Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pay Dirt

This weekend I am working on getting the conduit installed for my permanent power and communication cable. I dug the trench back in the summer when I had the track hoe but different chores and occasional lack of money has kept me from finishing. Yes, this probably should have been done before I ever moved in but it wasn't so that's that. Anyway, I will go into greater depth about this later but for now I wanted to touch on another subject.

I have often wondered if I am really accomplishing much or helping anyone by writing this blog and I have expressed that several times. I know that how I'm building my house is not really something many people would or could do, although I think more people could do it if they would try. I think this is just an effort to show, if you think for a while, you may find it in your best interest to do things a little differently; whatever it is you're doing. You don't always have to do things the way everybody else always has.
In this vein of thought, a lot of people have been curious as to how I have paid for this house. In our society, it is just taken as a given that you have to borrow money; you have to be indebted for half your life if you want to have anything. Well, no, you don't. Now, I realize, as I just said, that I have certain advantages because of my occupation and the resulting connections. I have been able to salvage an enormous amount of material for this house and have had a few sweet people just gift me with stuff. But i believe a resourceful person could salvage a sizable amount of material also, regardless of what they do. You also have to be willing to look at things a little differently. Most people I know would just die at the thought of living in a house that only has plywood floors or having unfinished sheetrock in some places, even if they know it is only temporary. Oh, the horrors! Well, when you realize that my house, even in it's unfinished state, would be a freakin' mansion compared to what a great deal of the rest of the world lives in, it kinda puts things in perspective. I don't mind the plywood for now.
I recently did some figuring and came up with an estimate of what I have spent on my house so far. I surprised myself. I thought I had spent more than what I have but my figures showed that I have about $35,000 in this house so far. I believe I can finish this half for another $15,000. Now, with the basement, which I do use, this is about a 1,300 sq.ft. house. That's about $38/ sq.ft. I think most new houses (of comparable location and style etc.) were going for anywhere around $150-200/ sq.ft. Of course, my figures include very little labor costs, as I have done most of it myself but there is much that can be done to save money on home construction. I have even added quite a few purely aesthetic touches to this house that are really not necessary. If I had really been conservative I believe I could have built both halves for what I will spend on this one. But I wanted to add some unique touches. All I'm saying is, you can spend as little as you like but you don't have to live in a yurt or one room cabin if you want to live sustainably or with some conscience about the environment and your pocketbook. That misconception is one thing I would really like to dispel. Don't listen to what society at large tells you that you must do or have. So, I have deck handrails made of scrap rebar and light fixtures that are old wine bottles? I like it.
I'll give a few more specifics on the finances in a later post but the main thing is still that you have to be willing to work hard and think creatively. But you can do it.

*k.d. Lang

20 comments:

HermitJim said...

I think the most important thing you said in your post was...
"I like it"!

If where you are living makes you feel happy and coy...it doesn't matter what others think! At least, that's my opinion!

You do damn good work, and I'm proud of ya for it!

You rock, Lady!

HermitJim said...

That should read "happy and cozy" not coy! Sorry about that...!

Ed said...

When I get around to building my dream house, it is going to be entirely out of pocket and paid for up front. I think that is the only way that makes sense. Thanks for spreading the word.

myamuhnative said...

I'm always learning new things from your posts and haven't found a boring one yet either.
I also think that the rebar deck work is genius and looks pretty cool too.
Can we see pics of the wine bottle fixtures sometime?

Oh and thanks for the tufted titmouse pic-I've been curious what types of birds are found in your area.

Jen said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey. I can relate. You're doing great. ~jen

Mouse said...

Having been there to visit none of the pictures no matter how well taken or the descriptions with thousands of words could ever capture the serenity of being there looking out into the tree branches as the sun rises .
I would trade her my swamp any day but I don't think you could dislodge her at any price . Only disadvantage at moment is no stairwell between floors that comes in the second half .

Floridacracker said...

It's a great message Annie, especially in an era of over the top mortgages and massive defaulting.

Love reading about your house, your art, your life in general.
Keep it up!

amy said...

I totally agree. Josh and I have lived with unfinished floors and walls for a while now, and still prefer to be there than up in the city. Sure we have to budget 100, and 200 dollars at a time for the "cabin" but in the end, we won't be in debt and we'll be living where we love. Plus, if we realize that we messed up (we don't have your skill or experience) we can pull part of it down without feeling like we have wasted more money than we can afford. Keep poting, I love reading about someone else doing it on their own (albeit way better).

edifice rex said...

Hey Jim! thank you very much! I appreciate that.

Hey Ed! well, paying out of pocket certainly helps my feelings of security and well being. Especially these days.

Hey Mya! thanks! and yes, I'll show the light fixtures again. they are somewhere in the archives but not sure where! I'll try to get a few more bird pics too; we have a fair variety here.

Hey Jen! thank you very much!

Hey Mouse! no, I won't swap with ya but you can still visit! That lack of stairs really aggravates the crap out of you don't it! lol! Hopefully I can fix that soon.

Hey FC! thanks man! Glad you enjoy it all.

edifice rex said...

Hey Amy! well, I appreciate that; thank you. If ya'll ever have any questions about building please feel free to email me. I'll help if I can.

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

You and I are kinda on the same wave length Annie. I think I have about the same amount of money in all my construction as most people around here put into there sewage treatment mound alone. But holy cow, it is almost like work. lol. It is good when we have access to equipment and all that though.

Beau said...

I think what you're doing is amazing. Not just for self-reliance and economy, but that you're doing what you desire. Somehow that validation and the spirit of the journey you're taking is an amazing unfolding of self, if that makes any sense.

I think folks do appreciate and learn from your experience and insight. But otherwise, who cares!? You enjoy it, and it's nice to share the journey. :)

Eutychus2 said...

I applaud you on doing 'your way,' and not succumbing to the temptations of getting ahead. When you said, "I like it that way,' I agree with HermitJim .. The other day I read that over 75% of people hate their jobs, I wonder if that means they hate their homes too, I'm glad you don't. Cheers.

edifice rex said...

Hey Mark! yeah, we seem to have a very similar plan! I think having the equipment available has been one of the biggest factors in me being able to do this.

Hey Beau! thanks!! I appreciate that very much.

Hey Euty! thanks so much! 75% huh? that's hard to imagine. yeah, I enjoy my house and job.

Attilla The Mum said...

Annie, you give hope to me and my husband that one day we'll be able to build our dream house too! Not by ourselves, of course, but Tony and his friend Mike are both willing and able--and have used our little rental house as a guinea pig (changing out water heaters, rewiring outlets [disclaimer: with the help of a licensed electrician], gutting a bathroom and remodeling it). My love is the painting part--it gives me such a happy clean feeling to slap a fresh coat of paint on the walls! So some of it we can do ourselves. To be able to pay as we go like you are doing would be wonderful. Your tips are appreciated. The way you break down a project and let us know how it's done--well, let's just say I've bookmarked a few posts in a How To folder in my Favorites. As HermitJim so aptly put it, you rock.

edifice rex said...

Hey Attila! well, thanks so much. I appreciate your kind words. I'm really glad to know I have been of some assistance and hope to continue to be.

Walter Jeffries said...

Well, we five think you're doing it the right way. Like you we live in our construction. Better hear in our pleasant but partially completed cottage than renting, someone else's home or the old impossible to keep up farm house we lived in before. And we all love that, like you, we built our cottage with our own hands.

edifice rex said...

Hey Walter! thanks! I think those are all good reasons too.

Jenn said...

I like it, too.

And I like that fact that you are sharing. Not many of us can do what you are doing, but you are an inspiration.

edifice rex said...

Hey Jenn! thanks!! i appreciate that.