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Durasein’s Touch on DIY Barndominium

Paul and Emily Marshall are known for the post-frame barndominium home they built from the ground up. Based in Madison County, Iowa, this self-taught team now plans, designs, and builds other structures around the area, documenting each step of the process for a community of over 120,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel and 4,000 followers on their Facebook page.

D.LAB
PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL
D.LAB

Tell us all about the Marshall family! What started you on this wild journey?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

We’re a family of five that’s been on this journey for nearly 20 years. It all started with the first home Paul purchased before we were married. Step by step, he taught himself how to renovate, leading him from one project to the next. In 2018, we moved to Iowa, and by 2019, we were creating what has now become MR Post Frame. Our YouTube channel was launched with the building of our personal home, the Mad County Build. Paul single-handedly built over 90% of the home, only contracting a few things like concrete and drywall. The goal of sharing the build on YouTube was to encourage others who want to do the same!

D.LAB

What exactly is a barndominium? What makes them a great alternative to more traditional home structures?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

A barndominium is one of the biggest home trends today. Typically, it’s a steel-frame or post-frame structure that is designed to be a home. The barndominium is far more than a house—it’s a lifestyle. Many people who are dreaming of a barndo also see it as a way to create joy in their lives by incorporating self-sustaining measures, finding a little extra space, and making the pace of their lives a little slower and lower-maintenance.

D.LAB

Did you ever anticipate identifying with the term “content creators”? What drove the decision to document your experience?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

We didn’t expect things to turn into what they are today! We were just hoping that by documenting our build, we could help a few people. Every time we get a message from someone saying we inspired them to tackle their own project, we’re inspired to keep sharing and creating.

D.LAB

Social media is a great tool for inspiration and connection, and this collaboration is proof of that! Would you mind sharing our “how we met” story?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

When we launched our home build in 2019, we shared that part of the plan was to incorporate a slide next to the stairs. Everyone was really excited about it—it was probably our most inquired-about piece of the project! As we neared the end of our build, we revealed that we weren’t 100% sure what material we wanted for the slide. That’s when a follower sent us a post by Durasein! After seeing the incredible innovation, I knew this was the material we had been looking for! It was a natural and easy start to our collaboration because I think we were all eager to see what a residential slide could look like!

D.LAB

Paul, your first time working with solid surface was particularly unique. What were your impressions of the material, and what surprised you most?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

The biggest surprise about working with solid surface was how creative we could be with it. When we started putting the slide together, it made us think of all the ways it could be used! It was incredible to see how it bent with the heat without being ruined. Then there was the way it cut clean, making it the perfect material for our slide project. While our project is more advanced, it was clear that even a beginner DIYer could use it and enjoy the process.

D.LAB

You’ve started taking on external projects now that the Mad County Build is complete. What lessons did you learn from your own home, and how are you applying them to your clients’ builds?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

We are focused on custom post-frame homes and buildings in the Des Moines area. Most of our clients want to be part of their construction process and tackle parts of the build themselves. Knowing that we can help by sharing our first-hand experience is amazing. By building more and sharing our experiences on YouTube, we’ve expanded our business into design services nationwide, and our monthly Build Your Dream membership offers a deep-dive education in being your own builder or contractor.

D.LAB

We imagine there were a couple of challenges along the way. How did you manage the day-to-day stress of the ultimate DIY and a growing family?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

We can’t say that this process was easy. In fact, it demanded everything we had physically, mentally, and emotionally…and then some! Our children were incredibly young when this project started, but having them involved as much as possible kept us going. They literally helped their dad raise the walls to their bedrooms, nail the floors their feet would walk on every morning, and more.

D.LAB

If you could offer just one piece of advice for someone looking to tackle their own self-build, what would it be?

PAUL AND EMILY MARSHALL

Get connected with our online community! Just because you’re building alone doesn’t mean you have to do this alone! We are always thinking about our fellow self-builders in every piece of content we create. There’s no good way to describe just how much work it is to build your own home, and we are here to support every one of them!

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