J & O Studio at High Cove
Sep 9, 2008Limited, anyone with the link
Photo: Welcome! This is the story of our house at High Cove.  We begin at Firefly Lodge, where we're staying while we build our own house. It will be a small, green house -- really an art studio for John and a small place to live until we build the “big house.”
Photo: We started by coming up to to our lot and sitting in these chairs to experience the space.
Photo: Jerry Sparkman is designing the house. Here's a page from his sketchbook. Note the evolution of two structures talking to one another.
Photo: The building takes shape, John's studio on the east (left) and living space on the right, with a covered porch or “dogtrot” in between. The studio is the critical part; the house will shelter us until we build a house-house.
Photo: More sketches, introducing the rain cistern and the cantilevered porch on the south side, overlooking the forest. We face south for passive solar  and views of the Black Mountains.
Photo: 2-D drawings gain a dimension with this model.  Now all we need to do is enlarge it about 50 times!
Photo: John and Jerry on the house site, looking for solar opportunities and the nuances of views and relationship to the forest
Photo: John checks out the view from the future porch.
Photo: We have a permit -- and it took less than an hour.  We find Mitchell County permitting to be a breath of fresh air compared to Florida. It's straighforward, quick, and seems to be based on the novel idea that both parties want the same result: a strong, safe, affordable house.
Photo: Under construction! Meet our new friend,  the trackhoe.
Photo: Sheldon marks out where to dig the foundation. It's a cool, wet, early morning, but we're under way!
Photo: Curtis starts digging with the little trackhoe.
Photo: Sheldon and Joey set the level of the footers.
Photo: Moment of Panic, #1:  Part of our site had been mined for mica and feldspar (the bank in the back). The resultant clearing seemed an obvious place to put the house, since it offered a nice view and had already been disturbed.  But when we dug the footers, we found a pocket of loose earth. After the moment of panic, we found a solution:  to dig the footers deeper and fill in with gravel (foreground), then pour the required concrete.
Photo: After the blocks are laid and tied together with rebar, they're filled with concrete. Oh, and a few personal objects John and I embedded in the foundation for good luck.
Photo: After the masons are done, the carpenters come in. Dan and Larry put the sill plates on the block.
Photo: Permitting, Part 2:  I called for the foundation inspection but didn't hear anything from the building inspector, so I assumed he hadn't got there.  Next day, I found this approval form laying on the foundation, held down by a few (rusty) pieces of rebar. I was shocked -- where was the bureaucracy I had become so accustomed to in Florida?
Photo: Keynan, the building inspector. With his knowledge and common sense, he was like a partner in the project.
Photo: John and I on the future dogtrot as we move from foundation to floor and walls.
Photo: We're building with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), a green product that provides great insulation and airtighness. SIPs are pre-cut so they minimize construction waste, and the OSB is made of smaller, sustainably-harvested trees instead of large trees. This OSB uses non-toxic (non-formadehyde) glue.
Photo: Here comes the house! We unload the panels in a neighbor's field because the road to our site is too narrow and steep for a big truck.
Photo: The panels are heavy, there are lots of them, and we only have a couple hours to get them off the truck.  Enter the crane. BTW - We'd recommend parking further from the electric lines next time!
Photo: Here Dan and Terry free up the crane wire, which has gotten twisted up. Reminds me of a Lewis Hine picture.
Photo: Moment of Panic #2:  Some of the panels arrived damaged from the truck's tie-down straps. We were disheartened but the manufacturer, SIPs Team USA, made it right, right away.