They turned a barn into their home
VENTURA – In 2003, Dan Peterson, of Clear Lake, was recuperating from knee surgery, remaining inactive for six weeks.
With that much free time, he decided to draw up plans for a home using his experiences in heating and cooling systems.
After his recuperation, he had his plans, but no idea how, where, or when he would be implement them.
Around this same time Mary Wilson, of Mason City, had inherited a farm on the south side of Ventura.
The buildings were in poor shape, and the fire department was given permission to burn the house.
Wilson kept the barn from being razed even in its sorry shape.
Dan Peterson saw the old barn and said he “was fascinated by it.”
He discussed with his wife, Nan, his idea of using the Wilson barn for the plans he drew. She said she favored the idea.
Peterson said that his father, while not talking him out of the project, did ask him, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
The Petersons approached Wilson about buying the acreage. She sold the barn and several acres of land to the Petersons after she learned of their plans.
The Petersons closed on the property in April 2004.
The first job was to clean the barn after years of use by livestock.
Years of accumulated manure was hauled out, and the building thoroughly cleaned with a pressure washer.
As there was no electricity or water at the site, Peterson hauled in water and a generator to run the cleaning equipment.
The concrete for the floor was poured on Dec. 12 of that year with members of the Petersons’ church helping with the labor.
The Peterson family – Dan, Nan, Seth, Tyler and Alicia – worked on the conversion, assisted by many friends, and by November 2005, the barn was now a home.
The only work the Petersons hired was for excavating, roofing and insulation.
Everything else – plumbing, electrical, and sheet rock – was done by the Petersons and friends.
Each floor has its own thermostat and uses Dan Peterson’s designs for heating and cooling, much of it located in the floor.
The second level is where cooking and entertaining areas are located joining the recreation room over the garage.
Bedrooms are on the third level.
The north end of what was the hay mow is a large room the Petersons refer as the “banquet hall” where several tables and chairs are set up with folding seats from the Belmond theater along two of the walls.
The floor is from the old Garner community center and looks much like a gym floor complete with a basketball hoop mounted on the wall.
Since converting the barn to a home, the Petersons have added a garage with a rec room overhead and a room on the end for Nan’s sewing.
The family continued working on the building almost every weekend for three years. Seth drove from Cedar Rapids to assist.
Landscaping was completed in 2011. CRP ground is on the west side, and a wetland is on the south. The Petersons get waves from people on the nearby bike trail.
A pond on the east side of the house is stocked with blue gills, crappies, perch and small mouth bass.
Peterson said a snag in financing the project almost killed the project before it was born.
Converting a barn to a home was considered “unconventional construction” by the bank, and it would not approve a loan.
Dan and Nan Peterson used the equity from their home and rental properties around Clear Lake to secure financing.
There was a similar problem with the insurance company that was eventually solved, he said.
There is 6,000 square feet of living area in the Petersons’ home, and the Fourth of July holiday has become a favorite gathering spot for the Peterson family making room for a total of 29 people.
Dan Peterson said the home is at least 90 percent the way he drew it in 2003.
His goal then was to build it at a cost of $25 per square foot and he ended at $35 per square foot.
“We have a lot of sweat equity,” said Peterson. “The hardest part of any job is convincing yourself you can do it.”
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