Inside The Barn, Outside The System
If you enjoyed my last glimpse of living in Minarchadia then I hope you will like the next stop on our tour as we head east to find Karley’s cozy nine hundred square foot home tucked upstairs in a barn.
“A BARN?!” you say? Well, let’s just have a look and talk to her about it.
Building outside the system comes with some discretion so I was asked not to give location details because there are still monopolist forces nearby. But suffice to say we’re an hour away from a major airport yet within former moonshiner country (or maybe not so former?) and not far from a few “intentional communities.”
Five years ago, Karley and her boyfriend graduated college with the all-too-common loans piled up in the middle of a tanked economy with poor opportunity for finding jobs. Her mother lives near the end of a country lane, and that’s where, this sunny day, I pull up next to a nice old barn tucked between the hills across from the farm house.
Karley is out by the deck and waves me around to start things off.
They built a green-house and ran a CSA (community supported agriculture) business for several years. After a little tour around outside, we head up the stairs, where you are greeted by a custom hand rail. The home was built up high so the rest of the barn can still be used as a barn. She notes that this also made it easy to hook up the water and natural-gas pipes.
There are two bedrooms, a bathroom, pantry, full kitchen and big living room. She liked the freedom of designing it all, so it fits her lifestyle by being open where she can cook and still be chat with guests in the living room. The main bedroom has this nice large cedar closet using wood from the local sawmill.
Wanting to keep costs low, but having a long-term use in mind, she found a flooring store that had enough random 3/4 inch hardwood odds-and-ends to cover the main area for just a couple hundred dollars. Other flooring and appliances were found on www.golsn.com.
Me: What were your concerns about living in a barn?
Karley: I’d never really built anything before. My dad helped do stuff, plumbing and electrical stuff and consulting.
Her boyfriend had been doing carpentry professionally so all that knowledge was covered.
Me: Your main purpose was?
Karley: Something comfortable but not huge. Do a solid job building it up designed around how I like to use my space. I wanted to be in the kitchen but still be part of what is going on in the house, so that’s why it is an open floor plan.
Me: You have two gas heaters.
Karley: Right, natural gas, the line runs right on the road.
Was it difficult to get utilities connected to a barn I ask? She tells me about the utility guy who came to setup the service. The office would charge over $1,000 to hook up all the appliances, but the service guy loaned them the tools and told them what to do, then came back later to do the safety inspection. “He saved us seven hundred dollars” and he’s continued to be a really nice guy helping with trouble-shooting appliances a year later.
Me: No other problems getting water or gas into the barn?
Me: What do you call it, a barn a house?
Karley: I just call it my place.
Me: You plan to be here another five years?
Karley: Yeah, sure. I really like it, it’s really cheap and I don’t want to be anywhere else.
She plans to change out the greenhouse to be more suited for outdoor living since there is less focus on growing produce now. More shade will help keep things cool inside during the summer — and who doesn’t like having a large screened-in porch?
Me: What else would you say about your home?
Karley: I really like it. I like that it’s small but not too small. A comfortable space and easy to take care of and I like the setting. I’m happy with it, it’s good to have the house inside the barn for the barns’ sake too; I keep a close eye on everything.
Me: Any concerns with bats or any critters?
I think between the cats and dogs I never have any animals [pests] in the barn.
The barn home is well insulated, leaving the internet as the largest monthly bill.
The water heater uses natural-gas. The bill is $16 in the summer, around the minimum rate, and $70 in the coldest month.
Electric for lights and fridge. Small window units cool this little space in the summer. Totall cost around $40-50 per month.
They started building in August and wrapped up four months later. For ten thousand dollars, all is holding up well and she plans to live here for years to come.
Four outside windows along one wall and a couple more on each end.
I left with some hand made soap samples. People in Minarchadia are just nice like that.
New Zomia: the state of minimalism