Phase One of Building Our House From the Ground Up


Karrie SteelySo far, building our house has been hard but rewarding work. There’s nothing easy about it. When I get tired or frustrated, I imagine what it will be like when it’s done, when we can enjoy a home that we built ourselves. The first stage is about finished. The base, frame, and most of the exterior is complete. 

We didn’t want a ‘mini-house’; just a small, efficient one. It’s about 850 square feet. A small house with open spaces is all we need, and, in designing the floor plan, we decided that it will only have one bedroom, a bathroom, and a large closet for utilities and clothes (there are other structures on the farm that we can use for storage, so that isn’t a big issue for us). The kitchen and living room are one open area. The roof is slanted rather than peaked for the solar panels, 8 feet tall at one side and 10 feet at the other. Wood and propane will be used for heat and solar for electricity. We are using super-efficient insulation, which is the largest up-front cost (more than the lumber, but it will pay off down the road).

Our biggest disagreement has been about windows. He didn’t want many at all because they aren’t efficient. After pointing out the beautiful views from the property we picked and the fact it is important to be able to see out of the house in order to protect it (not to mention sunlight and such), we were able to compromise. Well, more than compromise. I got my windows.


The home was built on wheels and will be moved to the farm from our place in town when it’s done. Starting with a trailer frame from a modular trailer, he welded extension “ribs” on, added three heavy I-beams, and cut the length down, leaving our final exterior measurement at 54 feet by 17 feet. It took several days to get the frame square and flat. The steel would bend and skew when another part of it was worked on. The heat difference from the cool mornings to the hot afternoons would warp the steel by half an inch. He finally hung weights on it and welded the frame into place.


8/8/2014 9:21:19 AM

Karrie, wow, what an incredible under taking for someone that's never done anything like this before. I'm sure that once it's done, years of enjoyment from living there will spawn special memories that will last a life time. It's amazing that a shop would be big enough to build a house inside it. That is one big shop. My garden projects are pretty small compared to building a house starting with a metal frame. ***** Yup, those pictures of your place is Nebraska alright. I've lived in Nebraska most of my life. I took a seven year stint in Missouri but just couldn't stay away. It's not Colorado but Nebraska just has a way of winning a person over to the rural lifestyle. I am a country boy at heart but on the down hill side of life, I am content to live in an urban area of the big city and play with urban gardening. It keeps me busy during retirement years. ***** Have a great house building day.

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