We spent most of last year finishing Randy's barn (our "practice house") and continuing to clear the driveway on our property. The old shack has been completely torn down, without the use of power tools, only Jeff, a hammer, and a crowbar. Jeff found a load of concrete chunks on Craigslist, and had it dropped off to use in raising up the low spots around the front of the drive. (Funny enough, we realized after the fact that the load came from the old gas station right at the end of our road here!) We also chose a building site, and it didn't result in marital strife!
After the barn was completed, in November, we lacked direction. Jeff and Randy were just cutting what wood they had, stacking the beams up in piles. Then, the neighbor at our property, who owns a tree service, dropped off 4 dump truck loads of trees in Jeff's parents' backyard. (If I were Linda, I would have FREAKED.)
It just so happened that right after their backyard became logging insanity, Randy found out he had to have bypass surgery. In a panic, Jeff began thinking of others who could come and help him out with all of these trees. If there's one thing Jeff can't do alone, it's move trees and hoist them onto the sawmill! He thought to call Corey, who just happened to need flooring for his barn. What do you have a lot of when you are cutting beams from the middle of trees? 1 bys. The two of them worked through the piles. Randy was stuck... and antsy.
It was at this point that Randy came up with an idea to let us mock up the first floor of our house in his backyard. Yes, build it in the backyard. Remember, this is not a typically built home. It isn't built with nails, but with jointed and pegged beams. We would be constructing the house, numbering the pieces, and then moving them to the site.
Randy also contacted the county about building the house on a foundation of pillars. Because we haven't sold any of our houses at this time, we don't have any money. A foundation is, well, a pretty important step in building a house. So, we are trying to come up with a creative way to begin building our house, before we have a lot of money to spend. Of course, we could always come back and close it in for a basement, but we could get started now... and getting started is the first step towards getting finished!
As he began feeling better, Randy and Jeff cut the corner braces for the house. We need about 80 braces. Each 6 ft 3 x 8 will have a decorative arch. This was a trick. A jigsaw wouldn't work, so they borrowed a portable band saw. This didn't work, either, since it was designed for metal. Randy saw, online, that someone used a skill saw for the arch. To their surprise, it worked. It was tricky because they had to make a cut from the top and a cut from the bottom, lining them up in the middle. To compensate for this, they cleaned it up with a chisel and sander.
Currently, they have finished 25 braces.
Jeff, Randy, and Corey have cut about 1/2 of the 4 huge dump truck loads of trees. From this, they have cut all of the needed foundation beams. (For those concerned, we will be treating it all with Tim-Bor.)
Jeff had a shoulder injury from a bout of drunken bar boxing back in college, and it has worsened over time. He is now doing six months of physical therapy to try to strengthen the incredibly loose/torn tendons and whatnot. Needless to say, that shoulder has been slowing him down in the past few months! Hopefully, it will continue to improve... and we will continue to plug along.... in spite of our lack of funds!