Thursday, May 6, 2021

A few from the Inside


Is it time for another laundry shot?


The "shop" in the living room downstairs. I won't tell you now how long it was that the shop stayed there...

There was a sort of "office" upstairs, hopefully away from sawdust. It was necessary to have a computer on site for any sudden changes that needed to be made. Changes were first drawn on the SketchUp model to see if it would work, and if we would like it. We may have made some mistakes, but it would have been worse if we had not had the digital version of our house to work on first! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

All kinds of Jacks

 Well, from up there I looked down...let's see what was going on!

 (Isn't that deck beautiful?)

 It was time to put the actual deck supports in. Yes, the entire 40 x10 deck was being temporarily held up by 2x6's.

Problem was, the concrete pour was too far off. So jacks were employed (the "Jack of all trades" kind and the hydrolic kind) to shift the huge block where it needed to be for the post installation.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The View from Up There

 With the stairs in, finally someone ladder-shy like myself could get up and see the view!

We put in as many windows in the front of the house as we could to capture the valley view... a decision we would actually later partially regret! More on that in far future posts!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

A Way Up

 The doorway looks scary I know! But inside good things were happening!

As inferred in the last photos, we had a way up to the second floor that we could ALL use at last.  Yes, the stairs were finally going in.

But plans changed in the type of stairs... instead of the traditional saw-tooth stringers and 1" treads, we did thick, beefy 4x12 treads cut from beams and screwed in the sides by long timber-screws.


Here you see the stairs in progress. The lack of bottom steps didn't stop me from climbing on up! 

Our friend from Alaska helped make a jig that put a nice profile on each tread. When I find a photo of the profile (if I find one) I will try to post it. 

We were inspired to change from the usual stair treads by a visit to a local old mill. The industrial stair treads there were shiny coated, substantial pieces of timber and got us to thinking differently. In the end, it is a style that really goes with the house.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Summer "Windows"

 It's nice to go back and think about summer right now, when it is still getting into the 20's at night here!

 If you look carefully, you can see the hanging basket of pretty flowers we were given, hanging off the end of the hammock on the deck. Those flowers were moved about a bit (to get them out of the way) and surprisingly lasted a long time before the deer discovered them. 
I look at that pile of lumber in the foreground, and with the current shortage and huge prices of lumber, am glad that we were able to get a house built when we did! We are still in need of lumber this year, but are going to shift focus to getting those piles of rocks and dirt shaped into a nicer landscape. It might be cheaper!

A happy Fourth of July photo, taken by a friend.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Cast Iron Beauty

Lots of photos for you today. I wanted to get this into one post since this all happened in one afternoon.
Beautiful, isn't it? I found it on Craigslist one day, and for a good price. The seller had tried it as a garden tub for an out-door bathing experience, but the bees were a problem.
A quick call and all my fine fellows assembled to help me get it home.
Good ol' minivan. The consensus was that this tub weighed 400 pounds. Not sure about that but it kept that reputation for a long time. It is just one of the items that I can brag on my minivan for carrying without complaint.
A nice steady rain was falling; just in time for carrying a smooth, heavy tub around.
Observe this group carrying the tub up this hill; this scene will occur again many times, with other objects. (Too bad that the van never was able to make it up the driveway.)
All ready to hoist it 3-4 feet up onto the deck, then into the house.
And there it is in all its vintage wonderfulness, and deepness, ah just to think of soaking away stress in it! But I will not get your hopes up. Sighs abound just looking at the photo, but for more than one reason now. In all the time that this tub was on the premises, I never got to use it. That is a story for another, far-off day so you will have to check back in the future!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Coming In

Out to the lake one hot afternoon,to wade and swim. 

Then on to indoor things while the weather turned colder:

A friend who had much experience building stairs lent us his special tool for getting the treads right.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Porch Decking



As you will see, the porch will help this facade greatly. And of course windows!

The view from the front door opening.

 I didn't get many photos of when the decking was put on, or else they are on someone else's camera. But as you can see we started using the porch ASAP.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Porch Joists (and a bit of a rant about regional architecture)

 My it takes me a while to get back into a blogging routine after a break! It doesn't help, I suppose, that the family has been distracted watching scammer payback videos on YouTube. At least it has made me aware! Always unplug your router if one of them gets control of your computer! Better yet, just hang up if it's Microsoft!
But anyway, I could have been blogging.

One sunny day in June, the porch was getting underway!

We are porch advocates! We knew that we did not want a skimpy porch. Ours is ten feet deep, and forty feet long. If you want to have an outdoor eating area, a mere four feet deep will not do! A nice long, deep porch is also good for children to play on when it is too rainy to run around in the yard.

Now for the rant: the state I live in is known for its rain complaints. I have seen many moldy, dry-rotted houses on the rainy side of the mountains. It did not take me long living here to wonder, why aren't porches part of the vernacular architecture? Specifically, wrap-around porches. They would extend the life of siding, keep the damp feeling down on the inside of the house, and allow the inmates of the house a dry place to walk around and get some exercise in the wet winter. As it is, not a lot of people venture out-of-doors when it is drizzly. A wrap-around porch could bring about healthier movement in wintertime.

Now, not having been here a hundred years ago, I might be completely mistaken in this judgement. Perhaps they did have wrap-around porches then, but they have since rotted away themselves and not been replaced. I know that the new houses have very small porches, if any, and most not more than a dark cave-like corridor to the front door. The rain is still a problem and the architecture has not reflected the solution.

On the other side of the mountains, where the sun shines most of the year, a deep porch is important for the shade and I think I see more porches around. Reminds me of that old Aesop's fable of the quest to get the man's coat...guess the sun still wins.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


 I can't believe I took such a long break!  I am still wrapping up spring cleaning... and nothing like a major time change to mess life up for a week. I'm ready to toss out DST, it's an overdue reform in my opinion. 

So where did I leave off...oh yes it's time for more laundry. I guess I took a lot of photos of the laundry because it was often in a different place... I couldn't dry it outside; because of lack of landscaping the dust swirled everywhere. 

I tried to keep it out of the way of major house-building, but we were slow enough that I could use my indoor clothesline often.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Porch Foundations

 Ledger board bolted to the foundation.

I had wanted a porch on this property before the house... the shade is invaluable in the summertime!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


Besides the decking, we had a load of 4x12's sitting in the house. This is because we saw some thick stair treads at a local old mill. We thought that would be a unique way to do our stairs... but I think these were twice as thick... 

(Interesting to note that these giant boards varied wildly between under and over 11"... I knew that lumber wasn't really what it is labeled, but I didn't think it could be an inch and a quarter short in places....)

Monday, February 22, 2021

Rainy Day Blues

 Porch prep... and the porch foundations were swimming a bit in the spring rains...

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Monday, February 15, 2021

Our Laundry Moves In Before We Do

 Families should never move their stuff in during construction! Never never never! Builders don't like having to clear out toys, appliances and boxes when they are trying to get something done.

(I'm sure that the boys loved seeing a hammock move in on top of the decking, or trip over a toys on their way to the window...)

But when you have so many people living in an RV, some bit of normal life has to spill out somewhere, and it naturally goes to the nearest building, be it a shed, garage, or house. 

It was about this time I realized that we should have built the garage first. 

One thing was for certain: trips to the laundromat were going to add up to a fortune, and we needed our own laundry facilities on-site. 

(Turns out hammocks are great drying racks for a family's worth of socks...)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Close to Home

Some very generous-hearted church members let us not only rent their RV, but move it onsite. I still can't think of it without crying. We will always be so thankful for them! 

Alas, the driveway turned out to be way too steep for anything but 4WD vehicles. The placement of the RV pad had to be changed from next to the house to below it. This involved a long time in making a new clean out and water supply, and getting it approved. The driveway had to be cut into, becoming a wide path, and a pad built. A friend did all the tractor work.

Here we parked our temporary home. We hoped that this would speed up the house-building somewhat, as we could skip the 40 minute drive in the evenings and weekends.

(From time to time I may post a little tip about RV living, as things come to my memory...)

Tuesday, February 9, 2021


Since we often spent all Saturday at the site, we set up a dining room table. It was made from the last piece of subflooring, leftover from that day that we finished laying the first floor. Turns out a table in the house was handy for more things than mealtimes, though sometimes it was in the way!

Monday, February 8, 2021

That Handy Foam Board: the Stairs

Foam Board comes in handy again! 

Yet another adjustment: because of changes on the second floor flooring, which triggered Murphy's Law and the Domino Effect, the stairs were going to end up coming out further than we had planned on. This was more than a disappointment, it was a potential annoyance, akin to someone sticking their feet way out in the path when you are trying to walk through the living room.

But, it was also an opportunity. 

If the stairs had to come down that far, could we not do something fun with them? 

What about a landing that turns the stairs, but has a little seat to sit on and overlook the living room? Could there be a little peek into the kitchen from a seat? We decided that would take up too much space.

Could they be a different shape? Do something different on the way down?

Again the foam board came in handy for design decisions.

Maybe they could come out and get wider, sort of a "grand entrance" feel.
Or maybe they could sweep off to one side or another.
This was close to what we built in the end. But, you never know, that idea of the landing seat might still come to pass! 


Monday, February 1, 2021

That Handy Foam Board: Kitchen Planning

Foam board sure came in handy many times. From RV insulation to kneeling pads for the builders, we always had some hanging around. It also came in handy for the "kitchen."

We were in a bit of a hurry to get the plans made and then submitted for the house, so the kitchen was a rough sketch at best (this would come back to bite us later, of course). It is something that takes a great deal of thought and design. With two cooks in the kitchen, it had to be a design that we agreed on as the most useful for our own ways of doing things. That was a lot of conversation! 

 I did do some reading on kitchen planning; and, taking warning from one designer's mistake, made sure I knew where the garbage can would go at the very least. Other than the plumbing and the big windows (light from two sources is an important home design tip), it was just a big, blank room ready to have a finalized design.

Some dimensions naturally change as you build. Finding that the kitchen columns, for instance, have to be scooted just a bit (which messed up one of our designs some) or that the window size had to shrink because of cost can send you back to the drawing board in a hurry to design compromises.


 But I wanted to know what it would be in real life; so we took the foam board and cobbled together a kitchen! A full-size fridge and freezer seemed to just loom over me on one wall. I found that tucking "them" into the corner felt better in person.

What do you think worked best? I'll have to let you know someday how it all turned out, stay tuned:)

Thursday, January 28, 2021


 The next month it was back with the pick-ax... this time for the foundations forms for the porch!