Sunday, April 22, 2012

The view from the Youngsville Post Office.  It is really starting to look like something!

Thinking ahead

We continue to work on the framing.  Additional 2x8s still need to be installed over the large windows and sliding glass doors.  We got started on that yesterday.

I am hoping that trusses will get ordered next week - that is the next big phase!  Ordering trusses will be a huge step.  In the mean time, I'm doing things around the site that don't necessarily add to the building process but need doing like picking up all the wood bits and pieces that have become strewn around the site (my healing ankle doesn't need things to step on that will re-injure it!)

Another thing that needed to be done was move the pile of dirt in the garage into the house proper.  The pile has been bothering me for quite a while but it was one of those things that I kept putting of doing.  It was a real pain to work around and I figured that wasn't going to change so move it I did.  It got moved into the house to fill in around the foundation in preparation for our earthen floors.
The garage before dirt removal.
This may not LOOK like a big pile but when trying to work around it, it was huge. 
After dirt removal
Dirt added around the foundation, filling in a gap that was there from the grade beam pour.

"Earthen Floors?" you say?  Yes, that's right!  Earthen floors have been the tradition in this neck of the woods for many generations and while some of them look as you might imagine, if done properly and sealed well, they are beautiful and durable.  There will be some places where we may use tile or even adobe bricks but the bulk of the house will have earthen floors.  We have decided to do this for a number of reasons.  One: while it will be somewhat labor intensive, there will be no materials costs except for the linseed oil we will use to seal it.  (Traditionally, ox blood was used.) We will be getting the dirt for the floors from our friend Ramey as our dirt is too silty.  Two: it is in keeping with our decision to build as earth-friendly a house as we possibly can. Three: earthen floors are much easier on the joints to stand on than cement!  Last but not least:  Earthen floors are just plain beautiful!  Some of the floors I've seen look like beautiful aged leather.  They almost glow.  And I love the idea of having Mother Earth right beneath my feet all the time!  I went to the internet and found some pictures of what earthen floors can look like.  (My apologies to the original photographers for "borrowing" their pictures.)

Earthen floors are poured just like you would cement but in much smaller batches.  We will probably do two pours of about 1" deep each.  After the floors have dried, they will be sealed with linseed oil.  We will, of course, document the whole process.

This upcoming week may be spent in the garden.  The house has been taking up all of our time and the garden needs to be planted!  But we're taking today off!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

End of Phase 1 of Framing!

After an unexpected trip to North Carolina, a severe sprained ankle, cold and windy weather and a touch of stomach flu for Rick we have finally finished phase 1 of the framing!

Start of East wall.   Rick is standing where there will be a sliding glass door.

East wall finished

Start of North wall

North fall finished

Start of wall between garage and house.

Garage wall finished.

One of our focuses in building this house has been to re-use and recycle as much as we can.  The old Highway 96 (where we live) used to cross one corner of our property.  On the property right next to us was a bridge that spanned Rito Enceno, a creek really that crosses the NE corner of our property.  Before the next door property was sold, the owner removed the bridge to install a couple of large culverts under a new road. We got all that wood!  Some really cool stuff!  There's a lot of dry rot but there's also a lot of good wood.  We are hoping to use some of the big pieces (some of it 30' long!) to frame the front door and garage.
Rick measuring the bridge wood.

Another shot of the wood.  Despite the dry rot on the end the rest of it seems pretty sound.  We won't know for sure until we get out the chain saw and make some cuts.

Doesn't look like much but there's a lot of really good wood here!

I'm hoping this pile will at some point turn into a trestle table.

A couple of years ago a neighbor dismantled an old log cabin in the village.  These pieces will be vigas over the bedroom.

Another shot of the soon-to-be vigas.

I especially like the idea that pieces of our community will become part of our house.  It will help to make our house feel connected to the history of our village.

Here's the view from our road.  You can now see the beginnings of a house!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Measure Twice. . . 

House building is not for folks with OCD!  When I was taking adobe classes we were taught to make sure all our measurements were as correct as possible from the very beginning because errors made at the foundation stage would just get multiplied as the walls went up.  Sooooo - I measured and measured and measured and then measured again.  Then the wind would come up and all the foam insulation which made up the outside of the foundation would move - so I'd measure and move and stake things again.  Then the gravel went in and I would see that the forms had moved yet again.  So we made sure the strings were in the correct place.  As the house has progressed we continue to be somewhat obsessed with making sure everything is going in the right place.  (It wakes me up at night! <G>)

I have read accounts of home building where the owner/builder gets to the roof and the trusses don't quite fit or the roof is not quite square.  We have a good friend (hi Pat!) who has built somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 houses and I was asking her about tolerances and did she ever have to "fudge" things to get them to work and she just rolled her eyes and said "All the time!!!"  Then we get to the framing stage and notice that well over 30% of our posts are just a tiny bit twisted or bowed - or something - so we have FINALLY taken a deep breath and laughed at ourselves and realized that we are human, the materials we are using are organic and it will all come together somehow in the end!  That's not to say that we are not being as careful as we can possibly be but we're getting better about not letting it keep us awake at night!  I think that's progress.

So - on to framing!

Here we are with all the posts cut, clips attached to the tops and laid in place, ready for instillation.

This is the end of day one.  The south wall with the big adobe section and short trombe wall has been framed and the shorter south wall with the other trombe also got framed.

The inside of the house will have a pitched ceiling and to get an idea of just how tall the ceiling will be, especially in the living space, Rick held a 14' 2x8 upright.  Wow!  It's going to feel like a palace inside!

Day two.

The end of day three.  About 2/3 of the west wall is done.  It's taking us a little longer to do than we anticipated but we're plugging along.  We had some gusty wind during this framing session.  It's a little hairy to be on top of the scaffolding and have a 23mph wind gust come through!  We're being very careful!!!!

Here is Rick eyeing the fruits of our labor in the office.

The end of day three of framing.

Mother Nature Always Wins!

So says a friend of ours.  April 3rd dawned with 5" of very wet snow.  It will be a couple of days before things dry out enough for us to get back to work.

But it is beautiful and we do need the moisture!