My name is Matteus Olmedo and I’m designing and building my own net-zero home with minimal construction experience.
I dropped out of UCLA at 21 so I could focus more on working at a fast food company. After 18 years with them, saving every penny, I retired at 35. If it seems impossible, you can get the details from a podcast I did last year. Freed from the chains of employment, I had the ability to learn and create anything I wanted. My first desire was to build my own net-zero home solo. That was when I realized that there just isn’t a lot of material out there on how to build a house on your own. Of course, there are thousands of construction books out there, but I wanted to follow along on one project step-by-step and I wanted to hear it from the point of view of someone like me, instead of a professional contractor. I was lucky enough to have a relative with a ton of experience and knowledge as a general contractor who happened to be building a house for his daughter at the precise time I was researching how to build. After 9 months of extensive note taking, observation, and hands-on instruction, I felt I was prepared to set out on my own.
This website is my attempt to create what I had been looking for, yet couldn’t find when I started building my own home. It is my hope that there are others out there looking for something similar to what I desired, and it is my goal to provide that for them. We are living in this incredible era where all the knowledge of all of civilization is at your fingertips. Anyone with a little self confidence and ability to ignore the naysayers can truly do and be anything they desire. The hard part is the time it takes to sift through all that knowledge to find the stuff that you’re really looking for. This site is an attempt to do that part for you. I’m definitely no expert by any means, but I have spent hundreds of hours learning about an industry that is overrun by workers that don’t put a big priority on learning or innovating. The fact is that there are good building practices and bad building practices, and the construction industry has lead feet when it comes to abandoning the bad practices and adopting the good ones. The average buyer of a house spends more money on it than any other expenditure in their entire life, but can tell you far more about how their cell phone operates than how their house operates.
I would love to help others who share my passion for saving sustainably fulfill their dreams of building their own home. For some hands on instruction, I’ve never worked with Habitat for Humanity but they actually use a lot of the good building techniques and I think they would be an excellent resource. To supplement this, I have a page full of links to excellent sites you can learn from. After acquiring the knowledge, just be confident in yourself and go for it! Almost every mistake you can possibly make has been made by a careless contractor in the past and a solution has been created to fix it.
I see this house as only a first step for me when it comes to saving sustainably. I was able to retire early because I saved as much of my money as possible, and I plan on making that money last for the rest of my years by continuing to save. Obviously building your own house is probably the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to saving money, but I plan on many future projects that will also help me save as well. Once the house is complete, I look forward to building a year round greenhouse, an electric bicycle, and a plastic recycling machine. Not only will these projects save me money in groceries, gas, and plastics, but will also help the environment. I look forward to sharing many of these Saving Sustainably ideas with you in the future so follow along! And if you have any questions at all, want an extra pic, whatever, feel free to drop me a line.