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January 24, 2009

Building Dreams The Garden House Part 1

Visit my Garden House from dreams to reality.  From ground work, building plans, the actual building progress.  I will be posting part 2 soon.

It all began when we had to excavate across a hillside to put a water line in, creating a perfect spot for what at first was going to be a small earth shelter greenhouse.  But as with all things we do, the project grew first from one story to two for a workshop, then from workshop to guest house.  Most of the photos are old ones and are from a photo album I had them in.  So I had to scan the whole pages and crop to get the photos I wanted.  So please excuse pour quality of some of the photos.


My husband has a saw mill and cut all the lumber and timbers himself from dead trees on our property.  All lumber is rough cut.  Later I found out rough cut if better for dealing with humidity that can be a problem in greenhouse. 

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The building area consisted of gravel and lots of rocks.   With pick and shovel we hand dug all the trenches for the footing to be poured.  My back was the first to go.  So hubby had to finish digging on his own.  We mixed all the concrete  ourselves.

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Originally we had no plan on paper.  We were just winging it.  But when the 2nd story went up, the building inspector, who passed by our place said he could no longer close his eyes to what was now 2 stories tall on the hillside.  So halfway thru building we had to take out all the permits and produce building plans.   Drawing plans has been something I have done thru-out the years after having taken drafting I in high school.  I also learned how to read blue prints at a job I worked at once.  But what I did had always been for fun.  You know that house you always dream of.  Mostly floor plans. 

Anyway I had to come up with plans that were proper for the building inspector.  By using other plans for reference of what is needed,  I was able to come up with the 3 plans needed for the building permit.  This was not done with a computer but all by hand.  So for anyone who knows how to read plans you should roughly be able to make out the construction. Hey I didn't have proper training for this.

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Finally all the footings and concrete block work is done.  The back walls of 1st floor all consisted of concrete blocks.  3 foot extension walls of concrete block was added as braces against all the soil that would backfill that wall.   The entire building was built using timber framing except the back wall on the second floor which was just 2X6 framed.

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There are rooms on the 1st floor that did have concrete floors not in the plan.  I did all the mixing and my husband did all the pouring.  I always wear dresses when working in hot weather.  They protect my legs but allow cooler air flow.  It was very hot that day.

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The 2nd floor was going up now.  This was about when the inspector showed up and required a permit and building plans.

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There is an extensive brick wall down in the greenhouse area.  We had piles of brick from demolition of a mansion that had a chimney that was 4 stories high.  We have used them also in our log home.  During the winter months the sun shines right on the brick wall allowing them to heat up and store the heat for later when the sun is gone.  The 3rd photo is upstairs.  I call it the observation deck , because the windows run the whole length with a great views for wildlife viewing in the valley .  The 2nd Photo you can see the timber framing on the side of the building. 

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Here is my plan with the exterior views as well as the 1st floor layout.  The middle room in the back that has the wood stove in it, is completely surround with concrete block or brick walls.  This all holds the heat and releases it slowly after the stove is long out.  The firewood storage area is now a full bathroom and the stove room is a sauna.  The room to the left on the plan which originally was going to be the wood shop or chicken coop is now the guest bedroom.       

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In determining the height of the 2nd floor so it wouldn't block our view from our log home view,  I stood at our log house and my husband held up a 12 ft long pole from the 2nd floor of the green house before the walls and roof had been started. We figured out at what height we would loose our view and so our roof line of the greenhouse had to stay below that.  So many people loose views by not imagining what a new addition or building will block. 

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Here is the plan for the 2nd floor which was originally suppose to be a work shop but is now a living area that we use for guests and parties.  The room to the left is where the entrance is which has only screens on the windows.  We now have a bar in there and put plastic on the windows in the winter. From the screened room there is a entrance to a deck on the roof of the 1st floor.  The deck was all fiber glassed.  We have encounter some problems with leaking as we did not fiber glass up the sides far enough for the deep snow.

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We go down the hill to the entrance.  We still have to make a proper walkway going down.  Its been in the plans for a few years now.  Always about finding the time for that new project.  There are 2 other entrances from each end of the 1st floor with a narrow road running to them for access and bringing firewood.  The building faces southeast.  In the summer the sun is off the big front windows around 2pm so it doesn't over heat from the sun in the late afternoon.   In the winter the sun bears low and penetrates to the back walls flooding the full floor area. 

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Summer scenes around the greenhouse.



Growing area of the greenhouse

All the big windows for the greenhouse had been purchase years ago from a friend who worked at a glass producing company.  They are all seconds that were suppose to be for sliding glass doors.  They are double glazed and safety glass.  We paid at the time 25.00 per window.  There are 16 in the whole building.   2 are used as sky lights in the growing area.  I didn't want to many on the roof as it would have gotten way to hot with so much sun longer in the day.  Purchase of these years before had made it possible to afford building this greenhouse along with all our own lumber. 

Spring time I start all my flowers and seedlings in the greenhouse.  The 2nd photo is my Greenhouse in November.  I grow all my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.  Previous years I grew all my winter squash as well.  The last 2 years I have been trying to grow my squash in the garden again but early heavy frosts are killing my plants before they really start producing, so I may go back to the greenhouse. 



Hope you enjoyed my story of a dream come true......

Look for Part 2 coming up with a tour of the inside and what has been growing..

Wishing everyone a

Good Morning....Good Afternoon....Good Night....

What ever it is to you....

Story and Photos


Here I Am/Carrie


Rocket Man said...

I remember this from last year. Lot of work but the end results made it all worthwhile!

GreatGranny said...

I really enjoyed the tour and I'm so happy for you as you have your dream house in such a lovely setting too.