I am building my first home. Lucky me because it is in the woods! It is an adventure I surely will not forget.

Me with Rory

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sand truck Round Robin

The sand trucks are going to start coming in tomorrow morning. I hope I can get to sleep tonight! The sand is for the leach field (septic system) and a huge part of this project. Well, honestly, everything seems like a huge part of this house building project. If u are out my way...bring cold water, we will need it. lol
5 trucks with four loads each will start arriving at 8am tomorrow. That is just tomorrows load. Whew.
Probably going to need 800 yards total. Let's all pray that that is all we need.
20 yards per truck. 400 yards tomorrow. At $11.00 a yard plus 8%tax. To be paid at end of each day.

From the folks who would deliver on my Hill, prices came in (plus 8% tax) at 16.50, 13.00 a ton, 12.00, 11.90 with no tax (sign capital improvement paper), and the winner at 11.00 a yard.

I am almost sick to my stomach. As super excited I am, I am also very nervous. It is a ton of money all at once! I like things spread out....like 10 dollars here, 5 dollars there. lol

County came back out today and was so nice. He said I could leave it the way it is (that Sammy staked already) or move it 15 feet. Sammy and I agreed to split the difference.
Sammy had chosen the most perfect spot that was very level. County thought if we went into the knoll more we would save on the fill for over the pipe from the septic tank to the field. So the way it is staked now works great on its own, but we may be able to maximize the fill for later by tightening it up closer to the knoll now. County, Sammy, and me all agree it is probably 6 of one a half dozen of the other.

Wish me luck. I should bring my respirator, at least dust masks for tomorrow. I bought some of the medical kind as they are flatter and don't fog up my glasses as much as the contractor type do.
I will be chipping branches while Smiley is excavating and the truckers are coming in and out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sammy swears he is coming this Friday and Saturday to cut trees. He said maybe Thursday, but definitely Friday. Yahoo!!!!

I told him I want to get the sand leach field in this coming week, so that it will happen while bro is here to help me. Even if it is to check specifications, etc., or see how many truck loads really arrive, whatever.

If he is able to help out that will be great. I still would like him to cut more hardwood and red pines and some small white pines.

1. Leach field and roadway should be cut down first. Building site last.

2. Leach field tree stumps should be cut flush to ground.

3. Roadway tree stumps should be cut flush to ground for vehicle to drive over (or pulled).

4. Anything tagged with an orange tape is to be cut down.
If it is hardwood, it needs to be cut into stove lengths.
If it is red pine it should be topped and de-branched.

1. Any small white pines (too small for lumber) with a yellow ribbon should be cut down into stove lengths.

The leach field is now 100 x 60 and is perpendicular to Rt 32. I have placed red flags at approximate corners.

We still need area around leach field for heavy equipment access and for Health Dept. request to allow sun and wind to get at leach field for evaporation. This means no shade over leach field.

We have to use our best judgement as to whether some additional trees need to go. We do need room for 10’ high by 8’ wide dump trucks to get in and dump. This means raising the dump box. They must be on level ground to dump.

As for building site, we need truck access to deliver logs/materials, staging area for logs and other equipment, materials, and possible shed.

The most current deal I have with Sammy (since it has changed a few times) is: I am paying him by the hour and Saw Mill is paying me for the logs. Sammy and he are working out transport since apparently one hires a logging truck separate for this. I suggested Logger friend, but Sammy says Logger hires the transport truck, too. The transport guy/truck is someone the sawmill guy uses. Too many and too big for Sammy to trailer. So that is how it stands right now.

BIL cut down two huge red pines yesterday. The sky opened up and we got soaked before the second one got topped.

Had to get another gallon of bar oil ready to go. Get those chainsaws sharpened.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pieces of log

One of the neighbors came by last night to see what white pine I was giving him. He is going to come in and get some of the cut up logs out of there for me. I have so much wood all cut up and ready for an outdoor wood burning stove. Thank goodness I finally found someone who wants it.
Last year an old timer came by and asked me about the wood. He said he could use it in his garage stove. I didn't know yet what I was going to do with it so I passed, but this year I went by to see him and he said he won't need it anymore.
I tried BIL figuring he knew people, but he said no. I asked the guy who lives in the garage and the boyfriend of his neighbor. I asked around, swearing I asked the other neighbor already.
Nope, I guess not. So finally I asked and whala! They want it. I am so glad because I hate to see it sit and rot around the perimeter of my property.
He was going to come up the hill this morning before he goes away for the weekend and get the few dead logs and fresh cut ones out of the work areas. Then he'll come back another day for some more.

Monday, May 24, 2010


BIL came out and chainsawed some trees and I, of course being the worker...hauled them into the appropriate piles. He is going to come out again tomorrow or Wed to hopefully finish up this round.

Big news is that the County came out today to meet up with Sammy and me to discuss the leach field. He and Sammy measured the wooded area and came up with a new plan. It is a little better than what was first expected. It is still going to be 4' deep of septic sand, but it is going to be a little smaller than before. Yahoo! Every foot smaller perimeter is a few hundred/thousand dollars less!

Sammy said the local saw mill will pay for pine right now. He said everyone is looking for it right now! Yahoo! 'Cause a while back no logger was paying for white pine. I am soooo glad that the sawmill wants it for money. I will be paying Sammy for labor to get these babies out of the woods, but it is supposed to be less cost than what I will be receiving back from the mill.
As long as it doesn't cost me anything, I am happy. And if I make something on it... A LOT of something $$$$$, then so much the better because I need money for the septic sand.

County says the sand only costs 2 or 3 dollars a yard, but it is the trucking that costs so much.
I wonder how many pick up truck loads I would have to make to get enough sand to make the leach field. I would have to start now and if I shoveled it off...I would be working on it 'til Kingdom Come.

I better let the dump trucks, excavators, and bulldozers do it.
I am getting excited to think I might actually get the sand field in before Bro gets here from his trip to Maine. That is my goal. I think it will be a nice surprise for him.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oh My...

I just spoke with the nicest man from Appalachian Log Homes. They are in Nashville Tennessee. Lord I wish he was here so I could meet him.

I called to ask if I can use a log preservative now while the logs are still drying. Now that I am peeling all these logs I want to make sure that they don't get ruined by my wrong doing in storage, etc. This guy told me what to do about everything. Yeah for nice people.

When he said to go to a salvage yard to get some old tin rooging, I knew I was in love. He must know me psychically or something. As it happens we saved all the tin roofing from my Mother's house when the contractor replaced it with new.

I will be off to the farm to drag it all up to Cope. H. to cover my peeled logs. He also told be about putting spacers (dryer sticks in the trade) in between the logs and they I can stack another row.
He also directed me away from a preservative until the logs are dryer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


We began really making some headway in getting trees down. It is unfortunate we have to take down as many trees as we have to, but I am glad it is all working out great. We are using all the hardwood, or will be, as firewood since I'll be heating with wood. Hopefully all of the red pine will be used in the house construction itself. Most all the huge white pines will be going to a saw mill.

I am getting over the shock of tree felling as much as possible. My original romantic idealism of being in the woods is turning into realistic stuff now. I mean the idea of living in the woods is to live in the woods. But first you have the county issues for the leach field whereas they want a huge leach field and then they want a clear perimeter around the field in order for the sun and wind to get at it and keep it dry.

Next, is the issue of the house. Well, it all seems well and good to build in between the trees, but you have to take some down for the house itself, and then some more for the driveway, and then some for the walkway, and then of course you have to take some more down to get huge trucks up next to the house to deliver shingles, logs, windows, concrete...things like that.

Then, you need a staging area, or several staging areas for things like placing the logs while you build with them, work area, eating areas, etc.

And lastly, who wants some 80' tree falling on their house? Not me. So, a few more have to come down.

A friend of mine said, "I don't know much about white pines 'cept they grow really big and then they fall down."
Well, friend, that sums up the matter.

Peeling away

I am glad the peeling is going so well. It is easier to do when the tree is freshly cut. It is for this reason we only took down a manageable amount this time. I am almost finished with this load. Then I will start peeling standing trees until we are able to get them cut down. I can't think of the numbers I will need in total or else I would be too overwhelmed...5 tall porch posts, 2 for bottom of porch stairs, 2 wall ties, 10 or so ceiling beams, rafters...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dang ticks

You know I curse those things. I once was a free spirit in the woods, running about in my tank top and shorts. Lyme disease changed all of that. When I got infected, my free-to-dress-as-I-please life changed. Now I am an overdressed woodsman, ready to pass out from the heat.
Bro and I have to overdress for the temperature while we clear the land, which makes it doubly hard to do the work. It was like 80 the other day and there we are in long sleeves and me with my pants tucked into my socks to keep ticks out.
I didn't know what time of year those suckers came out, but I wasn't taking any chances.
I began doing the tick checks as soon as the snow was almost all melted. Never soon enough in my book.
Well, last night, barely into April, I found one attached to my chest area. Yikes! Once removed, which I do have to admit I still never remove properly, I took a shower and cleaned my wound. I hate them.
BTW, I had no regrets drowning it and I hope it suffered all the way down the bathroom drain.


Bro is home and playing with his chainsaw. He is cutting away while I am clearing all the tons of logs and branches. Wow. You can't really grasp how much a tree can cover the ground when it is all cut up and laying on it. One average size tree can be four wheelbarrowfuls of logs and many armfuls of branches.
Bro, being an engineer, had to make a road first. This entailed selecting which area of the new forest (old goat field) to debranch in order to open up a roadway without cutting any trees.
He even found a grassy area in the woods for a turnaround spot. Now this road is an access road to take logs for dumping. I need to get all the tree parts as far away from the leach field as possible so the heavy equipment can get in and do their thing.
I worked on breaking down the old goat fence, barbed wire and fence posts in the roadway. I need to drive my truck right where the fence is/was.
That was a chore not only dealing with barbed wire, but just locating the fence since most of it is now part of the forest floor.
Then there is the disposing of all the rusted metal. Bro suggested leaving it all in one of the holes for the perk test. I did. lol

Thursday, March 25, 2010


The biggest news is that I will be getting my award from school on Saturday. I am so excited! The Eliza Grace Whipple Communications Graduate Award for Commitment and Creativity. Wow! It makes me feel as though I really did the right thing by, not only choosing the perfect school and program, but also by sticking with my final project until I was truly satisfied...well okay, obsessive me really would have liked to work on it another year –– lol –––but I had to stop and get outside for fresh air. lol
I am so thankful to my school and to my department for the award. Just the fact they are so supportive means more than I can ever say.


Last Saturday it was 60 some degrees out! I went out to the property and discovered no snow or mud in the roadway. I was so happy. That is why I hadn't been out in a couple of months. My mother kept reporting all the snow she was having so I figured there was no way I could park my truck out there.
I was happy as can be, so I dug right in, and I mean dug in. I dug up more rocks for my field stone faced foundation and chimney. I also cleared fallen limb debris from the leach field. I figured since we will be working on it cutting trees, we don't need to be tripping over so many branches.
Opps! I remember I want to get some more pallets before Bro comes home. I use them to pile the rocks and cut hardwood on.

Chain sawing

Bro is coming home Monday and he is ready to chainsaw, chainsaw, chainsaw. Yeah!
We will start with the leach field since that is what I need cleared most right now.
I marked a bunch of trees to come down first. I guess winter cut is better than spring cut, so I hope since there is still a little snow on the ground out there that it is not to late. I am only concerned for the wood I am keeping. I want the red pines for the ceiling beams, and porch posts. A few white pine for the stairs.
The few hardwoods I am keeping are for fire wood not for construction, so I think that doesn't matter as much. They have to dry a year anyway.
I also have dead trees that have to come down. Some are down and those have to be cut up small enough for me to lift off the forest floor. We cannot dig up the forest floor at all. The stumps must remain at a foot high. The county guy said that if he sees any stumps dug up he will make me bring in another foot of sand. Ouch!
I have to peel the red pines right away and that means clearing the area of the peeled bark afterward. Bark is a lovefest for bugs.
I pray we will get it all done and be able to clear the building site as well.
Optimum plan would be to clear leach field and building site, have daughter finish house plans ASAP, have architect do the fine tuning and stamping, file them, get septic layout from county, and get those sand trucks in before my bro comes back in May/June.
If we get the leach field and building plot cleared this visit and he still has time––wishful thinking––then I need to get an outhouse and tool shed put up.
Tool sheds are so expensive to buy I can't believe it! I drive past the roadside places that sell them and I really like how cute many of them are, but too much $.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Been taking a couple of weeks off from house design research. I needed to let my head clear and catch up on some other things.
Daughter, on the other hand, has been drawing up all the graph paper plans into AutoCad and making necessary corrections. So while I am focusing on writing stories, she is busting her butt on the design.
I went to a lit and small press fair on Saturday at my school. Sunday I went to a gem and mineral show and a flower show all at the museum.
It was great to get out of the house and not think about the new house. I have to nurture my spirit and rejuvenate my body with all that good energy from the crystals.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enjoy the tour

Thank goodness

I appreciate help from others as I create this project. A friend of my sister's recently paid me a visit with log house plans! "Who Hoo," as she would say.

She loaned them to me to glean for details. I had been trying to get a real hard copy set for a while and then she laid them in my hands. Her Dad had given them to her, a while back, for her dream home.

She is someone who loves lakes and woods and most things country. A connoisseur.

She even offered to loan me an appropriate book,

but after my recent water spillage on one of my Mackie books I figured I better pass and get it from the library instead. lol

It is a good recommendation about a lady building her own log cabin. And when I say she is building it, I mean she is out there with the axe cutting down the trees.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Drawing, drawing

I am spending most weekends drawing and researching details of log home construction. Whew!
Some people let their architect decide on windows/doors and colors for everything. For me, that just isn't what I want to do. I may only have this one opportunity to have a home of my own and I want it to have my signature on it.
I like making things and building a house is one BIG art project. I like knowing how it will go together as that is part of the house building experience. I also realized yesterday that it will leave me much better prepared to deal with the builder and the building inspector. Maybe if I was in another income bracket, like a more realistic one, lol, I would let others run the show, but who knows. Right now I feel more prepared to take on this very enormous project. The more I educate myself the better.
TBD: Do I want to walk out basement wall concrete or conventional framing? What angle do I want the porch roof as it connects to the house roof?
This weekend I spent figuring out window and door dimensions. Of course that means I ran around the house with my measuring tape and notepad and sifted through window and door specs from various manufacturers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Home Show

This time I went specifically to look at windows. Boy, those home shows are tiring. It is a lot of walking and it was really cold in the outer ring.

On the flip side, though, it was great to see so many window brands at one time in one place. The Andersons and Marvins, of course, seem to be the best. I do want wood, but I am getting a sneaking suspicion they will be the most $.

A side by side (one unit) double hung wood window med size from Pella is $2,000.

What the XXXX (heck)?

Talked to one log home dealer and again I am told one can not have a solid log wall on the gable end peak. The builder/manufacturer I am getting the logs from says you can and so does B. Allan Mackie, the god of log homes.

Cousin G has one gable end peak all log. Sometimes I think the dealers don't want to cut the angle so they say it can't be done.

This is Cousins front with the gable end solid log to the peak.

I put my name in a drawing for a wood stove, but they haven't called me yet to tell me I won.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thank you, Daughter.

She rotated them and put them in jpegs for us to see.
What do you all think?
Love them, right?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I spoke with cousin G this morning. He and I had written before about my log home adventure and I hadn't thanked him enough, so after a couple of missed calls, we spoke at length today.
He built his own log home probably obver 20 years ago from his own red pines. He had them cut at a mill into D logs with no t & g. He laid them up with two gaskets with an air space in between. He has also helped 2 friends build their homes from manufactured logs.
He is a great resource and cousin all in one. Lucky me. At the end of our conversation he invited me over. I think I will take him up on the road trip offer.
One of the issues I need to resolve is how many and how big around red pines I need. I have started measuring and counting the ones at the property. The property is thickest in white pine which I won't be using for the ceiling beams and posts. For that I need red or yellow (no yellow here). I have found more 8" diameter trees and a few 14" wide ones so far. I thought I needed 14" for the open area and smaller diameter for porch posts.
He said I don't need thicker logs in the open area. I have heard you have to go thicker and he says no because there is no down pressure. It make so much sense.
It is all good info and everything I research opens up so many possibilities.
I think having an understanding that no one answer is perfect will help me with the final municiple approvals.
Cousin said back in the day when he got his approval he drew a stick framed house and gave it to the building inspector. Cousin got the approval and then went ahead and built a log home. Great story! Too bad things have changed so much. I have to have stamped plans (either architect or engineer) for submission.
All of the regulations regulate people right out of the ability to build. Especially poor people. Back in the day a family could scrape together enough money and helpers and put together a concrete foundation that they would live in while they toiled away at building the upper floors. In my county the regulators won't even discuss it. You are laughed at if you mention a grey water system. And if your water isn't mineral free you are paying for a treatment system.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coming along

Daughter's drawings are coming along. They are helping so much. I will be using these as most of the final drawings to have stamped. I hope to find someone who will take her drawings and build on them for the final architectural ones. They work as conceptual drawings, too.
Daughter has the interior design end down pat with her hard work and BFA last May, but we need the structural elements as well. I have been researching some of these items, but I would have to do that for a while. Like: what is the snow load where I live? Then calculate that with the span and roof pitch to calculate what size roof rafters I need. Time to get on the phone with my lists of contacts such as architects, engineers, etc. and find the one to do the finish job.
The one drafts person that was going to call me back (she has serious illness in her family) hasn't called back, yet, and I don't know if she will really be available even though she would like to be.
I wanted to post the drawings, but I can't seem to post PDFs. Maybe later I/daughter can convert to jpegs.
It is exciting to see her drawings as it makes the project come alive.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Draft search

Been busy making decisions on the house. Overall size, kitchen size, bathroom layout, etc. I have also been on the search for a reasonably priced draftsman or architect. Some want to charge for concept drawings, construction drawings, and supervision of the build. That is great for them, but I only want the construction drawings and some won't break it out. The other hump is many have never done log homes because most everyone buys plans from the kit company and as you know I am not buying a kit.
The mill I am getting the wood from does do drawings and I can get stamped drawings for $1,500. While that is more reasonable than others it is way more than what I will spend on it, hopefully.
I do have a backup person, but I am looking at options.
It is all good as I know this challenge is only bringing me closer to the perfect person to work with.
They are getting closer and closer.
Pretty soon I will see who it is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Soooo much research

There is so much out there to consume, read, analyze...it makes me near crazy. I have been buried with possibilities this past year and have finally settled on what I knew years ago I wanted.
A simple story and a half log cabin.
I have been round and round with the endless possibilities of housing options. Once I focused on the log cabin, I thought it would be simple to finish up the plans, but no.
What size kitchen do I want and where will the stove, sink, fridge go? How big a bed is going in the downstairs bedroom? What size room should that be? What dimensions?
Then there is the old age issue.
Daughter pointed out I should have a separate tub and a stand alone shower for wheelchair or walker access. I am glad she thought to tell me. She also drew a handrail on the wall next to the toilet.

There is so much to design. Like for example, have you thought about how far I want the log to stick out at each corner? One house I measured had it out 11", at another house the logs only protruded 7".
Yes, I have been measuring house's exteriors and interiors to give me a better sense of dimension. My sister's house exterior is 28 x 44. Bros girlfriend's New England home greatroom is 13 x 23.5. I love it, yet, I realized my 8.5' couch will not fit in there except to run it along the one wall not facing the fireplace
And how about, how do I want the stair landing to turn? A sharp 90 degree right angle or two 45 degree ones? My interior stairs are going to be half log...but do I want them bolted on top of a full log stringer or set into (mortise/tendon) a half log stringer? Or on top of a salvaged barn beam...... How fat do I want the porch posts? Do I want my porch flooring bread boarded?
Do you see my quandry?


Princess sent me this great book as a present. It has the most wonderful images of out-buildings.
Thank you, Princess, for thinking of me. You have a great eye for discovering what I like.


Building Green, hosted by Kevin Contreras, has a DVD series out at our public library. It is really informative. I never saw an earthen floor like this one before. To seal the clay, straw, and sand linseed oil is mixed with beeswax and smoothed over the surface. The host passes on this type of floor and goes with concrete.
Contreras is building a straw bale house, in bros town somewhere, and takes the viewer through this process. One thing that really cracked me up is the show goes to 'the dump' in my brothers town. Bro always talks about how great this dump is and he even takes visitors there. Another thing is the host demolished the existing house to put up this enormous straw house. The house looks so big a family of 10 could live in there. The host did try to give it away but ran into some problems. He did manage to give away doors, windows, bricks, etc. before the demo.
Contreras talks about saving tons of money by going with steel framing rather than wood. His framing costs would have been 100 grand, but is only 55 grand with the steel. This house must be a half million dollar home at least! He is spending on just the framing what I want to spend on my entire house. The project has more guys working on it than you can believe and yet not one woman.
Despite it's flaws, it is worth screening. They have a Web site also buildinggreentv.com