We wake up. We shower and get ready for the day. We commute with thousands of other people on crowded roads to a highly populated area full of noise, smog, and views of industry and man-made structures. We engulf ourselves in the city so much every day that we can easily lose sight of what’s important in life. We wrap our heads around so many minor trivial stresses from our day-to-day lives that we can easily overlook the things that truly matter in life. I am a very firm believer that we all need to take in the outdoors and nature as much as possible to stay centered and productive. When I go into the wilderness, which is a lot, I find that most of my daily stresses simply melt away and I am reminded that when I am long and gone, the river I am kayaking will still be flowing, or the mountain that I am climbing will still be standing tall. They were there before I was born and they will be there long after I am gone. A quote from John Burroughs summed it up perfectly when he stated, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” When you scrub your brain from the city life you actually become refreshed, renewed, and recharged. When I get a little bit older and decide to start slowing down a little, or when my body makes that decision for me, I will be heading to the woods to relax in a home that I will be building with my own two hands. The idea has been burning in the back of my head for quite some time now. I have 16 years of construction experience and I truly enjoy building things with my hands. There is a sense of accomplishment and pride that follows suit due to the many years it has taken to learn and acquire the skills needed for large projects. The blood, sweat, and tears invested come with an immense reward.
While browsing Reddit, I came across a story that captured every one of these dreams I hold close to my heart so I had to share. Reddit user Wardzilla and his wife decided to pack their bags, sell their large house in the city, cut down to only the modern essentials, and head to the country. They live in Texas, near Austin, and were sick of the hustle and bustle of the city. You have to travel to relax after a long day which isn’t very convenient. These factors can easily start piling up, leading to an imminent mental breakdown. They both agreed that they wanted a home that they could enjoy and unwind in. A place that would provide freedom and serenity. They found a plot of land away from the city lights, but close enough for a simple journey to collect anything they need. Take a look at this very detailed DIY house build and get inspired to get outside and remember the simple things.
When they decided to get serious about their relationship and start making future plans, they both agreed that instead of buying a larger house in the city they would buy something smaller out in the country. They were looking for a more simple life with more time to focus on each other. They found the perfect plot of land and decided that they were going to build the perfect home. He had the skills needed to get started on their future. They both decided this was the perfect place for their DIY house build.
First things first. They needed to clear the land of the cedar trees. The plot of land was on a gradual slope. They decided to use this to their advantage in order to gain a spectacular view.
The flat area would be perfect for the footprint of the home while the gradual slope will fall below a massive deck. There is a lot of clearing to do as they are literally starting from scratch, but it will definitely pay off in the end.
The plot of land they chose had accumulated a lot of trash over the years. It was once a plot of land that was used for camping and hunting. There were 3 small buildings that were used as shelters that needed to be brought down in order to create a clean slate for this DIY house build.
All of the out buildings were in pretty rough shape and came down with ease.
Once disassembled and broken down, they tossed all the garbage and rotted materials into the trash.
Here is the second building that they tore down. This one was in decent shape but was in a very inconvenient place, so down it went.
Here you can see the third building. This one was in the best shape so they decided to keep it for storage. You can also see an old rain water storage tank.
They found a few not so friendly creatures during the process. These creatures were all hanging out among the debris that they cleaned up.
They only had the weekends to clean up the property and work on the land so time was limited. In the off time, during the weekdays, they worked with a shed/small home builder to draw up some plans for the shell of the structure. They wanted to contract this process due to their distance away from the site and the inconvenience of bringing large materials onto the property. They ended up with a plan calling for an 800 sq. ft. home with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and an additional 250 sq. ft. back deck.
Once the site was cleaned of all the trash, and the cedar trees that were in the way were cleared, it was time to start building their future home. They brought in a contractor to dig the holes for the footings. The land was solid rock, beneath only a few feet of loose dirt, so this job was left to the professionals who were equipped with some massive digging equipment.
With the footing pillars leveled and squared up, the sub-floor was ready to be constructed. The beams and joists were positioned accordingly, and to code of course. The level sub-floor gives you a better idea of the slope of the land that they used to their advantage.
They brought in some friends and worked long hours. After a long day’s work, they were excited to take a look at their view for the first time.
With the sub-floor completed, they were ready for some walls. They decided to go with pre-fab walls that are built off-site and assembled at the home. They will simply set in place and fasten together. This is a very quick and easy process that is used in many building processes these days.
The original design contractor delivered and assembled the main walls. After they were set in place and fastened together, the roof was the final touch for the shell of this home.
They chose to implement as many windows as possible to provide a flowing breeze, as well as an abundance of natural light through the home. I also love that they chose a modern design set in the rustic hills. The two opposing elements will complement each other perfectly when all is said and done.
This is the covered back deck that they built. This deck faces towards the uphill side of the home and leads into, what will eventually be, the guest bedroom.
With the shell standing, the next step is the electrical. This is the best time to install the electrical because everything inside is still exposed making it easier to route wires to the appropriate boxes and fixtures. Luckily there was a power line nearby that the power company would have no problem tying into.
After assembling the meter box and the main power panel, he called in the power company. They checked out his work and deemed it to code so they powered it up. They were now ready to break out the tools and start turning this shell into a home built with love.
Not everything on the exterior was buttoned up so they had a few minor leaks to deal with. In order to make the most of their weekend hours, they set up a glamorous camp site. It’s not quite the Ritz Carlton but it will do. You can also see that they worked together to run the wiring through the wall studs. All of these circuits will lead back to the panel to be tied into the main power supply.
After 12 years working as an electrician, I will say that he did a pretty good job on tying the electrical panel together. It’s not the prettiest job I’ve ever seen but electrical can take years to master and it is definitely one of the most intimidating systems inside of a home. The panel is to code and will work safely for years to come.
A few of their friends told them that the home was a little weird-looking. While I can understand why some people might think that, I personally think it’s awesome! The color combination as well as the large glass windows look very inviting and comfortable in their new surroundings.
Because the two were building their new home so far away from any actual city resources, they needed a septic system installed. Due to county regulations, and the fact that they were dealing with poop, they had to leave this job to the professionals.
Low and behold, a few feet down they hit solid rock. They had to bring in some heavy equipment to overcome this obstacle.
A few hundred feet down the hill was the perfect location for a drainage field.
This giant concrete vault is actually the septic tank which is now installed.
With the tank installed and the drainage field below, they are ready to safely store hundreds of gallons of waste.
Due to the graded slope beneath the home, it was very easy to run plumbing out to the septic tank. There was plenty of room to work with, making it easy to handle the 10′ sections of pipe.
They then headed to the supply store for some water storage tanks. Because they are so far from the city life, there is no readily available water sources so they have to create their own. They picked up these containers which will collect rainwater. They live in Texas, which is a place that sees very little rain so they needed a massive storage system. They purchased a few 2,500 gallon storage tanks totaling 10,000 gallons of usable collected water.
With the storage containers unloaded and set into place, they got to work digging the trenches that would contain the pipes feeding them. The pipes all tie into the rain gutters making sure to collect every drop of rain that falls onto the house.
There is a total of 40 feet of rain gutter on the back side of the house. It has a slanted roof that will feed the water to the gutter. There are two downspouts that will connect to the drainage pipes leading to the storage containers down the hill.
Due to the slope of the hill, gravity will take care of filling the tanks to their full volume of 10,000 gallons. This should easily sustain them through the dry months.
He installed a 3 stage filter system that actually uses a UV light sanitizer as well. Below the filter is the electric water heater that works very well. He states that he should have mounted the heater above the filters for safety reasons. Water does drip out of the filters when you change them so he has to turn off the electrical feeding the water heater before he does this.
With the shell of the house nearly complete, and all of the windows installed, it was time to start the massive back deck. This deck will provide a lot more living space, as well as offer an incredible view of the Texas countryside.
That large window in the back wall of the house is actually something far from standard. While it can be considered a large window offering a beautiful view, it is actually a sliding garage door with glass panels. They are able to roll this up on a nice day and let the breeze flow through the entire home. They are able to walk right outside without a door impeding the view. This garage door opens up the living room into a much larger, more entertaining space.
The back deck is now complete and stands tall above the hillside. It offers an ample amount of storage underneath as well as a very large entertaining space on top. The views are some of the best in the area because of this beautiful diy patio that he built by hand.
They wanted to ensure the decks last a long time under the brutal Texas sun, as well as withstand the rains to come. They decided on a darker colored stain and wood treatment that really compliments the design and color palette of the home.
I love the use of aircraft cable and tensioners that feed between the posts of the patio rails. They offer a modern feel and an unobstructed view over the cedar trees below. I also enjoy the aesthetics of the horizontal spaced slats running underneath the deck. They hide the storage space underneath without looking like one giant square block of wood jutting off of the back of the DIY house build.
With the exterior of the home wrapping up, they were able to get started on the work inside. This involves drywall, flooring, paint, electrical, and plumbing fixtures as well as the appliances.
To save on power, they installed recessed can lighting throughout the home equipped with very efficient LED light bulbs. Not only do these save a ton of power, they last for years before needing a replacement.
Over the course of the next several days they were focused on assembling the kitchen. They pre-designed and ordered a kitchen set from IKEA. If you’ve ever bought anything from IKEA, you know that you’re in for a treat.
Luckily for them, everything installed fairly easy and lined up square and level. The blue film is actually just a protective covering. Don’t worry, the cabinet faces are completely different once it’s peeled off.
With the kitchen nearly complete, they moved on to the bathroom. They had a small space to work with so they optimized the area by using slim and modern fixtures. They are also very efficient in order to conserve their water storage system.
The beautiful single basin sink is installed and working. Success!
To keep with the theme of the DIY house build, they opted for bamboo flooring. This is a very sustainable resource and is very comfortable under the foot. It looks awesome as well; you can really notice the grains of the bamboo which are very unique.
To save space and water, they ordered a very efficient stackable washer and dryer set. Things are really starting to come together and this structure is slowly turning into a home built with love.
After seeing this sunset on their freshly built back deck, they knew they made the right choice to create a more simple life and build their own home out in the country.
Their dog, Dottie, even approved as she did her morning yoga routine on the deck underneath the warm sun.
After about a month in the home without a fridge, they were elated to see their giant stainless beauty arrive! It fit in perfectly and completely complimented the modern design of the kitchen.
They installed an articulating TV mount on the wall so they would be able to watch whatever they want in the kitchen, living room, or out on the back deck.
They ran into a big problem when the large truck that arrived to pick up the dumpster popped a tire. While maneuvering around he actually crushed their drainage culvert and backed into their drainage field ruining the drainage system.
Here you can see the damage but the original contractor came back and had the problem taken care of in no time.
With the drainage problem taken care of, and the rest of the house completely wrapped up, they were finally able to sit back and relax in their DIY house build turned home. The place turned out incredible and very unique. It’s not overly done or too simple to enjoy. It has everything needed and is inviting and comfortable.
My favorite part of this beautiful DIY house build is absolutely the glass garage door that leads out of the living room. I’ve never thought of implementing one of these into a living space and now I want one in my own house. I don’t think I would ever leave it closed unless there was a severe storm heading in. They basically doubled their living space by adding this feature.
The view is unreal and wouldn’t be possible without the addition of the enormous back deck. The sunsets seen here are unlike any other and they have something their guests will envy. They will be able to accommodate all of their friends with a deck this size for some fun-filled nights under the huge Texas sky.
The modern bathroom and kitchen really compliment the home and make it feel very comfortable. It’s a nice balance with the rustic landscape surrounding them and offers a small connection to the modern world.
While their design choices might not be the most appealing to everyone, I personally love them. The pillow on the couch is probably the coolest throw pillow I have ever seen. I doubt many of my female friends would agree but my buddies would sure get a kick out of it.
The view from the living room is awesome and the area looks very comfortable for how small it is. I could see myself relaxing after a long day here, just staring off into the distance while unwinding with a cold drink in my hand.
He found a little DIY project on Pinterest that inspired the wall sconces. Using a little bit of gas pipe and fittings he was able to wire in a lamp socket achieving a very unique industrial design in the master bedroom.
Here is a view looking out onto the front deck from the office/guest bedroom.
Once they were all settled in, they started meeting their neighbors. Here is a beautiful bobcat that was seen just down the road. He’s probably there to welcome them to the neighborhood. I hope…
I’m truly impressed that this couple decided to leave their city life and a big house behind. They say one of the number one reasons for failed relationships is financial stresses and a lack of attention toward each other. When you spend all of your time in the city, your attention is drawn so many different ways it can be hard to focus on what’s important. Financial stresses pile up when people start to live outside of their means. It’s hard keeping up with the Jones’s which is only becoming more prevalent these days as cities and expectations grow. This couple decided to head to the country and build something that will represent their future together. They scaled back to appreciate the things that really matter and set a goal that they accomplished together. They have created a bond that will continue to grow, and will also feed a healthy and happy relationship. Their skills were tested and they proved that they could build a beautiful home that had everything they could ever need. Most importantly, they did it together as a team and I commend them.