After two complete years of living in the camper, and a year and 3 months after breaking ground, we moved into our (almost) finished cabin. If we had known how hard we were going to have to work, we probably wouldn’t have even started. That is one of the blessings of life, though, in that we would miss some of the good stuff if we knew what lay ahead. Looking at it now, perched up on its little hill , we feel such incredible pride. It is especially beautiful to me at dusk, with the lights glowing in the windows. I never thought the day would come.
We tell people that we met our house back when it was a tree…which is quite true. We touched and handled and custom cut each piece; sawing it, sanding it, nailing it, staining it to be just what we wanted. The sawmill, which the girls dubbed Sir Sawsalot, was such a worthwhile investment and made the whole project possible. We cut trees from right here on the property, but most of them came from other people. It was neat to experience the generosity and fascination of the people in a tri-city area. As word spread about what we were doing, we got calls offering us trees from strangers. We would hook up the sawmill and head to the offered trees. In some cases, they had already been cut down, and were just offered free of charge. We would set up and saw on site, with passersby stopping regularly just to watch and chat. Each evening, we would load up the little trailer, hitched to the little truck, and haul it back to the property and stick it on the ever growing piles. This process actually started the year before we moved to the property and it was fun to see the tin-covered lumber stacked all over the yard in anticipation of the house to come.
Once we had everything we thought we’d need, we got started and it seemed like we didn’t even stop to eat for over a year. During the first few months, we both worked “regular” jobs and we came home and hit the ground running, working on the house until way after dark. We sometimes worked until midnight, stopping to eat a crockpot meal at some point in the evening. We were bone tired, but it was rewarding work, so it spurred us on.
Towards the finish line, we made some sacrifices in the name of money, materials, time, and exhaustion. We ended up with just a stoop over the front door, instead of the full covered porch we’d planned. One day, down the road, we will finish that out. We also decided not to put an official floor down and just paint the plywood subfloor. This did not appeal to me in the least, but I am perfectly happy with it now. The stairs inside have plywood treads instead of the thick pine I had imagined, but that was because the inspector said the math didn’t work on the risers and plywood was the mathematical solution to get the exact right amount of rise. Geez.
We actually moved in with some things undone and took a little break to catch our breath. Once we’d recuperated, we finished up most of it, like staining the columns that hold up the stairs and some trim work. It took us a little longer, maybe even a couple of years, to finish other items, like shelves in the kitchen and a frame around the front door. But it’s all good, and here we are, happy as clams in our snug little cabin that we built with our very own hands and creativity.