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Sam Benson

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since Aug 30, 2022
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I'm a finish carpenter by trade. I am interested in building my own timber frame house one day. I like to forage for edible plants and mushrooms.
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Southeast Minnesota
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Recent posts by Sam Benson

Good insights and information. I'm not planning to go out and clear cut my forest for the money to pay my property taxes (although sometimes clear cutting is actually the healthiest thing to do). We do generate enough income from renting to a farmer to cover those. No trees on the property have ever been harvested for sale, at least not in the last 50 years. The forest is not as healthy as it could be and will be after some logging is done. I hope no one here assumes all logging is evil no matter what. Sustainable logging is the second best thing for the health of a forest, after fire. But we suppress fires. And by the way, we all use wood products and it has to come from somewhere.
1 year ago
It sounds like the blue hose you're referring to might be PEX.
1 year ago
Concise advice! Thank you!

Raises don't apply to me since I'm self-employed, but point taken. But I'm really trying to figure out how MUCH to save.

I'm 90% sure I want to build a timber frame, depending on the cost. I have purchased a few books on the subject, watched a few videos -although good ones are scarce - and I'm planning to attend a workshop next spring in Northern MN at the North House Folk School. Really cool looking place! I really can't wait! Unfortunately, scheduling a workshop won't be practical/possible currently with life giving my partner and me a few serious family, financial, AND health curveballs recently, so this year is all about study and research!

I am still hoping to hear from people about real numbers relating to their own situations. I would think that members on this forum would be the best possible resource for information on real world scenarios. I should probably create another topic for that purpose, actually. Stay tuned...

Edit: I saw the few previous replies after I posted this. I guess I should have stated which type of building I wanted to build earlier on, but that wasn't the point of the original post. I still do want to hear about challenges regarding insurance and financing - and building codes. I've been a finish carpenter for 15 years, so I'm pretty confident in my ability to quickly learn related skills. I have some of the tools I would need, but I don't have a sawmill. And I'm also still not completely sure about a timber frame. A lot of it depends on cost. But I'm open to pretty much anything. I'm still in the discovery stage of this whole thing, hence my desire for information!
1 year ago

urbanresistance McCoy wrote:Here this seems very relevant

Broken link
1 year ago

Steve Zoma wrote:I think in the big scheme of things, while financing may seem like the ideal situation, in the end it actually may rob you of some really good experiences.

One trend you will notice on this alternative housing is there low costs, and that is for a reason. There is a primal need for housing, but it does not have to mean you go in debt to get that housing that is needed. At looking at it from a different perspective, you not only get a self-build home where you have a huge amount of personal investment into it (also called sweat-equity), but you also come out on the other side owning it outright.

It really does not matter what type of house build we are talking about here: WOFATI, Earthberm, Container, Cordwood, or how I built mine, timber frame but using 90% of materials I found on the farm. Material costs are reduced so that as the house has aspects of it that are completed, it is owned outright as you go along. And if you own it outright, you don't need insurance.

But acquiring the material needed at such a low cost that a loan is not needed is a skill-set and experience all on its own. It takes looking at things from a different point of view. Just as an example, what happens if I bought a two acre house lot because it is all I could afford, but there is not enough trees on it to build a cordwood home? Well, I would probably use earthcrete to make a slab for my house first which only requires buying a few bags of portland cement and mixing it with existing earth. Then I might go to a firewood dealer and have a few cords of tree length firewood delivered. A cord of wood would make a lot of walls and yet only cost me $100. I could probably find free windows somewhere, and then buy rough framing lumber, rough sawn boards and finally buy new or used steel for the roof.

The point of all that is NOT to say how to build your home, but show that by attacking the problem from a different point of view, you can make your home. I mean who would ever think to buy tree length firewood to put up walls for a house? You need a lot of trees on your land right? Nope? You need a sawmill to make boards right? Nope, just a chainsaw if you have a cordwood home. The point is, why waste your time trying to secure financing to people who do not care about your home. In the same amount of time as you trying to convince people to lend you money and insure the loan, you could have built a small home for you and your family out of pocket. You do not have to write a check for it, and when you do as much as you can for yourself, you actually own it, and are not subjected to societies rules like insurance. (I don't have homeowners insurance). Is there risk? Sure, but The Greater the Risk, the Greater the Reward too. Some have said I am fearless, and that is NOT true, I just have confidence in myself, but part of that has been from providing for myself for years.

Today it is sad, jump on many forums today and ask a simple question and 19 out of 20 people will tell you, "Oh you cannot do that". What I love about Permiculture is that you will be inspired to do things differently. In the end, building your own place will rid you of the one thing that trips so many people up today, instant gratification. But rid yourself of that, and the world is your oyster. A lot can be accomplished when a little is done often.

I should say that this is great stuff and does help answer a lot of those questions. But there are still pieces missing for me. Cost of land, tools, taxes.

All of your input really is helping this idea come together for me, albeit a little slowly. Actual numbers and examples are my best teachers, I think.
1 year ago
Thanks for all the great input and advice!

But there are a couple areas where I'm having trouble making a connection: how do you acquire land, tools, and materials; learn to, design, plan, and actually build your own house out of pocket? And if you're spending all your time working on your house, how do you make money to pay for things like the land, materials, and property taxes on that house; a place to live while building the house; property taxes on THAT property; food, health insurance, vehicle, vehicle insurance, vehicle registration, gas, retirement, life insurance, other basic necessities, etc.? And if you're not working to make money to pay for these things, how do you pay for them?

The math is just not adding up for me.

Another thing in response to the advice against having homeowners' insurance: it seems inadvisable because if something was to happen (fire, flood, wind, hail, [all of which are evidently becoming more common]) I would have no way to rehome my family without becoming a major burden on somebody.

I really don't mean to be negative; I'm just struggling to see how all this is possible. The least amount of money required to acquire, maintain, and pay for property and property taxes on the minimum possible acreage; and build the most basic, inexpensive house possible would still cost tens of thousands of dollars - at least here in SE MN. And it would take a lot of time (months? years?) that I'd be spending doing that instead of working for income, so I'd be spending many tens of thousands while not making anything.

It seems like one either has to have A) a source of passive income, B) a big inheritance, C) a lot of money saved, or D) be willing to risk foregoing insurance of any kind, a vehicle, a proper house while building the new one, comforts of any kind. But this still doesn't account for a lot of unavoidable expenses like food, clothing, basic necessities, medical emergencies. Is this an accurate analysis? Is there another way? Am I not seeing something?

Again, the math isn't adding up. Can anyone give an example of rough numbers in their specific case?

Example: "It cost me X amount of money in X amount of time to build X with X tools". Details about what kind of necessities/conveniences you did/didn't have during that time would be a big bonus. That would be a great way for me to picture how feasible it would be for me and how much I'd need to save before getting started if I'm to do it without a loan.

Thanks again for all your great input!
1 year ago
Let me start by stating that I am not a professional plumber. I have done some of my own plumbing work, though.

I'm sorry about the lack of willingness of your local plumbers to service your location and situation. I foresee an increase in your plumbing skills.

Fernco coupler sounds right. My advice: acquire every coupling, tool, tape, fitting, clamp, solvent, and cement you think you might need and that your budget will allow; youtube the problems you're trying to solve like you're a professional Gen Z  kid; ask around in any other forum you can find; when you're finally as ready as you could be, start the repair, curse and flail, finish the repair; then return everything you didn't use.

Plumbing isn't black magic, but knowing which fitting to use where, and how is the knack. If you try enough different ways, you'll eventually figure out which one is right. Good luck!

1 year ago
Good advice, thank you. I'm really hoping to hear about what kind of challenges people have faced first-hand, though. I see so many cool buildings on here, but I find myself wondering if the builder struggled with that stuff. I just hope to get some idea of what to expect before I spend days on end talking to lenders and insurance agents.
1 year ago
I like it! It looks pretty luxurious while remaining low cost and low impact on the environment. Any plans for a prototype?
1 year ago