For many years my favorite house was George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon. It gave me hope. When I learned that it took 7 years to remodel his home to get it the way he wanted, I thought that perhaps our home might also reach a successful conclusion. Ours took longer than 7 years, and isn’t as fancy or as famous as Mount Vernon, but it’s ours and we love it.
One day my husband was speaking to someone about the challenges of building your own home and his companion said, “Oh we did that, it was so hard. We did about 80% of the work.”
“That’s awesome, what part did you do?” he replied.
“Oh, we did the tile and the paint,” the companion nodded knowingly.
Lewis just stood there blinking, he had no response to that. A person who thinks that tile and paint are 80% of the work of building a house, doesn’t understand building at all.
We built our house. All of it. Well that’s not entirely true. We did hire someone with a tractor to dig the hole for the basement; we purchased trusses; we built our own cabinets, but bought the cabinet doors; and we hired someone to lay the carpet. But besides that it was pretty much the ultimate do-it-yourself project. And we did it piece meal and debt free. We built and made improvements as we could afford them. That made things go much slower than a traditional house building project, but a debt free home is a beautiful thing.
Lewis chose a non-standard construction method using ICF (insulating concrete forms) which are specially formed foam blocks used with a rebar and cement filled core. He chose this construction method for its strength and high insulation value. The home is very comfortable and quiet.
The shell of the home took about 18 months to complete. At that point we moved in, but it took several more years and a lot of saving to complete the inside and the yard. We were in the home a few years before we got kitchen cabinets for example. Yeah. It was hard to be patient, but a debt free home was a goal worth pursuing.