About this site and its author

This site is first and foremost about building houses and specifically about building your own house or doing a renovation for your own needs. It will not be about building million dollar luxury dream homes or about building houses for profit but if this is your goal you may still find much of value here. The focus is going to be about building smaller, comfortable, efficient, green homes as inexpensively as possible. It is also going to be a narrative about my own experiences in building my own small retirement home. The second I’ll build for me and my wife. We will discuss at times the smallest details as well as the broadest generalities. Included will be how to lessons and advice on the choice of tools and the use of them.

If your goal is to provide a comfortable home for you and your family within a limited budget then this blog is aimed at you. If you just want to see if you can do it then this blog is for you. If you want to build something just a little better than average or perhaps a little unconventional then I think this blog will be helpful.

You will notice that I use imperial measures almost exclusively in this blog. This may be a pain for my younger readers in Canada, Britain and Australia and for everyone else outside of the U.S. But its usage is still common in the building trade, at least in Canada. In some cases I will provide approximate metric equivalents in brackets. Somewhere along the line I will include conversion tables but google works well in the meantime.

This is meant to be a learning process and a source of ideas for myself as well as my readers so I am going to solicit input from anyone willing to share. Most of all we are looking for innovation in cost saving, energy efficiency, green building, and the use of the newest technology. I would like to explore the use of new and innovative materials, tools and methods. I will discuss common errors and mistakes I have made in the past. I will also detail mistakes I make on my current project and hopefully what we can learn from them. I would also like others to share their mistakes and mishaps in their do it yourself projects. I would welcome guest posts from any one having experience or expertise in specific areas of home building. I don’t care if you have any titles after your name or not as long as it isn’t B.S. and I don’t mean bachelor of science.

I am going to do my best to make at least a couple of posts a week but time constraints during construction may limit this some what. It’s also a little tough to type with hammer damaged fingers.

I will try to include links to other relevant sources of information as well as to other related blogs.

Sounds like a pretty ambitious undertaking doesn’t it? Well it probably is but we can take our time and I am getting faster at typing by the day. It’s my thinking that isn’t always so fast.

Who am I

Scary old bird

Scary old bird

This blog is not meant to be about me but a little background may be interesting to some people.

I was born Richard Wayne Kargaard.

I was Ricky by family and friends and RICHARD by school teachers that were mad at me. Now I am called Rick, sweetheart or darling except when someone is mad at me.

I am overfed, over confident, over 70 and still over the grass.

I am underpaid, under suspicion and misunderstood. (Definitely not undernourished)

I have been married to my second wife for 35 years and she is still beautiful at 74. We are quite happy together.

I am good with my hands. My mother used to say I could fix anything but she was my mother. I once took a clock apart and never could figure out how to get the darn thing back together.

I love technology, good sci-fi, and anyone who will listen to me.

I was raised on a farm northwest of Edmonton, Alberta without electricity, running water or telephones. I think I was about 8 before I saw my first flush toilet and about 20 before we had our own party line telephone. Yes our area was a little behind the times. My father died when I was in my early teens and I became the man of the house long before I was ready. It was a time of little money and if we wanted something we usually had to build it ourselves or fix other peoples junk. To this day I am a die hard do it your self type.

A couple weeks ago our car broke down on the road. I jumped out and when I saw I couldn’t fix it I hitchhiked home, got my pickup and a tow rope and headed back. It wasn’t until I was pulling into my driveway with car in tow that I remembered that I had memberships in both the Alberta Motor Association and Good Sam roadside assistance. A simple call from my cell phone would have brought a tow truck to me at no cost. The philosophy of doing it yourself and self sufficiency is so engrained that sometimes it makes me stupid. It rarely occurs to me to take a car to the garage or to hire a tradesman even if it makes the most sense.

My experience? Well I have often said that if I haven’t done it then it must take a university degree. I have been a farmer and I have owned and operated hotels, restaurants, retail stores and construction businesses. I have worked as a truck driver, a real estate salesman, cook, bartender and renovator. I have built farm buildings, commercial buildings and homes and made renovations and additions to many more, usually with very little help and minimal use of trades. I have a working knowledge of almost all the trades involved in home building. My current project is the second complete home I will build for our own use.

I was retired but I seemed to have gotten bored. There is no fool like an old fool.

Well I likely have you, Dear Reader, bored by now as well


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2 thoughts on “About this site and its author

  1. Bob Pickard

    Rick – Interestig site – I happened upon this as I was looking for small inexpensive home plans/ideas. I saw the floor plan and read a little about your ideas. I don’t know if you are familiar with Levitt & Sons homebuilders . They were instrumental in rebuilding France after WWII . They also were contracted to build affordable homes in the US for all the returning GI’s , of which my father was one . He bought his home for about $7000 with a GI loan around 1950 in Levittown , NY . Look it up on Wikipedia for a really interesting story. I digress .. I remember living there and am still amazed at the innovative ideas they used in construction A) They utilized Henry Ford’s assembly line methods to home construction B) The heating was in the slab . No cold feet in the dead of NY winter ! C ) Expandable – Stairs were initially constructed going up to the second floor ,but the 2nd floor was unfinished . It could be used for storage or finished at a later time for an expanding family .
    I am currently getting ready ( 12-18 months) to constuct our retirement home and am doing research . I will probably build a small 1000 sq ft home with a downstairs master and bath . My plan is to include the stairs to nowhere and also have plumbing stubbed out to the 2nd floor for later expansion. Even if I don’t do the expansion , I believe that it will make a huge difference when selling the house . I am also planning to put a wrap around porch and enclose one side . This will have it’s own split system AC & heater. As it typically gets in the triple digits during June- SEP , there may be times when I would just shut down that patio room altogether and just cool the main living area . I also noted in your plan that you had a work space & a second bedroom . Could this not be combined ? I have a murphy bed in my guest room and use it as a work space 90% of the time . I also noted the large dining table – How often does anyone use a table that sits 6-10 people ? I’m researching some type of expandable or fold down table ( their is something called a hutch table or a chair table ) I happen to have one that my grandfather built . The round back folds down over the seat and makes a table for four . If you were to make two of these with square backs , they could be next to the wall most of the time , folded down and butted together when required for company . Just a few thoughts on living simpler and smaller – Bob

    1. Rick Post author

      Thank you Bob,
      Good ideas for living simpler and smaller. I am a big fan of simple living and using less resources. Our own house is built with some concessions for ease of possible resasle in the future. Also, we have regular overnight guests. Still I am sure we could be comfortable in a smaller house. Actually we are only 1008 sq. ft. but it seems much larger. Also we have a large lot so we have no basement or contingency for a second story, but have planned for ease of expansion on the same level. This is also a concession for resale, as I am sure we will have no future need for more room. Finally the house was built partly as an experiment to see how inexpensively we could build a reasonable sized house.
      Good luck on your build and keep in touch if you can. I would really like to see your results.


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