Great Lakes 4x4. The largest offroad forum in the Midwest banner
1 - 20 of 46 Posts

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I logged back into the site today after quite some time away, and mentioned moving to East Tennessee where I'm building a small house for my wife and me. @greygoose and @wave_crusher mentioned I should follow roll-bar Bob 's lead, and start a build thread. Here it goes...

We bought acreage overlooking the Appalachians in East Tennessee back in early 2020, before the world went into an absolute tailspin. We still had two kids to get out of the house before we could start building and move, which is exactly what we did in Fall 2021. We're blessed to have a beautiful view in a beautifully-free state, and look forward to expanding our self-sufficiency with gardening & animals as I continue to work on the house.

We bought building materials as we found deals, and as we could afford them. Good thing, as I don't have to explain where prices have gone. Our goal was to build very small and ultra-efficient, with a lot of "building sciency" (I'm dubbing that a word :cool:) features that'll keep our total monthly utilities in the sub-$50/month range. What does that mean? 860 total square feet studio-type design, engineered studs with a thermal break, spray foam insulation, ridiculous air sealing details, and heating/cooling with a 12K BTU mini-split system.

We wanted clean/modern design...Dwell Magazine style on an IKEA budget. :D

A few adaptations for living in this area that we weren't used to in Michigan:
  • We're in a quirky high-wind zone, much like we're living on the coast of Florida. The winds start ramping up in October, and 70-80 mph gusts are a semi-regular thing between January-March. We're building accordingly with a lot of extra brackets/fasteners to make the little place "hurricane-resilient".
  • We have to keep an eye out for Copperheads and Timber Rattlers...they're abundant. We love snakes, but don't want to happen upon these beauties unexpectedly.
  • Bears? We've got 'em. We just saw a momma and four cubs 150 feet from our house the other night, and find scat frequently on our property. They're beautiful. We also have a lot of deer, coyote, and various other wildlife, which isn't a shock.

Let's start with a couple exterior/property pics. These two pics were taken from the back of our field within two weeks of each other this fall. We own some woods, too, but explore those more regularly when it's NOT baby Copperhead season.

Cloud Sky Plant Natural landscape Mountain


Sky Plant Plant community Natural landscape Tree
 

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
It's a single-story (with cathedral ceiling/exposed trusses) on an insulated slab. I sold my cargo van to buy a little Kubota tractor, which we've used for some of the excavating.

We've started a swale/drainage plane around the house, and all of the rock for that came out of the ground where we excavated. There's a lot bigger pile now than in the pics below. They call the ground "rock batter" (like cake batter, but with rocks), as you can't stick a shovel in the ground without hitting a rock. Our field we previously a hay field, and tobacco before that, and was rocked for decades by the farmers. We have piles of rock around the entire perimeter of the field, and rock walls on the perimeter of our property in the woods. It's literally a lifetime supply for anything we wish to do with rock.

Sky Cloud Plant Building Wood


Sky Cloud Plant Property Building


Plant Tree Sky Land lot Cloud
 

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The concrete will be the finished flooring (polished/sealed), and will help with passive heating in the winter. Use a little creativity as you look at the interior pics...they're cluttered, and I'm in the process of hanging drywall now.

The exposed trusses you see will be painted black, and the cathedral ceiling will be furniture-grade maple plywood.

There's just a big living space/kitchen, and we'll have a King-sized Murphy Bed on the west wall. The L-shaped kitchen & island will actually be bigger than anything we've had in previous houses.

We now have our mini-split heating & cooling hooked up & functioning, but even before we did, the house was maintaining temp incredibly well with the spray foam insulation. There were several nights that were around 38 degrees outside, and the house was still 67-68 degrees in the morning. Starting temp when we went to bed was 72 degrees.

Bicycle Wheel Wood Building Floor


Window Wood Beam Ceiling Hardwood


Property Building Wood Interior design Floor
 

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We're getting kind of fancy (at least for us) with the furnishings, but have actually done so on a pretty tight budget. I've been incredibly blessed to get some great deals on some high-end Mid-Century Modern decor; we couldn't afford to pay retail for all of the great stuff we're using.

Modern is NOT the norm in East Tennessee. You can find country-country-COUNTRY all day long, but modern doesn't really exist here, at least that we've found.

Our '60s-inspired Flexsteel Thunderbird reissue sofa (and ottoman) was only available for a few years, and we snagged one while it was.

Couch studio couch Rectangle Comfort Outdoor furniture


That'll be complimented by a chair I've wanted for 15+ years, and just recently bought (used, but like-new) from one of my dear friends who retired from Herman Miller...an authentic Eames Lounge Chair. I feel like I need to take up a scotch-drinking habit or something when I look at this sexy thing. 😆

Furniture Office chair Comfort Chair Armrest



The other bargain-but-high-end chair I bought before we left Michigan was a used Haworth Windowseat, which I bought from a Haworth employee for pennies on the dollar. It's unique, and kind of a fun conversation piece. It's also much more comfortable than it looks.

Chair Wood Automotive design Automotive exterior Comfort


The dining area will get a couple Eames shell chairs, and a custom table with a leg design that complements the chairs nicely. It'll be in front of our middle sliding glass door, which is a beautiful south-facing view of the mountains. Can't wait to enjoy weekend morning coffees with my bride as we enjoy the view of the mountain.
Furniture Chair Table Wood Interior design



Finally, a 60" Big Ass Fan will move some air around the joint, and blend nicely with the other decor.
Beige




Of course, you have to have a little vision, as the build has been a slow grind. The good news is that my wife knows which contractor to yell at if she doesn't like something. ;)
 

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The only fixture/light that doesn't have a ridiculously-low power consumption (all LED) is the cylinder head lamp I built out of my old FC170 Super Hurricane head. It's the only Jeep part I still own, and will add a little vintage industrial vibe above our closet door.

Rectangle Font Fashion accessory Metal Auto part
 

·
Project Antitube
Joined
·
1,341 Posts
What part of eastern Tennessee? I've been watching Bristol/Kingsport/Johnson City for about five years now. Property prices have tripled since the beginning of the pandemic.
 

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What part of eastern Tennessee? I've been watching Bristol/Kingsport/Johnson City for about five years now. Property prices have tripled since the beginning of the pandemic.
We're about 40-45 minutes from Johnson City. And yeah, you're right about the property values. We closed on the property 2 weeks before the lockdowns started in Michigan, and are very thankful to have bought when we did. Hopefully, the land prices right themselves for future buyers.
 

·
Gustafson
Joined
·
10,792 Posts
Nice work so far!!! I am digging that cylinder head light, that's really cool!

I am not digging the copperheads.... In the words of Indian Jones "I HATE SNAKES" :ROFLMAO:
 

·
F-U-CANCER!!!
Joined
·
6,007 Posts
Great to see how you are doing Craig! Nice build!! Can't believe you have come this far without a part out. LOL.... just kidding, don't run off......

I am thankful that my home is small and efficient. Would be great to know a little of what you learned about mini splits as I hope to add one at some point. Wood pellets are not the least expensive heating source for me anymore unless the temps drop below 30 degrees.
 

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great to see how you are doing Craig! Nice build!! Can't believe you have come this far without a part out. LOL.... just kidding, don't run off......

I am thankful that my home is small and efficient. Would be great to know a little of what you learned about mini splits as I hope to add one at some point. Wood pellets are not the least expensive heating source for me anymore unless the temps drop below 30 degrees.
Thanks, and LOL! Fair comment. :)

We're using this single-zone Mitsubishi unit (26.1 SEER) unit, and paid a local HVAC guy $300 to hook it up. This model has the HyperHeat pump, which is supposed to function down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. Mitsubishi seems to be an industry leader (and innovator), but I'm sure there are great options from other manufacturers, as well. I have not talked with a single person who has regretted a mini-split purchase, although typically, those have been multi-head units. We're unique in that our house is small enough to use a single unit for heating/cooling.

We considered a small wood stove as backup heat, but the house is built so tight that we'd have to get a unit with its own fresh air intake, and modern-looking units that would fit well with the design are stupid-expensive (minimum ~$6K for everything). I'd rather put that money toward solar/battery backup to run the mini-split, which we'd like to do in the future.


Love the build, 10 to 15 years from now I will be building something like this on the back of my property when one of my kids take over our farm hse.
What is the exposed PVC at the back of the hse
Thanks! That's our waste stack/drain with a 2-way cleanout running out to the septic. The cleanout hasn't yet been cut down to finished height yet. I accidentally clipped/cracked it while working on the final grading (damned slab contractor was supposed to install it a foot deeper!), and I need to replace a 10' section of the 3" Schedule 40 PVC.
 

·
Low Range Drifter
Joined
·
8,767 Posts
Residents of the Volunteer State pay no taxes on Social Security benefits, pensions or distributions from their retirement plans. That's because Tennessee is one of a handful of states with no income tax. There are also no estate or inheritance taxes in Tennessee
I'd guess between this ^^^ and being pretty, it seems like a good plan.
 

·
Simplify...
Joined
·
8,201 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just curious - why Tennesse? Looks nice!
Thanks, Scott. Good to see you here. Still driving the Scrambler? I've been keeping my eyes out for an old CJ, but most people around here tend to hoard/not sell, even if something has been sitting around unused for decades. Someday soon, I'll have another one, though.


I'd guess between this ^^^ and being pretty, it seems like a good plan.
That's definitely part of it. In all fairness, sales tax is high at 9.75%, though.

Friends retired to an area SW of Knoxville 7ish years ago, and raved about the area, cost of living, etc.

We bought our TN property in early 2020 based on our friends' experience, knowing that we could still get anywhere in the Midwest to visit kids, etc. within a days drive; none of the kids want to stay in Michigan (they cannot articulate exactly why), but don't know yet where they will end up. There's abundant, incredibly scenic hiking nearby, which was one of our key criteria when property hunting. Registering vehicles is cheap here; my wife's 2019 Honda was $60 to plate this year (compared to $230ish in Michigan), and car insurance is also cheaper. The roads are much better here. Electricity is right at $0.07/kWh, which is well below half the rate in Michigan. We'll be an all-electric house (with heat pump HVAC & hybrid electric/heat pump water heater). We want to add solar in the future, not for the cost savings, but for emergency and/or long-term preparedness reasons. The milder climate certainly doesn't hurt, either.

Our TN property cost less than anything we had seen available around GR for years, and downtown GR where we lived was getting pretty sketchy, especially since the whole Floyd/BLM explosion. Aside from that, we had to call 911 three times over the last year we were there for gun shots in our previously decent neighborhood. When we hear gunshots here in TN, we know it's just people practicing/honing their skills. :cool:

Finally, when we bought, we honestly didn't realize what a political $hit show Michigan had turned into (opinions may vary; this is mine). The Grand Rapids area has turned very liberal relative to the conservative area it was when I moved there in the late '90s. We value freedom, the Constitution, and Christianity (can I still say that in 2022?!?), and feel like we're at home with the people here, minus our northern accent :)...excluding liberal places like Nashville & Memphis, which we don't care to visit anyway.

We don't make a ton of money, but we've gotten more in-line with Dave Ramsey principles over the last decade (despite falling off the wagon from time-to-time), and now that we're in our early 50s, we're very thankful we have. Our property here is paid for, we're building with cash, and our monthly utilities are next to nothing. Hopefully, that'll allow us to rapidly ramp up our self-sufficiency game...I wish we were further along with those plans, despite feeling decently-prepared for unexpected events.

Craig
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
100 Posts
Craig-
Yes, still running the Scrambler! Not sure the last time we talked, but it now has an NV3550 trans in place of the T-176 and I built a D44 for the front axle to match the rear. Detroits in both. Still turns a lot of heads when out and about.

Good luck with your project in TN. Hoping to do something similar, but I'm not sure I want go south. I'm more of a UP guy, but property values up there have exploded as they have here. Patience is the name of the game now, I will wait for the market to crash, or do something on my existing parcel.
 
1 - 20 of 46 Posts
Top