Building a Low-Cost Country Home in the Ozarks

Frank D. Spaun and his family move across country and build a low-cost country home in the Ozarks. Includes information on Ozarks land, the house design, walls and floors, roof and foundation and root cellar.

| September/October 1985

This city-turned-country couple combined high hopes and hard work to create low-cost country home in the Ozarks. (See the Ozarks home photos and diagram in the image gallery.)

In 1982 I quit my job as a research engineer in Tacoma, Washington; my wife and I sold our home and many of our belongings, paid off our debts, packed everything into a 12-foot trailer, and with our two-year-old son—and only $10,000 in savings—moved to the Missouri Ozarks to build a new life in the country.

Giving up the security and promise of my career and taking complete charge of my life were the hardest things I've ever done. But Thoreau's claim that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" had struck home for me: I felt like one of those men. I had all the trappings of success, but somehow happiness had passed me by. When Jacob, our first child, was born, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten how to laugh, and that I rarely could enjoy the moments that make life precious.

Thoreau's advice was to simplify the outward circumstances of life, reduce needs and ambitions, and learn to savor small pleasures. For us that meant making a complete break and beginning a new life—one that would be slower, more basic, and (we hoped) more fulfilling and enriching.

We were an urban family; we had no idea how things would turn out. But deep down, I knew we had to try. Like Thoreau," I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Building a Low-Cost Country Home in the Ozarks

Advertisements for inexpensive land in the Ozarks first attracted us to the area,. and further research suggested that the Missouri Ozarks, in particular, were right for us. Property taxes in the region are low, and building code and home-schooling restrictions minimal. We also liked the four-season climate and the area's many rivers and lakes. Another plus was that many people who shared our goals were being attracted to the Ozark region.

1/3/2009 8:56:59 PM

hi i wish you had more pics of the place. an article on this kind of thing is great. but an itemized BOM with pics would be awesome! wish you could have done that.

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