Thursday, November 29, 2012

DIY Kit Homes: A Viable Dream

Well, I've really done it, now...

I can't truly blame myself.  Well, ok.  Yes, I can.  I just don't want to.  Instead, I'm electing to blame Mother Earth News.

See, I have this special relationship with Mother Earth News magazine.

That magazine is like the evil friend that you spend tons of time with, and always manages to get you into trouble.  Why?  Because the articles are just so awesome!  The second you open an issue, you fall into sustainability heaven.  It's loaded with useful information directed to those of us that are excited about the possibility of making these dreams come true.

One issue caused me to want to buy a milk cow and raise it in a completely sustainable manner.  My family was lucky that we rent our home.  Of course, that caused me to think about chickens as an option.  I went through article after article about raising them, as well as doing my own DIY portable chicken coop.  This, naturally, caused my dad to consider doing the same thing, much to my mom's frustration.

You begin to see the problem... 

I just opened the latest issue, and they had a piece on DIY kit homes, written by Robin Mather.  The article was flooded with pictures of homes, some tiny, some pretty decent sized.  They all looked wonderful.

This article, A Guide to DIY Kit Homes, was written for those of us that dream of creating our own perfect home but have the presence of mind to realize that maybe, just maybe, we don't know enough to do it successfully.

I'm totally one of those.

Many DIY kit homes are designed with people like us - the beginners - in mind: Plans, instructions, and even easy to assemble pre-constructed walls.... You know, like Ikea... but for entire buildings!

I could grab my trusty tool set, construct my home in a short time, set up a table in my front yard, sit down with some freshly squeezed lemonade, and put my feet up as I watched the truly skilled construction workers do a job that I completed first!  That'd be so awesome! I'd be queen of the world!!!

Umm... Sorry... I was having a personal moment....

Anyway, In the article, Mather even went as far as to produce a two-page table (so many companies were listed that a single page wasn't enough) listing Company names, what kinds of kits they sell, price per square foot, and other descriptors for the various companies.

So much help!

As if the author knew that there would be dreamers like me, unfettered by such inconsequential things as reality, the article mentioned a site called  It gives you a general idea of what to expect in terms of cost, time, and design possibilities.  You know, that whole reality part...

So, I've been staring at this short article from the moment that I was finally able to get around to reading my Mother Earth News magazine last night, dreaming of the endless possibilities.  It's a good thing that this DIY kit homes article was so short, because I was too far into that beautiful land of daydreams to truly focus on reading.

From what I've seen, DIY kit homes look like an extremely viable idea for people that dream of building a home, yet don't have the skills to go through it without help.  It's worth looking into.

For myself, there was one that I saw on the list that screamed my name. It's a company called Portland Alternative dwellings, and has a cost of $3-4 per square foot.


One of the reasons that the cost is so low is that you use salvaged materials.  How awesome is that?  It's not for everyone, granted, but it's a very enticing idea for someone like me.

PAD helps you create your own tiny house... on wheels!  

Yep.  They're tiny.  The largest plan is 12'.  This, however, is a very green option.  Not only are you using salvage materials, but you'r also creating a living space that's far smaller than the norm, which means less house to encroach on nature.


They're small enough that you can easily uproot them and move them to an entirely new area, if required.  For that matter, it would work for the person that can't seem to settle in one spot for an extended period.

Or, if you're like me and need somewhere to run away to do your writing in peace, and where you won't be distracted, you could place one of these beauties in your backyard. Use it to hide from the world as you write your latest masterpiece, crying over fictional characters in a fictional world that exists only inside your head.

Hmmm... that almost makes me sound crazy, doesn't it?

Oh, well.  It's a happy crazy, so we'll just go with it!

Are DIY kit homes something that you'd be interested in?  Or are you someone that would rather renovate an existing home?  There are so many options...

No wonder I spend half of my time living in the world of daydreams!

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