Friday, July 11, 2014

Introduction - Why This Blog?

Brief History
We have spent eight years designing an "off-the-grid" home that will utilize materials and methods that are not typical.  In preparation, we have spent countless hours researching books, magazines, websites, technical manuals, manufacturers' literature, trade show handouts and interacting with like-minded individuals.  We have accumulated a small library, filled a filing cabinet and bookmarked many websites.

This blog launched in the summer of 2014.  At that time, we were in the final construction drawing stage and planned to break ground later that summer.  Dorothy has collaborated from the beginning but, due to her busy schedule, designated me as the sole blogger and do-it-yourselfer builder.  (For more on Dorothy, particularly her incredible impact on non-readers through her Reading Success Center, go to About Dorothy.)

Our first goal is to share the extensive information we have gathered and filter it through our opinions, biases, compromises, frustrations and preferences.  We will walk you through our design evolution, land acquisition, consultant and vendor vetting, estimating costs, stockpiling salvage materials, gaining construction experience, accumulating tools and equipment and getting our project certified.  We are hoping that, by virtue of my being a do-it-selfer, the spin we give the topics will be different than a professional would give you. 

Keith and Dawn's house in an early stage; Dottie in
 the middle, Keith at the right. friend, Jerry, on left
Our second goal  is to have a running dialogue while we are building the house. Based upon the time it took us to build a house for Dottie's son, Keith and his wife, Dawn, ours will probably take at least four years.

Our third goal is to report in ensuing years on the success of the project -- its good outcomes as well as any bad -- particularly with regard to its thermal performance and energy efficiency. Presumably by that time, I will also be able to share hard-earned tips, especially about energy-saving strategies and working alone during construction.

Our fourth goal is to detail the reasons for our inflexible and stringent budget and how we priced the costs ahead of time before committing to the final drawings.  And we will report throughout construction on how we are doing with staying on budget. We would like to discredit the common notion that green building costs a lot more and and doesn't pay off fast enough..

Green building for professionals
Our last goal is to persuade others to embrace sustainability and green building, even as DIYers.  I have heard that, when it comes to new ideas, it takes 20% early adopters before mainstream even notices. We want to be among the twenty-percenters moving green building into the mainstream, not just with the public but with professionals as well.  In keeping with this goal, we will make our home available as a demonstration site.

To Teach is to Learn
After blogging a short while, the old cliche, "To teach is to learn" became real.  Sharing my thoughts in a blog and wanting to present the best face in doing so has made me research, organize and self-vet way more than I would have done otherwise, resulting in heightened clarity that will enhance the quality of the project and improve chances of staying on budget.  And as the blog matures and reaches more interested folks, I look forward to comments that make things even better.

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Update - Fall of 2016
This post was one of the earliest to the blog.  At the time it was written, I had no idea as to the number of viewers to expect but felt that its impact on sustainability would be directly proportional to the number of visitors.  Viewership began at a snails pace -- it took 26 months to reach 10,000 visitors but then only one month to surpass 15,000.  In the beginning, about a third of hits came from outside North America but now foreign hits have stayed steady while North American hits are increasing rapidly.  Hopefully, the sudden increase in readership means that our "early-adopterism" is starting to have more impact than I originally could have imagined.


  1. Hi Jerry,
    I also write a blog about our experiences and research for remodeling a 1980's earth sheltered, passive solar home in Colorado that had fallen into disrepair. We are retired and are doing the work ourselves, although I have hired some help for specific projects.
    I looked for blogs that were similar in scope to ours and found very few. I really admire the way your blog is organized.
    My blog is part of our LEED certification process by advertising our efforts to meet their standards. I find I use the blog to keep me focused during this long process as well as to help clarify our problem solving.
    If you have time, please consider viewing my blog at

    1. Your blog looks very interesting; I have bookmarked it and expect to visit often. You are spot-on with your comment about blogging being very clarifying. Many of my ideas and course changes have resulted from organizing my thoughts for blog posts.


As a do-it-selfer-in-training, I welcome your comments.