I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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If you are building your own home and you’ve decided to dig a well for your water supply, I have a bit of advice for you: Get a dowser. Don’t ask the well digger about dowsers. He will laugh at you and call them water witches. And don’t ask a geologist, because a geologist is likely to say that they can’t do what they claim. Dowsing has been proven false in scientific testing. Get a dowser anyway. Don’t worry what people will think. You can find dowsers around here who will do it for nothing and it only takes a few hours. I’ve dug two wells in my life. In February of 1972 I dug to a depth of 425 feet and got one gallon a week. A few days later, with the help of a dowser, I dug 85 feet and found water flowing at seven gallons per minute. I admit that my sample is small, but the results remain dramatic.
If you have decided to build your own home, reconsider. If you persist, then play the fool, get as much help as you can. BE IGNORANT because chances are you really are. Read books, visit people who have done it, ask any question that occurs to you, no matter how unintelligent it seems. Know that when you get into this project the rewards are great, the penalties, severe.
If you own some land, you can build 1,000 square feet for about $6,000 if you do all the work yourself and you don’t make any mistakes. If you hire professional and semi-skilled labor you will build a much better home with far less effort for $12,000 (and it might be worth $18,000 when you’re finished). The bank will give you a $5,000 five-year loan for the project. But you’ll have trouble getting a twenty-five year mortgage for anything less than a $25,000 house. The price of single family units has gone up 40% in two years. The average houses on the market today are $43,000. The do-it-yourself alternative is becoming more and more attractive.
Our compost privy, which was originally designed by the World Health Organization has been in use for over a year. As long as we keep plenty of dry straw or sawdust on hand and turn it about as often as the instructions say, it works fine. All our organic waste material goes into it, and after about 12 months we take the humus it makes and put it on the flower garden.
Next to the compost privy, the most successful innovation is the stovepipe. It’s 36 feet long. This is its second winter and now that the house is relatively tight we have kept a civilized temperature.
Our house has 1,100 sq. ft. of floor space with a 15 ft. ceiling (at the ridge peak) and we heat it entirely with one Ashley wood stove with a heat saver attachment.
It took a long time for me to like this house. I saw nothing but flaws. I even worried that it might come crashing down on us while we slept.
For a long time it was like a prison for me. Here I was working at getting myself free forever and at the same time I was building another prison. Work and worry was the song.
Although the house is not finished (will it ever be?) the flaws have been fixed, covered up, or at least forgotten about. My desire to tear it down and start over it again has drained away. I’m starting to fall in love with it.