Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Guest House Begins

Our amazing carpenter and friend Hank showed up the other day and suddenly we are at work! He fits us in, between other, better paying jobs and so we are thrilled when he calls from the end of the driveway and asks "Is it Coffee Time?" because he knows it's always coffee time here at the Homestead when he arrives. We walk around after coffee and show off all the things we have done like little kids when their parent comes to visit their school classroom. Then we commence work on whatever and wherever we left off.

This is the same guy who helped do that amazing rescue job on the Hay House. I was teasing him today because he does not have or use a computer and he will be featured prominently in this post.
I could say anything and he wouldn't know.

But really the only things I want to say about him are good things. Like what a great boss he is. He wasn't a friend when he came to work with us three years ago, but he is now. We really enjoy his kind and down to earth attitude and his easy laugh. He has, over the last three years, taught Buck and I so much. He is so patient and will talk you through all kinds of building tricks, without ever getting impatient or grabbing it away from you to do it himself.
He's like a carpenter Buddhist. I have decided to start calling him Handy Hank. He'll hate that.

Remember that Canned Ham 1958 Oasis Buck and I bought this summer? Well, this months project is a "Guest House" in the loosest sense of the term.
Although a guest house seems like a strange choice in the Homestead trajectory, the thinking behind getting started on the guest house is really a practical decision, not really a luxury.

Handy Hank lives over an hour away and if we had a place for him to stay during the work week, he would save a lot of time and gas money and we could move ahead faster on bigger projects, like a house to live in, instead of a trailer.
We also have another good friend who has been trading places with Buck and I as the Homestead Captain, back and forth, back and forth with us over the last 2 years. It frees Buck and I up so we can work jobs and go on a vacation now and then. If we had two places to stay here at the Homestead, we could more easily decide whether to come or go, instead of taking turns living in the same trailer.

And we could, maybe, have "guests" now and then!

O.K. On to the "Art Shack" process. That is it's name, "Art Shack"... It's a long story, best told in person. Anyway, remember the post when Buck took out all those blackberries? Well after he took out even more of them this little building, which was a granary most recently in it's long history, was in the middle of that thorny mountain.

I have a vision that Buck is being a good sport about and so we are going full speed ahead. I wanted to combine our Oasis trailer and the old granary shack to create a little getaway, the trailer being a kitchen, dining room and kids bedroom and the shack being the living room by day with futon couch and bedroom by night, all joined together with a nice big deck with a view.

My plan hinged on the hare brained idea that the granary should be turned 15 degrees South so it would face the very nicest view on the property and maximize the sun exposure for the solar panels which I am putting on the roof.

The Art Shack will be mostly off the grid except it will benefit from the existing well water which has an electric pump. The Art Shack will have a propane heater and a tiny propane tankless hot water heater and the trailer of coarse has a few 12v lights, a propane oven and stove and propane light over the dining table.

I am setting up three 15 watt solar panels to trickle charge 2 RV batteries which will then power low watt RV lights in the shack and trailer and hopefully will power some music and charge a lap top.

Handy Hank didn't even blink an eye when I told him what I wanted to do with the Oasis and the Shack. He generally says "Oh, really?" laughs and then proceeds to cogitate a way to do what we dreamed up. That's what he did this time too.

He showed up the next day with two floor jacks. Under Hanks' direction, we jacked up the shack,

lowered it onto blocks and then moved the jacks onto three foot long boards so they could roll along on "tracks" on opposite corners.
 We jacked it up again (keeping several blocks built up under the building so that if it slipped off the jacks it would settle back down on the blocks) and let the wheels of the jacks slowly roll the building in the right direction while Hank used a 4x4 as a lever to push it slowly around.

Simple, huh? This is something Buck and I would have NEVER dreamed of doing on our own. Even if we had had the smarts to invent this method, I would have been scared to death to try it.

Now that it was in it's permanent place, we helped replace and beef up the beams underneath and around the rim. There had been more than a little Wood Pecker and Carpenter Ant activity.
I don't get worried anymore if I see this much daylight coming through a wall, that says something right there.
 When Buck was inside vacuuming out the ants from the walls I could hear him yelling over the shop vac "It's like a HORROR MOVIE!" I laughed until I cried, but I didn't go in! They dumped the vacuum out for the chickens and they went crazy over them there ants.

It went just as Hank planned it and now the 8x12 building is perfectly placed to catch the ultimate view and catch 7 hours of sun.  We towed the Oasis up next to it and leveled it up with jack stands.
Buck helped dig and place all new post and piers under the shack.

Today we put in a "new" salvaged door and one of three salvaged windows.

In the next few weeks we will be adding two more windows on the East wall (one where the old door was), wire, insulate, drywall and if we don't run out of time, build a deck that joins the "shack" and trailer. It may look filthy now, it is and so are we, but it is going to be so cute when we are done!
And this will be the view from the new window:
and the deck.


  1. How exciting! We need your guy down here! lol

  2. ..I missed this post! cool, this is what I had indended on doing with my shed but then we had some wind issues and now it needs to wait. cool..I need to level off my post and put it up higher too. neat post


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