Redefining our Homes

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Saturday I took a trip down to Huntsville, Texas, to visit Pheonix Commotion, Dan Phillips construction company that specializes in building small homes from reclaimed and leftover building materials (which I mentioned in a previous post). Basically stuff that was either headed for the dumpster because of  botched orders (“Oh, you wanted 10 ft boards, not 8 ft boards), leftover inventory or just general waste (bottle caps, wine corks, bone).

I like Dan’s philosophy in making use of these materials to build housing for artists and single moms. The construction industry has tons of waste and using it keeps it out of the landfill and costs down. Not to mention that many new building materials are treated with chemicals that out gas and cause health issues for many people. Reclaimed or recycled materials (like using old barn wood or salvaging stuff from buildings that will be torn down) don’t have that problem because they are old enough that the chemicals have already leached out.

On the tour ($10 per person – very reasonable) we got to see the inside of only 3 of the houses (as the other’s are private residences) – the Bone House, the Tree House and I don’t know if the third house had a name but the front fencing had wine bottles as part of the fence, so I’ll call it the Wine House.

Some of these homes had artist’s studios with them as separate buildings. Personally, I could never live in any of the houses. I found them too confining and with the multitude of patterns on practically every surface, too busy. I like a cleaner aesthetic. Also, I want a flat counter top surface (the counters in the bone house where done in a bone mosaic – as in actual bone). I can’t imagine trying to cut something and having my cutting board bouncing all over the place. Plus keeping it clean would not be fun. The floor in that kitchen was absolutely beautiful but impractical, from a cleaning standpoint, in my opinion. 

I found the artist’s studios much more to my liking, which were mostly one big rectangle with a bathroom. I’m thinking I need about 800 square feet and properly planned will seem spacious and be very comfortable. And most important – paid for. I don’t plan on using bottle caps for flooring (I’m going to go with a stained cement – way cheaper and less time-consuming) but I will be looking in unusual places for my materials rather than hitting up the big box stores.  

It’ll be at least a year before I can even move and probably longer than that before I get another house as I decide on where I eventually want to settle down. Being an empty-nester will free me to go anywhere I want so I am going to explore my options. But Dan’s opened my eyes to lots of options so that when I am ready to build or remodel, I can do it without taking on a mortgage and customized just for me as long as I am willing to put in some time sourcing cheap/free materials and doing some of the jobs.

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