The only examples I know are 1:my husband's grandfather, who bought the land. A number of years later he and 2 other of his friends built a cabin using traditional building techniques. Cost was really time/labor of love; even the materials (lumber, stones) were harvested and processed on-site.
2: a friend of ours, whose dream was to have an eco-friendly house. They had purchased a regular house, rehabbed and sold it at a profit. They then used the proceeds to purchase the land. They got some kind of loan to build the house because they had jobs. Originally they were going to build themselves, an unusual eco house, but were having trouble getting approvals. So they ended up collaborating with an architect and hiring out the labor for passive solar house with earth berm in back (back walls made of concrete panels). They did most of the interior finishing. Really beautiful house/realization.
So in these instances, they purchased the land first (usually from savings from regular job, or selling original house) and then waited on building the house until they had the time, could afford it, etc. Do you know anyone with land that you can build on? Or someone who wants you to build their house? Then they would be the one providing the land/money.
I should add for the 2nd case, since it was a few years from selling the house to building the new house, they lived in trailers on the property (no running water, etc). So that is another suggestion, to save on housing costs until actual house built.