We’ve all heard the saying that… “we learn the most in this life from our failures”.
And unfortunately… it’s true.
A better way to learn is from observing OTHER people’s mistakes… and successes.
When building something as significant as a house we want we want to avoid painful “life lessons” as much as we can. Few people will share their mistakes with us (it’s often embarrassing and humbling) so we need to make a habit of seeking them out (that’s not hard to do when it comes to something as large as house).
It’s been a lifelong passion of mine is to study houses… to learn from the best and avoid the rest.
In this week’s episode of Handmade House TV I take you to three small houses that I recently came across in the search for land for my next home. Each of these houses was built about the same time… within a few hundred feet of each other… likely for about the same amount of money.
Two of them turned out tragically, while the third… stands proud and true.
What can you learn from them?
These two poorly built homes in this episode ignored the 12 Keys to a Handmade House… if you haven’t watched the free video that I put together revealing the 12 keys make sure and check it out sometime! Here’s the link… The 12 Keys to a Handmade Home
Now, as fate would have it, a few months before I began building the Madison House an unusual log cabin came into my life.
I received an unexpected knock on my door one evening. It was one of my salvage material suppliers. He had on the back of his huge truck an old log cabin that he wanted to sell me… one that he needed to sell… right then. The logs were beautiful, the price was right, but there were problems with cabin.
In my line of work it seems that there are always problems, and that if I think long enough on a problem, I find there is a solution.
This little cabin originally stood in the Scottsville area and rumor had it that at one time it was home to a couple who had twelve children. I have no idea how 14 people could have fit into this little place. I’m thankful that I wasn’t one of them.
As I said the logs were beautiful… very wide, nicely hewn… all oak. Some of the logs had rotted away so replacements logs would be needed, but these logs were much thinner than any I have ever seen… four inches thick, rather than the normal six to eight that is the norm. I knew that I would never be able to find replacements.
The fellow that took the cabin down didn’t bother to photograph it, nor number the logs, as “the notches were all bad and the cabin was a mess, completely covered in vines”. What a shame.
I bought that little cabin that night. It had quickly grabbed my heart.
I put her up on my lot as a three sided cabin… it was the only option I could think of. I thought it would make a great addition to someone’s home one day.
Here we have a log outbuilding… most likely a place for curing meat.
Like all log structures the secret to it’s strength is in the corners. All of the bearing weight of a cabin is carried to the corners and then down to the stones located on the four corners. No other foundation work is needed other than to keep the wind and animals out from under the house (which admittedly are very nice features)
The logs themselves, other than the very ends, contribute nothing more to a house than filling in the space in between the corners (and looking good of course… which is also a nice feature). 🙂
Take a peek inside of the front door of this stone cottage and notice the interior lighting how it washes down the stone wall. Nice. There are great rewards to having unique wall surfaces on the interior of a home, such as that of stone and of log. These two natural materials create rooms like no other material can.
I would imagine if you were to take a poll and ask which tool people most often thought of when thinking of a carpenter or builder the response would likely be “a hammer”. Well, for all those waiting for that tool to be discussed the moment has arrived! Follow along in this video as Noah Bradley shares his insights into this wonderful tool.