Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Building Off The Land by Walt Barrett

   You know there is something a lot of people have lost sight of and that is that a great many people still build homes with the building materials that they find right on the very land where they are going to place their home, or shelter. I see nothing wrong with this idea and as a matter of fact my parents built the foundation of our micro home from stone and mortar in 1929 and that foundation is still as good as the day they built it. We also have some very rugged oak posts in that cellar and they are holding up the main beam for the center line of the first floor. All the walk ways in the yard are made from flat stone and all the garden walls too. Every bit of the stone was dug up on the property and believe me we could never get enough of it. We built everything we could from stone. When they dug and blasted the well they used that stone in the foundation. They did all the work with no electricity and only hand tools.
People used to build entire homes and small factory buildings right here in town from stone using a quick process called “Slip forming,” Google it.
Most of our older buildings have hand-hewn and sawed timbers in them as the major part of their construction. Even the roof shingles were split from cedar logs. In the southwest most homes were built from adobe bricks. Adobe is a wonderful green form of well insulated construction. Even the floors were adobe. Nancy and I were recently visiting the Mission at San Juan Capistrano in California and they have preserved the adobe brick making operation there. I think that adobe is overlooked by far too many people. It is a great DIY material.
I believe that people have become far to dependent on major supply houses for their building materials. Think more about stone and timber and mud but with a modern-day twist to bring it up to standard. You may be low on funds, but you always have time if you use it wisely. My parents took about four years to completely finish their home, but we are still using it 82 years later. Thank you Mom and Dad!
God gave most of us two hands, a big brain, and an imagination to go with it. That's a pretty great set of tools in my book. He meant us to use them to the fullest extent, and he didn't mean for wasting time texting, or surfing the Internet either. He meant for us to use them to build a life and not to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves.
Coggeshall Farm photos by Walt Barrett

How do you like the view?