Sunday, May 29, 2005

Whitman Gathering

I just returned from the Whitman gathering feeling peaceful and optimistic about building. Peat and I spent Saturday afternoon staking out and stringing the perimeter of the kitchen. We moved it around a bit finding a spot for the building which felt right in relationship to the new yard that will be cut to the south, the road on the north and to the circle in the meadow. We arrived at a location that permits cars to pull right up to the north side of the building for loading and unloading. We thought this would be better than creating a separate and unscreened parking area to the east which would be visible from the batthouse.

This morning I layed out the interior with flagging tape and string so that several faeries who came up for a "tour" of the kitchen in the afternoon could get a feel for the layout and flow of the plan. It was really helpful for me to see it in full scale and after a consulation with Daisy, de facto kitchen queen, we realized the kitchen was probably a little too big and dining area a little too small and we adjusted them, removing the island from the kitchen, giving the dining area an extra four feet.

I am leaving tomorrow for Short Mountain, a faerie sanctuary in Tennessee, where I'm excited to see their straw bale construction and to spend a week doing yoga. Bambi is going to begin calling loggers and the well company, and when I return the Design Comet will kick into high gear scheduling contractors for the summer since we received news from the Money Planit that we have enough cash in the bank, pledged and in credit to definitely begin construction! Woo hoo!

it was gratifying and heartening to feel the buzz around the development, the excitement and joy expressed about finally feeling the project take shape, and to witness the eagerness in so many faeries to commit sweat and pennies to the project. I'm really looking forward to spending the summer at Destiny.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hemlock Frame

We've talked all along about using the trees on the property for our building lumber. The best candidate from all the species we have for framing is our eastern hemlock. There are lots of them on the property, especially where the mound will go. It's possible for us to have the wood sawn and milled on-site or to have the lumber trucked to a local mill where it would be processed.

Eastern hemlock can be used for just about anything: dimensional lumber, floorboards, decking, sheathing, posts, beams. It has some drawbacks, primarily it's knottiness and it's brittleness when dry. But, structurally, it outperforms spruce and pine, the most common framing lumbers. It's also rot resistant.

There are three common ways to frame a building today. We need to choose one. They are: stick framing, post and beam and timber frame. Stick framing is how most buildings are put together today with 2x4s or 2x6s making up walls and deeper 2x members forming the roof and floors. Post and beam uses larger members connected together with plates, angle iron and other fasteners. Timberframing uses joinery to hold things together (this is pictured here). In post and beam and timberframing the structure is exposed on the interior of the building, unlike in stick frame where the frame is hidden. Using larger members for post and beam and timberframe requires a lot less mill work but requires more power to move the pieces into place, either people power or some kind of crane or rig to lift members up.

I'm hoping at the gathering to survey people about their feelings on different kinds of frames.

Straw and Hemlock

I called up the state to get their take on straw bale and native hemlock for construction. Basically, no problem! In fact, we might be the first "commercial" straw bale project in the state. I've always found the state's building department to be very reasonable. We will have to present plans and perhaps some simple engineering to prove the building will stand, but nothing out of the ordinary.


Coming back to the design process after a couple weeks away. Lots has happened!

At the annual meeting, the site plan, the kitchen plan, and the financial plan were approved. The financial plan is to raise and borrow money enough to build as much of the project this summer as possible. This means putting in the well, septic system, water distribution system, foundations and hopefully the structures themselves. The meeting also agreed to get the permanent privy in this summer.

So, there are lots of things to be done and decisions to be made. Several of the land use committee met on the land a couple weeks ago with our excavator and forester. We went over all the work we'd like done with dozers and front-loaders with the excavator, which include fixing our road, finishing culverts, installing the mound and septic system, trenching for water, drain, electrical and gas lines, repairing the diversion trench above the mound, and preparing the sites for the buildings. this is a big list of things and he estimated it would take about a month to complete it all. his estimate for a starting date is late july. this will give us ample time to prepare for the construction cycle, but not a lot of time before wintery weather sets in.

with the forester we walked most of the five acres we plan to develop and sized up the trees to be cut. his estimate is that the hardwoods are worth about $1500, mostly red oak and sugar maple. we have a lot of hemlock that we can use to build with.

this week, i'm going to be looking into specifics of the foundation, straw bale details, timber framing details, plumbing and electrical codes, talking with our engineer to revise drawings reflecting the new well and building locations, and investigating privy tanks (woo hoo!).

the walt whitman gathering is this coming weekend and i hope to be able to spend time with design and land folks there talking about our construction season!

Friday, May 13, 2005


I've been away for the past ten days. This weekend is a work weekend on the land. We'll be meeting with our excavator and the foresters to talk about plans.