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.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quick update

Having gotten the siding on the house, I was able to spend time in the woods last week. Rifle season was open here from last weekend through this one. We love venison. So, I wasn’t working on the house; 003I was out trying to harvest some meat for the family.

My dad and Danny also hunt here. We got three deer last Sunday and none since. We processed the meat – canning and freezing. We would like more, but we’re thankful for what we were blessed with. I’ll spend some more time out during our week of muzzleloader season in December.

Anne and the children and I are going to spend Thanksgiving with family in North Carolina. So, it’ll be December before I get back to work on the house. I have a lot I want to get done this winter. So, I’ll need to stay busy with it.

I’ll post more once I get back to work on the house.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Two new videos of the construction process

I’ve put together two new videos. Actually, they’re slide shows of photos taken during the construction of our house. Part One starts with the raw timbers in February 2005 and concludes in February 2010. A lot was accomplished during that time even though it wasn’t as much as I had hoped for.

Part Two shows the progress we’ve made this summer and fall. I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve gotten accomplished just since late May.

I wanted to put these photos together in this way to see a synopsis of my work. I’ve been focused on each day and each task. So, it’s nice to sort of step back and see what we’ve been working on come together.

Here they are. Enjoy and, please, leave a comment (I love hearing from ya’ll)!

Part One:


Part Two:

Friday, November 12, 2010

The siding is complete

front of houseWith the blessing of good weather this week, we were able to get the siding all installed. We first completed the walls around the mudroom, laundry room, and sewing room and then began on the walls on the porch on the west side of the house. The process went very smoothly, and we were able to finish Thursday afternoon.

The siding has several different colors, but we’ll be painting it next summer when the weather warms up. There were about 7 different colors in all. I think some of the material was leftover from other projects that was returned to the building supply company. I bought it from a local guy who bought it in auction from the supplier. So, I got a really good deal on it.

northwest cornerfrom a distance

I still have to caulk around the windows and corners, but other than that the house is closed in now. It’s been my goal to have it closed in before Thanksgiving. It’s really quite exciting to meet that goal. I feel very blessed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The 2nd floor siding is complete

looking at the house through the trees on the hillside

We were able to finish the siding on the upstairs walls by lunch time today. We were careful throughout the installation process to waste as little material as possible. When I bought it, I quickly calculated that there was enough on this one pallet to do the upstairs walls, but there wasn’t going to be much extra. Apart from scraps of around 12 inches or less, we had four 4-foot sections left over. There were also about two full pieces that were not usable because they were de-laminated.

I think it turned out fine. I’ll clean it sometime later, and I plan on painting it some time. For the time being, it will be fine since it is pre-painted. My plans to paint it are based on the fact that there isn’t enough of one color to do the whole house, and I don’t really want five different colors as a permanent thing.

After we finished the siding, Dad and Danny swept the porch roof off, and we took down the scaffolding and plastic. Since it was all tidied up, it was a good opportunity to take a few photos.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Beginning the siding

Before too long, we ought to be able to get the plastic off of the house.

I spent some time on Tuesday fixing the small window that goes above the wood stove. It had a crack in one pane which had allowed some moisture to get between the panes and leave some water deposits. I wasn’t able to purchase I piece of glass locally large enough to replace the one pane, but I had some window glass that was of sufficient size if I could cut it. So, I read about cutting glass and watched a few videos online.

Thankfully, I had more than one piece of glass to work with. I practiced on one and then attempted to cut the real thing. The first one turned out acceptable, although there were a few rough edges. So, I cut another one that turned out a little better. When fixing the window, I ended up using both of the ones that I cut since I couldn’t clean the one remaining pane in the window.

Anyway, it took me most of the morning to get the window repaired and put in the wall.

After finishing the window, I started putting on the flashing where the upstairs walls meet the porch roof. I previously bought a couple rolls of 24” aluminum flashing for this purpose. One of the rolls was long enough to reach from one corner to the other across the back of the house. The other roll was long enough for both ends except for about 5 feet. I had to use some other flashing material there.

On Wednesday, it rained all day. It was just a light, drizzly kind of rain. I put up the tarp on the back of the house upstairs because when the water dripped off of the upper roof, it was splattering on the wall. Since there was no wind with the rain, the other upstairs walls didn’t get wet.

Yesterday, I finished the flashing on one side and started installing the siding. I attached the first piece by myself and then realized that I would need some help to do the rest of them. Twelve foot pieces of Hardiplank siding are west endsomewhat unwieldy. Thankfully, my dad was available to help me in the afternoon.

We worked on the west wall and were able to get the siding to above the window. There was a fair bit of cutting involved to match the roof line and to fit around the window. Also, since I hadn’t initially planned on using this type of siding, I didn’t have the vertical stringers optimally spaced for installing it. That means that there is a little more waste at times in order to make sure that the ends are on one of the stringers so they can be nailed securely.

This morning, even though it was chilly and spit a little bit of rain at times, we were able to get the east wall up to the same height as the west wall. back wallAfter lunch, we worked on the back wall. We didn’t finish it, but we got a good start and should be able to finish it and the other two walls on Sunday.

When I bought the siding, one bundle, enough to do the upstairs based upon my hasty calculations, was a 6 inch exposure while the rest was a 7 inch exposure. I figured that this would work well. If I don’t have enough to finish all of the upstairs walls with the 6 inch, I can finish it off with some of the 7 inch near the top. We didn’t continue above the windows on the either end to ensure we had enough to get the siding up most or all of the way on the back.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Upstairs plaster and windows

We had a few friends make it yesterday to help with the second coat of plaster. The objective for the day, which we achieved, was to finish the second story walls. We had six people applying plaster and two more mixing and delivering the plaster to the other workers. Everything went very smoothly, and I am very pleased. I can’t express how grateful I am to all of the wonderful people who have given of their labor to help out on our house project.

There is only one small section on the front kitchen wall that still needs the second coat of plaster, maybe four square feet. I should be able to apply that tomorrow.

After we finished the plastering yesterday, I recruited some help to move the sliding glass door from the barn to the house. It’s been stored in the barn for the last three years. It’s an eight foot wide door, and it’s quite heavy. windows and door on east side of houseSo, it was really nice to have some help moving it. I’m not sure that Dad, Danny, and I could have moved it successfully by ourselves.

This morning after I went into town to run a few errands, Dad and I set it in place in the house.  It’s on the east side of the house leading from what will be the master bedroom onto the porch. Thankfully, the door fit in the framed opening with little difficulty. We spent a little time cleaning it after installing it.

After lunch, Danny helped us move the remaining five windows from the barn, clean them, and install them upstairs. Cleaning the nearly five years of accumulated dirt off of the windows took longer than it did to carry them up ladders and install them.

upstairs windows on back of house west side

So, we now have all of the windows and doors put in except for the small windows that will be above the wood cook stove – I have to cut and put in a new piece of glass. Hopefully, I can do that tomorrow. We also will swap out the kitchen windows with new casement windows when they arrive, which should be by this coming weekend.

We should be able to start installing siding this week. It looks like we’re on schedule to have the house closed in by the end of next week. That’s my goal, anyway.