On the first of July, in the year 2008, my family and I will move to what I affectionately call: The Solar Compound. It is essentially a cabin, located on a ridge top, on the edge of a canyon where the Sierra meets the Cascades. An adventure.
The property itself is "off the grid". Three acres. Part of an "off the grid" community of eccentrics: retired libertarian autoworkers; disabled folk living cheaply on social security; rednecks squatting in trailers; four households of 7th Day Adventist Apocalyptic RN's who expect Jesus to finally return after a 2,000 year hiatus; Whole Earth Catalogue refugees---and various other non-conformists and cheapskate ner-do-wells.
At the age of 47, why do this?
Many reasons. Seeing as my spouse and I aren't Trustfunders we either have to rent (which we currently do in the hoity-toity Napa Valley); go deeply into debt on the downhill slope of our life expectancy (not advised)---or be very creative in finding a place to call our own.
We chose creativity over mortgage slavery.
It took two years to find this place. Our criteria was that it had to be within four hours of the ocean. It had to be beautiful. It had to be inexpensive. It had to be within a few hours of a major urban area (even homesteaders want to attend a concert now and then, or hear a favored author speak). It had to have solar potential. It had to have at least an acre of level land for a garden. And it had to be in California.
Sometimes life conspires to give you what you want.
The only problem is that the cabin currently has only 350 square feet of living space. There are four of us.
Joni (whose claim to fame is that she has the longest prison sentence in Colorado for sitting in a tree); Me (Allan---a lazy, underachiever with no claim to fame); Kylie aged 8 and Jazmine age 6 (Joni's grandchildren--my step grandchildren---who have been living with us for four years).
So what's a left wing, wine loving, soft living, semi-granola head with no carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry or construction skills to do? (I actually got a D minus in Shop in the seventh grade---something I haven't admitted to Joni yet).
Why, build an addition, of course!! And never mind hiring some professional to do it. We'll do it ourselves. After all, how hard could this be? (gulp).
This is our journal of the construction of a Family Room and Two bedrooms. This may not be very pretty. We plan on making mistakes (lots of them). Go ahead: Laugh. Or groan. We hope for very few casualties.
We plan on building this addition in two months; using recycled materials obtained at junk yards and "Craig's List". It will be built of Mud and Straw. Nouveau Third World Style. Our budget is $23,000. The labor will be provided by a hodge/podge of family and a few deeply deluded friends who either love us, or who owe us a favor, or both.
Follow along.... This should be a fun ride...