There are many ways to spruce up your outdoor space, but arguably none as striking as adding a timber frame pavilion or pergola kit to your backyard. With a heavy timber pavilion or pergola kit, you not only have the opportunity to elevate the look of your outdoor space but the ability to enjoy your backyard in any season. At DC Structures, we partner with America’s best suppliers of outdoor living accessories to provide our clients with everything they need for their pavilion and pergola kits. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive outdoor living space, our designers can incorporate your chosen features into a pavilion or pergola design that’s just right for you.
Learn more about some of the outdoor living accessories we offer through Weber, Necessories, Cal Flame, Timber Pro UV, and many more.
Fireplaces & Fire Pits
Bring the charm of a cozy campfire into your backyard space with an elegant fireplace or fire pit from one of our trusted suppliers. Whether you plan to roast marshmallows with the family or keep extra warm in the winter months, a fireplace or fire pit makes an exciting and practical addition to any pavilion or pergola kit.
BBQ Grill Islands
No summer party is complete without traditional barbeque, whether that be hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, or the classic corn on the cob. Make your pavilion or pergola kit the perfect barbequing area with a BBQ grill island or stand-alone grill.
Add some utility to your pavilion or pergola kit with a complete outdoor kitchen built into your space. With refrigerated storage for your food and drinks and prep center cabinets for easy kitchen tool access, you can truly make the most of your outdoor entertainment area.
Pavilion and pergola kits aren’t just useful for the spring and summer months – they’re meant to be enjoyed year-round! If you’re looking for ways to keep your outdoor space cozy and comfortable in any season, consider investing in patio heaters for your selected kit.
Natural Wood Stain & Finishes
If you have a certain aesthetic in mind for your wood framing elements, we offer a variety of natural wood stain and finish options from Timber Pro UV to help you achieve your vision. From transparent options to heavily pigmented colors that make a bold statement, you can choose from dozens of premium color selections to create your desired appearance.
Ready to get started on your pavilion or pergola project? Request a free quote today or give us a call at (888) 975-2057 for more information.
Like every home builder, DC Structures has had to adjust its pricing to match supply and demand as a result of the lumber surge. However, there are a few unique ways we’re able to keep costs reasonable for clients while adhering to desired timelines and ensuring our clients have only top-quality lumber for their projects.
One of the most important things to note about the lumber surge is that the materials in high demand right now are dimensional lumber and engineered wood products. This includes several lumber products that we use in our pre-engineered building kits, including:
OSB Plywood: Otherwise known as oriented strand board, OSB plywood is a conventional sheathing material we often use for our subfloors, roof, and wall sheathing
TJI Floor Joists: These are lightweight joists, or structural components used to create a rock-solid floor framing system, made from engineered wood.
LVL Joists: Similar to TJI floor joists, laminated veneer lumber is an engineered wood joist used for floor framing. We frequently use LVL joists in our building kits, especially when a building has multiple floors.
Architectural Glulams: These are engineered wood products designed with an appearance-grade surface. This material is not as in demand as the others.
While these lumber products are driving up the cost of our pre-engineered building kits, we don’t experience the same problems as other home builders when it comes to supply. This is the case for a few reasons.
For starters, a lot of home builders buy from retail lumber yards, which are currently experiencing major shortages in dimensional lumber and engineered wood products. Because they purchase lumber as needed, this means many builders are facing lengthy delays in the material acquisition process. This leaves their clients in a less than favorable position, with many forced to extend their project timelines past their desired move-in date.
At DC Structures, however, we benefit from buying large quantities from our mill-direct suppliers. Due to the volume we purchase, we can get in-demand lumber products that other home builders simply can’t and with quick turn-around times. We’re also fortunate because we have a huge lumber market here in the Pacific Northwest and we have several ways to acquire premium quality lumber for every project. To put it plainly, we don’t have the shortages we’re seeing in other markets and can continue business as usual when it comes to procuring material.
Another thing that’s unique about us is that we primarily rely on FOHC Select Grade Douglas fir timbers to frame our pre-engineered building kits. Our heavy timbers are considered to be a niche item in most conventional structures, with standard homes utilizing faux or box beams instead. The size of our timbers is also uncommon for light-frame construction. Because the most in-demand wood products right now are dimensional lumber and engineered wood products, this puts us in an extremely favorable position with lumber mills here in the Pacific Northwest and allows us to source the finest heavy timbers at competitive pricing for clients.
Lastly, our prefabrication method makes it possible for our team to save clients time and money during construction, as every piece of framing lumber is prepared ahead of time to facilitate a lightning-fast assembly process. Our prefabrication process also takes far less labor than any conventional build and results in less noise, waste, and dust on your job site.
So while there’s no telling when lumber prices are going back to normal, our team can ensure our clients have the best deals on the market and the best results for their dream home.
You don’t have to be a market analyst to recognize that lumber prices are at an all-time high. One trip to your neighborhood hardware store will show you that the price of a single 4’ x 8’ plywood board is on par with hand sanitizer at the start of the pandemic. Although the dramatic climb in lumber prices is nothing new, and demand for lumber has consistently increased since April 2020, the sudden surge in pricing over the past few months is something of an anomaly and one that shows no signs of slowing down.
The good news is that lumber prices won’t stay this high forever, but we don’t know when they’ll drop or if it will happen within the year. In the meantime, the team at DC Structures is doing everything we can to keep costs reasonable for clients as we adjust our pricing to meet the demands of the market. While starting prices on our building kits are subject to change, our clients can rest easy knowing that we offer a steady supply of premium quality lumber for our projects and will always honor agreed-upon timelines.
If you’re interested in investing in one of our pre-engineered building kits, but feeling anxious about the surge, don’t worry. We’re here to help you make the best and most informed decision for your build. In this two-part series blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the surge, including its origin and how the current market affects homeowners and homebuyers, as well as what our company is doing to sidestep challenges caused by the surge.
Read below for a brief overview of the circumstances that caused the lumber surge and what this means for homeowners and homebuyers in general.
Why Lumber Prices Are Skyrocketing
When the pandemic hit, no one could have predicted lumber prices would soar as a result of nationwide stay-at-home orders. In bracing for the economic impact of the shutdown, sawmills halted their operations across the country and lumber suppliers eliminated much of their inventory. New home construction also plummeted, with the expectation that buyers would be tight on money and reluctant to invest in a brand-new building for their property.
The reasons are complex and driven by the unique nature of 2020’s stay-at-home orders. City dwellers who were able to work from home started looking elsewhere for housing, realizing paying for a rental in the city wasn’t worth the extra money if they didn’t have to commute anymore. Mortgage rates also dropped significantly, hitting record lows as a result of the Federal Reserve lowering rates at the onset of the pandemic. This drove increasing demand for new and existing suburban housing, as city dwellers flocked en masse to the suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas in search of more space for less money.
During this time, homeowners hunkered down in their homes also started renovating their spaces, buying up lumber in large quantities from their local home improvement stores. Restaurants faced with the task of creating safe but comfortable outdoor dining also bought lumber for outdoor structures. Lumber began flying off the shelves at increasing rates while inventory remained relatively low. This created the initial surge in lumber prices, as supplies couldn’t keep up with the spike in demand.
What we’re seeing now is an accumulation of these factors mixed with a serious housing shortage, a lack of dimensional lumber and engineered wood products, labor force issues, and an insatiable demand for new housing and renovation work. This week, prices reached an all-time record high, with the price per thousand board feet of lumber up more than 300% since the beginning of the pandemic. This means lumber is now priced at more than four times its cost as of last May. Imagine going to an auction where everyone relentlessly bids on items until the price is driven much higher than the actual value. This is what’s occurring at the present moment, with supplies limited and analysts predicting demand will increase in upcoming months.
What This Means for Homeowners and Homebuyers
Homeowners planning to remodel would be advised to wait if possible. With dimensional lumber priced at nearly $60 a sheet in most markets, the cost to renovate parts of your home is more expensive than many homeowners are prepared for. You might also focus on renovating parts of your home that don’t require lumber. This can include everything from your backyard landscaping to simply repainting.
Homebuyers, on the other hand, have a bit more flexibility with their decision-making. With mortgage rates at historic lows, there’s never been a better time to buy. However, homebuyers seeking existing homes have limited inventory to choose from and may compete with dozens of other buyers. For those interested in building their dream home from scratch, however, the challenge is finding a company that can develop their vision and guarantee the best results for their project on their timeline and budget. This is where DC Structures comes into play.
Stay tuned for Part II of this series where we discuss what DC Structures is doing to keep costs down on our pre-engineered building kits and what clients can expect when partnering with our company.
Known for their stunning craftsmanship and unparalleled warmth, heavy timber residences are some of the most sought-after home designs for today’s homebuyers. Yet, you may be surprised to learn that most people can’t tell the difference between the two of the most popular styles for these homes – timber framing and post and beam construction.
Timber framing and post and beam construction are centuries-old building methods that utilize large heavy timber posts and beams to create the frame of a structure. The walls of the building are placed on the outside of the frame, creating a beautiful interior characterized by exposed structural timbers and high ceilings. Because these methods are similar in style, it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other. To the trained eye though, it’s easy to determine which is which by simply paying closer attention to the detail in one’s space.
The key difference between timber frame and post and beam homes lies in the method used to secure the frame’s joinery. While post and beam homes employ metal fasteners and connectors, both exterior facing and hidden, to join its heavy timber posts and beams, timber framing relies on wooden pegs only to create a rock-solid frame. If you’re having trouble visualizing how this works, just think of timber framing as Legos, in which all the pieces are designed to fit perfectly with one another.
Since timber framing is very labor-intensive due to the precision and skill needed to execute this style, timber frame homes are also much more expensive than post and beam homes to build. This is partially why the majority of timber frame homes being built today utilize a combination of timber framing and conventional building methods to achieve the same look and feel at a lower cost. These types of timber frame homes are commonly referred to as hybrid timber frame homes, which is the term we use to classify our line of timber frame homes.
Ultimately, the decision to invest in a timber frame home or post and beam home comes down to how you want your interior to look and feel. If you’re looking for a stately home with dramatic interior spaces, a timber frame home would likely be a great fit for you and your family. If you’re interested in a home with plenty of flexibility and classic style, a post and beam residence might be a perfect option for you. Regardless, timber frame and post and beam homes are timeless designs that are guaranteed to stun any guest and last you and your family a lifetime.
Not everyone dreams of living in a mansion. In fact, a growing number of Americans are investing in smaller homes for their property for a variety of reasons aside from the obvious cost factor.
One of the main catalysts driving what’s being called the “tiny home trend” is a shift in mindset from desiring a traditional family home to something more practical for your lifestyle. For instance, parents with kids in college might consider downsizing from their current home while eco-conscious homebuyers might be more inclined to live in a smaller home that requires fewer materials to build.
Whatever your reason may be for seeking a smaller structure for your property, we’re here to help you design a heavy timber building that perfectly suits your needs. Take a closer look at some of our smaller barn home and cabin kits under 1,000 sq. ft. to determine if our pre-engineered building models are just right for you.
The McKenzie Cabin Kit
Coming in at 651 sq. ft., the McKenzie cabin kit is the smallest structure included in our line of prefabricated building kits, yet one of the best values. Ideal for couples or individuals, the McKenzie features a studio-style layout that you can easily customize to fit your lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a full-time residence, guest house, or vacation property, this compact cabin kit is an excellent investment that will last you decades.
The Deschutes is a classic cabin design made from the finest Douglas fir posts and beams sourced from our mill-direct connections in the Pacific Northwest. This building model boasts 776 sq. ft. of modifiable space, with room for one bedroom and one bathroom. Designed in the method of post and beam construction, the interior features vaulted ceilings with exposed beams that give the illusion of added living space.
Considered to be our most popular apartment barn kit, the Oakridge is perfect for anyone seeking a multi-purpose residence with a reduced carbon footprint. With 864 sq. ft. of upstairs living space, you have the option of turning the main level of your Oakridge 24’ building model into a workshop, horse barn, garage for your vehicles and outdoor toys, or anything else you can imagine!
Learn more about the Oakridge 24’ by clicking here.
The Rogue Cabin Kit
The Rogue cabin kit is a stunning cabin design that features a covered porch and spacious master suite. This popular cabin kit offers 948 sq. ft. of living space that can easily be converted into a two-bedroom residence. With its classic heavy timber exterior and wide-open layout, the Rogue makes an ideal structure for anyone seeking a rustic retreat to call home.
Lighting is one of the most important design aspects in any home, let alone a timber frame home. When done properly, a well-lit timber home showcases the beautiful exposed beams in your space while setting the mood for each room. Since timber homes feature a complex design unlike that of traditional homes, it’s important to pay attention to the type of lighting that best serves each room in your house and what function it will have. To help you make the most of your timber home investment, here are some tips on how to light your timber frame home in a way that best illuminates the beauty of its all-wood design.
Determine the Best Lighting for Every Room
Every room in your home has a unique function, which means the type of lighting you decide to include in each space should serve a purpose in line with the intended use of that area. Your bedroom, for instance, will have vastly different lighting than your kitchen. For task-oriented rooms like your kitchen or office, we recommend using hanging light fixtures, otherwise known as pendant lighting, to brighten the space. Track lighting can also be extremely helpful, as it gives you the ability to position the lighting over essential food prep areas like your kitchen island.
For rooms where you typically go to relax or rest, use ambient or yellow lighting to create a calming environment that brings out the stunning wood features in the space. If you’re unsure of what lighting to install in your great room, consider adding wrought-iron chandeliers to your living space, as well as wall sconces and recess lighting to highlight the heavy timber accents in your home.
Consider the Design of Your Interior
If you’re looking to design your home with contemporary flair, you’ll likely want to use more built-in lighting such as overhead cans, LED lights, and modern wall sconces. For a more traditional look, pendant lighting and stained-glass table lamps provide a sense of rustic comfort and make any room in a timber home feel like a luxurious mountain retreat.
Be Cognizant of the Placement of Your Lighting
Lighting needs to be strategically placed in order to best serve its function in your home. With this in mind, it’s important to pick out certain focal points in each room that you wish to highlight. For instance, installing lighting on either side of the mirror in your bathroom offers the best light for getting ready, while making the space feel elegant and cozy. Similarly, adding rustic chandeliers to rooms with vaulted ceilings draws attention to the center of the room and makes your living space look and feel more inviting.
Remember Lighting a Timber Home Requires Extra Effort
Because timber homes are designed with an exposed frame, lighting a timber home is a lot more complicated than lighting any traditional home. This is why it’s important to consult with lighting design experts who can give you the best idea of where to place your lighting and what lighting you’ll want to use based on your personal style and taste. Once finished, your lighting should look beautiful and showcase the best aspects of your timber home so it’s crucial to ensure you work with an expert that understands how to properly light your timber home in a way that best accentuates its unique features.
For more lighting recommendations, be sure to visit Timber Home Living for detailed descriptions of the best type of lighting to include in your timber home!
Oh, the joy of graduating from college just to move back in with your parents! Thanks to staggering student loan debt and an unaffordable housing market, more millennials are living at home than any other generation in the past century. To put it into perspective, that’s one in five adults, or 22 percent of millennials. While parents with empty nest syndrome are rejoicing, others are impatiently awaiting the day they can have the house to themselves again. With a little compromise, both parties can work on making co-living a less miserable experience; and it all starts with creating personal space.
Benefits of Personal Space
Everyone likes their personal space, whether or not they say it outright. Not even best friends enjoy spending every minute of every day with each other without a break. Alone time is not only essential for our mental health, but it also helps us be more productive and well-rounded people. Some of the many benefits that come with setting aside alone time include a boost in creativity, lower stress and depression, and improved relationships.
Studies show that people work through complex problems better when they’re alone. Sometimes working in a group can influence us to unintentionally mimic opinions and creative processes other than our own, making it difficult to weed out whether an idea is ours or someone else’s. On that same note, taking time away from your partner and friends often strengthens these relationships. Our solitude allows us to center ourselves, which leads to more genuine connections with our loved ones. Lastly, alone time can replenish our energy and make us feel less depressed. It gives us the ability to get in tune with our own needs without focusing on the pressure and expectations surrounding us on a daily basis.
Create a Man or Lady Cave
Redesigning Your Basement, Attic, or Garage
Basements, attics, and garages are commonly overlooked areas for those seeking solitude. This is mainly due to the fact that these spaces are typically filled to the brim with junk and memorabilia from the 60’s and 70’s. No need to chuck those Iron Butterfly records though! With some imagination and redesign, these areas of your home can make ideal getaways for anyone craving alone time.
While customizing an existing room to fit your hobbies isn’t always possible, you can always create a space for your cave. This can manifest in the form of an add-on room or even building a separate structure away from your main residence. Whatever your vision may be, it’s important to design a space that helps you de-stress and feel rejuvenated.
Crafting Your Cave
So we’ve all heard of the man cave, but what about a lady cave – a place for those hardworking women in our lives to relax and spend some time with themselves? This doesn’t necessarily mean a space adorned with doilies and hand-sewn blankets. It could be a barn with an upstairs loft and DIY music studio or an attic turned arts and crafts workshop. Regardless, a man cave or lady cave should be considered a sacred space and reflect the personal interests of its owner. If you don’t take the time to tailor your cave to your interests, it can feel like you haven’t totally escaped, so be sure to put some effort into making this space uniquely your own.
But if you do feel like sharing the space with the whole family, there are plenty of entertainment essentials that everyone can enjoy including ping pong ball, air hockey, and video games. For helpful tips on how to create a multi-functional space for the family, check out this article from lifestyle blog Fix that details all of the fun additions you can include in your cave.
Schedule in ‘You Time’
It’s easier said than done to keep to a personal schedule. Say you’re craving alone time, but someone else in your household needs undivided attention from you. While this can be a difficult situation to navigate, it’s important to set boundaries with those around you so you can schedule in some much needed TLC. Mental health experts recommend about 20 minutes of alone time a day, but it’s truly dependent on what you’re feeling and need to accomplish. There are plenty of ways to relax while spending time with others. However, it’s necessary to ensure you’re penciling in some alone time so you can feel your happiest and exemplify it in your everyday life.
Heating your home can be expensive, especially during the wintertime. While natural gas is the cheapest and most popular heat source for homes in the U.S., it can cost up to $1,024 to run for the entire season. That’s almost $350 a month toward heating bills alone. Winterizing a home helps homeowners save energy and money, while preventing unexpected damages from ruining holiday shopping plans. After all, there’s nothing worse than dealing with busted pipes and pest infestations while celebrating with family and friends. Here’s how you can winterize your home to prepare for an enjoyable, cost-effective winter.
Do I Need to Winterize my Property?
The answer is yes, and it’s still yes if you live in Southern California or Hawaii. It’s always a good practice to prepare for the worst, even if that means occasional rain and temperature drops. That being said, it really comes down to the predicted climate for your area.
Consider the Temperature and Weather
Not all regions are the same. Winter on the east coast is nothing like winter on the west coast. Consider that preparing for months of heavy snow will look completely different than winterizing for 60 degree weather. Wooden cabins will most likely need to be winterized. Nonetheless, there are ways to winterize your home that are helpful to any homeowner, regardless of where they live in the states.
How to Winterize the Interior
There are dozens of ways to make sure your home stays cozy and warm in the winter aside from breaking out the blankets and sipping on hot cocoa. Below is a comprehensive list of tested methods for keeping heat in and cold out.
As mentioned earlier, heating systems can cost a pretty penny over the winter season. While natural gas is the cheapest and most popular option for American homeowners, you can also heat your home using heating oil, propane, or electricity. These sources will drive up monthly costs quite a bit, but they do provide an easy fix.
Turning your water heater down to 110 degrees, as it saves you money by lowering the temperature. The Department of Energy estimates you can save $12 or $30 per year for every 10 degrees lowered.
Washing clothes in cold water so you can avoid starting up the water heater.
Installing a smart thermostat that allows you to set specific times for your furnace to run, which also saves energy.
Using compact fluorescent lightbulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs use 75 percent less energy on average and are said to last 10 times longer.
Switching to smart power strips that cut off energy wasted on unused devices like game systems and DVD players.
Investing in new appliances that can save you an estimated $75 per year. Outdated appliances are more prone to repairs and setbacks, which can end up costing you more money and energy in the long run.
Insulation provides resistance to heat flow and reduces costs to expensive heating and cooling systems. However, it’s important to understand where to insulate for the best results possible. Here are some tips for where to add insulation for maximum effect:
Experts recommend adding insulation to the attic, crawl space, garage, and basement.
You can insulate your attic door by purchasing covers for the attic stairs or openings. These are easy to install and remove, and can help you save on standard energy costs.
Most garage doors aren’t insulated. You can always buy insulated garage and exterior doors or otherwise add a storm door.
Add heavy drapes and rugs, considering rugs add a layer of insulation above the floor and drapes help keep rooms warmer.
You can create a false ceiling in unfinished basements, which helps insulation between the ceiling and living room.
You can also insulate crawl spaces by laying an insulating mat over the crawl space floor.
Everyone should have an emergency kit, regardless of where they live. Massive earthquakes, flash floods, and severe snowstorms are just a few of many natural disasters that can hit at any time depending on your region. As a precaution, you should consider storing the following in the event of unforeseen circumstances:
For your emergency kit at home, consider buying indoor candles, matches, or a lighter in case of power outages. You’ll also want to purchase a battery backup for your electronic devices, as well as extra bottled water, nonperishable food supplies, blankets, and a first-aid kit kept in an easily accessible location. You should also add the phone numbers of your utility companies to your contacts list in your phone.
For an emergency kit for your car, the Center for Disease Control provides a comprehensive list of everything you should include in your kit.
How to Winterize the Exterior
Winterizing your home doesn’t solely mean insulating the interior. Homes can lose heat in many different areas, so it’s essential to make sure you’ve properly insulated the exterior as well.
Doors and Windows
Warm air can escape easily through doors and windows in your home while cold air seeps in through hidden cracks. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure you follow recommended guidelines for properly securing these areas.
Check your windows and doors to ensure they’re in good condition. You can do so by inspecting for any cracks and noting if the glass is secure in the window frame. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure your doors are fixed in their frames. Replace or repair as needed. It’s recommended you use energy-efficient doors and windows as they help reduce utility costs. Consider sealing off heating ducts in the basement or attic if you have either in your home.
If there are any cracks, you can also caulk the windows as a money saving alternative.
Weatherstripping your doors is necessary if you can see light around the perimeter of the door. Most homeowners typically spend $243 on weatherstripping their homes, according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide. Depending on the scale of your project, weatherstripping can either cost more or less.
Installing glass doors on your fireplace is another way of keeping cold air out and warm air from escaping through the chimney.
You’ll also want to consider installing storm windows and doors. Storm windows and doors are mounted on the outside or inside of the residence and help improve thermal insulation and soundproofing.
The last thing you want in the middle of winter is water entering your home. This is why experts advise homeowners to clean out gutters prior to the winter season. If leaves get caught in gutters and aren’t cleaned out beforehand, this can cause water to spill over the side of the house, damaging siding and foundation. Additionally, if temperatures drop and water is trapped in the gutter, the water can freeze and turn to ice. This ice can damage the gutter and roof, leading to possible leaks inside.
To prevent leaves from getting stuck in gutters, you can always purchase gutter screens. However, you’ll need to make sure leaves don’t pile up on top of the screens as this can cause further issues. It’s also a smart idea to check for any holes in the gutters. For the best repair tips for fixing damaged gutters, check out this CBS News article detailing how to winterize gutters.
Garages, Sheds, and Barns
Just as you need to winterize your main residence, you should think about winterizing any additional structures on your property such as garages, sheds, and barns.
It’s important to clear away any debris close to the exterior and interior walls of outside structures, especially if there are piles of leaves, sticks, and grass clippings gathering near the base. Removing this debris can prevent any critters or pests from making your shed their home during the wintertime.
You’ll also want to apply weatherstripping to the windows and doors of your shed or garage to prevent air and moisture from entering and causing mildew to form or tools to rust.
If you notice the bottom seal on your garage door is worn or cracking, you should replace it immediately. It’s very easy to remove the bottom seal and replacements can be found at any hardware store.
Lastly, any stored organic items should be put in waterproof bags to prevent mildew and mold from forming.
For a full list of helpful tips and expert recommendations, you can visit the CDC site or U.S. News & World Report for more information on how to best winterize your home before the snow arrives!
As housing costs continue to skyrocket, more people are warming up to the idea of living in the woods to escape rising rent and mortgage payments. But it’s not just about embracing solitude to cut costs; plenty of Americans want to live in nature because they feel happier and healthier in the great outdoors. While most are likely to live semi-close to civilization, some would rather live alone on a secluded island. If this sounds like you, it may be time to ask yourself – are you ready to live off the grid?
The Move Back to Nature
At some point in history, our ancestors thrived in nature while wearing nothing but loincloths and blanketing themselves with rocks. Okay, so that latter part may not be true, but there are plenty of studies that reveal a direct correlation between nature and happiness.
For instance, researcher Frances Kuo studied housing projects in Illinois with trees versus those without. She found that the housing projects with trees had lower crime rates and levels of aggression. The thinking behind this is that living in an environment with trees encouraged neighbors to spend more time outside socializing with each other, thus forming more meaningful connections.
Another study conducted by psychologists John Zelenski and Elizabeth Nisbet discovered that our emotional connections with nature shaped our attitudes and lifestyle choices. They found that our connection to nature correlated with our well-being, and that it was distinct to other connections in our life such as those with family and friends. More importantly, psychological connections with nature were found to positively influence attitudes toward sustainability, which is essential for preserving the environment.
And it makes sense. Nature gives us the ability to disconnect from the fast-paced technological world we’re used to and connect with our more primal instincts. It also encourages us to take better care of the planet when we’re constantly interacting with the natural world around us. So now that we understand nature makes up happier people, what’s not to love about living off the grid?
The Realities of Isolated Living
Turns out there are some things you may not love about living in an isolated area, one of which being the inconvenience of obtaining supplies.
Gone are the days of walking down the street to Kroger for water and toilet paper. Depending on where you live, getting groceries could turn into a trek and a half. When shopping for supplies, it’s important for residents of remote areas to stock up as much as possible. However, for supplies like firewood and water, some homeowners in the wilderness like to chop their own wood. There are also ways to filter lake water for drinking and cleaning purposes. And if you really get hungry, you can always go fishing or hunting for your next meal. Best part, it’s completely free.
The further you are from densely populated areas, the harder it is for first responders to reach you in the case of an emergency. Those living in remote areas are advised to learn first aid and pre-hospital care practices. This way they can assist themselves and others while waiting on emergency care professionals to arrive.
Depending on where you decide to live, you need to know what kind of weather to expect for every season, as well as any natural disasters at risk of occurring. Extreme weather poses a threat to even the most prepared and careful individuals. As a rule of thumb, it’s essential to own an emergency first aid kit, have plenty of water and non-perishable food stored away, heat and light sources, and be aware of any incoming changes in weather. If blizzards often occur in your chosen location, check out this helpful article from Eureka detailing survival tactics in the event of a snowstorm. Otherwise, it’s always a good idea to winterize your home or cabin prior to the winter season.
Could You Abandon City Living?
Isolated Doesn’t Mean Lonely
It’s often assumed that people who live alone or in isolated areas are lonely, but research shows that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, even some of the most densely populated cities in the world can feel incredibly isolating for residents who see hundreds of people in a day but never interact with them.
The reality is that there’s a clear divide between being isolated and being lonely. Those who are isolated but not lonely often demonstrate the following characteristics:
They enjoy their own company and tend to be reserved
They either have satisfying relationships with family and friends or have always kept to themselves
They usually don’t have children
They’re self-sufficient people
They spend holidays alone by choice
If you don’t find these characteristics relatable, remote living may not be the right fit for you. This is especially true if you wish for more friends or feel lonely quite a bit. But remember, everyone can feel lonely no matter where they live in the world so it’s essential to find an environment that matches your personality and lifestyle best.
Choosing Your Next Home
So now that you have a broad scope of what to anticipate before moving to a remote or rural area, here are a few additional details to consider.
How far do you actually want to be from civilization? While some outdoorsy folks would be thrilled to live a secluded existence in the forest, others might find themselves on the fence. Are you willing to drive an hour, maybe two hours to your nearest grocery store, mechanic or hospital? These are all factors to think about prior to picking out your plot of land. The cheap cost of living in a remote area may be exciting, but just make sure it’s not the primary consideration in your decision.
How comforting is it to live in isolation? Does the thought of being alone for hours, days, and weeks on end seem like a perfect living situation or a prison sentence? Depending on how self-reliant you are, you may find that you have no trouble adjusting to a life in the great outdoors. And while you may love using a composting toilet or bathing in the lake, it’s not a necessity for everyone living in remote areas. You can install modern plumbing or heating sources in remote structures, but it’s recommended that you hire a professional in case of complications. Keep in mind you could end up paying more to cover the travel costs for your handyman. Nevertheless, it’s better to know your comfort level rather than try to adapt to a lifestyle you’re not completely on board with.
Those who enjoy the small comforts of modern technology, like a computer with Wi-Fi or smart phone, might find themselves restless without the ability to easily connect with others on the Internet. If this is the case, you’ll want to ensure you have internet access set up in your new residence. Luckily, you still have plenty of access to modern conveniences, including solar panels, that make remote living feel less primitive.
And after all this, if you find yourself desiring a level of modern comfort while still feeling eager to get away, you may want to consider cabin living as a great middle ground. The choice is yours!
Any equine enthusiast will agree that horses enrich their lives. Aside from the obvious physical benefits that come with ownership, there are many mental, emotional, and social reasons that make buying a horse a great investment. But when it comes to deciding whether to care for the horse at home or board it at a stable, horse owners have trouble choosing between the two. If you’re still weighing the pros and cons, consider the following pointers.
It’s important to consider that boarding costs can drive up these annual projections depending on where you live. For example, it can cost $600 a month to board a horse outside Portland, whereas a farm in a wealthy area of New York might charge $1,300 a month per horse! While a cheaper option, housing a horse on your property comes with a great deal of feeding and daily maintenance that can be physically and financially taxing.
Prior to purchasing a horse, you should create a budget based on how much you anticipate to spend annually on housing and care costs. You can also try to cut costs by shopping for cheap but good-quality hay and learning to trim your horse’s hooves.
How Much Does a Horse Eat?
Every horse is different and requires a different quantity of food. That being said, a horse’s calories should always come from roughage, meaning good-quality hay or pasture. It’s recommended that horses eat about 1 percent of their body weight in hay or pasture grasses and legumes on a daily basis. Horses that primarily consume hay as their forage typically eat fifteen to twenty pounds of hay per day. A typical 1,000-pound horse fed hay and grain should eat about 20 to 25 pounds a day. Similarly, horses with endless access to a good-quality pasture can eat up to 25 pounds a day. While grass is said to be the most natural and ideal food source for horses, hay is a perfectly good alternative so long as it is the right hay for your horse. Be sure to check out these recommendations for hay and supplements that ensure your horse is kept in good health.
How Often Do Horses Need to Exercise?
As natural grazers, horses need daily exercise. It’s best if owners have a paddock or pasture where horses can nibble and graze throughout the day. On average, horses that are free to move around for most of the day need about 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. Horses kept in stables need at least 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis.
Depending on the type of work and amount your horse performs, experts also recommend designing a workout that meets your horse’s needs. For instance, if your horse is used for trail riding, their daily workout should include trail riding with speed intervals to build their strength and stamina. Whichever workout routine you decide on, it’s important to be consistent with your horse’s workout schedule. Failure to do so can result in unforeseen injuries caused by re-introducing a horse into a full daily workout without any warm up.
Grooming is an essential part of owning a horse. Daily grooming helps horses develop a healthy, shiny coat and owners identify any cuts or irritations. Those who ride daily also know that grooming your horse beforehand is a must, considering grit beneath the saddle or girth can irritate your horse’s skin and possibly cause saddle or girth sores. Even if you don’t plan to ride your horse daily, it’s still a good idea to stick to a consistent grooming schedule.
Optional grooming spray, hoof ointment, and scissors
One of the best ways to start grooming is by checking the hooves of your horse for any cracks or changes. You’ll then want to pick out all dirt or anything else in your horse’s hoof. This helps you maintain your horse’s health while effectively removing anything that could prevent you from riding that day.
Then, you’ll want to take your curry comb and start brushing from the neck to the rear. This removes dirt and increases circulation in the skin, which then releases natural oils in your horse’s skin. Afterward, you’ll want to grab your stiff bristled body brush and repeat the same motion, this time using a quick flicking motion to remove any extra hair or dirt. You’ll then take your finishing brush and use long strokes from the neck to the rear to get rid of any remaining dust. You can also use the brush on and around your horse’s face. Lastly, you’ll want to groom the mane and tail by combing small sections from the bottom to top until you can brush the tail from top to bottom without catching any knots.
Boarding a Horse
Partials vs. Full Boarding
Horse owners are offered a few options for boarding, the most popular being partial boarding and full boarding.
It’s important to keep in mind that people who partially board their horses will no longer be the horse’s owner. Instead, you pay a portion of the board in order to use the horse for a set number of hours per week and at specific times. Depending on the contract, you could also be responsible for covering veterinarian and farrier fees. Essentially, you can expect to pay less, but with the knowledge that you will have limited access to your horse and cannot maintain ownership.
On the other hand, owners who choose to board their horses full-time can expect to pay more to receive all the benefits of full boarding. This includes unlimited access to their horse and grooming and care services provided by someone else. However, this option can be extremely expensive depending on your location, how many horses you own, and if your board includes lessons, arena, and equipment use. Additionally, owners might be tempted to neglect their horses if they assume they’re getting the best services provided to them. If you decide full boarding is the best option for you, you should plan to check on the horse frequently to make sure it is in good health.
Cost of Boarding a Horse
As mentioned earlier, where you live can determine how expensive boarding costs will be. Expect to pay more if you live close to or in an urban area, as taxes and land costs are typically higher near major cities. Other factors that can drive up costs include competition for the stable, facilities and amenities available, services provided, and costs of traveling to see your horse. If you live close to an urban area and want to board your horse at a well-serviced stable with lessons, you could end up paying over $700 a month. Otherwise, you can find some boards for a dollar a day or perform labor in exchange for partial payments.
Housing Your Own Horse
How Much Land Do You Need?
Those who feel confident in their abilities to care for a horse full-time should consider the amount of land needed in order to keep their horses healthy and happy. This amount can range depending on the number of horses you own, the size of your horse, and management plans. With excellent management, horses can happily graze on as little as one acre but two acres is generally recommended.
Cost of Housing Your Own Horse
In order to house your horse, you’ll likely need your own barn. If you already have your own barn, you’ll want to make sure the facility is in good condition and allows you to care for your horses in a way that’s convenient for you and healthy for them. It’s important to note that the minimum size for a loose box stable is 10’ x 10’ to 12’ x 12’. However, this is passable for riding horses and is not recommended for draft breeds or if you’re expecting a foal.
Those wishing to house their own horses should anticipate the cost of hay, feed concentrate/supplements, bedding, manure removal, water, and utilities for the barn. If you haven’t yet build your barn or plan on moving to a larger plot, you’ll want to calculate your average monthly mortgage payment. All of these costs, plus any additional services you may need or want, can total up to $300 to $400 a month.
Before purchasing your horse, be sure to consider these costs associated with horse ownership so you can properly plan for any unexpected expenses and ensure the well-being of your equine friend.
In recent years, the demand for affordable, eco-friendly housing options has led many prospective homebuyers to start considering unconventional alternatives to traditional homes. While some may cringe at the thought of living in an upgraded tent out in the woods, for others it offers a unique opportunity to bypass record high housing prices and curb their carbon footprint. And as more Americans continue to spend over half their incomes on rent or home mortgage payments, it’s easy to see why these alternatives are more popular than ever, especially with millennials. Here’s a glimpse at some of the trendiest options on the market and what you’ll want to consider before signing on the dotted line.
Why are People Pursuing Alternative Housing?
Our current housing market is one of the most competitive markets in recorded history, according to Realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale. While millennials are planning to buy their first home, baby boomers are looking to downsize as they get closer to retirement. As these generations fight for smaller, more affordable homes, it seems there are far more buyers than there are sellers willing to part with their residences. Thus the prospect of downsizing comes with the added headache of competing for a limited pool of options. Those who are able to downsize can reap many benefits including decreased burdens on their wallets and natural resources. This is where alternative housing comes in. It offers a solution to the competitive nature of our current market by giving millennials and soon-to-be retirees a chance to own property that’s affordable, eco-friendly, and meets all their basic needs.
Alternative Housing Ideas
Unless you’re claustrophobic, tiny homes can be a great alternative to conventional housing options. According to Vice, a tiny home can cost anywhere between $23,000 and $60,000, depending on whether you construct it yourself or hire a professional builder. Though comparable to studio apartments in size, minimalist homeowners seem to really love them. It’s even grown so popular that HGTV introduced the “Tiny House Hunters” series and the state of Georgia recently approved construction for a tiny house neighborhood in Clarkston.
While the obvious benefits that come with owning a tiny home include reduced energy usage, housing costs, and environmental impact, the lack of personal space and cramped living quarters are frequent issues amongst owners. Standard tiny homes typically offer less than 400 sq. ft., meaning it’s probably comfortable for one or two people to live in at a time.
Reader’s Digest also warns of hidden costs associated with owning a tiny home, including inflated building fees and resale value. Every city has different zoning, building, inspection, and land use laws, so it’s important to research the zoning codes and regulations for your municipality ahead of time. However, if your tiny home is registered as an RV and you plan to travel with it, you won’t have to stress over strict regulations – you’ll just need to know where to park it.
Another aspect to consider is the resale value of a tiny home. If a home is permanently affixed to a foundation or otherwise in a highly desirable location, it will likely have a better resale value than a tiny home on wheels. While it may be more costly to live in a popular location, it’s worth considering if you plan on moving one day or having kids. For more information on tiny house zoning regulations, Curbed provides a comprehensive breakdown of everything you’ll need to know prior to building.
Yurts are best suitable for those who prefer the wilderness to city life, especially if the idea of camping forever sounds like a dream. They resemble a dome-like tent from the outside, but are often customized to feel luxurious inside. Yurts tend to cost $2,000 to $6,000 to purchase as a kit and take about two days to assemble, which makes them highly-desirable for frugal outdoor enthusiasts. Not all outdoorsy folks are ready to rough it on a regular basis though.
Those who enjoy the convenience of an in-house bathroom and shower, central air conditioning, and separate rooms should seek other alternatives. For starters, permanent yurt dwellers typically use outhouses with a composting toilet to keep odors and flies away from the structure. However, there are ways to build a bathroom in a yurt, it’s just a less common practice. If you plan on showering regularly, you can rig a tree with a bucket and use solar power to heat the water or otherwise bathe in a lake nearby. Those sweltering hot summers and freezing cold winters will also be a challenge, considering your air conditioning and heating comes from natural energy sources such as an outdoor fire or a nice cool breeze unless you’re using solar energy. And lastly, you can forget having fights if you live with someone else, considering a yurt is anywhere from 115 to 700 sq. ft. in size with no interior walls.
If you’re still convinced yurt living is ideal for you and want to know more, you can visit Pacific Yurts for additional information on yurt dwellings.
Mobile & Manufactured Homes
About 17.7 million Americans live in manufactured homes, according to Apartment List. They’re the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the U.S., with one in ten households living below the poverty line. This makes them one of the best options for those struggling to meet sky-high payments for a site-built home or apartment. As with any upside, here’s one major downside to manufactured homes you might want to consider.
Owning a manufactured home is a lot like owning a car in the sense that their value depreciates over time. Homebuyers dazzled by the idea of paying $292,600 less on average than a site-built home should first consider the land on which their manufactured home is placed. Some homeowners will try buying the land their home sits on, hoping the property will appreciate even if the structure doesn’t. Others will take on interior renovations or build a permanent foundation to raise the overall value. Many opt for placing their manufactured home in a mobile home park, which means they have to rent the land. By the time they’re ready to move, they either won’t own the property or the home won’t have much value. Even worse, if they can’t sell the home, they may need to pay someone as much as $1,000 to $2,000 to move it to the landfill.
Otherwise, mobile homes can be excellent alternatives for those looking to live luxuriously while on a budget. A buyer with a $300,000 budget can purchase a lavish manufactured home equipped with upgrades like a soaking tub and granite countertops or extra square footage. Additionally, if you choose to settle in a different location or buy land elsewhere, it’s possible to relocate your home.
Fun fact: There’s no major difference between manufactured and mobile homes, but people are often stumped as to why these identical properties are classified as manufactured and other as mobile. The only factor that separates them is that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deemed mobile homes to be any home built prior to June 15, 1976 and manufactured homes are those built after June 15, 1976.
Just as homebuyers are confused by the difference between manufactured and mobile homes, the same can be said of modular and manufactured homes. According to The Balance, modular homes are built in sections at a factory, then transported to the building site where they’re joined together by local contractors on a permanent foundation. Manufactured homes are built entirely in a factory. They’re also constructed on a non-removable steel chassis and transported to the building site on their own wheels.
Manufactured homes can be tough to re-finance, considering they’re not always built on a permanent foundation. While manufacturing homes sometimes decrease in value, well-made modular homes can increase in value over time much like a site-built home. They’re also said to have the same longevity as their site-built counterparts.
Modular homes can be a rewarding investment. They usually cost 10 to 20 percent less than a stick-built home and take about two months to put together on the building site. However, modular homes are typically not custom built and therefore don’t offer the same variety as stick-built homes. With pre-constructed homes, it’s important to note that you don’t always have to do everything from the ground up. You can add to existing structures, including garages and barn apartments, to accommodate more people or just add space.
Summer is rapidly approaching, which means it’s time to break out those dusty shorts you stuffed in the back of your dresser drawers and start planning out your sun-filled camping excursions to some of America’s most beautiful parks. However, not everyone is a fan of summer camping. For those who’d rather brave crisper conditions to skip the crowds, as well as those who prefer summer camping, this guide will hopefully provide much needed insight on what you’ll need to know before you head out on the road.
Summer Camping Tips
According to the National Park Service, summertime is the most popular season to go camping. With its warm weather and picturesque hiking, it’s not hard to see why tons of people would want to spend their time in the great outdoors. With that being said, it’s a smart idea to reserve your site well in advance, especially if you’re planning on visiting popular national parks like Yellowstone and Zion.
Book Your Trip in Advance
In fact, recreation.gov states on their site that you can make reservations six months in advance for individual sites and 12 months in advance for group sites. Even if you don’t have all the details of your camping trip laid out, you might want to go ahead and book your site as soon as possible to avoid any potential conflicts. You can do so by visiting your state’s parks and recreation page for more information.
Another important aspect to consider is what else heat brings aside from crowds – dehydration, heat-related illnesses, and mosquitoes. While it’s always a good rule of thumb to bring plenty of water when camping, it’s generally recommended to drink 2 liters of water a day, especially in very hot climates. You might want to consider bringing a collapsible water jug, as it takes up less space. If you’re looking for something more durable, a hard-sided jug would be your best bet. This way, you can better prevent heat-related illnesses, such as heat rash and heat exhaustion.
Additionally, many campers ride on ATVs or boats while camping, especially in the summer months. This equipment should be properly maintained year around to protect it from the elements, so they’re best kept in the garage while not in use.
Recommended Summer Gear:
2+ Liters of Water
Emergency First Aid Kit
Cell phone and back-up charger
Air-tight food containers
Personal fans, freezer packs, and frozen water bottles
Fall Camping Tips
Fall is arguably one of the best times to go camping for outdoor enthusiasts. Fewer families will be frequenting the camp sites with school back in session, meaning you can enjoy the vibrant autumn foliage without the added frustration of cramped campgrounds. There’s also the possibility of state parks and national forests offering reduced entrance fees after Labor Day. While these are great reasons to go camping in fall, the season also comes with a few downsides.
Fluctuating weather conditions, shorter daylight hours, and mating wildlife are important to take notice of prior to your fall camping trip.
As the summer season fades away, so does the warm weather. It’s generally recommended to always check the weather forecasts of your specific park before packing, considering it could be 20°F in the morning and 70°F by afternoon in certain places. To be extra prepared for rising and falling temperatures, you should bring a mix of clothing like thermal underwear, fleece jackets, and wind and water-resistant garments. It’s also advised to bring a cold-weather sleeping bag that protects against lower temperatures and sleeping pads for heat retention. You might think about purchasing a three-season tent, especially one with a full rain fly to keep moisture out.
Shorter Daylight Hours
With daylight savings in full swing, be sure to allow yourself extra time to arrive at the campsite before dark. You should bring a headlamp to ensure you can still perform necessary tasks while navigating your campsite at night.
Since fall is also prime season for wildlife mating, it’s best to leave plenty of space between yourself and animals. Some species can be more aggressive than others as winter approaches, so if you do happen to find yourself wanting a picture of them, Wildnerness.org recommends using a zoom lens as opposed to attempting to get a close-up shot.
Recommended Fall Gear:
Cold-weather sleeping bag
Water and wind-resistant jacket
Plenty of layers
Mittens or gloves
Emergency first aid supplies
Compass or GPS
Winter Camping Tips
Not everyone is brave enough to camp in frigid climates. For those who are, cold-weather camping gives adventure seekers the opportunity to experience utter solitude in an expansive snowscape, in addition to the added gift of not being bitten to death by bugs. While planning for winter camping can seem daunting, it’s easier to stay comfortable than you may think, according to EcoWatch.
The trick is to layer up! You’ll want to start with a quick-drying base layer like nylon and polyester. Cotton should always be avoided, considering it absorbs moisture and can lose insulating qualities that help with thermoregulation. Next, you’ll want to add a mid-layer, such a lightweight fleece or down jacket. If weather conditions are optimal, this can also count as your outer layer. Finally, the outer layer should be a waterproof shell or insulated puffy jacket that protects you from harsh wind and precipitation. For full body clothing recommendations, check out Appalachian Mountain Club’s full guide on what to wear for winter camping.
Just as we discussed the types of sleeping equipment you’ll need for fall, it’s ideal to double up on sleeping bags and pads for winter. You’ll also want to bring a four-season tent, as it’s designed to withstand strong winds and snow accumulation.
You’re typically burning about 4,000 – 5,000 calories on a normal winter day. With this in mind, plan to bring plenty of snacks and solid meals to counteract the amount of calories you’ll be burning so you can stay nourished and warm. Increasing your caloric intake can also help to compensate for homeostasis in colder regions. Nols, a nonprofit wilderness school, recommends packing dried items like pasta or freezing burritos ahead of time as great options for winter food items.
Another important tip to remember is that some parks shut off their water during the winter, so you need to be prepared for any inconveniences you might experience. Talk to the ranger at your individual park or campground to help plan your excursion.
If you’re not up for camping but still enjoy the outdoors, having your own cabin is a great way to stay out of the cold while experiencing all the benefits of winter.
Recommended Winter Gear:
Two sleeping bags
Two sleeping pads
Lightweight fleece or down jacket
Socks, gloves, and a technical cold-weather hat
High-calorie snacks and meals
Stainless steel water bottle
Spring Camping Tips
While spring is the ever-anticipated precursor to summer, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe to skimp on the gear and head straight for the mountains. Springtime weather is notorious for being unpredictable, with sunny skies one day and storms the next. These storms can often bring rain and even substantial snow in northern regions so it’s best to prepare for either depending on your camp site. If you’re planning to take a trip closer to the beginning of spring season, you should check your campground to make sure you have full access to sites and facilities. Some sites have limited facilities so it’s always best to plan ahead in that regard. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to camp near the end of spring season, you might want to book your site in advance since spaces fill up closer to summertime.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you should pack and be aware of prior to leaving for your trip. Be sure to visit your campground or park site in advance to ensure you have all the information needed for an enjoyable, well-planned time. You can also visit Backpacker and GearJunkie for more helpful camping tips.