Some people may not know what off-the-grid or off-grid means, so here it is --- The term off-the-grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-grid living is no longer a one room log cabin in the woods. It's energy independency. You don't have to rely on utility companies, you create your own power. Today, there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes in the US.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

'The Binder' (aka Contractor's Binder)...

70 degrees outside - 8:11 pm - clear night sky as the sun is setting...

Throughout this whole project of contracting and building our off-grid home ourselves, the most important thing to have (I feel) has been ‘The Binder’ (aka Contractor's Binder).  This organized binder has been a huge help and we rarely leave home with out it.  Why you ask?  Everything about our house is that binder, and you never know when you will get a call with a question or when you will need to refer back to something when running around Home Depot or Lowes.

Inside ‘The Binder’ is where we keep all the receipts, along with “Unconditional Waiver and Release Forms”.  No one gets a check, without signing one of these pieces of paper.  It gives us piece of mind and keeps them honest on what we owe them.  When building your own house, you must do this!

In the front of the binder is where the basic floor plans can be found. 

In the back, are the photos of how we want it to look when we are finished.  I have been clipping out magazine pictures for years; there is not a shortage of inspiration in ‘The Binder’.  We have been narrowing down the look that we are going for along the way as well as saving pictures of specific items that we want in the house.

In between, are dividers for house details…
 - Permits (from the county along with inspector phone numbers) 
 - Worker’s Comp & Liability Insurance of Contractors
 - Contractors & Misc. business cards
 - Quotes (or should we say Estimates that are always way lower than the final price)
 - Budget (we have refigured this along the way making changes as needed)
 - Land Preparation (water well, road, pert test, septic system, etc.)
 - Exterior Structure (roofing, siding, windows, etc.)
 - Mechanical (wood fireplace, electrical system, anything that makes the house work)
 - Plumbing (after fixtures were chosen, I made copies of their specs.  These were needed well before it was time to install them.
 - Appliances (again, specs for measurements are key)
 - Interior Finish (trim, doors, cabinets, color swatches)

Lots of details, right?  I tell you, this book is very important!  When building a house it is important to be organized, time is money and you don’t want to waste time having to search for important information.  It is also allowing us to stay focused in our decisions and create the off-grid home of our dreams.

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