KERF House Project

Welcome to the KERF House project page. Here you’ll find project news, updates and information as it is available.

The internet is changing how things get built and who builds them. Transparency in the building process and access to substantial amounts of information is inspiring people take on bigger and more complicated projects. Unfortunately for many reasons too many of these projects have the exact opposite effect they should. Owner builders or exotic build projects often run into many unforeseen problems and the outcome is usually bad.

What is the KERF House project?

The KERF House project is an idea born from personal experiences during the Pure Living for Life house project and experiences of people we’ve met, connected with or heard from who were inspired to pursue their own projects as a result of exposure to the Pure Living for Life project.

The KERF House is the answer the question people are asking when purchasing shed-to-houses, building tiny homes, shipping container homes and embarking on complex owner build projects. The KERF house is a simple, practical, affordable house that “makes sense”, can be built by 1-2 people in a reasonable amount of time without highly sophisticated tools. It is energy efficient, comfortable, a sound investment, has instant equity, is attractive upon resale, costs around $60/sq ft compared to the $240/sq ft people were paying in the past 2 years and allows for easy access to financing if needed.

People want to build their house. Why buy a $600,000 house you hate when you can build one for $250,000 you love? The problem is that they lack:

  • Reasonable expectations caused by the endless ways something can be built and wild ideas ciruclating the internet with little evidence they have the desired outcome
  • Accurate information on how to plan and execute a build project
  • Clarity in what design features matter or can be improved down the road
  • Knowledge about finances, land buying, budgeting, finding and hiring help
  • Education and training to make home building a success
  • Guidance during the build process to avoid costly mistakes and ensure the build moves along at a reasonable pace and stays on budget

Consistently. So people turn to all manner of alternatives like:

  • Shed houses
  • Tiny homes
  • Cabin kits
  • RV living
  • Shipping container houses

Primarily driven by the illusion of “cost savings” these alternatives offer. Unfortunately many discover that the cost of these alternatives often is far beyond their expectations and the reality is they are stick with something that:

  • Has moisture issues
  • Has a low or now resale value
  • Has no appreciable equity which they can access
  • Is not suitable for flexible family dynamics
  • Is uncomfortable
  • Is not durable
  • Is not energy efficiency
  • Costs as much, or more, than a mobile home or manufactured home but isn’t as nice

The KERF House project seeks to

  • Simplify build expectations
  • Remove unnecessary complexity in design
  • Utilize well founded and understood build optimization techniques
  • Provide some flexibility in finishes for some personalization
  • Provide clear training to distill the building process
  • Provide education and information around all build phases
  • Provide workshops to “prime” builders of KERF houses with experience that can be telegraphed to volunteers to help their project succeed with many hands
  • Support builders of KERF houses through the project to ensure success

Stories that inspired the KERF House project

Young couple builds home in bubble

A young couple with a desire to build a home purchased land they didn’t really want, because it’s what they could afford. Under pressure from work schedules and family obligations they began the project with no idea a massive bubble was looming in building materials and contractor labor rates.

Attempting to help control costs they tried to do as much of the labor as possible resulting in extremely long hours outside of work and a tremendous strain on their family. Because building a house is something few will do twice and it requires such tremendous sacrifice the ability to concede certain “wants” late in a build requires incredible discipline. This reality combined with the dramatic unforeseen increases in expenses early in the build has made this home unaffordable by the family and a loss of income will force them into selling.

Sadly in the end, even with considerable generosity from community members and friends, the basis in the home is simply too high. In this case owner building did not help this family “get free”. They have a beautiful home, but the process and outcome are not ideal.

Family gets railroaded by contractor

A family set out with strong “wants” in a home and the burning desire to make whatever sacrifices necessary to have the home of their dreams. With the finances to make it happen it seemed like all the needed was to dial in a design, hire help and get to work. Over a couple years the design process stagnated and reached an impasse after considerable time and money invested. The design was scrapped.

A new design was commissioned. Unfortunately with the same outcome after yet more time and expense. At this point considerable time had passed and the time pressure pushed the family to find a “buildable” floor plan they could live with and then to push to find someone to build it. The contractor chosen was not at all comfortable with the high efficiency building systems the family wanted integrated into their home. The contractor pressured the family to choose conventional materials and building methods leading to the feeling that this is “just another house” instead of the home they set out to build. Instead of listening to the family the contractor left the family feeling they had no choice but to accept what the contractor wanted to build vs wait longer to find someone else to build with their desired systems.

With the chaos of real estate happening they felt the pressure to “get in the house” since they had paid such high material and labor costs and needed to sell their existing home while the market was still elevated. The result was a build that was rushed, lacked nearly every thing the family set out in the beginning to have in their “dream home” and even lacks a few things they wish they could have added along the way, but didn’t have the time or foresight to add. They love the home they have now, but it’s hardly recognizable compared to the initial plan.

Partners Featured In This Build

Partners wanted!

The KERF House is currently in idea stage and looking for support and contributors to help make it a reality.

We’re interested in help with and partners for:

  • Architect
  • Design Software
  • Engineer
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Roofer
  • Concrete (ICF block)
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Fixtures
  • Finishes
  • Flooring
  • Hydronic Heat
  • Lighting
  • Building Enclosure
  • Insulation
  • Fasteners
  • Tools
  • Gloves
  • PPE

KERF House Project Status

Phase One – Concept and Planning

The KERF House is in the idea stage and looking for feedback and input to help guide the project towards it’s mission.



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