Not really the first day of building…..but it seemed like it. The school crew that had done the first floor and then abandoned us were home having tea.
And there we were. Alone but for the two of us. The first floor was up. The perimeter walls were up and mostly clad. And there we stood: lookin’ at it.
“So, where do we start?”
“I dunno. Wadda the books say?”
Sal looks down at the boathouse and asks, “Should I get them?”
And I think it over………… First off, we have the first floor up but we have to access it by way of a skinny ramp made up of a long 2×12. The first floor sits about four feet off the ground at the back of the house and all of 16 or so at the front. It was daunting to say the least.
I know how to build decks (now that I had made a schmozzle of the first three) and so I said knowingly, “Ya know, gettin’ stuff up and into the house is going to be a chore using just that little ramp. Why don’t we build the first deck first? In that way we can join the stairs to the house and have better access”.
Sal looked at me like I was a MENSA member. “Right! Fuggedabout the house for now. First we build a deck!”
And so we did. That deck is about 48 feet long and, tho irregular in design, averaging about 12 feet in width. It bridged the space between the top of the stairs and gave us access to the complete south and east sides of the house – all at the same level. We would have to access the other sides from the inside or, as I later determined, by scaffolding.
And therein lies one of the odd little eccentricities of house building on an irregular, remote, no-road access site: you almost have to build the equivalent of a house to build the house.
Sorta like almost building a funicular so that you can install your funicular.
So we finished the south and east deck and then began to build the interior walls of the house. The floor plan, as it were. By the time we had the walls framed in, it was pretty apparent…………the north and west side decks were going to be needed. It is hard to install windows (weighing about 30 pounds and being awkward), sheathing, paper and cladding from the top of a ladder on irregular ground. Trust me.
And so we built another large section of deck. This one was much harder. You know why? Because the west side is 16 feet off the ground. And more poles had to be erected. And that required scaffolding and, well, you know……..
I have no recollection of that time. Not really. Just little ‘flashbacks’. All I remember was getting up, eating a quick breakfast and following Sally to the work site. We’d break a few times, argue a bit about what we didn’t know, crack a few jokes and just plain plug away until about 6:00 pm at which time we would quit, strip and immerse our sweaty, dirty selves in the sea for a nano second or two and then rinse off with a solar shower. After that it was wine and dinner on the deck and a bit of chit chat about the way things were turning out.
That was in the beginning. After a few months of that, we worked just as hard but we chatted less, drank more and went to bed earlier. We had started in May. By October the house was ‘done’ to lock-up and I was barely able to get up.
And the Energizer Sally was starting to drag a bit, too. We need to quit.
Any lessons in all that? Yes. Here’s an important tip: find a cooperative wine-making store and lay up a couple of batches months before you begin. Tell the operator to put another batch on every six weeks – more or less depending on your tolerance for pain. Forget the expense. It is way cheaper than Morphine or Demerol. Don’t even think about building until your first batch is at least three months in the bottle.
Anything else? Yes. Put the wine in plastic silver pouches. Dropping a bottle of wine on the rocks after a hard day building is much more traumatic than you’d think.
Oh yeah! This book is going to be full of useful tips……….