Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What We're Up To

I said I was going to start my blog back up, and wrote a couple of little blogs and then…

Well, there’s this, that and the other thing! I’ve been working on the house as much as I can. Danny’s still looking for a job, which is tying up the computer a lot. And I’m spending a lot of time with him. This has been pretty stressful for both of us. So far, we’re OK with money, but with everything so uncertain, it’s hard to tell what “OK” really means. And on top of all that, I just haven’t been really sure what I wanted to put in this next blog.

We’ve got the roof on, and closed off the front of the house with greenhouse plastic. The greenhouse plastic is temporary. The front of the house needed to be closed off, and we just weren’t ready to plunk down the kind of money it would take to do that, so for a measly $500, I got the front closed off, the back of the living room where the brick still needs to be laid is closed off, the windows on the camper are sealed up for the winter, and I still have plastic leftover for whatever else I’ll need to do.

The Real Plan for the front of the house is to put some awning windows across the top with thermostatically controlled electric openers. Then the slanted part, which is where the greenhouse is, will be mostly glass across the front and solid wall down the two triangular sides. That will be a little ways down the road though.

The main things we’re working on right now are the pine log ceiling beams, the QuikWall on the inside, and installing the windows on the back and sides of the house.

The ceiling beams are going up slowly, as we have decent weather to cut the trees down, and trim them to fit. We’ve been cutting the pine trees for the beams in the house out of the woods on our property, starting with the floor beams for the bedroom and the upstairs bathroom. When we did the beams for the living room ceiling, we used mostly trees that had been blown over by the tornado. Before the tornado came, we’d already planned to thin out the pine trees in the woods and let the hardwoods kind of take over. Over the last few years, I’ve also been slinging the seeds, nuts and acorns of trees that I found interesting into the woods. Then when the tornado came through a lot of the pine trees were blown over. We used the ones we could and have been slowly cleaning up that mess. Most of them are too far dead to be used now, so we’ve gone back to cutting the suitable pine trees down. It’s going to take years before the forests around here recover from the tornado, ours included.

The QuikWall is a slow process. QuikWall, Surface Bonding Cement is a masonry material containing fiberglass that’s used to bond together block that has been dry stacked. Eventually all the concrete block surfaces, inside and out, must be coated with at least an 1/8 inch of this stuff. It’s heavy, and gritty, and I don’t like working with it!! I do like the way the finished wall turns out though.

And then there are the windows. I’ve still got 2 windows to go on the back of the house, and an arched window that goes over the front door. First of all, the window openings must have the QuikWall put on them. Then I have to put a wooden frame around the inside of the opening to screw the window to. I’ve been stuffing plastic grocery bags in the gaps between the wood and the concrete before I caulk them. Some of the gaps are over a ½ inch wide in places. OK! Maybe I could have gotten the walls a little straighter… So far I’ve been able to get the windows in using scraps of lumber I have on hand.

I think this has gotten long enough, so I’ll go ahead and post this for now. I’ll try not to take so long before I get the next installment up!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

BFF 144 Hindsight --> I Got It!!!!

Hindsight? Oh yeah, I got that! I’m wearing bi-focals for all my other sight, but my hindsight just keeps getting better!!!

My house isn’t finished, yet, not even completely dried in, and there are dozens of things that I can now say with all certainty, should have been done differently. That is, now that I know what I know now. I can’t count the times that I’ve said to myself, “If I were going to do this again, which I’m not, I would do this first or not do that at all.”

The outside walls are made from stacked concrete block held together with Surface Bonding Cement. On the outside of that is a layer of Styrofoam, covered with brick. My original plan was to seal up the bottom of the brick part of the wall so that no moisture would come in. That was dumb!!! No matter how water-tight you make a thing, it’s a good idea to have a place at the bottom for the water that does get in, which is what water does, to escape. I knew this. Daddy told me this a long time ago. So the first walls that I did, which fortunately are in the greenhouse, seem to be holding moisture. There was enough time in between that part and the next ones I did to show me the error of my ways. Now, I’m putting weep holes at the bottom of the brick and using gravel to back fill a good part of it. The SBC is reported to be water-proof, but I’m still kind of wishing I’d put some black stuff over that before I laid the brick, but the consequences of that remain to be seen.

And then there are the timbers! I’m still making this part up as I go along. At this point, I know that it’s best to cut them in the fall or the winter. The bark shouldn‘t be left on them to be removed later. Even if they aren’t getting directly rained on, they still need to be waterproofed. If they do get directly rained on enough, no amount of waterproofing will keep them from getting discolored some. And I’m not done yet, so I have the notion I’ll learn some more about that.

Daddy also told me that he hated to use ½” PVC conduit, ’cause it was so hard to put wire into. And I told myself, this isn’t Daddy’s job! Hell, I saved $30 or $40 using ½”. It wasn’t worth it. I struggled with that crap, but now the wire’s in it, and I’m a lot wiser.

That’s what hindsight is for, learning stuff. If we see what we should have done differently, hopefully we’ll know a little better what we should do in the future. Even if it’s not exactly the same situation, hopefully, we’ll be able to apply something we’ve learned from hindsight. Life should be an ongoing learning experience. That’s what growing is all about!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A New Beginning

I can’t decide if I should try to figure out where I left off on MySpace or if I should just start fresh. Since it would take some time to figure out where my old blog got saved, and even more time to go through and figure out where I was, I think I’ll just go from here.

For the last three years, I’ve been working on building my own house.  I'm not hiring contractors and standing around pointing out this or that, endlessly changing my mind, turning my building loan into a colossal mortgage that will have my husband and I barely keeping up with our debt for the next decade or more. I’ve worked some in the housing industry and I’ve seen this done a time or two.

What I have been doing in shoveling dirt, mixing concrete, stacking block, laying brick, running pipe and wire, and even harvesting and fitting timbers. What I want to do is tell you about that, not to brag about how smart, or tough, or hardworking I am, but so that you can see that there aren’t nearly as many things a person can’t do as it seems sometimes. I certainly don’t expect anyone who reads my blog to jump up and build their own house, but if they do, it will be very cool indeed. But if even one of my readers feels encouraged to learn how to do just one thing they’ve been wanting to have done and does it for themselves… YAY!!!!

I’m very fortunate in that I live in a place where there aren’t too many government regulations on home building. This is good for me since I’m building for myself. I have to say, this would be bad if I was buying a house, since builders in this area can and do take shortcuts, compromising the quality, durability and even safety of the homes they build. In most parts of this country a person could not enjoy such freedom to design and build how he (or she) saw fit as I have and still expect to stay on the grid. And in some cases a person couldn’t get away with it at all.

So this isn’t going to be a how-to thing. There’s lots of that stuff on the internet. I know, ‘cause I’ve done a lot of my research on the internet, that and a crazy selection of old books found at yard sales, flea markets and used book stores. This is the story of the ups and downs of what even today seems like an incredibly crazy idea!!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm Back!!!!!!!!

This is my first Blogger Blog, and for now, I'm just gonna say, "Hi!!!!"  Hopefully, I'll have a Real Post tomorrow!!!  HUGZZZZZZZZZZ Everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!