No. 1321



If the thought of not having rent or a house payment appeals to you, or even if does not, I believe you will have an interest in what I want to share with you during our visit today.
Back in 1995, my late wife and I decided to move here to Conway, Arkansas. We had quite a bit of equity in the house where we were living, and decided if we could sell it, build a new one and not have a house payment, that would be the way to go. When we got to thinking about what kind of house to build, I had a friend tell me that we should build a house out of landscape timbers. It was a novel idea because of the cost of the timbers, no sheet rock, painting and other construction advantages. Fortunately, I had a neighbor who was a terrific carpenter and could do it all as far as building a house. I was able to hire him for $10 an hour, no overtime, and I would be his helper.
We found a great one-and-a-half acre lot, close to town on a paved road, and got started building. The landscape timbers are just small logs. They are treated and only eight feet long, and they can be nailed together using pole barn nails. We used red metal for the roof and I was able to find a lot of the building materials at a salvage yard, things like doors, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, floor coverings, windows and many other essentials. We used 12-inch, 16-foot treated pine boards for all the top outside portion, and for the inside trim. A radial-arm saw I purchased came in handy to saw the timbers and the treated boards. It took about 10 months to build and it turned out to be beautiful. It was necessary to seal the timbers on the outside to protect it from the elements and I have had to do this every five to 10 years. After being here for more than 25 years, I honestly think this house will last a century.
Including a glassed-in front porch and a second floor office over the carport, the house has about 2,500 square feet and cost about $26 a square foot to build. We only owed about $5,000 when it was finished, and this was paid off the first year, so this means no house payment for the past 25-plus years. Now, let me bring you up to date in another important area of my life. In 2013 my wife passed away after an 18-year battle with Parkinson’s. My current wife Janis lost her husband in 2014 after a battle with cancer, and we had known each other for several years. As only He can, God put us together and it has been wonderful.
In her past life, Janis had her own real estate company for 15 years. She and her late husband also had a home on a nearby lake and a prosperous business in our community. She sold her business recently, will soon sell her home on the lake and we have moved here to our landscape timber home. By using some of my furniture and also some of hers, including a piano and an organ, we have the best of both worlds. While Janis is a very modest person, she is also a master decorator and has turned our log home into almost a doll house that is so very homey and comfortable. She has written four cookbooks and is a fantastic cook.
The reason I have shared these thoughts is not so much for us but for you. I certainly understand that what I have shared today will not be of interest to everyone, but it shows that most anything is possible if we are willing to spend some time and money to have or achieve the things that are important to us. After all, this is the American Dream that most of us work for, regardless of what our dream happens to be. I just thank God for America and the freedom we enjoy.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)