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, June 22, 2009

The block-work continues

    It’s been hot and humid the last few days. Yesterday’s temperature was somewhere around 93 degrees, or so I was told. I don’t have a thermometer with which to measure the temperature. I do know that it was hot while I worked – I was drenched with sweat. But, that’s to be expected, and it’s not a problem.

Yesterday morning, I finished mortaring the rest of the blocks for first course of the crawlspace wall. south wall from east endThere was about 80% of the back wall to be completed, and it went pretty well.

After finishing the mortaring, I started laying blocks on the front. After about 50 blocks, it was lunch time and time for a dry shirt. After lunch, I continued laying block along the front of the house. It wasn’t long until my shirt was soaked again. I hauled six blocks at a time in the wheel barrow to the corner of the house and set those before getting another load. Meanwhile, my boys hauled two blocks at a time (working together) to stack them on the east side of the house. That way they’ll be ready when I start laying the blocks on that side and the back of the house.

south wall from west endAbout ten feet from the west end of the front wall, I set an access door in the wall. I bought a 32” x 32” door on Friday. These doors are designed to be installed in a mortared wall in which the heights and widths are figured in multiples of eight inches. When dry stacking concrete blocks, you aren’t working with multiples of eight. The blocks are 7-5/8” tall and 15-5/8” long. So, my 32” x 32” door wouldn’t fit perfectly in a two block wide by four block high space.

access doorIt wasn’t a problem though. Because I am laying the blocks on each of the four levels independent of the other levels, it wasn’t a problem to bring the front wall from the east side to the door and then start the next section from the door to the west end. Height wise I wasn’t concerned, because I planned on using the sill for the top of it.

I mortared two four inch high solid concrete blocks onto the first course of blocks where I wanted to put the access door. Using a masonry blade in my circular saw, I cut into the ends of two blocks for the bottom plate of the door frame. It’s made to be mortared between courses which wasn’t going to work for me anyway. Once I set it up four inches on the solid blocks, it also put the bottom plate in the middle of the next course of blocks. It fits nicely in the cuts on the blocks, and they help hold it securely.

The top of the door frame is two inches below the top of the block wall. Once I place the sill on top of the wall, I’ll attach a two inch piece to it above the frame. I’ll also come back and caulk the seams around the frame from the inside to make it tight and secure. I don’t want air gaps around it.

The wall along the front came out acceptably well. It looks good with it there. It’s really nice to see progress on the house, but it sure is a lot of work. I’ve got to get the other walls blocked and then coat all of them. I’ll probably soak a few more shirts before I’m done.

House with front crawlspace wall


Welcome To Wilmoth Farms said...

Hi there! I found your blog by doing a google search for kentucky farm blogs...i live on a farm in Kentucky too, quite close in Hardin Co, about 10 min from the grayson/hardin line (dont hold that against me! LOL)
What a very cool process you've shown here, I've always been intrigued with homes such as this so its really neat to be able to read it from the start! nice blog!

Water Damage Kansas said...

It is actually very cool and interesting to read about!


kentuckyagrarianwannabe said...

Just found your blogs through a youtube video. I am going back through your archives and you have a very nice blog. Nice to see a fellow Kentuckian with like interest. Good luck in with your project.


dp said...

Thanks for the comments! It's a lot of work building this house, but I know it's going to be worth it. I'll keep on blogging the process. I'm glad I can share what we're doing here.