Starting our homestead journey

Our homestead journey began at hello. We met online in November 2015. At the time, we were both already fantasizing about our respective future homes. Jake had mentioned wanting to build a homestead in his profile, and in my opening message, I (Sarah) asked him what ideas he had for his future home. Jake proceeded to write me back a very enthusiastic novel, outlining all his ideas for a homestead. And from that moment, we were always brainstorming.

Now it’s nearly four years later, and all that brainstorming is getting closer to reality. We’re both finally out of grad school and able to save for purchasing our future land. We’ve been circling around with our ideas and honing in on exactly what we want to do and build – both for our home, and our business. Our plan is to purchase land by the end of 2022, so in the meantime, we continue to refine.

One of my weird hobbies is designing floor plans. So my main project lately has been taking all the ideas we’ve discussed over the past three and a half years, refining them, and figuring out how to fit everything together under one roof. I started drawing things out on graph paper, and eventually found some software that had all the functionality we were looking for (auto builds framing, compiles material lists, etc.). I’m currently on version 23.5 of the main house design, and am honing in.

So what exactly do we want to include in our future home? Lots of things…

* With the exception of internet, this house will be completely self-sustaining and off-grid. That means solar and wind for electricity, passive solar, masonry fireplaces for heat and cooling, green roof and earth berming/underground design for insulation well and spring water, biogas collector, composting system, gray water system, and a big garden. It’s “earthship-inspired,” as in we are using a lot of the same ideas and techniques, but not an official earthship since we are not following the specific trademarked earthship methods and materials.

* We are purchasing land, designing, and building the house ourselves, with no mortgage, so we are not tied to large monthly expenses. One of our primary goals is to be debt free, so we have freedom and flexibility to live our lives the way we want, and not feel like we are prisoners of a mortgage.

* After extensive research on alternative building materials, we’ve settled on hempcrete. Initially we wanted to use earth bags, but the reality of building with that material was more than we felt we could do on our own. Hempcrete is more expensive, but we feel comfortable with the technique, and it is one of the best for insulation, thermal mass, dealing with moisture, and soundproofing.

* We want this to be our forever home, which means we need to consider functionality as we get older. Age-in-place design considers that we may have limited mobility, so everything except the basement is on the ground floor.

This is not going to be a quick journey, and we are in it for the long haul. There are many phases to our homestead plan that will be stretching out over a number of years. We are starting this blog as a way to document our journey and be able to reflect on our experiences and all the things we will inevitably mess up and learn along the way. Feel free to follow along!

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  • Starting our homestead journey

    Our homestead journey began at hello. We met online in November 2015. At the time, we were both already fantasizing about our respective future homes. Jake had mentioned wanting to build a homestead in his profile, and in my opening message, I (Sarah) asked him what ideas he had for his future home. Jake proceeded…

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