Designing smaller homes is what I have
been after for the last 30+ years. Having designed & built from scratch, by myself at 26 yrs young, a small energy efficient, passive solar, 2 bedroom, 840 Sq ft home on Martha’s Vineyard Island in 1982. I was Bucking the trend starting even back then, of Bigger Is Better. 30+ yrs ago, I had a Demand Hot Water Heater, a Front Loading Washer, 6” crisscrossed insulated exterior walls, etc. No heat, a Wood stove only.
Who I am & what I have dabbled in.
I’m a dyslectic, in spelling ONLY, NOT reading at all. It’s called Orthographic Dyslexia. So forever(before Computers & Spell Checkers), I could never put down on paper everything that was in my head, from taking tests, to taking a food order. Who barely made it out of High School English on a technically. I did take everything connected to the Arts, Art, Photography, Pottery, Drafting (house plans! A+). I even tried Wood shop after school, but in those days, as a “girl”, I wasn’t allowed on the power tools?! So I quit. (I had already built my 1st Horse barn! At 14!?). No one ever pointed me in any direction in high school, & collage was out………
Then after a few years, of bouncing around sometimes stupid odd jobs, waitress, selling shoes, pumping gas, the horse jobs, Training horses & Teaching riding, etc. In 1980, with my meager job skills, I decided the only way I could even remotely think of getting my own home (Had no interest in getting married, to get it), was to get off my butt & build it myself, and then it would have to be an unconventional Small Home for me to be able to support alone. Super insulated, wood stove heat, passive solar home, etc. Something that wasn’t going to cost me a lot in up keep, (my vice / passion then, was breeding HORSES $$$$$). That was BESIDES the fact of being a woman going to a man’s field. So the first step in building my house was to get a job to LEARN how it was done. Luckily I hit a Building Boom on the Vineyard!
That 1st step seemed to lead me to have ended up a “Jack of almost All Things”. Mostly because I want to do it right, or MY way (because I saw such waste or poor design, or as a artist, the worst was poor workmanship!). So I went out & learned it, or figured it out on my own, or maybe it was just an interesting thing to do. Sometimes it would then became another hobby or vice! Like the Horses, The Daylilies & my Ponds, now the Aussies.
What you might ask? OK, here are just some of them.
I was SO lucky to learn at a time & area, where a construction crew still tended to almost do it all in building a home (you then learn very fast, how much of what was DONE wrong earlier, comes back to haunt you later, when you try to do the finish work). So I learned the Home Building Trade from cutting trees down & setting the batter boards for digging a foundation hole, to custom tile showers & electrical wiring. The 1st company I work for, we all were expected to “design”/build as we went. We each had our “special” areas or projects to work on, in the finishing end, but everyone had to help with the Framing & Closing in. It was JUST what I wanted & needed.
1968 I designed/ (built with a little of my parents help) my 1st simple barn for my pony at 14 yrs old! 10’ x16’ shed roof, one stall/feed room………I had bought my ponies FIRST, before we had the barn!!!!
1980 The drafting I took back in High School. Had me drafting at night, working the details & getting “The Bugs” out of the plans of my very first Boss’s trophy houses, we were building.
1982 Designed & Started my Vineyard House. 20′ X 24′ 840 sq ft, which I lived in for 28 years. It was so under the trees , winter is the only time for a photo.
1984 Modified & enlarged my “Vineyard House design” for a friend’s home, to 20′ X 28″ sq ft. Built in Edgartown.
1985 Designed & built a large 30’ x40’ Horse barn/Shop/Garage combo. It is a Pole barn. Those Rafters are 24′.
1987 Then designed & was the contractor for a friend’s 30′ x 40′ horse barn, (had it done 10 WEEKS, from the time she asked if I could possibly get it done before Dec.! (I happened to know of a 2 man crew needing work, & she had the “Ins” in the town planning department, for pushing the permit work through fast). The joys of olden days & small towns.
1990 Ocala, FL. Had custom built, to my design/layout, a Park Trailer back in 1990. 12′ x 38′. So I could designed & build the 12′ x 16′ addition (on a set of factory wheels) off the back of it myself. Lived in it for 6 winters. It can be taken apart & moved then. My Horse & I would winter there.
Horses: 1975 won a Foxfeild Metal class in CA. Didn’t even belong to AHSA yet.
in points, Hunter n the Flat, within 3 months. 2 yrs later, 3rd Am Owner over fences.
1990 Sea Storm was born TB/Hanoverian. Sold, same owner has had him for the last 16 yrs, showing at 3rd 4th Level Dressage.
1993 Designed my own horse trailer, one of the first V-nosed, Storm & I went to FL & back for a few years. I still have it, & in use today, though hasn’t had a horse in it in 16 yrs. It is my construction trailer now.
Odd Stuff: 1996=2002 Designed & built a couple of REAL Koi ponds, Waterfall filter systems & all. The last was 4′ deep & I could take a dip with the fish!
More Building: 2004 Designed totally myself, & had built a large Cape & garage modular, for spec…. still stuck with it. They never stayed TO my plans.
2006 Designed & built myself one of my largest Changeable Capes designs. I rented rooms out in it, in the bad market. Finally sold it.
Designed & Built from scratch 2 stick built homes. The Plans for both will be here on my site. The Vineyard & Caswell.
20 yrs of supporting myself being a “HandyWoman”. Having found a niche of working for single or aged women (not comfortable letting a strange man in their home). Or people with large numbers of dogs & large breed dogs loose (5 German Shepherds, 3 male Rottweilers, 5 Belgian Malinois, etc. ) IF someone forgets for an instant They are around, & takes ONE miss step with some of these breeds(or you can’t tell that the “nasty one” is accidentally loose!), EVEN well socialized, when in a “Pack”, & you are a stranger, not respecting that daily. You can get bitten)
My Aussies: Watermark Vineyard Pearl CGC, RE, CD, NA, NAJ, (was sitting on 2 legs of 5 other titles) “Pearl”. My first Full bred Aussie(had an Aussie cross from a FL pound 1st), My soul mate. Taking HIT Aussie at an Aussie Trial, it was her second HIT Aussie. Lost her to cancer at 8 yrs young.
This is her son from her last litter. “Worf” Vineyard Heart Of Glory CGC, OA OAJ OF, ASCA CD ER JS-E GS-O, RS-O, by only 3 1/2 yrs old, very limited trialing. Will take me as far as my Knees & money , but mostly TIME can go. As I’m designing & building my last home to Age In-Place.