Thursday, April 30, 2009

Building a strong foundation

Well, the log peeling for our first order of logs was a breeze! Maybe partly because it is cypress, but also because they sat for a year, the bark came off in really large chunks. We just got it going, prying it up along the way with our spuds, and then we could pull off long strips of it. That was actually kind of therapeutic, in a wierd sort of way...

Since the logs are peeled, we have been focused on building the foundation for the garage apartment. Stewart is working closely with a concrete guy who is teaching him as they go. They built the form for the wall, which was quite a process, all so it can have concrete poured in and then torn down. It sure looks good though. We are also doing some of the basic plumbing that goes underneath the slab, and hopefully tomorrow will get the slab poured. Although, it is supposed to rain, so we will see. We are chipping away every week, and enjoying the process as we go. We've also started cataloging our logs too. 10 down, 50 to go...

Since we have all this beautiful cypress bark in large, long chunks, we are entertaining our creativity in what we can do with it all. We have a few ideas.... We certainly don't want it to go to waste! =)

Above is a picture of the concrete wall for the garage, and below is our driveway with the leaves starting to come in.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Now it begins!

Here is the beginning of our journey... We have been married now for 7 years, and it is so fun to look back on the conversations we had when we were just friends, before we were ever engaged. Us talking about the fact that among the many unique dreams and visions we shared, building a log home was one of them. But not just building a log home, building a log home ourselves, with our own two hands from scratch.... I still remember the fleeting vision I had of us building our own log home. Four years later from that moment, we stumbled across the Log Home Builders Network, in Washington state, who was teaching seminars on building your own log home, debt free!! You better believe we were excited! The thought of it filled us with inspiration. We have always wanted to be debt free as well! And with the economy the way it is, that dream becomes even more enticing.

We went to the log home builders course, and began the process of thinking through the journey. We had a house at the time we would need to sell, find some land, and start designing the house. After much searching, we found some land about 50 minutes outside of Birmingham in the country. An absolutely beautiful area. We bought just enough that we could pay cash for it, 2.5 acres of woods, across from beautiful pasture land and yellow leaf creek, which dumps right in to a perfect place for waterskiers like us, the Coosa River.

After we bought the land, we decided we would put our house on the market and at the same time bought an RV to put on the property to live in while we build the house. It's a great RV, 37 foot, a washer & drier, a dishwasher, a nice roomy shower, a woman's dream for an RV! We put our house up for sale, and within 24 hours we were in a bidding war between two couples! It was unreal! The price was going up, up, up! We sold the house the next day and headed to South America for a month! (We love the jungle, so headed down there for a vacation traveling around Ecuador). When we got back, our electricity and water was not hooked up yet at the property, so we ended up staying with my (Rachel's) dad & brother, just until it was all hooked up and ready for us to move out there. Or so we thought.......

Three years later, brings us to the beginning of this year, 2009. We are still living at my dad's, which has been such an awesome experience, such a joy, and such a blessing. We are under the same roof with my dad, my brother Taylor, my other brother Jackson when he is home from the military, our friend Pat, 2 Doberman's, and a shitzu.... We have a lot of fun here.

Since we have been here, we have had the awesome blessing of putting our mortgage in savings every month, while at the same time collecting building materials, and getting prepared to start the house. We were searching for our logs for quite some time, trying to get logs at a super price. That has taken some time. We finally came across some cypress logs that we decided were willing to wait for. They are in a swampy area that has been too wet to get in there to cut them. We have had so much rain here in Alabama lately! In the process of waiting for logs, we designed our house and started collecting all kinds of materials. We have gotten some incredible deals on some cool treasures! Recently, we decided we would build a garage apartment first, since our loggers had some cypress available that has been sitting our their land for a year. Turns out it's just the amount we need for the garage. A garage apartment was actually our original plan, and we decided since they had some cypress already available, we would proceed with the garage apartment, and then live in that while we build the house. We'll have the RV out on the property that we can stay in while we are building, so we don't have to drive back to the house (it's about an hour drive). And, the more we think about it, the more we are glad we are building the garage first. We our basically building a much smaller version of the house, so we'll be able to work out all the kinks, so by the time we build the house, it will be like our second project, so we will know what we're doing by then.

So, we proceeded to design the garage apartment plan. Once the plans were certified, we got the cypress delivered to our property in the pouring rain (it could have been ugly, but worked out fine). We got the logs delivered 3 weeks ago, so we have been busy peeling them. We have also been working on the foundation for the garage. Cypress has so many positive characteristics, but one good thing about these cypress, I guess b/c they have been cut a year ago, the bark almost comes off by itself! Can't beat that. We've been peeling 2-3 days a week for 2 weeks, and only have 10 more to peel!

We have been waiting and dreaming about this adventure for so long, it's crazy to think we are finally fulfilling the vision that has been in our heads and our hearts for so long. We hope you will enjoy our blog as much as we do! Come out any time to help or if you just want to come watch!

Here a a few pictures of our progress so far... Forgive me, but I'm still learning how to use this blog. The first two pictures are of our property. 1) Where the house is going. 2) Our driveway heading towards the house. 3) The footers for the house foundation. 4) The pier block foundation for the house. 5) Our first load of cypress logs for our garage apartment being delivered. 6) Our garage logs layed out wherever we could find room. 7)Friends D. and John out to experience log peeling. 8) Rachel's dad Jim out peeling logs. 9) Footers for the garage foundation.