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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!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Countdown to Winter - and Moving!

Well, here it is the middle of November yet again and work continues. We have had lovely, mild weather but it is supposed to turn cold this week. Thankfully, all the work that "needs" to be done is inside work.

The last couple of months have been about dealing with and letting go of stress: the stress of having workers show up - or not; the stress of having so much left to do before we can move in; the stress of impending cold weather; and, last but not least, the stress of trying to get enough done so we could host Thanksgiving. THAT stress we've let go of! While I soooo wanted to host Thanksgiving this year, we really didn't need that pressure. Letting go of that sure made us feel better!

We've also had to deal with water pump going out at the trailer - yet again - and batteries dyeing. Pump got replaced and so did batteries. But, still, no fun! Plus it took us away from working on the house. All of that is behind us now and work progresses.

We really have completed - or almost so - most of the really BIG bits. Now it's a lot of little things that need doing and as time progresses, the list of things that absolutely have to be done before we can live in the house has gotten shorter. I would dearly love to get the final coat of plaster on the office, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen walls but if that doesn't get done, it can be done once we're it. Not optimal but I'm more concerned with being warm and snug this winter than having walls finished <g>

The plumbing needs to be done - which includes propane lines. Most of the plumbing is done and the propane lines are in the walls. We're just waiting for the lines to be laid outside which should happen this week. Once that is done and inspected, we will call the propane company to move our tank.

The plumbing depends on electrical to run the pump. The electrical got hooked up this week so we now have power!!  We only have 8 panels installed (out of an eventual 20) and only 2 are currently hooked up but we will be moving more this week. Those two along with the 16 batteries we have give us enough power for now. We still need to have panels at the trailer but we can get by with fewer for a few weeks.  We are now waiting for the pressure tank and pump to arrive.
We spent almost a week installing these tubes and filling with cement. We have lived with funky wooden racks for our panels for ten years. These racks are going to be great!

Here are the first eight panels installed.

Light fixtures got installed....

and out.


Here are other things we've been doing.


Bathroom floor.

Living room floor.

A close up of the adobes and poured floor.

Hall floor.
The hall floor is still drying but we hope to be able to finish it up in the next week or so. The only floor left to do is the studio floor and that can wait. The hall floor is taking so long to dry - even with the wood burning stoves going - that waiting until spring to finish the studio floor will be fine.

Help from Family

My cousin and his wife visited us for a week and we managed to get a lot done with their help!
Rick and Jim working on putting up the corrugated metal on the end of the garage.

What a difference!

We built the forms for the cement apron that needs to go in the garage. This is where the washer, freezer, deep sink and water tank will sit. We hope to pour the cement this week.

We also got the first coat of mud on the garage walls.

Dry wall got installed, too. Starting to look more "finished".
AND we got the trench for the propane line dug!


We have decided to tile all the window sills which needs to be done before the final coat of plaster is done. I am totally amazed at how labor intensive tile work is! I've done the windows in the office, living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom plus the thresholds of doors in the living room and sunspace and it feels like it has taken me forever. And I still need to grout some of them! Oh well, slowly, slowly, I guess.
Kitchen window.

Office trombe wall window sill.

Dinning room door before grouting.

Living room door grouted.

Pantry doorway.

Bedroom window sill.

The one really major thing that HAS to be done before we move in is the shower which will get started this week - hopefully.

All the tile we're using we got at one of the Habitat Re-Stores locally. We've saved tons of money and while there is a mixture of tiles, I'm really happy with the way they are looking. But, boy, is it hard work! I must say tiling has been one of my least favorite tasks.

Last but not least . . .

We are going to be moving from 500 sf to 1100 sf of living space and while we have some furniture stored, we will need other things - like a nice sofa. I have been checking out all the re-sale and consignment stores in the area for just the right one. Have seen some really nice ones but just weren't ready to get anything - until last week. I found just the right sofa at the Re-Store! It's leather and in great shape. We have been enjoying it!

We're getting close!!!