Cher Carter dot com

The Little House I Dream Of

My Little Dream House

I have shared before about my great escape, though I still have yet to share the full reasons behind it. That will come in another post. But I can share with you the house that I want to build.

Introducing my Lily Pad. (click images to see larger versions)

This is a modification to a design by America’s Best Home Plans. I made minor adjustments to the exterior by adding a covered porch rather than the patio style porch the original plan has. I also added a bit of square footage to the alcove just off the kitchen, so I can use it as my workspace.

Considering that this isn’t a typical tiny house, it is still relatively small. However, in our state, the ordinance states that only a temporary, mobile dwelling can be considered a “residential space” and that the dwelling must be (a) on a trailer, and (b) can only be lived in for less than 6 months out of a year. Otherwise, it is considered a permanent residence and must be at least 500 square feet in size.

Well, I’ve been living really tiny for the past five years. I currently live in a 135 square foot motel room, and it’s an upgrade from the 125 square foot unit that we started out in. After dealing with the shortage of space and living in a structure that was never meant to be a permanent residence, I’ve decided I’m quite OK with 500 square feet. I do love the cozy feeling of my small space, but the challenges have gotten to be a bit overwhelming now that I’m working from home full time and am unable to get up and physically do the things I could before my heart attack and stroke last year.

For my dream cottage, it is almost exactly 500 square feet, with the loft space actually serving as a storage/utility space, with a pull-down staircase in the master closet as the access point.  I’ve also placed the structure on a crawl space foundation.

Creating this dream won’t be inexpensive, however, I’ve spoken with a builder friend of mine and we both agree that if I use about 80% repurposed materials and do some of the labor (what I can do for myself), and utilize the free labor of friends and family, I can knock the typical new-build cost of about $120 per square foot on the low end, to about $80 per square foot. That would be a total of an estimated $40,000 not including the land and utilities.

I’ve done a lot of research into this as it’s been my dream since 2016. But, the issues of the past two years have pushed me very hard to actually get started doing at least something to start moving in the direction of my dream.

My plan also includes living with alternative energy. Being that I’m on a high plateau in my location, there is plenty of wind and sunshine for the better part of the year. If I choose to use both wind and solar as well as propane and a water catchment system, I can actually get a state credit towards my build and can sell any excess power back into the grid. Given that there is only a total of about 45 days on average per year that solar wouldn’t be sufficient enough to power the house, being tied into the grid and selling my excess power back into the grid during peak days would actually offset the cost my electricity during non-peak days. And with the wind as a backup, the fear of no power really doesn’t disturb me.

I had wanted to use SIPS panels for the construction (Structural Insulated Panels), however, the total cost for that type of construction isn’t feasible. But, I do plan to use 2×6 construction throughout and insulate to as high an R-value as I can to keep the home energy efficient. The two areas where I do not plan to use repurposed materials are the main windows and the roof. I also plan to use energy star appliances for the refrigerator and dishwasher – though I’m still not certain I’ll have a dishwasher – and a dual fuel stove so I can use either propane or electric. I also plan to use an on-demand hot water heater and to invest in two mini-splits to handle the air conditioning and to boost the heat if needed. There is a fireplace in the living room but I’m still considering replacing that with a wood-burning stove.

There are a lot of declining health issues that I have to consider but the one thing I do want is the open, spacious public space because I have friends and family that come for dinner or too visit and as it is now, we have to borrow folding chairs from the office for people to sit on as there truly is only room for 2 chairs in this room And having more than four people in the room gets so crowded it’s uncomfortable.  I also want a spacious kitchen because I fully plan to get back into gardening, canning, and preserving. Eventually, I’ll buy a small chest freezer as well.

I dream about living in this house every single night. This has become the reason I get up and work every single day. It will be my Lily Pad – a place where I can rise above my bad marriage, bad health and become all that I am meant to be. It is my peace and my solitude. I know it’s late in life and a bad time to start working on a dream, and I may never live to see it through to fruition, but at least I can keep working in that direction and see what happens.


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