The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The cupola is on

As I mentioned in the previous post, one of the design additions to our house is a cupola. I originally thought about incorporating a cupola for the benefits it would have for ventilation as a naturally convective exhaust point for the whole house. There are other advantages, such as providing additional light in the center of the house and providing a really cool place to put a windvane (I'll have to get one).

I've worked on getting the various components for the cupola ready during the last two weeks. I was just going to frame it conventionally, but there were those 6x6s lying in the pile near the garage. So, they became the material for the cupola frame. I had laid out the dimensions and modeled this addition using Google SketchUp. This allowed me to easily figure angles and lengths for the different materials.

Yesterday (2/3/08) I shuttled all of the prepared materials and a bunch of tools down to the house site. My dad, who lives on the farm, offered to help me with the job at hand, and I am very grateful for his help. The first thing to do was cut a hole in the ceiling at the peak in the middle of the house. It extended from the purlin nearest the peak on the front to the purlin nearest the peak on the back. The space this allowed dictated the size of the cupola. It ended up being 4' 2" outside dimensions and 3' 2" between posts on the inside.

I hefted the pieces of the cupola onto the roof with a rope. My dad was kind enough to hook the rope onto each piece so I didn't have to climb up and down the ladder multiple times. The posts were the first parts to be set in place. Because this was an addition that I hadn't planned from the beginning, I decided to use lag screws rather than mortise and tenon joints to attach them to the purlins. We then placed the beams on top of the posts. These were also attached using lag screws and as12" long by 1" diameter peg. I had already assembled the cupola ceiling and the roof framing. So, these were easily set on top and attached.

We sheeted the roof with pallet boards I purchased in early December ($2 per pallet load). These boards were 3/8" to 1/2" thick and about 4" wide. With three sides sheeted, we stuffed in insulation and then completed the sheeting.

To finish the job for now, the roof was tar papered and the cupola was wrapped with a blue tarp. I'll be installing the rest of the frame work for the windows this week. The windows will be installed later. The roof metal will be put on next week, if all goes as I hope.

The weather was quite warm for February -- near 60 degrees. It was overcast, but no rain. The photos would be brighter and better if there had been sunshine. I'll take some more photos later.


Anonymous said...

Great job, nice to see activity on your blog again!

How is your eye doing? All healed?

Keep up the good work, look forward to more progress


dp said...


Yeah, it's about time I got back to blogging. I hope to have a lot more to put on here in the next few months.

My eye doesn't bother me anymore, although the vision is still not completely returned to normal. Usually, I don't notice it because it seems to be fine.

Thanks for your encouragement and for asking about my eye!