If there’s anything we learned in 2021, it’s that demand for housing is exploding across the U.S. From major cities like Chicago and Seattle to rural communities in Colorado and Tennessee, we saw an influx of eager home buyers snap up listings left, right, and center, with many homes flying off the market within hours of being listed and often well over asking price. The red hot housing market has created somewhat of a catch-22 for home buyers, considering mortgage rates remain historically low while dwindling inventory means stiff competition and fewer options across the board. But the challenges of finding affordable and livable housing aren’t exclusive to home buyers; renters are also feeling the financial and mental strain of the booming U.S. housing market.
According to Fortune.com, rent prices in the U.S. rose more than 10% in 2021 and will likely continue to climb in 2022. In cities like Dallas, where the population grew by 120,000 residents in the last year or so, renters are having an increasingly difficult time finding affordable rentals throughout the city – and they’re not alone. With thousands of empty-handed home buyers leaving the housing market and millions of Americans continuing to move states, the rental market in 2022 is on track to become even more saturated than the previous year. And while this may seem like bad news for renters, there is a solution that could help alleviate the housing crisis in cities across the U.S. and open new doors of opportunity for current and future homeowners.
The solution we’re referring to is accessory dwelling units, otherwise known as ADUs. Often added to one’s backyard space, an ADU can serve as a detached guest suite, an office, a workshop, or a personalized man or lady cave. In the context of this blog post, an ADU creates a mutually beneficial opportunity for renters and homeowners, considering long-term renters provide homeowners with a stable source of passive income in exchange for a quiet, flexible rental within their budget. Not to mention, an ADU can substantially increase the value of one’s home, making it a lucrative investment that virtually pays for itself and more.
Whether you’re planning to build a new home or considering adding to your existing home, an ADU is a wise investment that offers numerous benefits for homeowners and renters alike. If you’re in the market for an ADU of your own, take a look below at some of the prefabricated ADU kits we offer that might just be the perfect solution for your property:
McKenzie Cabin Kit:
With 651 square feet of conditioned living space, our McKenzie Cabin Kit can serve as a detached one-bedroom rental perfect for solos or couples.
Modern McKenzie Cabin Kit:
This modern, sloped cabin design offers slightly more square footage than our classic McKenzie Cabin Kit, boasting 721 square feet of flexible living space.
Deschutes Cabin Kit:
The Deschutes Cabin Kit is a 776 sq. ft. post and beam structure designed with one bedroom and one bathroom. With the help of our designers, you can add a second bedroom to the existing design or customize your floor plan entirely.
Modern Deschutes Cabin Kit:
The modern take on our Deschutes Cabin Kit, the Modern Deschutes is a simple one-bedroom cabin design with room for creativity.
Rogue Cabin Kit:
This two-bedroom, two-bathroom cabin kit features a cozy master suite, an open-concept living space with vaulted ceilings, and a charming covered porch. With its classic cabin appearance, the Rogue offers the warmth and comfort of a small home or cottage.
Modern Rogue Cabin Kit:
Coming in at 948 square feet, the Modern Rogue Cabin Kit offers ample room for two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and open-concept living. Like our classic Rogue, this cabin design includes a covered porch.
Need inspiration for your ADU project? Check out our project gallery to see how our clients transformed their kits into the perfect ADUs for their homes!
If you’re ready to get started on your ADU build, give us a call at (888) 975-2057 or request a quote here.
In recent months, the global supply chain crisis has become a major cause for concern for those eager to build a new home or structure. With everything from windows and doors to dimensional lumber experiencing long lead times, many homebuyers are finding it difficult to jumpstart their construction with several of their key building components severely backlogged. Though analysts predict supply chain shortages will continue well into 2022, there are numerous ways that clients can expedite their project timelines while saving time and money in the process. If you’re considering investing in a pre-engineered building kit from DC Structures, here’s what you need to know about the materials shortages we’re currently experiencing and how you can move through our process quicker.
Supply Chain Shortages Impacting DC Structures
As with every building kit producer here in the U.S., we’ve had to adjust our pricing to meet the demands of the market and then some. On top of lumber prices hitting all-time highs this year, we’ve also seen lead times for several other building materials increase exponentially over time, with some being six months to a year out from the job site. Of the materials shortages we’re experiencing at DC Structures, the most prominent by far are windows, entry doors, prefinished siding, and garage doors.
While it may be disappointing or concerning to think of how this can affect your project timeline, there are a few things clients can do to maneuver around long lead times. For example, buying products locally can significantly reduce lead times, as local products are transported over shorter distances than those shipped internationally. At DC Structures, we purchase most of our building materials here in the Pacific Northwest to help minimize delays and ensure better overall quality for our building kits. However, we can also custom quote windows, doors, siding, and more from materials suppliers in your area if you prefer to buy them locally.
Ways to Expedite Your Building Process
Aside from materials shortages, there are many other factors that can significantly extend the time it takes to start building your structure, including delays in permitting, site preparation, and selections. Here’s how you can avoid unnecessary setbacks in the building process by taking a proactive approach to your construction project.
Communicate Design Changes As Soon as Possible
Design changes are an inevitable part of crafting a new home or building. From minor changes like swapping out standard windows for an available upgrade to making major structural modifications to your pre-engineered building model, our clients are bound to tweak a few or more details of their design to better suit their needs. At DC Structures, we view this as a perfectly normal aspect of the design phase and are always happy to help clients tailor their structures according to their tastes. However, where this starts to affect your project timeline is in the communication breakdown, as design changes that are communicated right away help us move you through our process that much faster than those that are submitted days or weeks later.
It is worth noting that clients may need more time to evaluate their design plans, which is okay! It is more important to us that you feel completely confident in your design, as we want to be sure you love the result of your partnership with us. If you need more time to review your model, we simply recommend that you continue to share your thoughts and ideas with our designers so they can help you form a design that aligns with your vision. By keeping us in the loop, we can guarantee the best results for your building and help facilitate an efficient, collaborative design process.
Plan for Permitting
If there is anything that can stop your project dead in its tracks, it is permitting. Obtaining a building permit is a necessary part of constructing a new residential or commercial building, considering nothing can happen on your job site without one. Knowing this, it is important to do your research on local standards for zoning, land use, and construction early in the planning stage, so you have a better understanding of what you will need to submit to your local building office. Typically, this will include schematic design with floor plans and elevations and construction documents with structural calculations. However, depending on your location, you may need additional consultants and engineers to submit stamped drawings of your building plans, which could include civil drawings and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) plans. Because these requirements can vary drastically by location, we recommend that clients contact their county building office in advance to discuss their project details and determine the next steps for acquiring a building permit.
Lock Down Your Contractor Early
Collaborating with an experienced contractor who can carefully plan and execute your construction is a must for any client, as is partnering with a designer you can trust to carry out your vision. If you plan to build a new home or structure this coming year, it is best to start your search for the right contractor as soon as possible so you have time to evaluate your options and choose the best person for the job. If you do not already have someone in mind for your project or feel you need help with the process, we offer a nationwide builder network comprised of trusted contractors across the country and can help connect you with the perfect builder for your project.
Learn more about our nationwide builder network by clicking here.
Finalize Your Selections Before Procurement
One of the most enjoyable yet difficult aspects of designing a structure from scratch is selecting the features that will go into your home or building, considering there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options to choose from for your design. While it is completely understandable that clients may need extra time to research their options, it is important to note that any selections made or changed after procurement will undoubtedly extend the time it takes to finish your structure. For this reason, we recommend that clients have their selections squared away before procurement to ensure a smooth construction process. Doing so also allows our team to get ahead of long lead times, as any selections that are severely backlogged can be addressed in advance and potentially swapped out for a similar item.
Prepare Your Site for Delivery
Site preparation is a crucial step in the building process. When done correctly, your project can move quickly and accurately through construction, as your contractor is made aware of any anomalies on your site and can maneuver around these issues more carefully. While the process of site clearing, surveying, soil testing, and site planning are all necessary prior to delivery, it is also important to ensure your site is properly staged and designed to allow for an easy delivery process. For example, our pre-engineered building packages arrive on a forty-eight-foot semi-truck. Because of this, we ask that clients make sure their properties are accessible and allow our semis to easily turn around after drop-off. It is also imperative to ensure your job site is set up in a way that keeps your materials clean and organized. For more information on how you can effectively prepare your site for delivery, watch our DC Best Practices video to learn more about DC Builders’ approach to creating a clean and efficient staging area on your job site.
Design in Winter, Build in Spring
Just as the title suggests, clients that design their structures in winter and start construction in spring are bound to experience fewer delays associated with weather on their job sites, considering snow, hail, and frequent rain can significantly impact the time it takes to get your project off the ground. If you do plan to start construction in spring or summer, we recommend contacting contractors early in the year – even as early as January if possible – to start the process of finalizing your builder. This is because seasonal demand usually increases in the summer months, making it difficult to lock down a contractor or subcontractors during this time. By planning ahead for spring or summer construction, you can determine a schedule and budget that works well for you and your contractor and anticipate a much faster construction process than one that begins in the wintertime.
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 ’60s and ’70s. 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 unwind? This could be a barn with an upstairs loft, a 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 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 time for yourself 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 your horses at home or board them 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 unique 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 built 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.