I've had the unusual opportunity to design and build a house for me and my partner. My goal was to create a beautiful, peaceful, passive solar, low-energy house for her and I at our farm in Northern Minnesota.
Keeping the form simple, and the finishes humble, we were able to make our dreams a reality by building the home in 2016/2017. Our builder allowed us to contribute as much sweat equity as we could, and Catherine and I spent many late nights staining, wiring, sheetrocking, painting, taping and caulking, trimming, and doing whatever fell within our skill set.
We've lived in the house now for three years, and it is meeting all of my performance expectations. It is also meeting all of my "spiritual" expectations. I love coming home, and nothing beats sitting on the screened porch in the rain.
If you'd like more information about the low-energy, passive solar house build, I wrote a blog for Green Building Advisor (GBA), which can be found here: