Jones Cottage, 1, B

I wanted to add a bit more in writing to my video about this cottage dream.

My concrete foundation guys are hard at work, almost finished preparing for the first of two concrete pours. I’ve watched them over the past three days and I struggle to imagine now that I seriously contemplated doing the foundation work myself. My lack of knowledge and stamina would have compromised the project greatly. But from now on, for my edification and cost-containment, I will do all the work myself.

Yesterday, and somewhat the previous few days, I’m getting the idea of the stress that a general contractor can face. A dispute arose between the skilled concrete workers on the site and the architect and engineers who created the design. I was the wedge between the two until I had them talking directly. The engineers and architect won out in the end, which I think was a good outcome.

Today, I’m starting my vigil for the county inspector. It can take hours or days and I have to remain home. But I’m used to being confined to my house.

One challenge that I’ve had since the conception of this project is the American building style. I cannot communicate my dream to anyone clearly. They just don’t get it–not architects, builders, or suppliers. I had to give up the opportunity to restore a 200+ year-old stone house in Europe or the Mediterranean, and to replace that, I’m trying my best to reproduce that dream here. I’ve posted a video of an Italian couple restoring an old stone house in the Italian Alps below. That’s what I’m talking about.

But the American style is creating the “image” of an old stone cottage, not an actual stone cottage. Americans like fiberglass imitations, plastic wood, and faux beams. As someone in a local door told me, “No one uses wood in doors anymore, you need an aluminum slider.” “No, I don’t!” I replied. My son Tyler will build my doors from scratch (that’s what he does for a living). I’m not crazy! If I am, I’m not alone. I’ve learned that my neighbor is building a full sized Viking ship in his shed. I’m sure he will not make it out of fiberglass.

I’ve already had to make major compromises here in earthquake country. Here, I have to build the weight-bearing walls with wood, and add stones to the outside. I am, however, gaining more respect for building codes. While I loathed them during the design, I know they are looking out for my best interest.

The other substantial challenge for this project will be my health. This summer, I could not have built a Lego house. I was exhausted 24-7 from my new chemo program. Now, my energy level is compromised, but improved. If I’m lucky, I can only give the cottage 2-3 hours per day of labor. That is assuming that my cancer stays in check, and tomorrow I will give blood for my next tests. However, if my cancer returns and renders me unable to work on the cottage, I’ve promised what I have done to Denise as the start of a new goat barn. But in the meantime I will build … if not, I WILL go crazy.


Posted in:

2 responses to “Jones Cottage, 1, B”

  1. When you get to the self-build work, let me know when or if you’d like some extra muscle. You may prefer to do it all yourself, but if there are points where a second set of hands would be useful, give me a call.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: