Fifteen years ago when I moved from St. Louis out west, one thing I learned was that a home was something that many folks built themselves, even if they weren’t contractors as a profession. This concept was new to me – that people who worked full-time in other jobs would build themselves a home. They have friends and neighbors help them out with the parts they didn’t know how to do, especially things like electrics and plumbing. And amazingly, all this was allowable. I simply had never considered it. This truly never happened in the city, unless you were an architect or a contractor. But around here, everybody has undertaken some sort of building project on their property. Fifteen years later, I’m pretty handy with a hammer. We’ve knocked out walls, put in new doors, and turned our garage into a living space.
The other thing about homes I learned when I moved out of the city is that they are built with a variety of materials. Many years ago someone asked me if my house was stick, mud or brick. At the time I was living in a small Earthship, so technically my house was tires. Now my house is what we call “conventional” (or suburban-style) so it is a “stick house.” But the beauty in all forms of homes, that people are building in their spare time, building as their finances allow, make their homes grow as organically as their lives grow. And there is such beauty in this growth.
Homes in rural areas certainly do not resemble homes in suburban America. Partly because of the regulations in suburban areas, but mostly because of this organic growth of a person’s house. I think houses in rural areas are true reflections of our persons, and not of our subdivision rules and regulations. Sometimes what it represents of ourselves may be less than beautiful by other peoples’ standards, but still it represents a truth and an honesty about who we are. And this I respect.