Friday, October 31, 2014


I'm moving all my blogs under one roof! New posts will be at Grama Sue's Rainbow! See you there!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Recycled Pole Building Home With Greenhouse

This blog continues to amaze me! It's been a very busy summer and I haven't posted since June 9th, but I still get an average of 30 hits a day! And most of those have been from legitimate sources, not spammers :)

What I've posted so far is the result of sitting around and dreaming about stuff I'd like to build. Today, I want to show you a project Grampa Tom and I are planning to actually do!

The 16'x72', 4 bedroom portion in the middle is our current trailer. The roof and some of the windows are leaking, so we've got to do something. We decided the most practical solution would be to just put a pole building roof over it and then enclose it.

We've been talking about doing something like this for years, but a few weeks ago Grampa Tom was talking to a couple of friends of ours. They thought it was a great idea and offered to help us with it. That is a very good thing, because Grampa Tom and I remodeled a 5'x6' bathroom one time and nearly got a divorce :) Neither of us are carpenters, but our friends are very talented carpenters! Anyway, they came up with all kinds of neat ideas about using recycled materials and we are thinking we can get it done for under $10,000. 

Our trailer sits at an angle, so there is no true south side, but that's going to work out fine, because that means we have two south sides to make into a huge green house. Our plan is to build raised beds just outside the pole roof line and place cattle panels at an angle so they reach from the beds to the inside of the roof line. We will have retractable green house plastic that we can cover these with during the winter and during the summer we can grow vines up them to shade the house. We are planning to find used brick to cover the inside of this area and we'd like to build a rocket fired thermal-mass wood stove for supplemental heat on cold nights or cloudy days. 

On the north-west side we will have an 8' wide shed. We need a place to store fresh vegetables during the market season, so our friend Dan suggested that we partition part of it off, insulate it and put a window air-conditioner in it. Sounds good to us! Grampa Tom thought we ought to close in the north-east wall to provide a wind break. We hope to find a whole lot of used windows to frame into it. We also want to put a mudroom/entry at the back door. 

We were also thinking we need to put large tanks at each corner to collect rainwater for our gardens. A summer kitchen out in the green house would be nice too!

Between the utility bill savings, the additional income we will be able to earn from the greenhouse and the ability to keep our produce fresher on hot summer days, this project should more than pay for itself in a few years.

Here's our list of stuff to scavenge for this project. If you know of someone who is tearing down an old house or a barn in our area, please let us know!

Used electric poles
roof or siding metal sheets
2"x6" or larger lumber
large beams
old windows
concrete blocks
cattle panels
fire brick
an old water heater
6 inch diameter stainless stove pipe
large tanks for rainwater collection
nice oak pallets for the front deck and steps
Styrofoam sheet insulation


God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Sunday, June 9, 2013

House Under a Pole Barn

Haven't been posting much lately. The gardens and markets have been taking up most of my time. It's summer, that's how it goes :)

But, the other day I was doing a little care giving job and there was a show on about buying property in Hawaii.  Did you know that the average daytime temperature there is 75 degrees all year long? and that on occasions it might get down to 60 degrees at night? I've never had any desire to go to Hawaii, but those temps make it kinda tempting to live there :)

The farmer in me was thinking if you bought 5 or 10 acres there,  you could really grow a lot of food and you wouldn't need much of a house. Throw up a pole barn roof and build a bathroom, a kitchen and a few movable walls to provide some protection in cases of extreme wind, screen it in and you'd be good!

Anyway, the next day on the way to the market, I mentioned these thoughts to Grampa Tom. He wasn't so crazy about moving to Hawaii, but he really liked the idea of building a house under a pole barn roof, so the discussion morphed into how to adapt that idea to living in the Midwest. When we got home, I was exhausted, but it had to be drawn before I forgot it. I've been tweaking it for the last few days and I have a little time today, so I thought I'd share it with you. Looks like on the last tweak, I forgot to put the door from the dining room into the hall that leads to the mud room back in. Hope you will forgive me, but I my program doesn't allow me to post directly to the internet. It's a pain to do and I don't have the time to fix it right now, but here it is:

This home sits under a 2 sided 72'L x 48'W x 10'H pole barn. The walls are on the north and the west sides of the home to provide a windbreak. The house sits 8 ft. in from these walls to provide a nice air space between the walls and the house itself. They also have garage doors that can be opened in the summer to provide ventilation on nice days. When it rains, all the windows can be open without fear of it raining in.  I'm thinking the doors on the west side ought to be glass like this, to allow a view from the kitchen and master bedroom windows. I'd also make liberal use of solar lighting tubes in this house because I'm afraid it would be rather dark without them. My dad used these at his place a while back and it was amazing how much light they brought in even on a cloudy day! The south side sits right at the edge of the pole roof and has a full length sun room to provide passive solar heat. The east side over hangs 16 ft from the mud room to provide a carport that would fit a couple of cars, a mower and various bikes, trikes or other small vehicles. 

You could make the mud room quite a bit smaller, but Grampa Tom wanted to be able to bring in eggs and veggies to wash them in the mud room so I made it big enough for a couple of people to work and for our commercial sized refrigerator to fit. :) He's also really big on having a huge open walk in shower, so I put it right next to the mud room and stuck a little sink and a toilet in there for an extra throne accessible from the family room.

Grampa Tom is an introvert. Company and grandkids can get a little overwhelming at times so I like to create a couple of basic spaces in the houses I design so he can have a place to hide. The family room can be shut off from the kitchen/living room area if he wants, but the double doors open up the space if he wants to be sociable. 

The kitchen/ dining area has an extra large sink, a hand sink and a desk. I'm thinking the bottom cabinets in the dining room ought to have solid doors, but the top cabinets should have glass doors with lighting so I can display a china set  and that Swarovski crystal collection I've always wanted :)

There are two entrances to the basement, one in the middle of the home and one outside. Grampa Tom is a big advocate of outside entrances to basements for fire safety reasons and just to make moving things in and out of the basement easier. He also wanted an outside entrance to the master bedroom with an outside shower so I accommodated him. You might just want more room in the bath room. Since the bathroom has two doors, I put the toilet in a little cubby hole that can have a curtain hung across it for privacy.

Hope you've enjoyed this little dreamland excursion in the midst of planting season!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!




God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Farmer/Gentleman II

A while back, I posted a floor plan called “The Farmer/Gentleman”. I decided to revisit that plan and came up with a slightly smaller home that I really like better. The living room and the study in that plan were pretty big, which is OK if you want a big house, but with this one I decided to carve a nice front porch out of those two rooms.

The master bedroom is still nice and big with doors connecting it to the bathroom, mudroom and the study.

The study can be used as a nursery or a private sitting room for you and your spouse when your kids are teens or if Grandma and Grandpa need cared for in their later years.

The mud room has a large walk-in closet and a locker style walk-in shower. It connects to the master bedroom, the study and the kitchen to help you keep the dirt out of the living room!

The kitchen, which is open to the living room has plenty of counter space a pantry and a cozy dining area that opens into a large inviting sun room.

On the other side of the house from the master bedroom are two more bedrooms, with generous closets and a second bath.

This is nice smaller home with lots of room for your family throughout your years.

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Grampa Tom's Favorite

Well at least so far it's Grampa Tom's favorite. Every now and then I come up with a plan that he looks at and says, "That's the best design you've come up with so far." and I did it again with this one.

Last week I shared a 2400 square foot inter-generational home with a storm room, 2-3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a formal living room and a very, very cool master suite. But, it's really pretty big so I thought I'd work on it some more to see if I could shave a little square footage off it. I did it! This one is 1762 square feet, with the option of putting a basement under it if you want more room or just some storage space.

I kept the master suite with the large window seat, enclosed porch, the whirlpool tub that is accessible from both the porch and the master bathroom, the private toilet stall, the huge walk-in shower and the large attached mud room. 

Then I created a large great room with a guest bath just off the kitchen, a long sun room for passive solar heat and another large room off the kitchen that could be used (depending on your needs) as a formal living room, an office, or an extra bedroom that's big enough for your folks have a bit of private space if they can no longer live by themselves . If you don't want a basement, turn the stairwell into a combination storm room/ pantry and you are all set!

This home also follows dimensions that could be easily accomplished by a modular home builder.

What do you think?

Are there any changes you would make to this home?

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Birth to Grave Romance

This is the third major revision I have made on this floor plan, but I think I'm satisfied now. This 2/3 bedroom mid-sized home has lots of built in privacy and storage. The pantry even doubles as a storm room and has a strategically placed mop sink. I would hate to be stuck in there and not have a drain!

Check out this master suite! It's big enough for Mom and Dad and a crib when the little one is to small to sleep in her own room or a little bit seating of a few years later. No need to plan a date night out here. Just hire a babysitter and retire into your own little bit of heaven! Off the bedroom is a cozy enclosed porch  that opens into the master bathroom whirlpool tub. I think I'd spend every night out there, and probably a few mornings and afternoons too!

The master bathroom also has a huge walk in shower that is located close to the mud room for filthy people coming in from outside. It also has a private toilet stall.

This mid-section of this home contains a large country kitchen and a spacious family room. The kitchen receives natural light from a row of celestory windows along the hall/living room wall. There is lots of counter space and plenty of room for multiple cooks. A handy hand sink and a breakfast bar make this kitchen the perfect social and/or family space. 

All the bedrooms have window seats. Use both for little ones while the kids are home. Later, turn one into an office and the other into a guest bedroom until Grandma needs some extra care. She will be close to the kitchen and bathroom and can still have her own space because the family and the living rooms are on opposite ends of the house. 

What do you think?

What would you change about his home?

I thought this was the last revision I would make on this home, but I was wrong. There's one more. It's  smaller, with a basement. Grampa Tom says it's better than any other's that I've done. I'll post it next week!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue