Miller builds home one nail at a time

Staff reporter

As with any major project, like building a home, there are bound to be a few stumbling blocks along the way.

For lifelong carpenter Galen Miller of rural Hillsboro, having no electricity for four months during the beginning of construction didn't stop him from doing the job.

The family decided to build the home on a picturesque plot of ground on Eagle Road, southwest of Hillsboro. Miller began construction on the 2,000+ square foot house in June 2006.

The stay-at-home father spent much time during the day at the rural property, constructing the family home, literally one nail at a time.

When construction first began, electricity was not available at the property. Miller assumed it would be installed in a short matter of time, so he used battery-powered and man-powered equipment.

Nails were hammered and boards were sawed by hand when the battery ran down.

This went on in June, July, August, September, October — until finally in November, electricity was available.

The determined young carpenter kept after it and in October 2007, he and his family were able to move in.

There still is finish work that needs to be done — trim, molding, etc., and that will be completed as Miller has time.

Miller and wife Rebecca have two children — Adel, 7, and Annalise, 4. Rebecca works in Wichita and Galen does contract carpentry work in the area.

Growing up in a construction atmosphere, Miller's father was a self-employed building contractor. Many summers the father and son worked side-by-side, the elder sharing his trade with the next generation of craftsmen.

The design of the home, which he did himself, was a combination of different elements of floor plans that Miller had seen during his years in construction.

The location was determined by elevation and school district boundaries.

"We wanted our children to attend the Goessel school district," Miller said.

Even though the Millers have a Hillsboro address, they actually live in the Goessel school district.

Located on a hill, the house has a full basement with a walk-out feature.

The ground floor includes the traditional living room, dining room, and kitchen. The master bedroom, a bathroom, and utility room also are located on the main floor. Every room, except the bathroom and utility room, has a wooden floor.

Miller said he used pre-finished wooden flooring that comes with a scuff-resistant finish that does not require much attention.

The floor plan is open with the dining room and kitchen divided only by a countertop.

The kitchen includes beautiful oak cabinets that are sentimental to Miller.

A former employer in Missouri had a dying oak tree and Miller decided to cut it down and save the wood for a special project. The wood was used for the cabinets and railing that leads to the home's upstairs.

A partial second story includes two bedrooms and a bathroom.

The basement is not finished and is on Miller's "to do list."

The house also includes a two-car garage.

The Miller family moved to Marion County several years ago from Missouri. Rebecca's sister had lived in Newton for many years and then her parents retired and moved to Hesston.

"We like the area," Miller said.

One surprise with the construction was a sunroom.

"I had planned to build the front porch along the side of the house and then we decided to enclose part of it," Miller said. "We're really going to enjoy it in the winter."

French patio doors from the dining room go to the screened-in porch as well as an outside entrance from the porch.

A wood stove in the basement with a conventional heating unit heats the home. Miller said the furnace has a circulation fan which helps distribute the heat from the wood stove throughout the house.

Numerous windows also are in the home with blinds, not curtains, that are up most of the time.

"We like simplicity; don't want anything to obstruct the view," Miller said.

It's a process — finishing trim work, completing the sunroom, and landscaping. This week, Miller plans to plant buffalo grass around the house. Native plants will be added with a few trees.

And even though it has taken a while to complete, Miller can take pride in his accomplishments and the satisfaction in building his family home.