July 09, 2016

Alleviate DIY symptoms, build a house

Alleviate DIY symptoms, build a house
By The West View

Just less than a dozen years ago a condition that I have had most of my life fully manifested, that DIY (Do It Yourself) disease. So I did what I could to alleviate the symptoms, I designed and built a house.                                                          

It happened like this: I was searching around the Poplar Grove neighborhood for a home to buy. On one of my forays with a realtor, I discovered that a property across the street from Poplar Grove Park no longer had a little storefront gracing its north side. It was now an empty lot with a “For Sale” sign. I went home and started drawing house plans.                                            

The disease progressed rapidly. I was no longer able to see any of the existing housing in the neighborhood as suitable for me. So I made an offer on the lot, and just let the disease run its course, treating it by completing the design, applying for building permits, hiring a friend/contractor to help me, excavating a large hole in the ground, pouring concrete, etc.

I have had the “green” bug for a long time and it’s easy to go green when designing your own house and starting with a hole in the ground. Place several large windows on the south side, store the solar energy in a concrete floor, insulate the walls well. By following that design criteria, I built a home that costs less than $400 per year to heat. I anticipate that amount will drop below $200 when I place solar panels on the roof to heat the floor and the household water. (Home building projects seem to last forever, hence I am still not done.)

Taking advantage of the sun is the primary green feature of my home, but I also used as many recycled and environmentally friendly products as I could. Bamboo grows to maturity in about seven years and makes great material for cabinetry and trim. And it’s beautiful. I purchased interior doors, bathroom sinks, coat hooks, etc. from George’s Architectural Salvage. This stuff can add character to anyone’s home. There are many interesting countertop products available. I used Paperstone and stainless steel for mine.

Since steel is the most recycled stuff on the planet, I used it for my garden fence. Corrugated steel without galvanic coating oxidizes nicely. The result: a reddish (rusty) fence that never requires painting. The one I built will probably last eighty years, and then someone in the neighborhood can recycle it again.

The best thing about building my own house is that now I have a home that quite suits me. It is environmentally friendly, architecturally interesting, filled with natural light, complete with a large sunny yard to grow vegetables for cooking delicious meals in my kitchen.

If you are ever in the neighborhood, look for the green stucco/grey metal siding house with the curved corrugated steel fence across the street from the northwest corner of Poplar Grove Park. If I am out grubbing around in the garden, stop by and I will give you a tour and introduce you to my chickens, Pasqual, Patina, Paulina, Pot and Pie, Noodle and Soup, and Yaki. (Teri unfortunately got eaten by a raccoon.)