Choosing a Rural Home Security System

After building and moving into their new home in the country, one couple undertakes outfitting their rural home with a security system. They share a few lessons for others considering the same.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 5: Heat

This is the final article in a series on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small house.

What Are Our Rural Internet Options?

Living in the country often makes it difficult to access reliable, fast Internet services. One couple searched through their rural Internet options after moving to property outside of town.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 3: Water

This is part three in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small house.

Planting Garlic in Our Fall Front Yard Garden

Now that this couple has moved into their new country home, they take time to plant garlic and a small fall garden in their “front yard.” One small step toward an established homestead, one giant leap for family morale!

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 1: Resources

This is the first of a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable old-school techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small home.

Moving Day(s): How We Moved into Our New Home, Plus a Few Tips

One couple has finally moved to the country, with the hope that they’ll soon be eating a lot of homegrown peaches from their yet-to-be-planted orchard. The homestead dream continues, with this story of a successfully organized moving and unpacking experience — and beginning a lifetime of enjoying full view of the sunset from the back porch.

Things Get Easier One Step at a Time

Dream big, build a small house or make home improvements, and enjoy the benefit of every task when you tap into your Zen of Building.

Well Water Test: Is Our Well Water Safe to Drink?

After drilling a well and hooking up the pressure tank, whole-house filter and water softener, one couple covers the steps in having the health department come and test well water for bacteria to ensure the well water is safe to drink.

Water Well Drilling: How Our Well Works, Part 1

This is the first post in a three-part series on how a water well works, as experienced by couple building a new home in the country. This initial post focuses on the initial decision to drill a water well, the installation process, and their maintenance plan to keep their well safe.

Septic System Installation (with Photos!)

While not the most glamorous topic, building a house in the country usually includes a septic system installation. The tank, pipes and lateral lines were all laid out, approved and buried at one couple’s home-construction site last week. Read how the process went, find out how a septic system works, and check out the photos.

Our Home Insulation Decision: Based on R-Value

For a new house being built in northeastern Kansas, a mix of spray foam insulation and batt insulation will provide an R-value that will help the home owners efficiently heat and cool their new space.

Home Construction Update: A Mini Photo Series

A lot of progress has been made on one couple's home construction. This post showcases some photos of the progress and highlights some special features being built into the house.

A Closer Look at Recycled Countertops

When one home-building couple first started looking for sustainable countertop materials, they were focused on options made with recycled materials. In their quest for the perfect tops, they stumbled upon a more cost-effective way to incorporate recycled countertops into their home’s design.

Sourcing Sustainable Bamboo Flooring

After looking through many sustainable floor materials for their new home, one couple settles on bamboo flooring for the majority of their living space. As with many house-building choices, finding a truly green bamboo floor requires a little product research.

Which Windows Are Best for a Passive Solar Home?

Whether your windows are fixed or operable, crank or double-hung, or come with a low-emissivity glazing all make a difference in how well the windows perform in an efficient, passive solar home.

Financing Renewable Energy: Home Wind and Solar Power

Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.

The Heart of the Home: Planning a Sustainable Custom Kitchen

Planning a custom kitchen design that incorporates sustainable materials and supports a self-reliant lifestyle can be done. Read one couple’s experience and thought process as they do just that. The graphic shown here is a computer-generated draft modeling of the cabinet design for their future kitchen, but note that the colors and materials do not reflect what will be the final look.

Home Construction Timeline: Plans vs. Reality

A home-construction timeline is often a moving target: Rain, subcontractor schedules and various other conflicts can cause frustrating delays. One couple finds ways to cope with record rainfall that halted progress on their home-building process by working ahead on other decisions they’ll eventually need to make.

Plumbing for a Greywater System (Plus Some Money Savings!)

In order to save money, water and energy, one couple is building a new home that will incorporate a simple, gravity-run, household greywater system to divert and collect greywater, as well as rainwater from their roof, for landscape use.

An Educational Visit to Four Season Farm

While building their own home and farm, one couple decides to learn from other talented and experienced market farmers about how to set up year-round gardening production. Here are some tips and photos from a trip to Four Season Farm, home of Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, in Maine.

What Kind of Home Construction Insurance Do We Need?

When building a new home, be sure to check into what home construction insurance coverage you need. For this homesteading couple, not having liability insurance would leave them feeling as unprotected as not having sandbags to prevent downhill ditch runoff and sedimentation.

Basement Construction: Choosing a Concrete Foundation

Concrete is not a green or natural building material, but one home-building Kansas couple decides the built-in storm shelter, root cellar and custom greywater system they intend to include in their concrete basement will make using the material worthwhile.

Tiny Homes, Bigger Lives

Steve Maxwell explains why living the bootstrap lifestyle and living with less leaves you with more in the end.

We Have Our Home-Construction Loan! How Do We Use It?

For many, home construction requires financing from a bank. So how does it work after signing and finalizing home construction loan papers? Here’s the standard process for accessing the funds within the loan account. Just one more step in the process of building a dream house and homestead!

Homestead Planning with Bonus Morel Mushroom Hunting

As one couple plans their homestead-to-be, they spend time learning the lay of their land. One happy fringe benefit: They used this time as an excuse to go morel mushroom hunting. The results of their efforts were delicious.

How to Get a Building Permit to Build a New Home

The steps involved in receiving a building permit require some advance planning and paperwork. If you’re hoping to build in the future you’ll want to review the building permit requirements in your area several months before your planned construction start date.

Green Building Materials, Part 1: Shopping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Not all green building materials are fancy, engineered products. One couple explores the saved-from-the-landfill options at local Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Hard to beat preventing waste, supporting Habitat for Humanity’s mission, and finding great deals on materials for a new-home construction in one fell swoop.

‘Perc’ Test: What It Is and How It’s Done

In order to secure a building permit to construct a new home, many counties require a septic system inspection and approval. Here’s how one couple had a successful “perc” test done at their future home site, along with a quick explanation of what a perc test is.

How Do We Finalize Our Home Construction Loan?

Bank loans, especially new home construction loans, require some legwork on the part of the future homeowner. One couple explains how they got a loan to build their new house.

Who Will Draw Our House Plans?

After finding some basic online building plans, the next step to getting a future home built is to find a designer to draw the house plans.

How Do We Choose a Passive Solar House Design?

One homesteading couple reads up on passive solar house design and then modifies online options to create their own custom passive solar plans. Here are their recommended resources.

How Do We Get a Septic System Installed?

In order to secure a building permit to construct their future home, we must first complete a soil evaluation and meet the county's requirements for septic system installations.

How Do We Design a House? First, Set Priorities

Whether you are buying a house, purchasing land, or getting ready to build your own home, we recommend starting by setting your priorities and then matching a house design to your needs.

Could We Build a Kit Home?

If you want to be hands-on with your house building, a kit home can be an affordable, energy-efficient option. One homesteading couple assess whether building a kit home is right for them.

Want to Go Camping? Let's Build a Campsite!

Tyler and I spent an afternoon creating a footpath and campsite in our woods. Now we can go camping with friends and enjoy meals (and s’mores) over the campfire whenever we have the time or desire.

How Do We Get an Entrance Permit for Our Driveway?

In order to access our land and put in a driveway, we need to secure an entrance permit. If you're planning to buy land and build a home, check what your entrance permit requirements are before you purchase the property.

We Bought Land! Now What?

Join two modern homesteaders as they begin down the road toward building their small home and self-reliant farmstead on their new piece of raw land in northeastern Kansas.

Modular, Prefab, and Compact Green Homes and Structures

A listing of companies that offer green dwellings in the form of modular, prefab, manufactured, compact, or mobile structures. These days, many such options are available that are not only green, but also beautiful, well-made, and often low-cost.

Small Homes: More Bang For Less Buck

Living luxuriously doesn’t necessarily mean living large — at least not in these homes — and reducing a little waste doesn’t hurt, either.