A neverending (,but fun!,) project...

19Jul2005: Ken set the forms/post-bases and worked with James to frame the shade structure in the back courtyard. Then James attached all the stringers and diagnal supports. This is helping to keep the back courtyard and the craft room a lot cooler. Next step will be to do the same for the east side of the house :

4Jul2005: Ken got rid of some of the rocks laying around the house by building a small pond in the back courtyard next to the sidewalk. It was designed to be tall enough and narrow enough in the front that someone in a wheelchair could stick their hand into it w/o difficulty. We found out after the fact that it's also the perfect height to set things (including your backside) on. We drilled a couple holes in granite rocks using a rotor-hammer and plumbed with a small 300gph recirulating pump to keep the water moving (the pleasant sound of running water is a bonus). There is also a hidden tank + float valve in the back right corner to compensate for water loss due to evaporation.

8May2005: Ken finished cistern connected to NID siphon that will provide irrigation water to the side of the valley where the house is sited:

12Sept2004: Ken and Deb have begun installing a retaining wall at the front of the house:

11Aug2004: Ken finished rough install of an approx. 1000' long X 4" diameter siphon that delivers NID irrigation water across the valley to the house:

27Jun2004: Ken and Deb finished installing a 12,000 gallon Doughboy pool last week - just in time for the heat and start of fire season.

Apr2004: The whole family pitched-in and helped Ken get the fire pit project off the ground. The durned cats managed to get their footprints into each of the four seperate pours:

Feb2004: Deb helped Ken complete the front steps/walkway between storms during late fall/early winter. Early in February, Ken rented a John Deere 450 for a day to complete the rough grading for the front drive(what a blast!). After spreading 200 tons of course base rock with the backhoe, we finally have mud-free access to the front of the house - just in time for the weather to clear up:o).

The following pictures taken just before final occupancy sign-off on 8/20/2002. Click on any of the pictures to get a larger version:

Dining room from Livingroom:

Still to do: baseboards, door wiper (seal @ bottom of door), thresholds, chandelier over diningroom table, more door stops and knobs (too many doors, too many windows)...

View from southeast:

Still to do: Install downspouts & underground drainage for each to daylight, gable-end caps at roof.

View from southwest:

Still to do: Drainage culvert and concrete stairway, finish driveway, gutter/rainchains over entryway.

View from northeast:

Still to do: concrete & paver patio & arbor/sunshade with grapes to shade most of east side of house.

Misc todo:
Finish master bath, install HRV, Finish Mud/Utility, Landscaping (water, lighting, plants). Barn: Mezzinine


This has been a tremendous project for the whole family and many close friends (thank-you all!). We tried to do a lot of the work ourselves to cut costs, but ended-up leveraging quite a few friends, family, contractors, and suppliers in the process.

Rough design by Ken and Deb with 3D Home Architect 3.0 and many great suggestions from our neighbor and good friend Esther. We had a local design firm render our design into county-approved blueprints. They did a great job of working thru the one-off issues and stood behind their work 100%. The only real pain we experienced was when the cost estimates provided by the builders turned out to be substantially more than the estimates provided by the design firm (and our budget).

Rather than start from scratch, Ken took two extended leaves from work and drove the construction himself (Yes, handling tech support issues first thing each day and the last thing each night is a leave - of sortz).

Including Kens 20+ weeks of combined vacation and LOA, we went over our original budget a bit. I guess you could chalk it up as one of life's big learning experiences. We pretty-much counted on putting in a lot of elbow grease and sweat. The occasional stress-induced sleepless night, blisters, scrapes, slivers, raw ackey bones and muscles, and the odd gaping wound were bonuses.

Would we do it again? Deb says never. Ken's thinking that never is a long time, but probably never again on the scale of this effort.

author: kjt_at_kjt_dot_us