Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adjusting our timeline

Over the past few frozen weeks of darkness I have been diligently working on house plans with a timber-framing pal (thx Rooster!), and trying to get the details nailed down and the house modeled in SketchUp. As the design process and 3D model developed it became painfully obvious that:
  1. our original "henge" home ideas were mutating rather uncontrollably into a timber-frame behemoth
  2. we don't have near enough joinery experience or enough of the right tools for all these complicated joints
  3. we need some serious heavy equipment and a good portable saw mill to make building timbers
  4. our trees are pitifully small when you start designing for heavy timber framing
  5. there is no flippin' way the two of us are going to be able to get this house built in our measly 3 month building window
  6. the SketchUp UI is totally frustrating when you're used to other graphic & 3D programs and you're working with a laptop touchpad instead of a cool multi-button scrolly mouse
Needless to say, we're going to have to adjust our plans slightly. First, and foremost, we're trying to pull the house design back towards where we originally started from since that design & weird hybrid building method is better suited for the size trees we have to work with and our skill level. Next is that we are going to have to cave in and build a small cabin/shack first thing after the Breakup because the house will not even be close to completion by next winter (we love the tent, but something more substantial is needed if we're going to take longer than this year to build the proper house). We're also going to need to get a tractor really soon, as there is no other feasible way for us to continue clearing trail and building site AND get logs toted around for building and firewood without one... unless we don't mind this project taking four or five years while we do everything by hand!

So, in addition to me fighting SketchUp working on the main house plans, I'm now designing our "shack" that we can throw together with bought lumber quickly (2 versions - 1 gable & 1 shed roof to see which is easier and gives us more loft space). All that on top of researching logging/farming equipment and portable saw mills (looks like Granberg Alaskan Mill wins out in the end afterall), and helping G-man with the firewood so we don't freeze to death! Oh yeah, and helping build Rooster's website in exchange for him helping me with the house plans, which means learning a new scripting language since we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto (i.e. the land of Microsoft IIS and ASP).

One thing I've learned from all of this -- don't second guess yourself in the middle of things! 99% of the designs and ideas and decisions we made in our initial planning phases were way more thought out and feasible than the ones we've been grasping at lately. Things spiral out of control for a bit when you're in the thick of things, and then we shake off the panic and come to the same logical conclusions -- which was why we decided to do it that way in the first place! You suddenly find yourself saying "OMG! We have these gizmos and need those widgets, and that means we have to do something entirely different because Plan A absolutely won't work". Which is wrong. The parameters haven't changed. The requirements haven't changed. The resources haven't changed. All that's changed is that we have some new information. We just need to evaluate the existing plans against the new data and make some small adjustments if necessary -- not discard the original plans and thought process altogether! Sometimes we just forget that we discovered and mitigated most of all this poop in our original planning phase, which was over a year of dedicated research and solid solution-building.

This whole ordeal - from house plans to website reprogramming (just the "must work on Apache with PHP" part!) is pretty much summed up by this cartoon by The Oatmeal.

Now, back to modeling! I'll try to post some renders here soon so you all can see the design progression and visualize our "dream home" with us;)


sail-dive said...

I'm having a little trouble picturing the permafrost situation. I've looked at pictures of it and I'm confused about how anything grows on it...especially trees. What will happen in the summer when you drive across it day after day? Will it become a mire.
I used post and beam for my cabin instead of timber framing and other than lap joints overtop posts, no fancy joints required

Anonymous said...

You would be surprised at what you can get done in a few months. A tractor is a great idea for a time saver. There are many options for lifting shears, gin poles, and such that help quite a bit, they don't take much skill beyond reading the Army Rigging Manual. Before a build the next building, I will make a derrick crane and install it in the center of the building site, so it can be used to reach each wall.

Linda Foley said...

I have often found that sticking to the original plans is good because invariable they end up back there anyways! Not that I always remember that!

wannabe1 said...

You two are soo cool (okay not temperature-wise). How did you get your land? Is there any for sale? I have truly enjoyed reading your story and seeing your pictures. Cannot wait for more!