Monday, September 7, 2015

Wanna buy a house?



It's officially on the market, our old house in Newport, Oregon. 8 years of blood, sweat, and probably a few tears as well, it's ready for new owners. It's a cute little bungalow beach cottage, and has basically been rebuilt from the ground up. It didn't look at all like this when we bought it in 2007, not even close. I lost all of my "before" pictures when our cats attacked my old laptop, so you'll have to just trust me but......yeah, it's pretty much a new house.



Ahhhhh.....Renee found me a "before" picture! This is where we began.

Yeah, it looks a little different now. Back then, it had fewer windows, a nearly flat roof, and tons of wonderful little bats living underneath the siding. I miss the bats, the other stuff.....not so much.




We enclosed the front porch, to make it as bright and welcoming as we could, perfect for plants and sun loving cats.





Throw open the French doors ( there are 4 sets of them on this floor of the house. We put French doors everywhere!) to open the house up, making it one of the "warmest" and most inviting houses to be found on the Oregon coast.


Our realtor Brody Beckstead took these pics on a cloudy day, but despite the summer fog, the house is still bright and happy. You appreciate warm colors the most, when the sky's are gray.




It's a quirky house, full of arches, windows and doors. The wood floor is original to the house, and most of the window sills I milled from old-growth redwood, the smallest part of an ancient monster that washed up on the beach one winter.






This small room at the southeast corner of the main floor looks out over a 40 acre wetland pond.


The seasons are measured by the changing nature of the area. Through the winter, you can watch the storms whip the surface of the water into a frenzy, while springtime brings flocks of geese, a natural resting spot on their travels north. Some will stay long enough to fledge a brood of chicks through the summer. Fall brings the geese back again, as well as ducks. Hooded mergansers and buffleheads love to dive and scrabble the bottom, looking for food.



Hidden around the corner of the living room is one of the last projects that I had time to work on, a tiny set of stairs.....




.....leading up into a sort of attic bedroom/yoga studio/home theatre area.


Renee made that awesome railing last month when she was visiting the mainland for a fisheries conference. Nice work!




Most of the kitchen wall is a window, looking out into the private front yard.



Funny story.......We bought a monster 4'x8' window, then spent a weekend installing the impossibly heavy bugger. Balancing on ladders and suspending the 250 pound window from the protruding roof framing, Renee and I somehow managed to install the thing without either breaking the window or ourselves in the process. We lived with it for a week, then decided that we wanted an even BIGGER window, so we did the whole mess again the following weekend, except the replacement window was even bigger and heavier. We settled on a 5' x 8' window, as we wouldn't have been able to lift anything larger, haha.





The back porch was rebuilt last year, using Port Orford cedar, a sadly rare wood that is just amazing to work with. POC was what got me started using Japanese tools in the first place, as the cleanly planed finish is absolutely beyond compare. You need EXTREMELY sharp tools however, know how that goes.


One of our first projects for the house was to strip off the existing siding, then added 2" of foam board insulation and a self draining rainwall, topped by new, premium red cedar shingles. The design of a rainwall acts as an additional drainage plane, and with the driving rain that you can get during the winter storms, keeping the wall dry is imperative to a buildings longevity. A traditional shingle wall often holds onto dampness, causing premature splitting, cupping and rot of the shingles. Not so with a rainwall. These shingles should last for 50 years or more.


It was an ungodly amount of work, though. Just FYI, if you're thinking of implementing rainwall construction.



The realtor didn't take any pictures of my downstairs workshop.....the best part of the house! It must be pretty messy down there, unfortunate because the work area is nice and bright, another warm and inviting room, full of more windows. The basement is accessible through both an interior stairwell and an exterior door that opens out to a nice terrace. I had always intended to lay a flagstone patio, but didn't get around to it.


Looking at these photos reminds me of the 101 little projects that didn't get finished. You always think that you'll have time, but.....





So, the old house is for sale.....what's happening in Hawaii?




Some crazy lady with an axe tore out a big patch of Aluhe fern!


Amazingly, under all that Aluhe is heavily fractured lava, loosely embedded in very rich soil.


There is almost zero soil anywhere in this region, so composting, mulching, and soil improvement have reached religious status. You can't even buy decent soil, not from what I've seen, so to have a nearly limitless supply.......




Yesterday's toil gave us about 1 cu/yd of rich soil, and 1.5 cu/yd of building stone. I had no idea what we would find under the cover of Aluhe, and I had feared that it would just be an impenetrable layer of solid lava, but that's far from the case. The beauty of having fractured lava rubble substrate is that we should be able to do our clearing and leveling by hand, without having to resort to renting a bulldozer. The work is physically demanding, but doing this sort of thing slows things down to where we can really examine what our priorities are. How big a clearing do we need? How large of a house? How lazy am I, haha?!



This process of work and slow progress is becoming interesting in its own right. If you build everything by hand, move each stone, place each post, dig, level and fill, everything hard, heavy and really want things to be done well. Solid. Simple.



1 comment:

  1. A beautiful home! The person who gets it won't know how lucky they are. Are the interior ceiling beams faux?
    Tell us about milling that redwood you said you used for the window sills, sounds like a good story.


Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason