Tag Archives: construction

We Wear Grass Skirts in Winter

or, I’ll Huff, and I’ll Puff, and I’ll Blow Your House Down

Winter is here, and frankly, we were late in being ready for it.

However, now we’re in good shape. Better than good. The plumbing and pipes have been returned to their previous non-frozen, liquid-delivering state. We are fully insulated (to say the least), the pipes are safe, we’re warm and cozy, and we have a new resident trapped under the RV. I’ve nicknamed him The 50-Below Heater. He’s a heater inside the underbelly and behind the wall of insulation, in case there is ever like, some freaky 50-below situation. And we brought home a new emergency heater. (No doubt, none of these things will ever be used, now that we’ve gone to the trouble.)

But what I really came to tell you about is our insulation adventure. And if I do say so myself, it is both functional and stylish. Big bales of straw, friends. Two feet deep and three feet long. Last year we used one-inch thick foam insulation board. Did the trick and we never froze, but I hate working with the stuff. This year we used straw bales. I don’t know exactly what the r-value of a two-foot thick straw bale is, but I’ll guarantee you it’s a hell of a lot higher than one inch of styrofoam.

Thart’s a larta straw bales!

You think it looks like an RV Tiki Bar?
I was going for a sort of manger/Christmas feel.
Or maybe it’s Cleopatra’s White Trash Barge.

Baby is decked out for Winter!

After packing in the straw bales very tightly and stuffing every single little crack, la Caravane de la Paille gets a layer of packed snow at the bottom to seal the deal.

This makes us completely okey-dokey down to however-much-below zero. It’s far more that we did previously, and we were fine down to 30-below last year. (In fact, when a few around-the-corner neighbors had frozen pipes, ours were fine.) Anyhow. This is far more than we very likely need to do. But an extra measure of security is nice to have, and truth be told, it was kind of fun. And besides, it’s unique and it looks super weird. After all, we have rep to protect!

“What are those lunatics in the RV doing now?!”

 

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An Existential Housing Crisis

Oh, hell. I don’t know.

I wish I were one of those people who just sees something and says, “That looks good. I’ll take it.” But I’m not. I’m someone who looks at all the options, and honestly, for me, there are too many options. We went out to the ‘Burgh and looked at a modular Cape-style 4-bedroom. It fits the footprint we’d like to build on nicely. It’s pretty. In fact, it’s gorgeous. Great price, and it includes everything except the foundation – cranes, utility hookups, cabinets, finish carpentry, the works. It’s a beautiful house. And still, it didn’t wow me. I didn’t “want it.”

I’ve been looking at A-frames for two weeks. Really, an absolutely ideal fit for the property, and an Alpine-style house would look terrific. But, I’m not crazy about offering passers-by a view of a big, two-story, black roof-wall for all time. There are some weird space issues inside, and I’ve started to feel, “If we’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on a house, I want space.” We love the look of the A-frames, we adore the novelty and the cool design. But I don’t feel like I “have to have it.”

I have a few really nifty frame house plans bookmarked to look at. Oddly, I don’t really care to investigate them right now.

I’ve mentioned that we’re looking into a home loan to a few banker-type friends. Sort of put it out there, talked about talking. You know, I can’t exactly say that I’m excited about it. I spoke to one friend partially in-depth, a prelim conversation. You’d think I would have gotten a little charge out of a finance professional telling me that this all sounds like a good possibility. But I really didn’t have much of a reaction at all.

Maybe we’re not house people. You’d think two creative people could come up with an idea for what sort of house they’d like. I dunno. I’m going to ignore it for a while. I’ll see what a builder friend says. Maybe we need to build a small, basic board-and-batten-box-with-a-bump-out, and then make it what we want it to be. I’m better when I have a starting point anyway. There are also bound to be modulars we can look at on the ground of the State Fair.

Perhaps it’s best to let it work itself out. When something is right, it’ll be right.

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A for Effort

Ask and ye shall receive. In fact, Friends, I do have the floorplan for that I-Hop looking A-frame house that I like so much. (Should we start calling it The Pancake House?) Here ’tis. Wheels are slowly turning. (Won’t this be a total downer if we can’t find a loan that works for us?) But, as I say, we’re investigating. Dare I say … the big giant hole from the old house is going to be filled at the end of August? We’re getting there!

Very clever the way they used the storage along the wall to take care of the slant in the kitchen, I thought. There’s a 12×12 loft on the second floor of this plan, but I figure you don’t need to look at a 12×12 square. Could be a ladder or a little metal spiral staircase up. The second plan under consideration is slightly different fit for the site. Much the same only it has a real staircase and small second floor (as opposed to just a loft).

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A House Without Walls

We’re crazy.

We like novelty. We are lovers of originality. Curiosities. Art. We want an A-frame house. An impractical, odd-looking, Alpined-out, pokey-pointy, I-Hop looking A-frame house. We’re on more solid ground this year, and we’re starting to think – in a very tentative way – about home loans. Let’s put it this way – If we get our courage up in the next few months, we might visit a few loan specialists.

Anyhow. Back to the A-frame. We’ve actually wanted one all along. When tossing that idea around out loud, I got a lot of negatives back. “You’ll have no vertical walls … the space is inefficient … too expensive … roofs are the most costly part of a house.”

I don’t really think so. You know how it is when you’re talking houses. Suddenly everybody’s a designer. At any rate – I have a suspicion that the naysayers are just plain wrong. I’m finding way too many builders that say A-frames are hands-down, the most cost-efficient of all home styles. After all, the roof is the walls – no wall framing, sheathing, siding. And I’m thinking, easy to heat.

As far as design goes, the odd interior space doesn’t bother me. Part of the whole A-frame milieu. I know some folks might not take to it, but I think it’s pretty neat. I figure you’re either an A-frame person or you’re not. On the outside, the shape fits our building footprint perfectly.

Another big plus is the limited amount of maintenance. Seriously. With the triangular shape and roof lines reaching to the ground, heavy snow loads are no big deal. No painting. No need to wash vinyl siding or take care of wood. And I like the extra living space in the loft. Spiral staircase, most likely. Don’t want to be climbing up a ladder when I’m 70.

The homes pictured here are maybe a little small for our plans. I found a reputable  blueprints/plans company that have stock plans for a 22×33′ house, which is just about exactly the footprint we’d like to build on. Need to get a quote for customizing, speak to bank-type folks and see if we’d be permitted to change a few things … altering windows and finishes and such. Need to check the foundation specs and such with our Codes Supervisor. All this work, and the thing is only a distant consideration!

Below is the front elevation from the actual house plan I’ve been looking at. I’d want it to be a little more Alpine (like the photo at the top of the page) and a little less California 60s Mod. Easy enough though. That’s all just windows and finishes, change the railing, add some verge board.

Generally need to get a handle on it all. It’s a pretty good Winter project, right?

You have a great day too!

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It’s Not the Little Things

It’s the big ones.

This Summer, anyway. The little things are getting done, bit by bit. I’ve been hauling more rocks (a little at a time, in the more hospitable temperatures of nearly-night) to get the rock walls done. The “Sunflower Forest” is growing nicely. (Freakishly, even.) The side yard grass is establishing nicely. The vegetables and perennials are growing well.

(The new section of rock wall, sunflowers, tansy behind)

Those are all little things.

As for the big things, I gotta get a plan going, no matter how much I don’t like it. The 40×40 house-hole is now about leveled off. I need to get a load of sand/soil to fill it. I need to cut up (a ton of) wood for use in the cabin during the Winter. And I need to get the last (huge) piles of junk house cut-up/hauled away/whatever.

Does it count as an Official Plan if I say I’ll get to it all when the weather is cooler?

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Poulet Palace Renovation Day

And I do mean day!

I took down last year’s old wooden Franken-pen, which had been cobbled together over the seasons. Started as a fence, gained a ramshackle roof, ended up covered on one side because it was so ugly. That’s it in the picture below, hanging off the side of the chicken coop, behind the cabin. So, anyhow, I tore down the enclosure, and moved the coop. Took all day, but it’s done.

Pretty ugly back there. Plus, if I move the coop and pen, I’ll have more room on this side.

It didn’t give up easy – took about two hours to get to this point – but it’s coming down.

The pen is gone! And the only way to move the coop is by the tilt-flip-and-spin method. Notice the boards I put underneath as sliders. I also have it propped up on a cement block, because it’s so heavy, I can only lift it a little at a time.

Meanwhile … well, they had to go somewhere. The girls camped out in the cabin. Let’s just say there was plenty of mess, but nothing I can’t clean up. More mess than I wanted, but not as much as I thought there would be.

I think we can safely cross “wire fence building” off the list of things I have a talent for.

But now, they have full sun and plenty of grass!

The old pen, reduced to a pile of boards.

Now, doesn’t that look better? I have so much more room over here now!

And I continued the rock garden border right to their door. This will be awesome once I get some perennials planted on either side. Doesn’t every palace deserve a grand entrance?

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Fortunes of Time

We went over to Lake Placid tonight, and had dinner out, thank you very much.

As things on the financial front have leveled out a bit, we felt that the least we could do for ourselves was go out to eat. Multiple choices of course, but we’d never been to the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, so we thought we would give it a shot. Decent food, good beer, and although the decor isn’t much to write home about, the brick floor entrance of the old church it’s housed in is to-die-for. I want to go to that Alpine looking steakhouse place next.

It’s unpopular around here to say it, but say it I will – I like Lake Placid. It’s pretty. They have nice things there. We have nice things in Saranac Lake too, and I choose to make Saranac Lake my “town,” because it’s more me, and I find it a little more real-life. But I don’t think that’s any reason to dislike Lake Placid on principle. I think it’s nice. So there.

We stopped by Ben & Jerry’s and had some dessert, took a little walk. I like the Christmas store (whatever it’s called), but tonight I stopped in my very favorite store  – Fortunes of Time. Whoever owns/stocks/designed this place sure had my number. I walk in the place and I feel like I am in some sort of bliss dream that might be titled, Ultimate Night of the Senses. The pinecone hanging bells, the scent of honeysuckle (or something) in the air, quiet music, hundreds of scented candles, woolen mittens, throws, trinkets, piles and piles of cozy and quaint. I came out the place tonight and said, “We need more money. I want some nice stuff.”

Speaking of the fortunes of time, we had a nice drive around Saranac Lake on the way back home. We looked at some houses for sale, learned a few new shortcuts, and discussed the fact that I have a meeting about a nice little-job possibility next week. (I ain’t sayin’.)

Now, we’re not exactly actively looking to buy a house in town. But you see, we’re possibilitists. We like to remind ourselves that with the proper amount of time and effort, most things are possible. Will we take out a loan to build a new house right here? Will we go with a small cabin instead? Will we finish the improvements and sell this property as a building lot? Will we buy a completely different house in town? Will we build small and keep the place here, while buying something similar in the South for Winters?

Anything’s possible.

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