Moving on Up: Early Days on the Diagonal, Part 7

(This is the seventh in an eight-part series about our early attempts at modern homesteading. If you’re just tuning in, you may want to start back at the first one and work your way forward.)

We’re using a post-and-beam construction technique. It’s the easy way to go for the open floor plan we’re set on. After putting in floor joists, we begin work on our posts. Lifting them into place is a struggle—each post is made up of three 2×6 boards that are ten feet long, weighing almost 150 pounds each. That’s a lot for the two of us to manage without proper equipment. As physical as the work is, it’s not enough to keep us warm on fall days.

img068

The first post has been successfully raised.

On October 5, as we begin the fourth month of our adventure, we raise the last of the twenty first-floor posts. The same day we’re surprised to look out over the field and spot our first snowfall of the season; leaves are just now beginning to change color.

Beam-lifting turns out to be another feat requiring engineering creativity. Eleven-foot lengths of built up 2×10’s are even heavier than the posts and have to be lifted eight feet up to attach to the posts. Relying on ladders makes us nervous as we fit and nail beams and posts together.

With the beams in place, we can install the tongue-and-groove upstairs floor, which will also serve as the downstairs ceiling. We don’t have a floor downstairs yet, but one upstairs is necessary to get on with the next steps. My parents lend helping hands again.

img009_edited_2

Our nearest neighbor and his dog come to watch when the septic tank and water reservoir are installed in late October.

Back in the shed, it’s gotten pretty chilly. We have a small electric space heater, but with an open doorway and our flimsy structure, it heats the rest of the county, too. Just for the sake of warmth, we usually dress for the the next day before we hop into our sleeping bags each night.

The fall colors are enchanting. Clouds drift by, creating fascinating patterns of light and shadow on the mountains, Nature’s kaleidoscope. It’s so mesmerizing often we find it hard to focus on work.

Second floor posts and beams go up, followed by beams to support the ceiling and roof. To work on these, we lay a 2×10 board across the lower beams as a precarious scaffold of sorts.

After adding upstairs ceiling boards, we close in the structure with plywood and blackboard—hanging precariously around the sides, under the bottom, and over the top to do so—all because we lack scaffolds and sufficiently long ladders.

img014_edited-1

We rig up a pulley system to pull plywood and blackboard into position, then nail it in place from inside.

pict0053.jpg

We have to stay ahead of the weather, so my parents come for one last weekend of feverish work adding roof rafters, insulation, and plywood to support our shingles.

house-12_20_1979_edited

We add plywood to the front center for structural stability and begin framing for glass.

By golly, it’s actually beginning to look like a house.

(Stay tuned for the next episode of Early Days on the Diagonal.)

2 thoughts on “Moving on Up: Early Days on the Diagonal, Part 7

  1. I found this installment of the series absolutely fascinating. And the accompanying photos are exceptionally cool. What an undertaking! And your sense of accomplishment must have been off the charts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Leslie. You’re absolutely correct. Writing this series has made me realize we
      all need to stop what we’re currently up to more often so we can take a look back to remember, rejoice, and reflect. Good for the soul, I think.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s