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Building the house

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The best part about building the garage first, was that the mistakes we made did not cost a lot. I learned to plan more carefully to avoid tricky building situations. I also learned that it is not faster to build crudely with the idea of covering rough edges with trim later. Trim, whether around windows, doors, or the floor, is not only expensive and time consuming to execute well, it is also hiding sloppy work.

My attitude with building was that the basic structure should also be the finished product whenever possible. Time was the enemy. Streamlining all aspects ensured we could get it done is two or three years.

I spent the winter engineering ways to build that would fit this model. I made detailed sketches of every nook and cranny so that I would have a clear vision of problems to anticipate, and avoid. Ceilings, I learned, are a huge expanse that are a nightmare to finish off. We hung drywall in the loft of the garage and vowed NEVER to use that stuff again. It made more sense to work from the top down, not from the bottom up.

The roof of our house is a "cold roof". First, we set the beams, then laid 1x12 pine boards. Then a layer of Tyvek. Then 1/4 inch spacers, then 4 inches of poly-iso foam. The foam is held to the roof beams with 2x4's that are screwed to the beams with ten inch screws. Over the 2x4's is another layer of pine boards then asphalt shingles. A lot of work, but the inside ceiling never had to be touched. It was completed with the first layer of boards.

The first year of building the house began in April 2005. We worked on weekends until July, and managed to get all the framing done and set the rafters. I took two months off from work and Jaja and I spent most of July and half of August on the roof. After that, we set the windows and began shingling. Jaja did most of the siding and got it all done by November.

In between times Jaja spent hundreds of hours cleaning up the forest around the house. In all we took down about 150 trees, a result of building the road, clearing the building site, septic site and solar panel site. Jaja became a chain saw wielding pyromaniac who was constantly burning slash, cutting up trees and stacking fire wood.

I spent all of November and December wiring and plumbing so that we could install insulation, and the wood stove. During the winter I worked on getting the bedrooms habitable. In May 2006 I installed the on-demand gas boiler and for the for the first time ever we had hot water on our property. Our first shower was located outdoors as the bathroom shower was not completed.

Summer 2006. I took the summer off again and worked non stop. First, we laid tubing then poured a thin slab of concrete for the radiant floors. We rented a cement mixer. While Jaja mixed, I spread the stuff out. Later that summer I tiled the bathroom, tiled the kitchen and entry, put down the solid fir floor and built the staircase.

We officially moved in September of 06, although Jaja and I had been sleeping in the house for a year (even without heat or plumbing).

During the next winter, 06/07, I finessed a million details.

In April 07, I built and installed the kitchen cabinets bringing the house to 95 percent completion. ( the final 5 percent is killer). In two years I took only 5 weekends off, and during the summers we did 12 hours days non stop.

If we had known at the beginning how much work was going to be involved we would have build a much, much smaller house!!! As it is, the house is 1900 sq ft. A good size but involved.

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