Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Long Overdue Update

It's been three months since I have written on my blog. We've spent that time "recovering" and enjoying our new home. We've gotten back to work, too, but spring is here, it's blowing outside (as it's wont to do here in New Mexico this time of year) and we can't really do any dirt sifting so it's a good time to update everyone.

First, let me say - WE LOVE OUR HOME!!!!  Just about every day we look at each other, grin and pinch ourselves. We still can't believe we get to live here! It's cozy and quiet - and - well - everything we ever hoped it would be. The temperature continues to be consistent throughout the house and while we can hear the wind, we can't feel it! Quite a change from the trailer!!!!!

But, there's still lots to do and we have gotten quite a bit done in between hanging out and getting reacquainted with a social life. (It has really been nice to be able to do something OTHER than work on the house!)

So - here's where we stand . . .

Bathroom Vanity

We needed to finish the vanity so we could use it so that was one of the first things we've done.

Here's the finished product - in use. We love the corrugated metal hiding the pipes!

Living Room Wall

Before we can start moving bookcases in, we need to get some of the walls finished. The first one - and easiest - was the very large living room wall.  We needed to texture then paint. Very satisfying to have it done!

Studio Floor

The next next job that needed to be tackled was the studio floor. Because it was still unfinished, it was a big dust creator and we knew that the process of finishing it was going to be a dusty job, too. We just wanted to get it done!
First order of business was to lay the adobe grid. We decided to start with one section - about 2/3rds - of the floor.

First pour done. Once the first pour was leather hard, we did the final pour.
Then it was on to laying the rest of the adobes.

Final adobe!!! This felt very monumental!
Then it was on to the final pouring.

Last floor POURED!

We had to leave our mark <g>
The next step will be for me to fill the seams - I will start on that this week. Once everything is dry, the floor can be sealed and then we will have a studio!!!


In preparation for doing taxes I wanted to try to figure out how much we've spent on the house. I have been keeping all of the receipts in an envelope and it was time to organize them.

As close as I can figure, we've spent in the neighborhood of $155,000 - under $70 a square food - with NO mortgage!!!

The really BIG thing, though, is that we made the last land payment in January so the property is free and clear!

As we settle in and get a sense of the space we are starting to pick up furniture that fits our home and lifestyle. All of it from consignment and/or thrift stores. I'm having lots of fun finding great bargains and the house is quickly becoming a home.

Wall plastering is next - once the winds die down, that is <g>

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Home Sweet Home!!!!!

On December 20th we shifted our lives from one funky trailer to one unfinished but very comfortable hand-made home!!!!! It is still very surreal!

But let me backtrack a bit. With winter weather approaching - yet again - there were some things that absolutely had to get done before we could move in.


We needed to get solar panels hooked up - at least enough to live with. Because we still had to run the trailer and well pump, it has taken us a few weeks to transfer all the panels down and get the two new panels to run the pump hooked up. Initially, we only hooked up 8 - enough to allow us to move in.
Rick, Samuel and Antonio getting the first 8 eight panels hooked up and working.

Final Plaster

While there was not enough time to do ALL the final plaster, I really wanted to get the bedroom and bathroom done.
The bedroom side of the adobe wall with final coat of plaster.

The final coat mixture is the same as the fill coat but it needed to be smoother. I took a yogurt container lid, cut most of the rim off and used it to burnish the plaster once it reached leather-hard stage.

Here you can see the difference - the farthest plaster is "shiny". The near plaster has not been burnished. It really turned out nice!


We wanted to get the ceilings in the bedroom and bathroom finished. We decided to cover them with reed mats from the garden section at Lowes.
First I painted the ceiling black.

Then tacked up the reed mats. 
Somewhere down the line we may do something different but for now, we're happy with this.


The shower was a must! And there was still a lot to do.
Glass blocks installed

Shower liner installed behind blue board.

Shower pan being poured.

Wall prepped for tile. What isn't shown here is that I painted all the seams with a water proof paint. 

Tile work started.
Tile work done ready for grout! It was somewhat of a challenge getting the shower pan poured and making sure that we had enough slope. Well we have plenty!!! This drain really drains!

I installed T & G in the ceiling of the shower. Rick really wanted me to tile the ceiling but doing the sides was hard enough! I just was not up to tiling over my head!

Cabinets being installed. More auction finds!

Shower and cabinets done!

Bathroom door hung.

A year or so after we moved to Youngsville we helped the community re-plaster the old adobe church. Behind the church was an old out-house that they wanted removed. It was all old wood construction so we took the whole thing home with us and dismantled it. (Wish I'd had the foresight to get pictures of us loading that thing into the back of the truck!) The wood has been stacked and waiting for a use ever since. Rick came up with the idea for using it on the bathroom walls. I love the way it looks!

I had been looking at the Habitat Re-Store for a vanity that would work to no avail. I did find a great sink, however, so we used wood we had on hand and built a vanity!

The sink still needs to be installed - which means that holes need to be drilled so that it will sit flush on the top of the vanity - but we want to do a tile back splash first. We'll get baskets to use as drawers on the shelves. Really happy with the way it turned out!

Trombe Walls

While it wasn't absolutely necessary to finish the trombe walls, Rick was able to get them done before bad weather hit.
A coat of structalite to smooth out the wall.

An absorbant black coated foil was affixed to the wall before the single-paned glass was installed. The foil is supposed to increase the amount of heat that is absorbed by the wall. We have been told that it could take up to a year for the trombe walls to get "charged" and start working so the jury is still out on them.

Moving Day!

Then - all of a sudden it seemed - it was moving day! Because there is still quite a lot left to do in the house, we really didn't want to move everything - just enough to have what we need (office up and working, kitchen, etc.) but there was still a lot that had to get moved in one day!

First meal!

And then it was party time!
We invited a few of our closest friends to come over on New Years Day for black-eyed peas. The party was a huge success and a wonderful way to start our life in our new home!! 
We are truly blessed!

What's Left

There's still quite a bit left to do to "finish" the house. The floor in the studio still needs to be poured and the final coat of plaster still needs to be done on most of the rest of the house and we need to build the closet for the bedroom and shelves in the pantry - just to name a few things. We also need to do the final coat of plaster on the outside.

But we have enough done to be comfortable and to feel like we can take some time off. We deserve a break!!!

Now that the New Year is here we will start back working as the weather improves. We had snow yesterday and will have to wait until that melts to get back to laying adobes, pouring the floor and plastering. 

So stay tuned - we're not done yet!

NOTE: How the House is Working
As I have mentioned before, while living in San Diego we worked on three straw bale houses and we had visited a couple of them out here in New Mexico but we had never spent a lot of time in one so everything we'd heard about the way they perform was hearsay.  Now that we have been living in our home for more than 3 weeks (two of those weeks were VERY cold, not getting much above freezing during the day and into single digits at night) I can say that our house is performing as advertised! The only heat we have - besides the passive solar - is two wood-burning stoves and we are really only using one of them currently. The temperature has not fluctuated more than 6 or 7 degrees in a 24 hour period since we moved in. Rick will put a log on the fire before he comes to bed but that's all at night. I have not been COLD in this house once!!!! We are happy campers!