As Doug and I start to build our house, I find myself thinking about my parents first building project. When my parents married, my father built their first house out of two Sears pre-fab garage kits.
His father and uncle helped him, and they did every bit of the work themselves.
Doug and I are not building our new home by ourselves. We are working with many different specialists: architects, cement shapers, timber framers, carpenters, straw-balers, plasterers, stone masons, excavationists, electricians, plumbers, people who sell wood burning stoves, and solar heating systems, people who etch concrete and make cabinets and millers.
Many of these people are willing to let us work with them as enthusiastic assistants. That’s what feels right to us. We will hopefully end up in a house that, while we didn’t do everything ourselves, we will understand every step and have a hand in as many of the building processes as possible.
This fall and winter, our major job has been completing the floor in the loft of the barn so that we can move most of the things that have made their home on the barn floor up and out of the way. The barn floor will become the timber framers’ workshop. Our builder wants to start shaping timber frames this January.
Flooring the loft, which looked reasonably simple before starting, turned out to be a complex and labor intensive project, (see my post Salvaging Old timbers for a New Barn Floor
We finished securing the last batch of 2-inch thick planks into place on New Year’s Eve day.
The next step was to get a railing up. I don’t want anyone to tumble from our newly completed loft to the concrete below. My imagination is too vivid for my own good. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty ….
Originally we were planning to make the railing out of some interesting saplings we have been collecting, but that would have taken a lot of time – and time is in short supply at the moment. So we settled for a more conventional railing design.
We were able to get pine “2×4”s for the railing from the Ridgeway Lumber Company, in the little town of 660 souls a mile north of our land. It isn’t locally sourced wood, like the wood in the house will be, but we did support a local business that is run by very friendly and helpful people.
I wish I could end this with a photo of our clean, and empty barn floor, but it doesn’t exist yet.
Our next task is to pick a major fight with gravity, and lug all the stuff that has accumulated on the main floor up to the new loft for the duration of the building project.
Shaping the timber frame can then begin!
It was so exciting to walk among the timbers in late December with our architect and builder and decide which forked timbers will be used where in the house. (See my post Turning Trees into Unmilled Timbers. ) I’m going to be following my favorite trees all the way through the process.
Categories: TALES FROM OUR 44 ACRES
Your barn looks beautiful. My own memories are filled with the scent of my father’s tobacco. It may not be politically correct, but I was sad when he gave up smoking a pipe.
Yes, I feel the same. Just remembering my grandpa’s pipe conjours all kinds of memories of the wonderful smell of his little barn with three milking stations, the chicken house, fresh mown hay, the diesel tractor fumes, and home-made sasafrass tea. they all smelled great to me, but the diesel and the pipe smoke, and probably other smells as well were not exactly health promoting.
Do you have time to develop a pulley system? Hope so as I’m sure it will help lug all that lot up to the next floor
A pulley sounds like a good idea, but we’ll probably just start hauling. Some things can be rolled around the outside of the barn because it is built into a hill, and the loft comes out onto higher ground in the back. It’s going to make for a good aerobic day or two, that’s for sure.
Thanks for the old photos. Those Sears home kits are an amazing part of our history of building homes in this country. And it’s great that you have those photos of your family building the home that they lived in. Many of those houses still exist, and I lived in one in Madison for awhile in the 80’s. It’s still there!