This family of eight took control of their destiny in a way that I can’t imagine doing, no matter how much I would love to be able to do the same.
The eldest of six children explains the entire process in his own words:
“Long story as short as possible: Kind of a cool genuine story how this all worked out. My father was a mechanical engineer by background but worked in the Silicon Valley in California (that’s where Google, Microsoft, Apple, all the tech giants reside) making a decent living in software. He saw it coming and was eventually laid off while jobs were shipped to India. Then, things started falling into place. My mother’s parent’s said “Oh hey, we have 15 acres (bought in the 1970s) out in the boonies, and we’ll give it to you if you do something with it.” So my dad bought a book from Home Depot on how to build a house, read it, and said let’s do it. So he sold the house, dumped his retirement into getting this log cabin dream in motion and all the permits, supplies, food, etc. that would go with it. We moved into my grandma’s vacation house about 30 miles away from the job site and began working. My parent’s pulled us out of private school and we began homeschooling. For the next four years I hated it and I gave my parent’s as much attitude as I could get away with LOL. You could probably see we didn’t smile much. Nevertheless, it was the best thing that ever happened to us and I look up to my dad for making the hard but right decision back then. “
They started the prep work to build their home in mid 2004.
A friend through their church who owns a dairy loaned the family the heavy equipment needed to excavate the property.
This is what will become the driveway to their new home.
They started the process by digging a trench to place a drain.
They covered the dirt lane with gravel. You would never know a drain was buried under their driveway.
Bringing in some needed materials.
This is the oldest son. He was 13 or 14 years old, and as he mentioned above, not exactly thrilled with helping with this project. Here he is raking sand for the water tank.
The water tank is the big green structure in the background. In the foreground they are building the pump house.
Here’s the water tank and finished pump house.
Power is on property.
Septic tank hole, just waiting for the septic tank.
Septic tank is going in.
Trenching 1500 feet away from the water tank.
Laying the pipes from the well to the water tank. The well was 600 feet deep and 1500 feet away which would give 7 gallons a minute, making the need for the tank necessary.
Making new friends on the job site.
Getting read to drop PVC pipes for the electrical wire.
Dropping the PVC for the electric wires into the trench which will take power to the house and pump house.
Filling the sand filter with gravel.
Leveling out the sand in the sand filter.
Now that the ground work has been done, it’s time to prepare for the foundation.
Prepping the stem wall.
Getting in some fun after setting the girders for the subfloors.
Onto placing the I-joists for the subfloor.
It’s moving along nicely.
Plumbing is going in as the weather is cooling off.
Installing the subfloor.
Subfloor is complete and looking good.
Another snake. This one is a Gopher Snake (not poisonous) at their grandma’s house.
Sorting and organizing the newly delivered logs for the house/framing.
The kids compared this to extra-large Lincoln Logs.
The owner of Real Log Homes, the company they purchased the log kit from, came out to help get them started.
Now the ground floor has framing for windows and doors. This is about a year and a half into the project.
The kids are helping by bracing the structure.
FINALLY, the first outer log wall goes up.
Friends came to help. This is the oldest son’s best friend who came to help with construction for a couple of weeks with his father.
Sometimes the work was tedious.
Relatives came to visit during construction to see the progress.
Here he is foam weather-proofing.
Prepping a beam for chiseling.
Chiseling the beam that was prepped by their dad earlier.
Glulam beam being prepped for one of the gable ends.
They get points for ingenuity.
The notches on the top beam are for the logs which will support the loft.
The work never seems to end.
But kids being kids can find fun doing anything.
The kitchen will be on the left and the dining room is on the right.
Constructing the first gable for the loft side of the cabin.
Setting the gable in place.
Setting the center pole for the curving stair case to the loft.
Getting started on the roof.
Each beam had to be placed exactly.
Setting the tongue and groove for the ceiling.
It’s looking like a real cabin. Two years in.
Interior tongue and groove, rafters and loft in progress.
Tongue and groove and rafters looking beautiful and complete in the loft.
So much has been completed, still so much to do.
Working on the deck so they can start the porch roofing.
Using a guide so the angle of the porch roofing is identical
One down, about 20 more to go.
This is why the guide was so important. Looking perfect. More tongue in groove on the porch roof.
The porch is coming together now that the roof is done.
Notching for a vertical post.
It’s starting to look like a finished home now that windows are being installed.
Not everything was DIY. Roofers installed the skylights for the family.
Lots of help getting the back deck ready for railing.
Now that the deck and railing are complete the cabin is looking more like a high-end home.
Time to start framing the interior of the home now that the outside is looking so pretty.
Walls are up inside helping to define the spaces.
Post for the spiral staircase is being installed by the loft.
Beautiful wood work for the curved railing on the staircase.
Spiral staircase and railing is finished. This is definitely the pride and joy of the home.
Beautiful stone work in the alcove for the wood burning stove.
The complete look with lit stove is beautiful and efficient.
Onto the kitchen. Cabinets and island going in.
The kitchen of every woman’s dreams. Huge island with 6 burner stove, double ovens, plenty of storage, and granite counter tops too.
Staining the exterior of the cabin. It looks beautiful, which will help since it will need to be stained every other year.
The finished product. It only took a little over 4 years. They finished in December at a total cost of approximately $275k, not bad for a 2400 sq ft, 4 bed, 4 bath house complete with a loft in Northern California. However the memories and experiences they gained while working on this project is priceless. It’s amazing what a family can do with a little “how to” book from Home Depot. The only construction experience the head of the household had been from remodeling his first home before it was sold. And in case you are wondering about the kids, they were home schooled and 4 of the 6 kids have their high school diploma (the youngest two are still in school).
The determination and will required to have a dream and to see it through is incredible. I admire this family and the experiences they must have gained completing this project. And they will always have their beautiful home as a reminder of what they were able to accomplish. The oldest son said it best, “I believe this project could have been achieved with the willingness to learn and the drive to make it happen. I myself never held a hammer before. After a week or two of swinging it everyday all day, one gets pretty damn good. Same thing with a drill, saw, shoot even carrying wood or piping in an efficient way.”