Home Work

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 11:30am

About this blog:

  • HOME SWEET HOME was embroidered on a framed sampler the living room at my grandpa and grandma’s farmhouse up on the mountain where we lived long ago and far from here.

    Those were the first words of wisdom I learned to read, write and understand. Looking back today, I realize how this inspiring motto guided me throughout my life’s work of building my own home . . . sweet and truly mine. That plus my collection of bumper sticker wisdom.

    I grew up, left home and explored various careers until I became qualified to teach Industrial Arts at my hometown high school. My plan to have my own home was in motion. I bought a modest little fixer upper at the edge of town. My intention was to fix it up, add an addition, live there awhile to make sure everything worked, sell it and finally start building my own home. I figured I could get most everything done during summer vacation. I was young and optimistic.

    I learned a great deal from that first building project. So much that I’ll have to tell you more.




Twenty years ago, after thirty years learning how to build my own dream home I realized I should and could tell people who are thinking about building their own dream homes what I learned from my experiences.

Way back there, fifty years, the first part of my plan was to acquire a home of my own the way most people did it. Get a job, save up a down payment, get qualified to borrow money from a bank and find a place I liked. I did all that and bought a used house. It took seven years after graduating from high school to get that far.

The second part of my plan was to fix up, rehabilitate and upgrade my used house, sell it and do another. The fix up and sale took a year and a half to accomplish while holding down a full time job. The next project was helping friends build their home. They had helped me do the rehabbing and upgrading on mine. This was payback. That was my second home building project. It was “Off Grid”. It took another year and a half.

Finally, after three years I was ready to build my own home. I learned my first and most important lesson. Do not accept any help. Do it, all of it, alone. Building a home from the ground up seems like work too difficult and complicated to do by your self. It can be. Then there is the money. It takes a lot. But not near as much as you would think. 

Those homes and the next dozen or so building projects brought the time to the year 2000. Remember Y2K? That was when I started writing how-to articles for Backwoods Home the magazine that took over the back to the land guidance from the old Mother Earth News magazine. 

It was great! I was able to reach people more apt to really go out and build their own homes by themselves. While writing the articles, I was continuing the research and development of home designs an Intelligent Owner Builder in fairly good physical and financial health with an optimistic outlook could build. These homes would be built with mostly natural materials. Stone and wood of course, and slightly less natural, plywood, concrete, glass, asphalt roofing and metal things. Ordinary stuff.

Three of my first few home building projects were off grid. For two of them I had a gas-powered generator to run the tools. For one of them I had a 12-volt car battery. We were ‘pioneering’ Baby! It was exciting, challenging, and satisfying. It was the time of the Back to the Land Movement of the late 60’s and 70’s.

During the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s I was designing home plans using the latest machinery and gadgets dependant on electricity. As time passed I saw how fast the cost of electric and other power sources were rising. Y2K showed me how vulnerable the electric grid had become. I decided to scale back the need for that kind of power in the homes I wanted to build. 

There is a sense of magic living in a home totally without electricity. I learned this from living in Off Grid homes of my own and visiting with other “wireless” homes. That 120 and 240 amps coursing through the wires embedded in the walls of average homes gives off electromagnetic energy that can be sensed as sort of fog preventing the residents from receiving the natural electromagnetic energy emanating from the earth, other planets and stars and psychic people. 

I’m not especially a Home Builder. Artist Builder dabbling in Architectural Art and Science is more accurate.