The Owner-Built Homestead

They bought a 4-1/2 acre lot in an old subdivision in rural McHenry County in 1989. Electrical service was not yet available on the site, so Boomer built the pole barn without any power tools. He dug the footings with a shovel. He's holding up the hand saw and hammer he used to build the barn.

Until just recently, that's how we humans built everything: by hand.

And there's a good chance that that's how we'll be building things in the future. Cathedrals, pyramids, great walls. Monumental architecture, all built by hand. No problem.

Boomer used a gin pole to help him hoist up the 24" deep site-built roof trusses for the one-story section of the house.

They still didn't have electrical power, although they did hire a bulldozer to excavate the building's foundation and cut in a driveway.

Sunny is bringing out plastic jugs to refill with drinking water from their apartment so that Boomer doesn't die from dehydration. It's hot work.

Boomer is unrolling roofing felt with his foot prior to installing a metal roof.

Lights! They have power. They lived in the simple one-story north section of the house while building the much more complex two-story main section. The one-story section was basically one enormous room that functioned as a temporary kitchen, living room, office, and bedroom.

Sunny is at the desk/drafting board doing paperwork for her sales rep job. When she was on the road for two weeks, she would stay in a nice hotel with amenities like hot and cold running water. During her one week at home, it was much more primitive: no running water at all. Until they got the two-story part of the house weathered in, it was years of sponge baths and flushing the toilet with a bucket of water from the rainwater cistern.