With the new addon Hearthfire you can build your own house and craft more stuff, as well as adopt children.
Inspired a bit by Minecraft, Hearthfire focuses on gathering and crafting the materials you need for your house. Not so much the design process.
How to Buy Land and Build a HouseA courier should appear with a message from one of three holds.
No courier appeared for me so I just went to the Jarl in Dawnstar, City in the north of Skyrim, who allowed me to buy the plot The Pale for 5000.
In this video the courier is from the Steward of Falkreach.
How to get started on your Land:
A chest on the plot came with enough materials I needed to start on the house.
On a drafting table I had to select small house to start with.
New items are also available for crafting at the blacksmith forge in cities where I made the Locks, Nails, Hinges, and Iron fittings. Which required iron ingot and corundum ingots. I smelted some of my ore into ingots.
Using those materials, back at my plot on the Carpenters Workbench, along with Stone, Ore, Clay and planks, I created the house parts for the first shack.
The house builds itself behind me as I use the workbench to build the parts, pretty simple.
You can find Quarried Stone, Clay, and Corundum Ore veins around Skyrim, on the ground. It requires a pickaxe in your inventory to mine.
I started collecting some right by the plot and dumping in the chest on my plot. To get wood I traveled to a sawmill and purchased from a vendor there.
Wood doesn't go into the inventory but in a pile on your plot that tells how much you have total.
Some additional items will be used for crafting furniture inside,
purchased from the various general goods stores, or crafted at a blacksmith forge. Hearthfire Items Location Buying Guide
A workbench inside is used for building furniture.
Requiring mostly the same items as the house exterior parts, some decoration items requires a part from an animal or thing.
When the small house/shack was built I got a smelter on my land to turn all my ore into ingots.
Then I went back to the drafting table and upgraded the house.
Continuing the process builds the big house, using the small one as a entryway/hallway.
Then I got a couple more choices at the drafting table for house attachments: adding a garden, bedrooms, enchanting tower, alchemist lab, library, or trophy room.
The house can fit one on each of the sides, a cellar, and a second floor.
How To Adopt.Another message the courier will arrive with is about adopting a child.
You can go to the orphanage or talk to any of the children wandering Skyrim, to adopt them.
You'll need some basic items in your house finished with a roof and a bed.