Manuela and Frank Mueller, Off-Grid DIY Log Home Builders in Nova Scotia
Name: Manuela and Frank Mueller
Occupation: DIY log home and furniture builders, wood crafters, soap and candle makers, mechanic, and bloggers
Place of Residence: Nova Scotia, Canada
Background: Manuela was originally a foreign language secretary and Frank was a heavy-duty and motorcycle mechanic with a Masters degree and a motorcycle repair shop and then specialized in aftermarket and racing suspensions. The couple worked in international motorcycle racing teams for 25 years, Frank as an engine and suspension technician and Manuela as a team organizer and fuel and tire technician.
Spending the majority of their life around motorcycles and race tracks — where it was always about trying to be the fastest and the motto was “second place is first looser” — Frank and Manuela would never have imagined to one day be sitting alone in the middle of the woods, building their own log home, creating their energy with solar power and feeling great with “having less” and getting back to their roots.
Manuela was born in Ontario, Canada, as the child of German immigrants who built their little house on a lake from scratch and enjoyed nothing more than roaming the woods and enjoying the outdoors more than anything else.
Her parents decided to move back to Berlin when she was 10 years old, making her a “city” kid but with a connection to the land and nature that never left her. She told everybody that “one day” she’d go back to Canada and have a house on a lake.
Frank was born in Berlin and was five when his parents decided to move to Australia with him and his two sisters. After five years, they packed their bags and headed back to Germany. After finishing school, Frank worked as a truck mechanic and attended evening school to get his Masters degree and pursued his hobby riding and working on motorcycles.
Manuela worked as a foreign-language secretary, but not being an “inside person” at all, soon quit and started working all kinds of jobs looking for the “right fit” while also getting into riding motorcycles.
A motorcycle meeting it was where Manuela and Frank met, not exactly with love at first sight but just really good friends with a lot in common — the rest is history, and after being together for a couple of months, they decided “what the heck” and married. First they both worked in a motorcycle shop, after a couple of years the opened their own repair shop. Frank started motorcycle racing himself, Manuela his mechanic.
The idea of retiring early was always in the back of their minds, but they didn’t want to do that in Germany. So they visited Frank’s old home in Australia and then Manuela’s old home and both decided it would rather be Canada. They found a nice 7-acre lot and always wanting a log home, a company who’d build it for them, while they were busy working on the race tracks.
After more than 25 years of travel, rushing, never being home and maybe because becoming older and asking themselves “what the heck are we doing here?”, it was to be that faith struck and the team they worked at closed. They were offered jobs but decided to take it as a sign and jumped onto the next plane to Canada and reflected what they actually really wanted for themselves in the future.
Manuela’s parents had passed quite a while before after both suffering from cancer for a very long time and within three years, both then decided to end their lives as each of them knew it was terminal and wanted to go on their own terms. So Frank and Manuela knew how unpredictable and short life can be and not to take it for granted.
The decision was made quickly and after going through the huge and frustrating amount of paperwork, half a year later, Frank was granted the permanent resident card. They sold everything they had in Germany, packed a container, grabbed their dog Emmy and went to Nova Scotia. It wasn’t really a new beginning as they already had the house, knew the people, and what to expect.
Five years later, things really started to settle but they had the feeling something was missing. Frank’s parents at that time also did get some health issues which altogether made them decide it was time for a change.
Germany wasn’t an option as they had gotten too much used to having a nice big property and their freedom, so up to northern Sweden it went where they had friends and a nice 100-year-old farm with woodland on a lake was for sale. Said and done, sold the house in Canada, again packed their container, grabbed Emmy and in May 2015 off it went up to the country of northern lights — both never having been there for more than three days and not speaking the language.
Sweden was great and after ripping down the plaster walls, the farm turned out to be a real old handmade Swedish log home with tons of work waiting to be done. And Sweden would have definitely been their future if they hadn’t lived in Nova Scotia before which had left a mark in their hearts.
So after a year of nonstop working and rebuilding they felt something was missing and wanted to go “home” quick search on the internet, found a spot that sounded perfect, Frank flew to Nova Scotia, called Manuela, told her he wouldn’t see a lot because there was only trees but the lake seemed nice and it would only be them out there.
He got the power company out to give an estimate and when they laughed and told him at least $180,000.00, he told Manuela to start getting some information about solar systems because they’d have to live off-grid.
In August 2016, they again packed a container, grabbed their four-legged companion and not even 1 ½ years after leaving Nova Scotia, arrived at their new “home”: a wooded 50-acre lot with nothing on it but trees and 1.6-km waterfront. Since then, they’ve accomplished quite a bit and really hope that they’ll be able to move out of their camper and spend the winter in their new log home.
Doing almost everything themselves and working with really old equipment is challenging, especially when you’re on a tight budget and want to build a debt free home, but they wouldn’t want to have it differently.
People asked a lot about the project, how to cut logs, how you build and scribe a log home and what to consider when wanting to live off grid, using solar and becoming self-sufficient, so they decided to start a blog and a website to document all the progress (and struggles) which living a dream like this brings with it.
That made some people finally want to step out of the box and go for it too, and now they try to help those individuals find properties, help with immigration and consult on all kinds of questions about installation of the right solar systems and log building, either on the internet or even at their own building site.
Manuela and Frank still try to pursue their hobbies building log furniture and creating wooden crafts that Manuela sells at the local crafts fairs. They are “restless-roots” and live true to their motto: Enjoy life. It’s too short to waste a minute.
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