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Former grain bins made into cozy and creative homes | AG

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When Vance Jones started building his own home out of a grain bin seven years ago, he had no idea he would soon be building bin homes as a business across the U.S.

He chose a bin because he could “buy it for pennies on a dollar. There’s no maintenance, no bugs, no rot. And, it fit my budget,” he said.

“People found out about it and wanted me to build a pool house for them,” he said.

His business grew from there. While Jones’ own home is in Chickamauga, Georgia, about 15 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee, he has built homes in most U.S. states.

He buys used grain bins from farmers in the Midwest and Texas, usually for between $300 and $8,000. Sometimes he gets them for free just to take them away. He builds homes, pool houses, treehouses and business structures.

“Bins fed America, now they are rehousing the Heartland,” said Nena McLaughlin, his business partner.

There aren’t many grain bins where Jones lives near the juncture of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, so he and his team often travel to the Corn Belt to find them.

“Kentucky and Illinois are my two biggest suppliers,” he said.

The bigger bins he needs to build a 3,600-square-foot grain bin house for an Alabama project are coming from Texas.

“We are always looking for more bins to buy,” McLaughlin said.

Michael Bumpus, a southwestern Illinois farmer, sold the company three grain bins. The Clark County farmer said he found Grain Bin Living on Facebook. Jones and his team bought the bins, picked them up at the West Union farm in Illinois and will make them into homes elsewhere, Bumpus said.

While the main part of their business is grain bins, McLaughlin said the “grain bin guys” also reclaim all kinds of rural buildings including wooden barns. She sees repurposing and reclaiming rural structures in the heartland as important to save that part of rural history and to save money.

“Especially in this economy, it is important,” she said of the works which she calls their “passion.”

They build anything the new owner can dream up. An upcoming project is a floating bin for a lake in Missouri. Jones, who worked with a cousin building docks, knows about water projects and is looking forward to the project in Farmington, Missouri, in early August.

“He’s an artist,” McLaughlin said of Jones. Together the Grain Bin Living team up-cycle everything from the bins themselves to the furniture inside.

About 90% of the people who get grain bin homes want the inside to featured reclaimed and repurposed materials, he said. Jones said his favorite thing about his own grain bin home is that it made of repurposed materials inside — from the sinks to the lighting.

“When you look inside a grain bin home, there’s just something about it,” McLaughlin said. Her 1,060-square-foot home has many custom features including a bar and eye-catching staircase.

“I was blown away,” she said of the first time she saw inside a grain bin house.

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