Finishing the Barndominium: The First Steps

Reader Contribution by Jim Christie
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We’ve had nearly 10 very enjoyable years in Australia. The experience broadened our view of the world, enabled us to see and experience things and places we would not have had the chance to do or see otherwise and introduced us to many exceptional people who enriched our lives through their friendship. I’m not sure we intended to spend 10 years in Oz, but it turned out that way. In late 2012, we made a key decision – trying to finish the homestead via long distance coordination and contractors were not producing the results we wanted. It was too expensive, difficult to schedule and control and didn’t give us the “hands on” experience we wanted. We decided it was time for me to migrate back to the U.S., sell our house in Australia and do as much of the work as possible myself – both for control over the finished project and to complete the project within our budget.

With some anxiety and anticipation, I boarded a plane in Melbourne on February 9th and headed home, leaving Julie behind to work on a job transfer and finish up the thousands of details required for an international relocation. Fortunately, I had time before leaving to work on the sale of the property, get the cats ready for their long trip to Texas and get all of our household goods into a 40-foot moving container. The cats would arrive about three days after my arrival. The furniture and possessions were due to arrive in Texas in late March, and figuring a week or two to clear customs and get to our house, I had my key milestone in the schedule – I had about six weeks to go from the progress in these pictures to a finished, livable house:

This picture to the right is from what will become the master bedroom through the master bath area, and into the garage and shop area where we parked the camper trailer.

I would use this camper as my home until the household goods arrive and until the house is ready for the household goods (whichever is later). Since my previous blog posts earlier this year, the framing seen above was also extended by roughing in the electrical wiring and the rough plumbing. I was hopeful that by the time I arrived, all the electrical wiring in the walls and the rough plumbing would be done and perhaps even the sheet rock would be complete – this would also mean that the insulation would be in the walls. As you’ll see in the next blog, the electrical was close to being ready for insulation and sheet rock but the plumbing required a lot more work. I was in for quite an adventure over the next couple of months and couldn’t have known exactly what I was in for as I boarded the plane in Melbourne.

Julie on the other hand, was staying with friends as our house was sold, the household goods (and cats) were gone and on their way to Texas. Thank God for good friends as she was able to have a gypsy existence for over two months, including a couple of weeks with no car, while finishing her work in Melbourne.

Jim Christie graduated with a PhD from Kansas State University in 1971 and spent over 40 years in the military and in the IT industry. He and his wife have been building a sustainable homestead in Texas while living 10 years in Australia. Recently retired, Jim is now building out the homestead and developing livestock while Julie continues her career in the IT industry, but also enjoying the homestead and guiding the strategy in raising food.