The House that Peter Built: The real Story

OK, so I did really build the house. With a lot of help from my brother Mac and some help from my Father and Chris, who works with me (in computers.) The only thing we didn't do was the concrete floor and a couple thousand dollars of other stuff . And yes, I figured that trying to pour & smooth out 5000+ square feet of concrete was not a risk I could afford to take.

The reason? Well it's a little complicated. You see, I always wanted to build a house. But I didn't have any skills whatsover.

But then the doctor told my wife essentially "If you keep going up and down stairs , with the disease in your knees, you will eventually be in a wheelchair"

So we needed a single level house for our family of 6.

Now, we lived in a fairly nice large house, and (being self centered I guess) didn 't want to give that up. So we designed a house which, including shop, storage and garage is 56' by 96'.

Now, this house would not fit on your typical Calgary 44'x76' lot. Go figure! And we couldn't afford the double lots in town, and 4 acre lots were about $100K.

So.... we bought 150 acres. About 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile. 0.8km by 0.8km. That is enough room to build the house.

And we learned a huge amount of what it means to build a house from scratch.

It's been fun! Fortunately I, seriously, never used to go to bed before 2:00am. And still, I am "too" often still up near 3:00 or 4:00am. This helped me find time to build it.

The house is not architecturally the nicest house in the world, but with 12' ceilings throughout, and a very nice drywalling and painting job (if I do say so myself) and 150 acres for the kids to play. I think it is great.

Some of the interesting features:

Concrete Countertops

I'm building my own fridge. OK, lets be honest. I got the electronics working and haven't had time to develop the carpentry skills to pull it off. But at some point I'm going to take it the next stage and actually either build it myself or pay someone to build it to my specifications. It will match the decor of the kitchen and be about 2x's more energy efficient than most fridges. I have lots of space so I can better insulate and have 6 separate doors so you don't open the whole fridge every time.

I'm using a special seed from PicSeed www.pickseed.com, known as Envirograss. This grass has a few rules after it is established:

  1. never water it (Calgary is a "prairie desert") or more vigourous grasses/weeds will grow
  2. never fertilize it. It is designed to need low nutrients. If you fertilize, it will encourage other grasses/weeds to grow.
  3. cut it only once a year. It has the "eyelash gene" linked in to only grow to 4". And who wants to mow 4 acres of grass each week anyway?

12 foot ceilings throughout.

Energy efficient. Low-E plus windows, heavy insulation in walls & ceiling. Straw bales all around outside to 36" for R150 insulation. This is very efficient with ....

Radiant floor heating throughout.

Lots of room including 1 bedroom for each child, an office for my wife& kids and a separate one for me. A huge pantry with built-in freezer. Coldroom , wine making room, wine cellar, large walkin closet.

The large entryway has the main door & the garage door. Never to wonder which door you left your coat/boots at.

A great play center for the kids. Think about your average sized city lot, then think an elaborate set of play centers using up that equivalent area, but spread out over an acre or more.

And much more....

If you've got a high speed link, or you're a masochist and like to wait for large useless images, go see my House Photos

Food for thought: Amatuers built the Ark... Professionals built the Titanic

And where is it?