Tree --> Planks --> Sticks
  2. Tree --> Planks --> Axe, Pickaxe
Raw material --> Product 1 Product 2
Tree --> Planks Sticks
Tree --> Planks Axe, PickAxe


This will be a nice, small hut with 3x2 indoor-space, that still has room for all the essentials:

W a _ c W
W b _ f W

W=wall/window D=door _=free space
a,b=bed c=chest f=furnace

The first, simple version of this hut will use a flat roof, and leaves for windows.

A proper roof requires somewhat advanced building-skills,
so we leave that for later.

(Also, the bed will most likely come much later, but we can plan ahead and already reserve the space :)
Depending on the installed mods (eg, xdecor), you could place a chair and table / workbench / crafting-table instead of the bed.


Cavehome 2

This is the expanded version of the 'small/short' Cave-Home/Bunker above.
Enlarged to a room of size 3x4, with torches, door, furnace, some chests, bed,
and a ladder that leads down to the start of the mining-area.

The stones that were dug out have been used to make the furnace,
the stairs and pavement outside the entrance, and for new stonetools.

Entrance with door and stairs.
Cavehome with basic furniture
Cavehome 3x4 overview

Now, that's a proper base of operations :-)

Resources Type Amount needs
Tools Pickaxe 1 2 sticks + 3 wood
" Axe 1 2 sticks + 3 wood
Building blocks (stone) (3*4*2 = 24) (mined out)
Work Digs: Dirt 3
" Digs: Stone 2 + 3*4*2 = 26
Items Torch 2 2* 1 stick + 1 coal
" Door 1 6 wood
" Furnace 1 8 stone
" Chest 3 3* 8 wood
" Bed 1 3 wood + 3 wool + 2 red dye
Total: Wood 17+24=41 11 tree-blocks

Not included: stairs outside and the shaft & ladder down to the 'workplace' / mining-area.

The biggest, most time-consuming part was getting the wool and dye for making the bed,

i.e. finding cotton-seeds and red flowers.

In total, this whole building (except for the bed) needs about 3 trees and 1 block of coal-ore.

Nicer Houses

For working with stone, we need tools.
Wooden tools are slow, and wear out fast, so you should make stone tools with the first few stones you get.

Here some examples of houses:

Simple House 5x5

The 'hunting-hut'.

W c _ f W
W _ _ _ W
W b _ a W

W=wall/window D=door _=free space
a,b,c=chest f=furnace


Small Igloo

This is much like the 5x5 house, without corners,
and built with snowblocks and ice instead of wood and stone.

_ W W W _
W a b c W w w
W f _ _ _ _ D
W c b a W w w
_ W W W _

W=Wall/window D=door _=free space
a,b=bed c=chest f=furnace

The entrance-area to the door is actually a short tunnel.


Small House 7x7

This is my 'standard' design for a simple small house.
The inner living space is 5x5, and with a path and a fence around the house,
it will fit within the 11x11 area covered by one protection-block.

g g g g g _ g g g g g
g _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ g
g _ W W W D W W W _ g
g _ W c c _ s t W _ g
g _ W c _ _ _ s W _ g
g _ W f _ P _ _ W _ g
g _ W c _ _ _ c W _ g
g _ W c c _ a b W _ g
g _ W W W D W W W _ g
g _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ g
g g g g g g g g g g g

W=wall/window D=door _=free space
P=Protection-block at center
a,b=bed c=chest f=furnace s,t=chair,table g=fence/leaves