Have you ever wondered how to build a farmhouse? This is how we are building our own farmhouse in beautiful Southern Utah.
Have you ever wondered how to build a farmhouse? This is how we are building our own farmhouse in beautiful Southern Utah.
It’s time for a house update and spoiler alert: there’s a video to go with it!
My brother made this video for me as a surprise! I’ll be honest, it made me tear up. Sometimes it feels like we will never get moved in. Watching really put all of the work that we have done into perspective. You guys, we are building a whole house! AND IT’S COMING TOGETHER!!!
So when we left off last we were working on our fancy triple-pane window installation (they are so nice). Now we have finished our stairs, installed all the insulation, framed almost all of the walls (just deciding where the pantry goes and where the wall between the laundry room and mud room go left to do!), plumbed and wired the upstairs, completed installing the drywall upstairs, and have made lots of decisions for the downstairs. We are currently running water and fiber-optic lines to the house, plumbing and wiring the main level, making kitchen plans, and picking major appliances/finishes/cabinets/flooring/light fixtures. I dare say we are heading into what I would call, “the fun part”!
How is it April already? The goal we set when we stated building 16 months ago was a December 2017 move in, that means we have just 8 months left before moving in. We are still on track for that. Yay!
I’ve done some budget shifting and have decided that I’m going to spend the money and build my dream kitchen. I live in my kitchen! It’s where I raise my family, it’s where I work, it is truly the heart of our home. I’ve decided to not worry about buying cabinets for my mud room, laundry room, or office so that I can put those funds into the kitchen. After we get moved in, I can finish those rooms a little at a time. I cannot wait for this kitchen to come together. It’s going to make Joanna Gaines proud!
Here’s some of the pictures I’ve taken to help you see some of our work.
An update on our house build, our plans for a more “green” house, and our energy efficient windows. And lots and lots of mud!
We are closing in on our one year mark of our DIY house build, and I thought I’d share some of the progress we have made this winter. A year ago this picture would have just been of our beautiful mountains but now, 12 months later, there’s a shell of a house! We broke ground on January 23, 2016 and hope to move in sometime this year (before Christmas is the goal). Building a house is one of the hardest and most rewarding things we have done, and the last year was a true testament to my husband Thomas’ hard work and perseverance. He’s been working on this project between his engineering work and helping with the family hardware store. We’ve been laying sub-flooring in 103 degree heat and installing windows at well below freezing. This kind of project isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s going to be so wonderful when we get settled in. I can’t wait!
It’s been way too long since I updated you on the house. This project – oh, this project. We are at a really fun stage of framing and it changes every day. I still laugh every time we tell people we are building it ourselves and then they ask who the contractor is. No friends, there’s no contractor, just Thomas and I and hours and hours and hours of work. My brother moved here in May and has started working pretty often with Thomas on the house, and we’ve had a few friends help out here and there, so we aren’t totally alone, but for all intents and purposes, this is a 100% self-build DIY house.
We sold The Shanty! It was a really bittersweet decision, but the timing feels good. Building a house takes money, so selling a property right now just made sense for us. It will forever be our first love, but I’m ok with seeing it go too. We used the money from the sale the pay off this property (which we acquired just over 2 years ago). So now our house loan is only for the house itself, which is nice. Without selling the Shanty, our mortgage would have been both the property and the house building materials together, so we are excited to use our loan for just the house, if that makes sense.
When I last updated you in July, we had just poured the footing for the basement. You won’t believe how far we have come since then.
If you need to back up, here are all of the posts I have written about building our own farmhouse:
Since then, things have changed in all kinds of ways.
After we got the basement footings in, Thomas used foam blocks to make the basement walls. These blocks are super cool and stack up just like legos. They have all kinds of metal rebar inside, and then they are filled with concrete. The wall forms stay in place and are the insulation for the basement. We’ll screw Sheetrock right to them for the interior walls. We had a pumper truck come to fill up the walls. It was a pretty exciting day, though it stressed me out big time. I didn’t stay longer than to take a few pictures. People were yelling, the walls seemed like they were going to pop open, and it was too much for me. Thomas actually fell off a ladder, got his leg stuck on the way down, and the ladder came crashing down on top of him while they were pouring. We were so lucky he didn’t break his leg, but it was so sore for a long time. It was an eventful day for sure.
Next, we added floor trusses and flooring in the basement. We know that a basement with a crawl space underneath isn’t normal, but that’s the perk of doing all of this ourselves. We think this will be the best option for any water issues and for future plumbing/water needs. Laying the floor in the middle of August was so physically awful. The white insulated walls just made the sun beat down on you and kept all the heat in. It was in the upper 90s on one of the days I helped, and I’m pretty sure the heat index from the house was putting the temperature into the 100s. It was like working in a solar oven. I know when the winter comes we’ll long for some warmth, but on that day, it was so miserably hot for doing such exhausting work.
This summer I have had all kinds of people email me to ask for food and lodging recommendations near me and I’ve also been lucky enough to host multiple families that were passing through my neck of the woods (Hi, Katie!). Living near Zion National Park has it’s perks. I have a dear friend that just remodeled a 100 year old house (the home her husband grew up in, no less), and now it’s a Zion National Park vacation rental. I had the honor of taking pictures of her home, so I wanted to show them all to you just in case you might be passing though. It is lovely! You can rent via Airbnb HERE or on VRBO HERE. If you are looking for a gorgeous affordable Zion National Park vacation rental, this should be on your list.
Can you see that painting? It’s an original that the owner painted. How neat is that?
You are going to love this simple handy trick that will teach you the best and easiest way to preserve fresh herbs! My garden is a weed-filled mess this year (I say that like that isn’t the norm. Well friends, that’s totally the norm right now in my life.). Even though it looks pretty awful, there’s still all kinds of treasures hiding under the weeds. Such treasures include a wealth of basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and sage! I love having fresh herbs on hand (and I’m going to love it even more when we live near our garden!). My pasta sauce has never been more delicious, our pizza is always topped with fresh herbs, and can’t get enough falafel (recipe from Minimalist Baker and it’s so good!).
When I think about school starting again (only 2 weeks left of summer), pumpkins, and cool weather, a little part of me feels sad to see my kids gone all day and to say goodbye to my garden. That’s where this great tip on how to preserve fresh herbs comes in handy! When you make these awesome herb bombs, you’ll keep them in the freezer until you are ready to use them, which means when it’s cold out and there’s snow covering your herb bed (and the herbs at the store a million dollars an ounce), you’ll have a little taste of summer waiting for you.
This recipe/tip/trick comes from my friend Rebecca’s new cookbook, Not Your Mama’s Canning Book.
Rebecca (who blogs over at Foodie with Family) sent me this book to review because we are friends, and I’m so glad she did! This is a must-have in any modern canning kitchen. It was so much fun to learn from and read, and I loved that it’s much more than just canning recipes. There’s a whole section of more traditional recipes that you can use your newly canned products in, like Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal (using the ginger peach butter recipe in the book), Tortilla Soup (using the Choose Your Own Adventure Black Beans recipe in the book), and Sticky Jerk Chicken Wings recipe (using the Caribbean Heat Habanera Hot Sauce recipe in the book). Isn’t that fun? You won’t just be canning everything from Honey Mustard and Smokey Roasted Salsa to The World’s Best Pizza Sauce and Instant Hummus in a Jar. This book is awesome!
Plus there are all kind of other preserving recipes that don’t even take a canner, like this herb bomb recipe, chocolate extract, and mint extract. How fun is that?
Herb bombs pack so much more flavor than their dried counter parts, and are much easier to store than fresh herbs. You are going to love these!
In February I shared a little update on finally starting to build our house!
When I say “we are building a house”, I don’t mean we are organizing laborers to do it for us. I mean Thomas is out there as often as he can and is putting a house together piece by piece. I have spent hours moving rocks, using a pick ax to level the ground for concrete forms, picking up trash, and a million other little things. Thomas for sure is doing the bulk of the work (I’m just on the support team), but slowly it’s moving along.
We’ve been doing lots of learning on this journey. We’ve called countless experts in their fields, we’ve been consulting lots of professionals, I have been using the help of friends and family that have skills in different areas, but at the end of the day it is our man hours that are making our dreams become a reality. The task is huge and daunting, so exciting and invigorating, and completely overwhelming and consuming lots of days.
January 23, 2016 we broke ground with our little family:
Thomas worked on digging out the basement for months. He’s been running utilities, adding a french drain around the edges of the basement, and compacting the soil. We’ve been working on getting our construction loan (STILL NOT DONE! Oh my heart it’s been months and months), we’ve gotten an appraisal of the property and our house plans (so cool to see! I think I might share part of it with you), talked to the heating and cooling guys, had to decide where we are putting things like doors and windows in the basement, got our building permit (that cost us $3,000! I almost died. I thought Thomas was kidding when he told me), and a million other things.
So after the hole was dug we started adding concrete forms to pour footings. We decided to have a crawl space under our basement. It might not be conventional but it’s going to work well for us and in the long run make things easier.
Then once the forms were in and inspected we pour concrete at the end of May.
Lucky for me my brothers were in town for a while in May and they were able to help us out!
My brother Tyler and his family MOVED TO MY TOWN! They are living right next door to us! Tyler is working at our hardware store and helping me on the blog (he’s helping with videos), and he’s also helping on our house. I’m so excited to have him and his cute family here. He’s been such a blessing to Thomas and I in the few short weeks he’s been here. His wife, Beth, graduated from culinary school and she’s an inspiration in the kitchen. I’m hoping to get her in the kitchen to share some Southern recipes with us.
So before his whole family came Tyler moved out and my other brother Adam helped him drive the moving truck out. So for a week I had both brothers here helping which was great. They removed all the concrete forms and started stacking our “legos”.
Thomas is really into building an energy efficient home (he’s an engineer, so this kind of challenge/project is actually fun for him to figure out). So these foam blocks were something he really wanted to use to make the basement walls. You stack the foam blocks together, add lots of rebar to each layer, and then you fill them up with concrete to make the walls. The foam is our basement insulation and it’s also the forms for the concrete. It took us about a month to put up all of foam blocks, get the rebar in (SO MUCH REBAR!), use spray foam to fill holes, level it all, and to support the foam structure in preparation for the concrete. The windows and doors were the hardest part of this step. They took a lot of time to prepare.
So not only will the basement be nice and insulated but we also get to screw the Sheetrock right to the foam. It’s already insulated and we don’t have to build any wood walls out from it.
That’s the pictures that I have for now. I already have another post ready for you about this process that I’m going to try to post ASAP. I actually did a video post but my audio didn’t work, boo! I’m hoping to try that again soon!
Thank you for being here and enjoying this crazy house building journey with us.
Spring has sprung and like me, many of you are thinking about or already investing in CHICKS!!! This is my fifth spring getting new chicks and I just love this time of year. Last year, I tried my hand at using an incubator to hatch my own eggs (much harder than I thought it would be but very rewarding and wonderful for the kids to see), but this year I just got five little chicks from our hardware store. They are currently right next to me cheeping away in their box. They have such fun little personalities and the kids enjoy having them around as much as I do.
If you are at all interested in getting chicks, this year or in the future, this article is for you! There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to raising animals but I’ve done lots of learning, reading, and experimenting so let me share a few things that I have learned these past five years of raising chicks into wonderful backyard chickens (the best and most productive pets ever).
1. You don’t have to use a heat lamp to provide heat. Yes, you have to provide heat, but there’s a better way
I did a heat lamp for a few years. This worked fine and the chicks stayed warm but it always made me a little nervous. I didn’t like to leave it on while we were gone and I felt uncomfortable at night because of fire hazard issues (we’ve always kept out chicks in our home too which increased the worry). Plus I had little kids and heat lamps and bulbs are, well, hot. That being said, my friend Cassie got chicks and she bought a Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder for Chicks or Ducklings, and I had to have one too. I’m using it right now and I LOVE it! The chicks just stand under this little thing and it produces heat, no light/lamp/bulbs needed. It’s way more safe, the chicks enjoy having a little house to hide and sleep under, and I have noticed that they get into a much better natural rhythm. The light from the heat lamp kept them up at odd hours. The years that I have used this brooder, the chicks get into more natural day and night patterns. I feel like it’s all-around healthy for the chicks and safer for our home.
2. Organic chick starter and feed is the way to go
If you are feeding your people organic/homemade/wholesome foods you’ll want to feed your chickens the same. I use and love Purina organic chicken feeds. They have a whole bunch of options when it comes to feed, so you’ll have what you need for your chicks, layers, and everyone in between. When you first get chicks, you’ll want to feed them “chick starter“, this feed has a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio which helps their developing bones stay strong, has the right amount/types of protein for rapidly growing chick bodies, and the pieces are normally small so that their little bodies can eat them. You feed chick starter to your ladies until they are about 18 weeks old (and then you’ll switch over to feed meant for laying hens which has high protein to support them during egg production). I like this Purina Organic feed because we can get it at our little hardware store (yay!), it’s made with all the ingredients you want and none of those you don’t (organic ingredients cannot be fertilized with chemical fertilizers, treated with insecticides/fungicides/pesticides, etc. and cannot be genetically modified. Organic feed products cannot contain chemical preservatives, medications, hormones or animal by-products), and because it makes me feel like I’m giving the animals, that I’ve chosen to become a steward over, what’s best for them. Our chicks are our pets and I feed them as well as I feed my kids. If you aren’t local to our store you can find a retailer here.
3. Don’t use paper towels or newspaper for bedding
The first year or two I had chicks I just used newspaper to line their box before I moved them to a coop. It worked but it’s such a mess and they need to be changed daily to keep the smell down. I have had much better luck using pine wood shavings (don’t get cedar shavings, they are supposed to be hard on the birds respiratory system) and also chopped up corn cobs. Both bedding options are cheap and come in big bags from the feed supply store. They are awesome because they absorb moisture (and smells) very well, you can compost them when you need to change the litter, and if you have some leftover you can use them in your nesting boxes in your coop.
Things have been moving slowly along on the house front! Here’s what we have done in January and February of 2016. Building your own house and all of it’s glory! I use the term “we” very loosely. I should really say Thomas. I’m support staff right now. He comes home later than he used to and I try to have dinner ready and on the table. I deliver lots of lunches to building site (which we still haven’t named!), and I run him here or there when he needs to pick up a different large vehicle for something. You know, support staff stuff.
Here’s what we got done:
Here’s a little video of how things are looking!
This past weekend was a pretty big deal in our little family. We officially started building our house on the beautiful property that housed our garden and chickens last summer. I’ve been struggling with how to relay the impact, meaning, and depth of this small step in my sphere on the internet. Part of me feels like it’s bragging, or that people won’t care, or that people will think I’m making a big deal out of something small.
Friends, this is such a huge deal to me.
I’m naturally a nester, a settler, a homemaker, and a bloom-where-you-are-planted kind of girl. In the last 13 years I have moved well over 15 times, but I always worked at making my home, though temporary, my home. When I got married we still moved a lot, but I have longed for roots, structure, and a place to call ours for years. As I’ve had children that desire has grown. We finally moved “home” (where my husband grew up in Southern Utah) 3 years ago after working and going to school to get here. We bought our dream property 18 months ago, we had my mom design our house a year ago. and last week, January 23, 2016, we finally started building our house.
Our process of owning a home has been so very slow. I don’t know many people who have 5 kids and have waited over 10 years to get into a house. Heck, it’s going to take us two years to build it, so we’ll be married for 12 (TWELVE!) years before we have a house. But all the moving, waiting, wishing, planning, building, and living without will make that move-in day all the sweeter. We also feel like we kind of skipped the starter home stage which means we’ll have our “dream home” in the end. All this waiting and working won’t be without reward, that I know. Thomas is still getting the plans into AutoCad and when it’s done I’ll share them with you.
So finally starting this house, our dream house, is a pretty huge deal to me. This house is so much more than a house. It’s going to be our forever home. The house our kids remember and think of when they think “home”, the house I plan on filling with people, and celebration, and food. The house that has a basement apartment for friends, and family, and you to come and stay in. I can’t wait for you to come; you are definitely invited. Enjoy this house building process with me over the next few years because this kind of thing ends up being an endurance test and we can find the joy in the journey together.
I’m so glad you are here.