We did a lot more research (London is a great town for research), poring over discussions of communes, houseshares, and alternative lifestyles—not to mention architectural books, home safety and energy-efficient manuals, and self-building guides. Self-builders claimed that the care and personal attention of building your own home meant that it would be better constructed. And of course cheaper than hiring professional builders—perhaps saving as much as 50% on construction costs. All this was encouraging, if a bit self-serving on the part of the authors.
We ran our ideas by the afore-mentioned like-minded souls back Stateside (John Manwell, Matt Shibla, Ed Piou, Peter Hammond, Laura Shipler), and discovered even more enthusiasm than we’d expected.
The plan: most everyone would go to grad school, probably in different parts of the country. That would help us decide where in the U.S. we wanted to live. Everyone agreed it should be near (but not too close to) a major city, probably out East. We’d use the first year or two after grad school to gather some capital and refine blueprints with an architect, so that the house was entirely built on paper before we broke ground. During this time, we would seek out building sites and get first-hand experience in different aspects of building. Then we get some loans, build the house, and move in. See—simple!
Ok, even back then we knew it sounded naïve. But what’s the point of being young if you don’t dream big? On the plus side, our friendships (forged back in high school) were strong even after three years of attending different colleges. (As I mentioned before, these friendships endure today, nearly a quarter-century later.)