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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I need more 2x4s

I’ve worked on the house the last couple of days, but I didn’t take my camera with me to take any pictures. I don’t like posting without photos for some reason.

All of the downstairs walls are now framed with the exception of the framing for a linen closet at the bottom of the stairs. The last two walls I framed were for the pantry and the main bathroom.

One of the intentions for the downstairs is for it to be wheel chair accessible. All of the exterior doors are 36” doors and the interior doors downstairs except for the pantry and master bathroom will be 36” doors, too. The master bathroom is really too small to be accessible, anyway. The main bathroom will have enough floor space inside to make it accessible. We don’t want the door to swing out into the hallway (opening inside limits the usable floor space). So, our solution is to make a double door.

I think I’ll make the interior doors for the house. Something simple, yet nice. That will allow me to make whatever will work best in the specific places. 005Some doorways, like for the closets, will not have doors. They will have curtains, instead.

With the downstairs walls framed, I put a 4x6 floor joist in place for the extra upstairs landing space. This joist will be visible from inside the main bathroom. So, I wanted it to be the same as the other visible floor joists.

Then, I framed a wall upstairs. I started with the wall at the top of the stairs first. Somehow, when I measure for a wall, plan it out, cut the pieces, and 001put it all together, the wall tends to end up being 1/4” too tall. This wall took some persuading to get it under the beam connecting the rafters. But, it’s in there, and it won’t be coming out.

This morning013 I framed the small section of wall on the other side of the post from the other upstairs wall. This went easily and quickly. I figured the angles, measured for the bottom plate, cut it, and put it in. Then I was able to mark the other two 2x4s for length, cut them, and put them in. For the individual studs, I measured the needed length, cut them, and put them in one at a time. I figured it would be easier than building the wall on the floor and trying to set it in place because of the angles involved.

There are still several upstairs walls to be framed and two walls in the root cellar, but I’ve pretty much exhausted my 2x4 supply. There has been very little waste from the ones I’ve used, but I only have a few left, not enough to finish the walls. So, I'll be getting some more soon, hopefully early next week, so I can finish the wall framing. I have wiring to get started on. So, if I don’t get 2x4s right way, there is still something I can do.



Catherine Anne said...

So happy to have found your blog. This will come in handy for us soon. Blessings

Modern Day Redneck said...

A few days ago I was looking for ways to build a root cellar and came across you blog. I read all your posts on the building stages and what you used. It is similar to the one I want to build with the exception that mine will have a living top. On thing I did not see was the total cost of the project. I priced everything out for a 10x12, poured floor and 11 brick high walls. Using the quick wall like you did the cost was about $3000 turn key. What would you say was your best guess on the cost for yours if you don't mind sharing?

dp said...

Catherine Anne, I'm glad that you found my blog and that it is helpful for you.

MDR, I would guess the cost for my root cellar was under $2,500. Blocks were a around $1.25 each, Quickwall was $22.50 per bag, the floor was about $450, concrete mix for filling the voids was about $3 per bag, and miscellaneous rebar (some I had already). I also put several tons of rock in the bottom of the hole (about $200 worth) and a drain (maybe $50). I'm not counting the cost of the roof since it's the floor for part of the house, and I didn't have to pay for excavation.

Modern Day Redneck said...

dp, thanks for responding. The main problem is, it is hard to justify that kind of investment when so many other projects need to be done here at the Mini Farm. The first design I considered was an above ground straw bale igloo shaped building with a stucco finish. I just don't know if that would stay cool enough. A sand bag house might be good but then again these Texas summers are brutal and I have to keep the heat out. Maybe a sand bag house covered in dirt?
Thanks again.

dp said...

MDR, I understand your dilemma. Have you ever read "The $50 underground house" ( My original idea was to build using the methods described in this book. Basically, excavate (you can use a shovel) and then set poles into the bottom -- I'd probably set them 2 feet apart. On the outside of the posts, put boards backed with 10 mil plastic against which the dirt is backfilled. The plastic protects the boards and will last indefinitely if not exposed to sun. You can frame a roof similarly, covering it with soil to make it a living roof. For the boards, I would use cull lumber from a local saw mill. I've been in a root cellar built this way -- it was pretty cool.

I changed our plans when we decided it would be more convenient to have the root cellar attached to the house, and we had the option at that stage in building.