We’re Still Building A House

We are still here. Somewhere in here. Yes; there we are. We are. Now…

It has been a whirlwind week with the whole crew on board ferrying along a slew of projects as we approach next week’s straw bale installation.

The dozen some-odd of us have sparred with flashing, both base and roof, wrestled with the soffit, prepared baseboards with nails for sheer wall strength, drywalled and mudded the trusses above where the straw bales will sit, restacked the very  bales themselves into a narrower, taller, raised pile, base blocked around the doorways, plugged plaster supporting nails all around the interior of the beams, and, you know what, I’ll just throw up a few pictures of our progress and describe a bit in the captions. That’ll have to be today’s sufficiency. It’s been three days on a hot “tin” roof and I am ready to rest these bones. Enjoy!

Teams of two have worked with diligence and swear words installing the soffit all week. Remember the earlier post about Dada cuts in the back of the fascia and the Ship Lap cuts on either side of the soffit planks? Well, here we are coming together; our beautiful soffit pieces, thoroughly brushed with a layer of linseed oil. This edible oil penetrates wood to create a base barrier against water infiltration. It also gives a lovely coloration to the wood as it ages. And it smells great. On your hands. Forever.

Teams of two have worked with diligence and swear words installing the soffit all week. Remember the earlier post about dado cuts in the back of the fascia and the ship lap cuts on either side of the soffit planks? Well, here we are coming together; our beautiful soffit pieces, thoroughly brushed with a coating of linseed oil. This edible oil penetrates wood to create a base barrier against water infiltration. It also gives a lovely coloration to the wood as it ages. And it smells great. On your hands. Forever.

And here is Leslie, the near-lone soldier who spent several days linseeding the planks before jumping on the installation process herself. Thank you Leslie!                        Do you see the nails in the high foreground dangerously protruding from the beam. With 1 1/2 inch extensions, these nails will settle firmly in the interior plaster providing the sheer support our home needs                      (Yes, sheer support. Do you hear that Building Commission? How's about we throw those into the plans next time. A code is only valuable if it is malleable. Thanks!)

And here is Leslie, the near-lone soldier who spent several days linseeding the planks before jumping on the installation process herself. Thank you Leslie! Also, do you see the nails in the high foreground dangerously protruding from the beam? With 1 1/2 inch extensions, these nails will settle firmly into the bales, providing part of the sheer support our home requires (Yes, sheer support. Do you hear that Building Commission? How’s about we throw those into the plans next time. A code is only valuable if it is malleable. Thanks!)

And here we have the space between. It is the space between the baseboards upon which our bale walls will rest. In the boards themselves we have more nails! Again, sheer support for the bales and the walls. The gap is considered a "weak spot," or an area where heat and cold exchange between the living space and the out-of-doors is a strong consideration. Thus, we have filled half of the gap with insulation. The other half, filled with gravel, is a safety measure. Like a smoke alarm. If it happens that water infiltrates the bale wall, either externally or internally, the gravel is situated so that any water running within and down the wall will be detectable from within the house where the gravel directs its flow (or trickle) to base seams in the wall. Now, this doesn't sound like a desirable scenario (and remember, it is unlikely) but it is much better than having your first indication of a problem appear on the base exterior of your house where you will not notice it until much later. For us, it's a neat trick. And an opportunity to lug still more wheelbarrow loads of gravel back into the house.

And here we have the space between. It is the space between the baseboards upon which our bale walls will rest. In the boards themselves we have more nails! Again, sheer support for the bales walls. The gap is considered a “weak spot,” an area where heat and cold exchange between the living space and the out-of-doors is a strong consideration. Thus, we have filled half of the gap with insulation. The other half, filled with gravel, is a safety measure. Like a smoke alarm. If it happens that water infiltrates the bale wall, from a source external or internal, the gravel is situated so that any water running within the wall will be detectable from within the house where the gravel directs its flow (or trickle) to base seams in the wall. Now, this doesn’t sound like a desirable scenario (and remember, it is unlikely) but it is much better than having your first indication of a problem appear on the base exterior of your house where you will very likely not notice it until much later. For us, it’s a neat trick. And an opportunity to lug still more wheelbarrow loads of gravel back into the house.

And here's the base flashing. Another barrier, half buried in places, against the elements. Though we try to incorporate the elements as much as we can into our home design, there are some things, somewhat ironically, we must keep out, ie- water flowing at ground level. Which doesn't seem to be too much of a problem in the desert, but it is there. Again, though, maybe we shouldn't think of this as a problem. It's better to approach the elements with a mind to cooperative design as well as an acceptance of what we are intending: a space existing liminally between what is and what we create. It is an ongoing thought process which incorporates ideas on materials and intention and what we are doing at all. It will be a continued topic in these web logs I promise.

And here’s the base flashing. Another barrier, half buried in places, against the elements. Though we try to incorporate the elements as much as we can into our home design, there are some things, somewhat ironically, we must keep out; ie- water flowing at ground level. Which doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem in the desert, but it is there. Again, though, maybe we shouldn’t think of this as a problem. It’s better to approach the elements with a mind to cooperative design as well as an acceptance of what we are intending: a space existing liminally between what is and what we create. It is an ongoing thought process which incorporates ideas on materials and intention and what we are doing at all. It will be a continued topic in these web logs I promise. Facing reality. Embracing reality.

Hey! Look at all that agricultural waste. It's going in your house. It's in the walls. It's in my shorts. It's everywhere.                     Please. No Smoking.

Hey! Look at all that agricultural waste. It’s going in your house. It’s in the walls. It’s in my shorts. It’s everywhere. Please. No Smoking.

Look at all that meticulously schematized and placed roof sheeting. Three days of hundred plus weather later, and we have partial finish roofing. The rest will come. For now, may we baste (*bask) in the glory of its reflection.

Look at all that meticulously schematized and lain metallic roof sheeting. Three days of hundred plus weather later, and we have partial finish roofing. The rest will come. For now, may we baste in the glory of its reflection. Bask.

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