Peter and Haley Kern are doing most of their own work to build a new home at 521 Elm in Greensburg. Keeping costs down and finishing a home with features they want is their top priorities.
Three months ago Peter Kern was framing up a brand new 34 X 46 foot home at 521 Elm Street in Greensburg. Now,with fall knocking on the door, he is glad to finally be putting on the siding and making visible progress on the project that may take him until next September to complete.
"We needed more space," said Kern, an industrial arts teacher at Kiowa County High School who, with his wife Haley, rebuilt their smaller home 10 years ago after the Greensburg tornado of 2007. "We've had experience rebuilding, but I have never built from the ground up, so this is a new experience."
At a time when there is little other building going on in Greensburg, the Kern home is a beacon of hope that a building boom may some day come again. Currently in Scott City, the Prairie Meadows subdivision has become a hotbed of activity with two new homes completed since spring, two more under construction and the basement dug for another home. Only six of 27 platted lots are waiting to be sold there. East of Greensburg in Pratt, one new home is nearing completion by a property owner who used U-Build-It resources, and several businesses are prepping for expansion including Walmart, Pratt Family Dental and Casey's.
In Greensburg, the only sign of a building economy is the Kern home, going up slowly and surely as he does almost all the work himself. As the owner of Kern Custom Cabinetry, he has no doubt that the interior cabinets will be awesome. Other details he is not quite so comfortable talking about, yet.
"We knew what we wanted this to look like, that was a big thing," Kern said. "The dormers, those were important. Inside, I want the stairs to be really nice. But I'm not ready to talk about them yet."
Kern said he did hire out last summer to help a local construction company build a home and that was invaluable experience.
"I asked a lot of questions, and they always did a good job answering them," he said. "I have used that knowledge a lot as we move forward."
The main reason Kern and wife prefer to do most of the work on their new home themselves has been to keep the costs down. They had no control over the price of wood, which has jumped up tremendously since they started working on their house last fall.
"I try to buy what I need in large quantities to lock in the prices," Kern said. "But that isn't always possible."
It hasn't always been possible to do everything himself either.
"I hired out the basement walls, the concrete work," he said. "I needed their finisher, their manpower, and their skills. That was something I really didn't know how to do."
At this point, the basement is done, the walls and roof are up and Kern is putting the siding on the outside of their new home. Some interior painting has been done as well.
"We will be glad when it is all done," he said. "I've felt some pressure for being behind schedule, but little by little I am catching up. It's going to be nice. We are making it just like we want it."