Today is Labor Day, 2019. Much to my chagrin, the barndo isn’t quite finished yet. In the almost-year since we started this little adventure, we learned a lot. Actually, way more than I ever thought I’d need to learn about house-building.

How Long can it Take?

We started this project in November 2018, and I really thought once we got going, it would get done pretty quickly. After all, its a 900 square foot house, how long can it take? The answer, because we are subcontracting it ourselves, is more than 10 months. Cuz it’s been 10 months, and we still aren’t finished.

Living in a Garage

In April 2019, six months after construction started, we had the barns up, and the framing in the house done, and were waiting on electrical and plumbing contractors. Our lease at the townhouse was up, so we moved out to Tanglefoot to live in the garage, which at least had electrical.

Building a Barndo - temporary living quarters, the garage
Home Sweet Garage

Our toilet was the port-a-potty, showers & laundry happened at our kid’s house, and we cooked on a hot plate, on the grill, or in the microwave. Although it sounds awful, it really wasn’t that bad. Sort of like an extended camping trip. It was cool enough in the Spring that a fan was enough to keep us comfortable, but we knew it wouldn’t last long.

Learn how to install a Pex Tube Manifold
Plumbing Manifold with PEX tubing

Around about May, I gave up on the plumber EVER coming to do his job, so I learned how to install Pex tube water lines, and plumbing vents. It’s really not that hard; plumbers are overrated. In doing the plumbing we gained an inside toilet and a shower, which was quite an exciting thing! Although we had to make sure to shower before sunset, otherwise we were showering in the dark.

Moving In to the Barndo

Sometime in June the electrician came M& wired the house. Since it was getting pretty darn hot in the garage, we moved into the barndo since it was now insulated and had electricity. We sheet-rocked the bedroom so we could run the portable AC and keep the bedroom cool. On July 1st, we got the HVAC unit installed and that was a glorious day, indeed! Central air, how I missed you!

The kitchen in our barndo - shiplap walls and reclaimed lumber countertops
Shiplap in kitchen; reclaimed lumber countertops

By now, we were running over budget & out of money. Rather than increasing our loan amount, we decided to finish the barndominium ourselves instead of contracting it out. So we laid tile, put up sheet rock. painted, installed cabinets, painted some more, hung shiplap and doors, ran a gas line for the stove, and put up trim & baseboards. I think in about 3 more weeks, we will be completely finished. Finally.

The front porch of the barndo

Although it’s not been without it’s frustrations, it’s been very satisfying to do so much of the work ourselves. The place is really coming together, and just being here is a real source of joy in my life. However, I’m ready for this particular task to be finished so I can move on to the main reason we moved here in the first place: starting a homestead.

If 2019 was the year of the house, 2020 will be the year of the garden. And the chickens. And maybe the bees. I’m looking forward to it all!

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