Friday, August 12, 2016

My House is a Very Very Very Fine House

A couple years ago, my friend Dick Mann asked me if I’d ever want to be a home owner again. I told him I’m still working on getting rid of debt, but, yeah, I’d like to have my own home again. He told me of a lot he owns near his house. He offered to build a house – with my input – and then sell it to me. Woah! Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve known Dick for about 10 years. We used to be neighbors. And I do a good amount of dog sitting for him (his dog, Mari, has spent the past several winters with me while Dick and his wife Jill spend time in Guatemala).

Now, Dick is a master plumber and has been working construction his whole life. He is good. Very good. And frugal. And Jill knows a great deal about interior work. They met when they were both working at Home Depot.
Dick Mann, Master Constructor
Jill Mann, Master Decision Maker
We sat down a couple of times to hammer out a floor plan. He got that formalized. Dick and I spent one day at Menards picking out siding, roofing, doors, kitchen and bath cabinets. Later, Jill helped me pick out lighting fixtures and flooring and sinks. And then I needed to make decisions about faucets. And appliances. And paint.

Anyway, Dick broke ground for this house last fall. Here’s a picture of the house from last week.

Since I was allowed considerable input on the plan, I tried to make the most of it. I really wanted to have a house that minimized the use of fossil fuels. So, the primary source of heat will be a wood stove. But there’ll be electric baseboard heat as back up. All appliances are electric. I’m hoping that someday I’ll be able to afford to incorporate solar or wind generated electricity. I saw an interesting Facebook post recently about some new roof top wind turbines that I will keep my eye on.

I also plan to have the yard be completely No Mow. But I need a section to be dog-friendly “lawn”. I’ve found the solution through the Benzie Conservation District. They sell seed for an “Eco Turf Grass”. Here’s their description: “Slow-growing, deep-rooted fescues as an alternative to traditional mixes. No intense watering, mowing or fertilizing. Choose not to mow and enjoy a soft look lawn. One pound covers 200 square feet.” They sell the seed for $8 per pound. I also plan to buy native trees and shrubs though the BCD.

This house business is a big deal. I’m not sure when it’ll be ready, but I expect to move in before the snow falls. I’m anxious about finances. I think I’ll need to find some part-time local work to supplement my teaching/writing income. And I’m not ashamed to ask for help. I’d be ever so grateful for any assistance offered. Think of it as investing in a guest room when you want to visit this lovely corner of Michigan. Yes, that’s an invitation to visit.


  1. This is a wonderful-looking home. I love all your ideas. Wood heat is the best ever! Congratulations. I'm happy for you. Let me know when and I'll bring by a casserole and pie and tea.

    1. Oh! A pie from the Pie Lady? That would be too awesome. I'll certainly keep you in the loop.

  2. This is very exciting! What brand of wood stove are you thinking about? I would highly recommend Jøtul.

    1. Dick suggested either the Jotul or the Vermont Castings. I think he chose the latter. Both have good reputations. I let him decide.