For those who just tuned in, the story so far: So I live in Dubai, but I'm from Tennessee (the VOLunteer state.) Met Mrs Dubai, a wonderful English lady, shortly after I arrived, and it's been nine great years, and now six years of wedded bliss. For those who adhere to the traditional anniversary gifts, the sixth year is the iron anniversary. So naturally I got out the torch and hammer and made her this: Yep, an Iron Butterfly! Anyway, we have 16 acres in timber in east Tennessee to retire to one day. As it happens, I've just left my job and am now "at liberty" as they say in merry old England. So here's the plan: (you thought I'd never get round to it!) We had already planned a holiday (English for "vacation") in Tennessee starting next month. That time wil be devoted to making preparations for building a house starting next spring. Contacting suppliers and so forth; I won't bore you with the long list I have. Suffice it to say it will be a "working vacation." Then, next March, I fly in and get to work. By then I expect to have completed drawings for construction. Oh, in case I forgot to mention, I'm an enginerd, which means I know a little, and know even better that I don't know nearly enough, and am working hard to close the gap. So, I fly in, buy a vehicle, set up camp (I plan to live on site) drive a well (may do this next month, the TVA lake is 18 feet lower than our property, so I'm hopeful that a driven well will allow a shallow pump. If not I have options on drilling) get power: the residential power line cuts across a corner of our land, so that shouldn't be a problem. Clear the driveway and dig the foundations. I'll be pricing the work next month, and decide what to pay for and what to do myself. Get the concrete trucks in to pour footings by mid-April. Up to this point I'm mostly a supervisor. Then the real work begins, because we're planning to do stone walls. If there isn't enough native stone on site, there's a quarry 8 miles up the road. Part of the work next month wll be to get a number of books on slipform stone masonry, though I've already decided on a modified technique. It's the enginerd in me. Bottom line, I think I'll be doing very well if I finish the outer walls before the first frost next year. I realistically expect to have them better than half finished. So, what's the point? Right now I'm 44, young and strong. If I wait, I may not be able to undertake such a task. Inflation is eating our savings. I'd rather turn dollars into a house now when I can afford it. As I'm between jobs, it's an ideal time to take on this project. Current estimates say residential construction costs ~$100 per square foot. And that's for lousy stick construction. Imagine what I'd pat a mason to build stone walls. If I save $50K next year by doing what I can myself, it's the same as if i'd earned $50K and paid somebody to do it for me. Better, after taxes. I'll be incorporating lots of ideas into this house. Earth sheltered, earth tubes, a masonry heater, a geothermal heat pump (by which I mean a regular heat pump that operates on geothermal temps supplied by earth tubes, making it absurdly efficient.) In total, I'm looking at a house that heats and cools itself, with wood heat for when it's really cold and a two ton heat pump if all else fails. The downside: Mrs Dubai is stuck here, so we'll be apart all next spring/summer/fall apart from her vacation. She's bought into it, but isn't thrilled. So, how stupid am I? Better to get the criticism now than to mess up later!