When Ed Troendle of rural Spring Grove decided to replace an aging farmhouse with something new, a custom design seemed like the best option.
Troendle suffered a knee injury after slipping on some ice in January of 2015. While convalescing, he was forced to use a walker and crutches for several months. That's when Troendle determined his course of action, deciding that building a new handicapped-accessible home would be better than pouring a lot of time and money into his old two-story farmhouse.
But Troendle also wanted a new workshop. That's where custom-designing the building plans came in. Both home and shop are now part of the same structure.
“Two-fifths of it is living area, and three-fifths is the shop,” Troendle said with a grin. “The nice thing about it is, you can work on something and you don't have to go outside to go back in the house, like you would with a detached shop. You can pull something in there and work on it in the wintertime without having to lay in a snow bank.”
The two-bedroom downstairs living area measures approximately 1,440 square feet. In addition, a spacious carpeted room sits above, ready for use by guests or as a good place to host a family gathering. It's just over 1,000 square feet and has some special features.
Built into the loft floor is framing for a set of steps that would run down to the heated garage. “If a family were to buy this place 20 years down the road, it would be easy to drop that in and add some living space,” Troendle said. So the living area is also custom-designed for expansion when needed.
The heated workshop features a 20-foot-tall ceiling with a pair of 18-foot roll-up doors. It is well lit, includes drainage for washing machinery and has a slab floor topped with a tough epoxy-based finish.
Constructed in 2015, the home is built on-slab, with poured footings. An outside wood burner provides in-floor heat, with backup electric heat available. One zone warms the home, another takes care of the garage, utility room and the hallway from the shop. A separate heating arrangement uses the hot water from the wood burner to warm the shop as well.
Siding and roofing are metal. A wrap-around porch has a shingled appearance incorporated into its roofing, which is actually durable painted metal.
The new home also features 56 solar panels, arranged in eight rows. The system utilizes an inverter to provide AC power, and feeds (sells) excess electricity back to the grid when it produces more than Troendle uses. “Last month my electric bill was $12,” he said. “It should pay for itself in eight or nine years.”
Custom planning takes time.
“You kind of observe what other people have and what those buildings look like,” Troendle said. “I visited some people, got some ideas. Me, my brothers and sisters all sat down and drew out what we thought would work.
“It's both a home and workshop,” Troendle concluded. “It would be awfully hard to draw a line between the shop and the house. They're both so handy to access.
“When it's 30-below outside, I can have the tractor parked in the workshop, go out and hit the button and drive it out and go to work, rather than starting it out in the cold and having to warm it up for 20 minutes.
“This just worked out a lot better for me than remodeling something old that should have been retired 10 years ago. This way, when you get done, you've got something that works for you.”