If you are thinking of building your own house or remodeling an existing home, but are not sure you have enough knowledge and experience, look into taking a learning or volunteer vacation related to building. There are many websites offering a multitude of choices that range from costly to almost free. If they are with non-profit 501C3 charities, the expenses can be an income tax deduction basically discounting the cost of your “vacation”. See IRS Publication 526 or ask your tax professional.
A beginner’s Build Thoreau’s Cabin class is being held May May 22 – May 26, 2013 at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. You work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at a cost of $400 to “construct a 10′ x 14′ cabin based on Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden’ cabin, with an added sleeping loft” which is for sale to students when completed.
Habitat for Humanity offers local volunteering building experience or global experience. Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has one Global Village Program scheduled in nearby Asheville, N.C. from August 3 to August 10, 2013 at a cost of $1,750. This includes accommodations, meals, local transportation and some local cultural activities in addition to medical insurance, materials and program costs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800.422.4828, Ext. 7530 for cost if you live in the Greenville area and do not need accommodations, meals or transportation.
See the schedule for all the other Habitat for Humanity Global Village events scheduled around the world in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont. For example, there are three teams working in October 2013 in the Guatemala Disaster Recovery to rebuild after the November 2012 earthquake in San Marcos. The cost of that project is $1,970, not including airfare.
There are some Habitat for Humanity projects just for women, one going on now through June 30, 2013 in Aiken, S.C. and another in Rock Hill, S.C. July 13 to November 10, 2013. There is even an RV Care-A-Vanners volunteer program for RVers, people who travel around in their RV’s and help build Habitat houses.
See the schedule of Global Citizens Network family building projects in places like Kenya, Peru, Tanzania, Mexico, or closer to home in La Push, Washington. These can include your whole family, strengthening it and teaching children important values. You can choose a project based on a country you would like to visit.
The Heartwood Homebuilding School in Massachusetts offers one- and two-week and three-day workshops teaching hands-on “the skills necessary to build an energy-efficient house” to anyone from beginners to skilled builders. They have experts who teach skills that are being lost, particularly related to timber framing. When you start building your own home, they offer a free design consultation service and you can call for help with problems you encounter during construction. View the 2013 course schedule. One week classes are $700 per person or $1300 per couple; two weeks are $1,350 per person or $2,500 per couple. See the website for more details. A two-week Comprehensive Homebuilding class is scheduled for July 15 – 26, 2013.
Check out the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont that offers many sustainable design courses. View their workshop schedule of 2 days to 2 weeks workshops on subjects like Building With Hemp, Super-Insulation for Zero Energy Buildings, Green Roof Design & Installation, Solar Design, Green Rehabilitation, Timber Framing, Tiny House Design. Cost for the Tiny House class is $1,750 plus $50 in materials for 12 days. Timber Framing for 6 days is $1,050.
There are so many more great opportunities. Books like Fodor’s Great American Learning Vacations include descriptions of some of the vacations that also provide fun building experiences. These may not appeal to those who want to just lounge on a beach for a week, but in some cases you can fit the beach in, as well as gaining valuable green building experiences and sharing social times with like-minded people.