Housing Mistakes

My Housing Hurdles

I wanted to build an inexpensive home but I was tired of living in small dingy places. We had three kids ranging from 3-14 years of age. So I planned a room for each of them plus a slightly larger master bedroom. I wanted a utility room and a large entry room. I also wanted cathedral ceilings in the living room areas. I could not find any normal rectangle plans that I could live with so I designed my own round house. Ten sided to be exact. A Decagon house.

Round House On The Homestead

Homestead Home

Using a CAD program I laid everything out and decided to build. I went to the local inspector and he estimated $35,000 whereas I had figured a measly $10,000!

Part of the reason I figured so cheap was because I was using logs to frame my home, and straw bales to insulate. Was I ever wrong! Things like roofing, flooring, electrical, plumbing, electrical permits, and permit renewals, all began to accumulate, and I had no experience to assess the real costs of building.

First, the inspector told me that my window opening had to be large enough to let a fireman through with his air tanks and so forth. I argued the “framed opening” and he insisted “the opening portion”, and he refused to pass inspection unless I co-operated. But the inspector was God so we moved on.

The cost of my windows now jumped three times. The windows totaled more than three thousand for these windows.

Secondly, the truss manufacturer only knew how to provide trusses that fit within their designed computer programs parameters and did not know how to calculate log bearing strengths, and the building inspector wanted to know the snow stress loads that had to meet code at so many pounds per square foot.

I wanted a partial cathedral and the rest to be a normal w-truss system, but they could not figure it out, and the deadline was fast approaching, so I told them to make them all parallel trusses. This meant the whole house now had cathedral ceilings.

Oh well, I always wanted a loft! Now I have a huge loft. But, I had not figured out, or rather did not know how to figure the cost of that extra space because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it yet. Oh, and my necessary firewood cord usage just increased too.

When I got the bill for the trusses they were $5,000 dollars instead of $2,000, because the parallel truss cost more to build, the trusses over the logs were overkill 2×6’s, and the trusses were six different sizes to accommodate a round building. The funny part of this is that the longest truss right in the center of the pie was only 2×4 construction, whereas the truss on the logs was 2×6’s and I actually straightened a log that was crowning upwards as it was drying with the 2×6 truss.

Without going into too much detail on over-cost runs, the cost exceeded $115,000 and I was no where near finished. That was materials only!

In fact, I am still doing the log banisters in the loft, still need doors on all the bedrooms. I scored and stained the concrete floor, but it didn’t hold up to working and living in the house at the same time, so that will need to be refinished as well.

Many other things just happened and what started out with a line of credit soon piled up to me still owing $60,000 dollars. To end it all off nicely I went through divorce, she refused to pay her share of the debt, and I lost the house through bankruptcy. Due to ongoing family issues and the need to be close to the kids, I bought the house back privately with the mortgage held by the vendor, and I am now almost always broke still trying to finish up the house.

It started out as a $10,000 dream but exceeded $115,000 in building materials toward the house. Thankfully, as of December 2011, or early 2012, I should have the house fully paid for, and then I can really, truly, pour my heart and soul into homesteading.

But, one has to ask themselves — How did I end up this way?

I built too big, too fast, and I built round instead the norm of square. The building stores ran gross under–- estimates on things like cement and shingles because they were not taught to think or measure – round, or triangular.

Instead of enjoying homesteading the way I wanted I now had to work away from home for the next five years to pay the loan on my house – that should have been paid in full many years ago. That is called Stress!

Having said all of the above I would not trade homestead living for anything else. And five to six more years is still better than a 25 year mortgage that has compound interest! But…I could have avoided bankruptcy and a lot of work if I would have built smaller. So we have to be frugal, smart, and wise in how big, how fast and glamorous we build.

Learn from others…it is still the best way to go.

Start small, get several estimates, take your time, and think it out carefully. Real carefully! Unless, you want to lose sight of your dream!

Check out my personal home building recommendations here.