Most people want to build a house near the water or under beautiful redwood trees - In the Sleepers case, it was a huge sandstone cave that captured their hearts.
In 2004, Curt and Deborah Sleeper were scouting properties on the Internet when they came across an old mining cave in Festus, Missouri. The 17,000 sq.ft. cave, created from sandstone mining in the 1930's, had seen many incarnations. Sue Morris, a Festus resident first bought it in 1958 and converted it into a roller rink and an arena for concerts. When this shut down in 1985, it was turned into a glass-recycling center, which lasted until 1990. After that, the cave changed many owners, until a Realty Company bought it and put it up for sale.
The Sleepers, who have three children, bought the cave for $160,000 and then spent an additional $150,000 and the next four years, building their dream home with the help of some friends. Having spent their entire fortune on buying the cave, they slept in tents throughout this period, as they watched their dream house become a reality.
The resulting structure is stunning and definitely worth all the hard work. The only external structure to the house is an 11-meter gray timber frame built at the entrance of the cave. It has been sealed with over 24 windows/sliding doors that allow natural light to flow into the house.
Inside, the three-bedroom house, has no frame - all the rooms use the natural cave wall as their ceiling and walls. A huge umbrella in the living room protects the furniture (and residents) from any cave debris. The state-of-art kitchen has granite counters and three ovens. The house also has running water, electricity, a Jacuzzi and even a goldfish pond.
While it does need humidifiers to keep the air from getting too damp or musty, there is no need for air-conditioning or heating, as the cave temperature remains at comfortable 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
As far as bats, according to Mr. Sleeper, there are none, and the few bugs that crawl around, can be easily controlled by a cat (or two)!
The family recently went through a scare, when they thought they would have to sell their house as they couldn't get a bank to finance it. However, it all worked out when a bank heard about it, loved it, and gave them a loan.