Thursday, February 6, 2014

How We Super-Downsized

My Christmas present the year before: framing square.
The flimsy camper door squeaked open and his head appeared. “Hey Honey, the truck’s gone; come look.” I turned from washing dishes in the tiny sink, dried my hands, and took his as we stepped outside together to look at the mountain of lumber, plastic, and unnamed (to me) stuff. “Here’s our house,” he beamed, “All I have to do now is build it.”

Two years earlier, we’d had a crazy idea in our cute house with our not-so-cute mortgage. Downsizing. Not just selling and purchasing a smaller place with a smaller mortgage; but selling, buying property outright, and building ourselves out of pocket so that there would be no mortgage at all. Super Downsizing.

As our family grew larger, we wanted our money to go toward more time together, not a bigger house, so we set the wheels in motion that brought us to that day in June that had my husband beaming at the pile of materials and had me slightly nauseated. We had Saturday road trips looking for property and a tough year of beans and rice before the house sold, paying for both. We had friends who stepped up at just the right time with ideas and aid. We crammed a camper in the middle of the woods, waiting for the ground to thaw and for that truck to drop off our pile of house parts. Then it was our job to get those parts into a home. Actually, his job. My job was to keep him well-fed and to keep the children close enough to love and learn, and far away enough not to get too hurt.

As with many seasons in life, the charm is in the remembering, not in the living: like the laundromat shower disaster, the wasp nest disaster, the nail gun shooting disaster, and the incorrectly measured and ripped out wall disaster. Now, we laugh; then, not at all. But we had a plan we were excited about that drew us closer in its execution. Plus, we enjoyed our deviation from culturally accepted norms!

And he built us a real house. We moved in when it was only enclosed, wired, and plumbed; and every Friday saw him dragging in the weekend’s project: a toilet, some drywall, a refrigerator. While I waited on kitchen fixtures, I worked on folding tables using a slow-cooker, toaster oven, and microwave. The children hated the weekend the real floor went down, because it meant no more drawing on the plywood subfloor! I stuck the computer in the hole where a closet was supposed to be, but when the time came to make the closet, we liked the desk right in the kitchen so there it is still. Some ideas went by the wayside (like buying cast-off broken tiles and making my own bathroom mosaic) and some ideas made it to completion (like huge living room windows). There is a story for every square foot.

Our home is ours in a way that no other home could be. We are connected to the very walls and windows, for every pounded nail, every hung pipe, every ordered shingle, was put in place by my husband’s hands for his family. It is our home and it is sweet.

This was the beginning of the garage-building this past summer but it's a decent shot of the side of the adorable house. Our house-building pictures are in an old-fashioned album.

PS ~ Ken does not work in the construction field. He read books on wiring, plumbing, and framing. He offered his help to anyone building anything for those years. Anyone can do this!

1 comment:

  1. That is amazing! I had no idea you could even build a house yourself like that. The houses here are all made of brick...I wonder if that would be possible to DIY. That is so special that you have a home that you truly built yourselves.