Call it Rustic, not Crude: The Odyssey, #1: The Scenario

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Blog entry by rejo55 posted 04-07-2012 08:56 AM 4010 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Call it Rustic, not Crude: The Odyssey, series Part 2: The Travail »

In 1984, the beautiful little creek behind our house donated us six feet of water, along with the usual 15 inches of mud, silt. dead snakes, etc. We drug everything we owned after 28 years of marriage out to the front yard, stripped all the drywall inside and the western cedar board and batten exterior, shovelled the muck out and sprayed the studs with household bleach to kill the inevitable mildew. The area was not in a federally-declared flood plain, so we were not eligible for flood insurance. So we were given a small (very small) FEMA grant and got a loan from the Small Business Administration to rebuild the house. The furniture came from donationa from our church family and rummage sales.

We were now eligible for flood insurance, so we bought it.

Four years later, but before I had repaid the SBA loan, I was at the end of my hitch in southern Bolivia and I called Miss Honey Ma’am (my wife) and told her that I was coming home and to meet me at the airport. She said that I was not coming home, because we had no home… that we were flooded again (six more feet of water, etc). I then told her not to touch a d* thing; that we were getting out of there, because we had FLOOD INSURANCE!!!

Uncle Sam. in his glorious munificence, awarded us $46.000USD in insurance money, which we thought was wonderful, since we had lost over $100,000 twice in four years. But, we were determined to get out of that creek bottom and just walked away from what had once been a beautiful house (paid for) on ten acres inside a National Forest.

We found a wooded acre in the same county, but on higher, much higher ground and set about drawing up a floor plan on a brown paper sack. A good friend had always talked about building a house out of stacked two by fours and I had always frowned and said that that would be too espensive—- nice, but too costly. While we were sketching out the floor plan of our new home I thought about landscape timbers. They were twice as thick as dimension lumber, treated, and cheaper, to boot. I checked with MSDS about any hazards associated with living in a pressure treated house and was assured that if the interior was sealed, there would be no problem. This was in 1988, and they were still using CCA (Copper, Chromium and Arsenic).

I calculated how many timbers it would take to build a 2200 square foot structure and haggled with the local building supply for 1100 KD premium timbers.

I had a friend who had a small bulldozer and he and his brother cut the saw logs (all Loblolly pine) and for the timber and a handshake we got a building site prepared.

My buddy and I laid out the house, determined where the concrete pads and piers would be situated to support the weight of those solid wood walls, set the batter boards, and I returned to Bolivia for 28 more days.

When I returned, Miss Honey Ma’am had bought a new DW 12” compound miter saw, two by sixes for the forms for the pads and piers, bought, cut, fabricated and tied the rebar for the foundation, including bending the rebar into 10 inch square bands for the 12” piers. She told me to tell you that a neighbor lady helped her bend the rebar for the bands.

Have I mentioned to you that she is a hand?

We then bought 385 sacks of Sackcrete and mixed and poured the foundation. This took almost all my 28 days off, because after getting the concrete poured, we had to wait for it to cure, and I was glad, because we were pretty well used up and had to take a break. I think I might add that when we poured the piers, we put 15 inch-long, half inch all-thread with a flat washer and a nut in the center of each pier, leaving about 5 inches exposed to anchor the sills. This was a mistake that we discovered about seven years later when the house started settling and I couldn’t just go under there and shim up the sills to level the floor. Right now the floor sags in places and we will have to find the wherewithal to get big enough jacks to pick up almost half the house at a time and shim under the 36×36x6 inch pads, unless some of you have a better idea.

I will scrounge up the photos of the project for the next portion of this saga.

Have a good’un


I suppose the dog ate the first photos of this odyssey, because the only ones I can scrape up start after the project is underway, but I think you can get the gist of what happened from what I have.

-- rejo55, East Texas

5 comments so far

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3293 days

#1 posted 04-07-2012 11:12 AM

Sounds like you have a great wife and partner there. To level the floors, I’d get some 6” x 6” beams to support the floor and several 20 ton hydraulic jacks along with some 12” blocks to build a pier for support. It’s amazing what you can lift and move with a few hydraulic jacks. This Spring I have to work on my septic tank and some idiot put his 12’ X 16’ workshop on top of it because at the time I didn’t know where it was located. I’m going to move it by jacking it up on 4 beams under the shop, backing a trailer under it, setting it down and moving it about 50’.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View patron's profile


13611 posts in 3397 days

#2 posted 04-07-2012 12:43 PM

good to see you got the blog thing going

no pics. here yet
(could be my server
as i am on detention
for overuse with them)

glad you are moving forward
and are staying positive

with houses it just goes on and on
been here working on mine
for 12 years
as long as there is more to do
i guess i will stay busy

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Woodwrecker's profile


4164 posts in 3631 days

#3 posted 04-07-2012 02:03 PM

That is some story rejo55.
I can’t wait to see the pictures.
And, by the way, if Miss Honey Ma’am ever wants a Florida vacation, I have a big patio job I’m contemplating!
Sounds like she’d be better at doing it then me !
You are a lucky man.
(And she can bring you & the neighbor lady who helped her bend the re-bar too !) lol

Thanks for sharing our story.

View rejo55's profile


190 posts in 2298 days

#4 posted 04-07-2012 02:46 PM

Thanks, y’all.

Hal, thanks for the advice on jacking the house. I’ve been thinking about this for about six years now, and just about narrowed it down to two options. 1- go out and rent some BIG jacks and buy some timbers and crawl around under that house on my hands and knees (by the way, this house is sitting on iron ore clay and those little iron ore nuggets are just like shards of broken glass) and spend time doing this that I could be trying to get my shop organized, or 2- forget it. I’ll be 75 in September and Miss Honey Ma’am is just a year behind me and she sez she ain’t gettin’ under there with them snakes and lizards and thangs. The house hasn’t settled any more in the last few years, so I’ll let one of my grandkids worry about it.
BTW, I thought I was the only one who put something down and forgot where I put it. However, I have never misplaced a septic tank, though LOL.

Patron, thanks again for the tip on blogging. I might get the hang of it, yet. No, there’s nothing wrong with your server. I screwed up and didn’t get the pics posted. This was about 0400 hours this morning, and I just wasn’t up to the redo.

Woodwrecker, I checked with Miss Honey Ma’am about your project, and she said, “Florida? Ain’t that where they got them snakes and lizards and thangs?” So I guess that meant that you’re gonna hafta get the job done by yourself.

I’m at the family reunion and everybody is stirring around. Probably won’t be able to get back with this ‘til I get home tomorrow night.

Y’all have a good’un


-- rejo55, East Texas

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2746 days

#5 posted 04-08-2012 01:26 AM

What a great post! Keep these up and give that wife an extra hug today. She deserves it. (might go give that neighbor lady a hug while you’re at it). Have a Happy Easter.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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