Dad’s Impressive Backyard Project Gives DIYers Worldwide A Run For Their Money

When your baby transforms your previously neat-and-tidy home into a diaper wasteland, that’s when you know it’s time to consider expanding. There’s no shame in needing some space away from the wailing cries of your beloved new tyke, and one dad in particular seriously went the extra mile.

He took the DIY challenge and ran with it. Construction workers? Electricians? Painters? This guy doesn’t know them. DIY means do it yourself, so he did just that when the need for more space suddenly became a priority for him and his newly-pregnant wife. But completing a project as ambitious as this was no easy task… especially when you’re starting from scratch. 

The unnamed man’s home was perfect for a family of three, but four? A good parent would do anything for their child, so the soon-to-be dad of two knew what he had to do…no matter how much it hurt. 

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Having another kid meant giving up his favorite room in the house. After all, the baby needed a nursery! But he wasn’t giving up any old office or man-cave. It was the room he depended upon more than any other in the house.

It was his music composition studio. This studio wasn’t only the place he worked to make a living; it’s also where his creativity flowed free. He couldn’t live without it, which meant one thing: It was time to get his hands dirty.

He decided to build his very own music studio, conveniently located right in his backyard! He couldn’t just go outside and start nailing planks of wood together, however, so he kicked off his studio dream with a simple sketch.

He envisioned a compact shed-like studio with sleek doors and windows, a small porch, and even a cute walkway. It would’ve been enormously helpful if the sketch had sprung to life all by itself, but no — this was something he had to do himself.

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With his sketch in hand, he got to work. He cleared a patch of his backyard on which his dream studio would stand. It was muddy, dirty work, and before he could even finish it, he ran into a problem.

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He discovered that the studio couldn’t be larger than 200 square feet or else he’d have to obtain special permits. Applying for a permit and getting it approved would take an unknowable amount of time, and he only had 9 months.

With that in mind, he designed his studio to be 200 square feet. This was better in the long run, anyway: It meant he wouldn’t shell out as much money for supplies, and it made the next part of the construction much less complicated.

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A project can’t stand without a solid foundation, so when it came to building the floor, the future dad was sure to be careful.To avoid the expense of poured concrete, he used pier blocks to keep the floor upright. 

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Of course, piered blocks made the next task even harder: How would he insulate a suspended floor? This would require a little creative thinking; luckily, he and his brother had creativity in spades. All they needed was a pen, paper, and DIY spray foam.

They sketched out an unconventional plan: They’d layer the floor with corrugated metal and fill in the remaining gaps with spray foam. The foam would not only keep rodents out, but it would fulfill one of the studio’s most important needs.

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This measure would keep the studio completely insulated and sound-proof! Once the floor was done, it was time to focus on the walls. This would’ve been nearly impossible for him to complete if it wasn’t for the help of a very special person.

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His dad! “Can’t express how much I couldn’t have done this without him,” he admitted. With his dad’s help, the structure of the walls was complete before he knew it…and the builder arrived at a welcome conclusion. 

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The combination of wood, metal, and spray foam was starting to “resemble a structure,” which is really all a DIYer can ask for! Getting halfway to the finish line is reason to celebrate, but what followed was his least favorite part of the job.

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Building the roof is complicated, painful work if you’re a newbie. The temptation to hire a roofer was strong — it would’ve saved so much time and energy — but the DIYer was adamant: if anything, he’d save money. So, he climbed that ladder…

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And before long, the roof was done. What resulted was a cozy shelter, complete with insulated floors and a painstakingly placed roof. Still, he wasn’t done yet. A trip to a second hand building supplies store led him to his next task.

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He returned from his spree with windows and doors! They were in far better shape than the price indicated, and the addition of hydrogap housewrap to the outside walls meant that the structure would be totally protected from the elements.

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Next came the most exciting — and dangerous? — part of the construction: using the tractor! It was necessary in order to install the electricity and wifi. With the siding complete, it was time to address the annoying elephant in the room.

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You can’t have a studio that’s only finished on the outside. It was time for the drywall — if only it wasn’t such a pain. He even admitted that, of all the tasks to be done, this was the worst of them all.

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But he bit the bullet and finished the drywall, all without the help of a contractor. Using Green Glue in order to soundproof the studio was another headache for the dad. Once the glue was applied, however, he came to a startling realization.

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With the scent of drying paint in the air, it hit him: His very own music studio was almost done! The addition of an accent wall and sleek black hanging lamps finally made it seem real. Still, the music studio was missing something.

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Instruments! He lined the walls with his saxophones and guitars, and the addition of drapes, chairs, and a geometric rug pulled it all together. This was more than a pile of wood, metal, and drywall. It wasn’t even a simple sketch anymore…

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It was the place he’d bring sparks of inspiration to life, and the place his newborn son would hear music for the first time. And to think: he built it all from scratch! Still, a backyard studio is one thing. Building your bizarre dream home is another…

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Steve Areen has been described by the people closest to him as having quite the creative soul. He’s shared his travels — from Iceland and to the Pacific Islands — through a digital portfolio with his friends.

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Of course, all that traveling had a monumental impact on his life. His first digital album, “A Bird of Passage,” chronicled his wanderings around the world and all the friends he made along the way.

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One of those friends was Hajjar Gibran, who lived in a home made of earth on a mango farm situated along the Mekong River in Thailand. Steve was enamored by the life that Hajjar and his wife created — tranquil and remote.

Dome Gaia

To Steve’s delight, Hajjar offered him a piece of his mango farm where he could build his own tranquil home. Humbled by the offer, Steve had a big decision to make. Did he really want to settle down?

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Steve — a musician, remember — had no idea how to build a home from scratch (and didn’t exactly have piles of money to pour into the project). Hajjar reassured him he would help him through the process and that his son-in-law, a talented stone worker, would come up with the building design. Steve liked that.

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Unsure but excited, Steve agreed to take Hajjar up on his offer. In a surreal moment, Steve, standing on his new plot of land and staring at the bare soil, projected his imagination on the empty space.

Together, they decided to build a dome home. A structure of this shape has many benefits, one being that it’s a natural shape and as such can better survive natural disasters. It also offers the best open concept floor plan for a small living space. But would it be cost effective?

First things first, they surveyed the land to measure out the proportions of the house and placed wooden stakes in the ground to begin laying out the foundation. If all went to plan, when finished, Steve would have a new 500-square-foot home.

Hajjar advised Steve use a material called AirCrete, which is a lightweight, foam concrete great for regulating temperatures; it’s also malleable making it easier to form the dome shape. On top of that, it’s inexpensive, durable, and fireproof — a good material for those looking to save some money.

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The aerated concrete accelerated the building process, and, within several weeks, the outer layer of the dome was complete. Hajjar and Steve then built porthole-like windows to allow natural light to enter his home.

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For the finishing touch, they capped the top of his roof with a beautiful diamond-shaped window, which created rainbow illusions that cascaded down the sides of the walls. They also attached an elevated gazebo — a sala — using bent steel and custom wooden stairs that led to the roof. A costly flourish, but worth it.

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After only six short weeks, the tangerine-colored home sitting within a grove of mangoes was finished and move-in ready. Steve walked up to the custom mahogany front door and opened it, leading to a zen oasis. Want to see inside?

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An open and airy living space is one of the first things you see. There’s comfortable seating nestled in the porthole window with cushioned floor seats and a small table where Steve can enjoy his morning coffee as he gazes out the window at his waterlily pond.

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The space accommodates a small kitchen adorned with shelving that holds local and cultural pottery he’s collected. The wooden dining table and stools were hand carved and light fixtures were made from wicker baskets.

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Oh, and the kitchen’s more than just a pretty face — it’s functional, too. The refrigerator and stove sit beneath the counter to save space, so when Steve wants to cook, his stove burner, which sits on a hinge, swings out to countertop level.

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Continuing through his fluid home, the next area is probably the most tranquil space — the bathroom. Above the plywood, waterfall sink is a mirror made from pottery and bamboo. The walls and floors are delicately decorated with various stones and pebbles.

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The real highlight of the space is definitely the shower, though. Surrounded by a jungle-like atmosphere, loose river rocks create a shower floor where water mimics the gentle flow of a stream. It actually feels like you’re showering in the middle of the jungle.

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Off in a separate space is Steve’s bedroom. His bed rocks traditional Thai patterns that match the mango-colored walls. On both sides of his bed are multi-functional porthole windows where he can relax and write music while looking out over the mango orchard.

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To top it all off, located on the roof above his bedroom is a table-like deck with a hammock that boasts a remarkable view. Just follow the floating wooden stairs up to the private veranda and soak in the endless terrain. But luxuries like these don’t come without some damage to the wallet.

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Still, all together Steve built this eco-friendly dream home for just $9,000! It cost him $6,000 to purchase the materials and build his house; it cost another $3,000 to finish the landscaping, gazebo, and interior design. He inspired others to build their dream homes.

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Jessie Lipskin was 27 when she made the craziest decision of her life. One of those decisions that make your friends and family question your sanity. Fueled by frustration with her cramped and crowded inner-city apartment she chose to change everything.

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After research on the subject, Jessie thought a tiny house would be perfect for the new lifestyle she wanted to create. And not just any tiny house, but one on wheels, so she could have the freedom to go wherever she pleased.

So Jessie settled on the idea that she would create her own mobile home from the remains of an old bus. Her search began in earnest as she hunted online for a bus she may be able to call home.

Finally, she found what she was looking for on Ebay. Jessie won the bidding war for a vintage 1966 Greyhound bus. Only $7,000 later, she could start working to make her dream a reality. There was plenty to be done.

The first order of business was getting the bus to New Jersey. At the time, it was all the way on the West Coast in California. Driving across the country seemed simple enough, but there was one pretty serious problem.

Jessie did not have a driver’s license. As a New Yorker, she relied on public transportation all of her life. Not only would she need to master driving, but she needed to become an expert in stick-shift driving, as the bus was manually operated.

Thankfully, Jessie had a friend who was willing to drive the vehicle to New Jersey for her while she worked on getting her license. Once the bus made its way to the East Coast, the DIY project of a lifetime would begin.

Next, Jessie had to map out the space and decide what kind of layout she wanted to create for the interior. Doing this required her to completely gut the inside of the bus. After clearing the seats, she had an empty space to let her imagination run wild.

When drawing up her plans, Jessie wanted to stay true to her principles of sustainability. She set out to use as many recycled, reused, and energy-friendly elements as she possibly could, aiming to ensure she was creating something environmentally conscious.

After Jessie got her plan together, she trusted professionals with many of the more challenging projects. If she was going to create the ultimate modern home on wheels, she needed to wire electricity and route plumbing, among other things, she had never done before.

Starting with a blank slate meant Jessie had to purchase all the appliances and conveniences that accompany your average home. All the major renovations taking place took tons of time, so she could buy the essentials one by one.

One of the most difficult tasks was creating the custom kitchen cabinets. Because of the tiny working space, they had to make sure every cut was perfectly measured to fit the space. This area would become one of her greatest triumphs.

Precision paid off, as the results of the kitchen were truly mind-blowing! Upon completion, Jessie had a fully functioning stove top and oven, plus the added bonus of an ever-changing view outside her kitchen window. The bathroom was another story.

Jessie thought ahead by buying a bus with high ceilings, so her bathroom could accommodate a stand up shower. She re-purposed slats of mahogany wood for the area outside it, but the most important part of the home was yet to be complete.

Her cozy bedroom was a major accomplishment. The chic wood floors and decorative elements made the Greyhound bus completely unrecognizable. Every little detail of Jessie’s dream was finally becoming reality thanks to her hard work.

As with any tiny home, storage and organization had to be a huge priority. Jessie included built-in shelves and closet systems to make sure the space would work for her. In the end, she had three full closets in her bus!

It took three years, but after all the blood, sweat, and tears Jessie was living in her version of paradise; driving along the open roads and immersing herself in nature. The world was on her string. However, no one could’ve predicted her next move.

After completing her masterpiece on wheels, she eventually decided to move on from the nomad lifestyle. She listed her home for sale on Craigslist for $149,000 after only a short time behind the wheel. Thankfully, the bus found a meaningful purpose.

Jessie’s bus would be called back to its original home in California. Luckily, the buyer did not have any plans to ruin the incredible work Jessie had done over the years. The new owner wanted to make it so even more people could enjoy the alternative home.

The bus serves as an Airbnb for people visiting the Joshua Tree National Park in California! Meanwhile, Jessie plans to work overseas to explore more of the world, though she definitely left an impact on the bus-conversion world.

Michael Talley, an illustrator and graphic designer from Austin, Texas, always dreamed of building his own home from pre-existing materials. So in 2016 he finally took the opportunity to let his creativity flow and get his hands dirty.

Builds like hers inspired Michael Talley, an illustrator in Texas, to remodel a bus of his own. He purchased one for $2,200 off an auction website, and stripped it entirely of its seats to make room for his new project.

Although Talley was never a big handyman, he was an expert in design. He draws comic books, event posters, signs, and even political cartoons. When he decided to embark on his school bus adventure, he must have felt inspired by his personal hero Davy Crockett, because he took the leap and never looked back.

Stripping the bus was the first critical step in the process of transforming this bus from a kid-mover to an actual home. Talley wasn’t entirely sure about what he was doing, but he got to work anyway, removing evidence of the bus’s previous life in the process.

Talley put his imagination to work and began to design his new space to the exact millimeter. He drew up a kitchen, bathroom, living/work space, and a bedroom. He kept the bathroom and kitchen closest to the front so they could be easily accessed during an outdoor BBQ.

Talley made one big error when buying the bus, though. He didn’t realize how high the roof would be! Although it could easily fit school children, it was not tall enough to comfortably house the 6″6 giant. Talley had no choice but to literally raise the roof, which would be impossible to do by himself.

Luckily, he didn’t have to do it all alone. He had help from his stepdad, a few friends, and even some very kind strangers. After all, the project proved to be a much more difficult one than he had imagined.

The bus was almost entirely re-built. The roof was raised, the windows were removed, the back was expanded and even the insulation was renewed. The build was taking longer and costing more than he had planned…

You see, the bus was being sold by the school district for a reason: it was old and worn-out. If Talley wanted to drive it, the engine, power steering, and even the tires needed an update. “Changing a tire on this thing was more expensive and less fun than I had thought it would be,” he said.

After altering the entire “skeleton” of the bus, it was finally time to spruce up its insides. Talley got some good deals at IKEA and was able to decorate his living space within a fairly small budget.

The reason he picked this specific bus was because he used to ride an Armadillo bus, and it reminded him of his own school days. Nostalgia can be a powerful force, but who would have thought it would influence his new home? This motivation would come in handy pretty soon, as Talley was about to face some tough times…

Not only was the physical labor challenging, but Talley also experienced quite some hardship in his personal life. In the year that he spent building his dream house, he lost his job, his girlfriend, and his grandfather, but he was determined to keep going. After all, he had nothing left to lose.

Talley’s determination paid off when the interior came together. The first thing he finished was the kitchen. He chose white subway tiles with black grout, and installed everything himself. He is not the biggest cook, but he does need a good place to snack and entertain.

After the kitchen came the bedroom. It is not only incredibly cozy and comfortable, but it has a spectacular view of wherever Talley drives it. The original windows of the backdoor are still there, so he often overlooks a field or a forest.

The living room is not too shabby either. Talley has set himself up with the foundations of his old couch, a brand new TV and of course, his Playstation. He has both a heater and an air conditioner in case he drives the bus through all kinds of climates.

As it turns out, the kids putting “kick me” notes on each other’s backs were not the only pranksters around. On April Fools’ Day, Talley posted a picture on Facebook of a school bus burning to the ground, causing his friends and family to almost have a heart attack. Luckily it was just a prank, and his dreams did not go up in flames.

With his school bus still intact, Talley now needed gas, water, and electricity. Although he installed a few tanks and generators, he wanted to leave only a small ecological footprint, so he installed a few solar panels on the roof (all by himself!)

Most of the power generated by the panels goes straight to his beloved TV. After a week of watching Netflix on his phone, he knew he needed a big screen in his living room and his bedroom. Now he can watch The Sandlot whenever the need should arise.

Although he loved the look of the classic school bus, Talley didn’t want to cause any confusion, and decided to paint the exterior. He ended up choosing white because it keeps him cool in the Texas weather and leaves room to add more color later. Who knows, maybe he’ll add some flowers and peace symbols in the future…

At the end of a long day at work or fixing the bus, Talley likes to climb up on his roof and enjoy the sights, his freedom, and of course, a sip of wine. That victorious feeling certainly makes all the effort worth it.

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