"The House That Dorothy Built" is now available on Amazon.com
  Click here for details

Also, you can watch my documentary: "A Tale of Two Houses"

Welcome to my Website

by Dorothy Ainsworth

Dorothy 1999


Dorothy 2013

I have created this website in hopes of inspiring people at subsistence-level incomes, like myself, to pursue their own dreams of building a house in the country and becoming as self-sufficient as possible. I've documented my journey of property development by writing articles and taking photos as I progressed. They have been published in Backwoods Home Magazine over the years, and I continue to contribute articles when I can. It's an excellent magazine that emphasizes a philosophy of self-reliance and individualism. (www.backwoodshome.com)

Some of the accounts are how-to articles, but for the most part I just tell how I did it, not necessarily how you should do it. Some stories overlap, some are recaps, and some are variations with a new wrinkle, but my objective is to show and tell by example what can be done---with very little money and very little previous experience. You pay as you go, and you learn as you go. The most valuable lesson I can pass along is that everything happens in tiny increments but eventually they add up into huge results.

Dorothy & Peaches 2010
About me

I've been called a workaholic, but I consider it a compliment. My philosophy is that there is only so much time and energy in life, and I choose to spend it wisely on many and varied projects. My main focus for 40 years has been to develop a bare piece of property (10 affordable acres) into a comfortable, self-sufficient, and attractive homestead on my $12,000/year waitress income.

With no previous experience and very little help, I've built a pump house, water storage tank, root cellar, two workshops, three guest cabins, piano studio, barn, garden tool shed, two storage sheds, three deluxe chicken coops, a green house, a tree house, a large stud-frame house, and two log homes (the first one burned down, but with help, I rebuilt it).

I'm now semi-retired but still in good shape and going strong. I have so many interests I'd need several lifetimes to pursue them all. If anything, I need to speed up in the next decade, rather than slow down! I love to laugh, so I tend to find the humor in almost everything (even mistakes), so my work is also my play. I balance out construction labor with hobbies I enjoy, such as cooking, sewing, and writing. Photography has been a lifelong passion.

My plans for 2023 are to organize all my photos, do more writing, and do more computer/photoshop work with my daughter who is a professional photographer. Son Eric is a piano tuner/technician, recording engineer, classical pianist, and composer, so we collaborated on the soundtrack for a documentary I completed in December of 2022 titled "A Tale of Two Houses". But spending quality time with my 22-year old grandson, Zane, is one of my top priorities. I'd been teaching him how to use real tools since he was 3 and we had great fun building forts and other things together. Now he works on cars, and has a motorcycle, but best of all, he keeps me laughing with his fun and witty sense of humor.

Zane 7
Zane 8
Closing thoughts

From age 30 I was a single mom and waitress who reared my kids by myself, and from age 40-on created the security and lifestyle I so passionately wanted, on a shoestring budget. I've written my various articles to share what I've learned and to help others who are in the same boat: having little cash but lots of drive. I believe that lofty goals can be achieved with hard work and tunnel vision because I was able to do it. If I could do it, anybody could!

I wouldn't trade the satisfying feelings of accomplishment for all the money that could have hired it done. It has been a long struggle evolving into a Jill-of-all-Trades while working as a waitress, but it has been so fulfilling that the journey was absolutely priceless!

Zane 9
Zane 10
Zane's mom, Cynthia
Zane 12

"Goals are dreams with a deadline", so I encourage you to get started...now!

Zane 17
Zane 18
Zane, 18, 2019