Today is the 4th installment of 26 in our year-long series called “The Simple House Project.” Every 2 weeks, we publish an article or video covering the process from start to finish. From permits, plans, and construction of the exterior, to the complete interior finish – we hope to document the challenges, trials and tribulations of creating a simple house that is extremely cost-effective, energy-efficient and earth-friendly – using only the space we truly need to live comfortably.

One of the most exciting aspects of our “Simple House Project” is that so much of it will be created with our own four hands. For Mary and myself, it’s not only critical to keeping the house affordable and on budget – but a way for us to do what we love together  – create and build!

Although the complete timeline and budget of the project will be covered in a future update – today’s article is all about separating the tasks we can complete, and those we can’t.

Drilling our well will be one of the things we can't do! Shutterstock / Steve Heap
Drilling our well will be one of the things we can’t do! Shutterstock / Steve Heap

The real key to success in any large project is knowing what you can do – and making sure you have great people doing what you can’t.  There are four major areas of the house that we are leaving to experienced professionals: the grading / foundation, the septic system, digging and installing the water well, and the building of the exterior house shell.

Luckily for us, when it comes to the four things we can’t do – we have some great relationships with some experienced professionals to rely on.

What we can’t do:

The Foundation
We will use radiant heat installed in the foundation to heat the entire house
We will use radiant heat installed in the foundation to heat the entire house. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Studio Vin

Our slab foundation will be unique in that it will also hold the heat source for our home. By eliminating a basement (space we truly don’t need), we can have radiant heat installed when the floor is poured.

Not only is it an extremely efficient way to heat the house, but Mary will love having the floors always warm during the cold Ohio winters!

We will also stamp and stain the concrete surface to double as our kitchen, hallway and bathroom floors – not only a cool look  – but a huge savings in finishing costs and easy to maintain!

Septic System and Digging a Well

With the farm situated outside of any accessible sewer or water hook-ups – digging a well and installing a septic system are a must. Septic systems are designed based on the number of bedrooms credited to the house – so with the small floor plan, at least we will be on the lower end of the cost spectrum. When it comes to the well, our garden shovels won’t quite get it done – so hiring a drill rig is the only option.

The House Shell

Enter Weaver Barns.  Upon completion of the foundation, Weaver’s crew will construct the entire shell of our house based upon our modifications to their Sugar Creek model.

The Simple House Project plans
The Simple House Project plans

We have been so incredibly impressed with the entire Weaver Barns company and with the quality of the materials they use. We are really looking forward to seeing the shell of our home come together next year.

When the Weaver crew completes their portion, it’s go time for us!

What we can do:

If you had to put the entire house in perspective – it sort of comes down to this: The exterior and shell of the house will be completed by others – and the entire interior along with the landscaping is ours to finish!

One of the exciting projects we will tackle will be to create our own concrete counter tops for the kitchen. Photo courtesy of shutterstock / Kruess
One of the exciting projects we will tackle will be to create our own concrete counter tops for the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Kruess

What is the old saying – we know enough to be dangerous? Well, when it comes to the interior tasks – Mary and I have a lot of combined experience in completing much of what will need to be done. However, we are also very fortunate to have a great set of friends and family with professional experience and accreditations that can help us along the way. (you know who you are 🙂 )

With that said – here is the short list of what we will be responsible for completing at the house.  It is our goal to have many of the projects listed below completed, stored, and ready for install by the time the shell of the house is finished.

Projects We Will Tackle

Design, build and installation of all interior sliding barn doors

Design and install of all kitchen cabinets

Design, build and installation of the kitchen island

Design, build and installation of concrete counter tops for kitchen, island and bathroom vanity

All interior trim work installation

All interior painting

Design and installation of the cable stairway and loft banister system

Design and build of electrical system – *with professional help

Design and installation of all interior lighting

Design and installation of rough plumbing system – *with professional help

Installation of all final plumbing fixtures – sinks, faucets, toilet, etc.

Acid staining of the usable concrete floors throughout house.

Custom build out of all closets

Custom build out of knee wall storage system in loft

Landscaping / outdoor patio installation w/ pergola

Installation of solar panel system

Installation of rainwater collection system

I am sure the list will grow as we go along – but for now – its long enough!  Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas!

Happy Building! – Jim and Mary

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9 thoughts on “The Simple House Project Update #4 – Determining What We Can Do – And What We Can’t

  • December 28, 2015 at 11:04 am
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    Awesome! I like the rustic, but stately look of your simple house. I am a single female NaNa who loves a good DIY project. I have prepped and stained my own bathroom floors with concrete stain. They turned out great. (Used thin masking tape to make faux grout lines. People actually bend down and touch it to ask me how I made grout lines in the concrete:) I think concrete stained floors are beautiful. I also have concrete countertops that are absolutely awesome! They look like sandstone w/ veining. Happy house building!

  • December 21, 2015 at 9:37 pm
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    I am so happy for you two! We have radiant floor heat in our concrete floors as well here in Michigan. Nothing better, IMO. An on-demand hot water heater heated the whole (small) house and provided all of our domestic hot water heat without batting an eye. Now we have a wood boiler that does that job in the winter. Makes for practically zilch going to the propane company for the winter! And we use an absurdly small amount of wood to boot! Congratulations! You are making some super choices!

  • December 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm
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    I’m a professional drywall taper in Calgary, Alberta. Just hoping you have professionals to do that task. Are you framing and sound insulating the partition walls yourselves?

  • December 21, 2015 at 10:14 am
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    We’ve had radiant heat and it’s wonderful. Thanks for your inspirational energy in each post. You are motivating us to tackle one more entire home project. Seems difficult to get just want you want unless you either build it or restore it to your specs. Always look forward to reading them. Happy Holidays.

  • December 20, 2015 at 10:05 pm
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    Very good idea using radiant heat.

    • December 21, 2015 at 1:06 pm
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      Thanks Tommy – We are really excited to see it all come together, and we have heard nothing but great things from those that have it.

  • December 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm
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    Merry Christmas to you and yours! I look forward to following along as you continue this journey.

  • December 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm
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    These folks are building their own home and doing a lot of the work themselves. What if you and Bill did this on a small farm near the kids?

  • December 20, 2015 at 12:05 pm
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    So ha[[y that you are able to work oh your Dream home and make it exactly as you want it.

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