Last week our wood finally came. I ordered rough cut pine, 2×8′s for the floor joists, and 1×6′s for the flooring. The wood is beautiful, and working with it has been really, really fun, and a nice break from mixing cob during one of the hottest summers on record here. I have almost zero carpentry experience, but my friend Steve, a builder with Habitat for Humanity, does, and I’ve been lucky to have his help a lot lately. Sunday morning we started with the girder…
Our design for the floor might be a bit overkill for a room with an interior that’s somewhere near a rounded off 9′x9′, but I’m a perfectionist, and I like the idea of an excessively solid floor. So we put in this girder, a large beam running east-west which has the dual purpose of breaking up the distance the joists will have to span, and also cantilevering out through the west wall to support a balcony over the entrance. Kristin, Steve and I worked on placing the girder into the walls, making sure it was perfectly level.
When Steve came back over on Monday he brought his electric planer, and I planed wood for what seemed like years while he framed out the opening for the ladder. This was the first time I had used a power tool while working on the house. It was loud, and boring, but the smooth, glowing pine was worth it. Soon we started laying some flooring, beginning with my favorite 1×6.
Building with cob is a slow process. It’s fun and satisfying work, but there is no instant gratification when working with cob. Laying flooring is a completely different experience. The floor formed underneath my feet, transforming the look of the entire house along with it. It was so much fun we kept working until it was too dark to see where to place the nails.
When I got off work Tuesday afternoon I worked for a while by myself laying more flooring. Soon my friend Joe showed up to help, and in no time all the flooring was laid.
We”ll be continuing to work with wood instead of clay this week, working on the balcony above the entrance, and then building a roof that extends from the eastern side of the house to cover the area designated for an outdoor bed.
Building this floor seems like such a milestone in the life of the house. A while ago I was talking with my friend Melissa (who is also building her own cob house), about what it’s like to be taking on a such a huge project, and she said sometimes it feels like being pregnant, except no one can tell. In a way it’s true. Building this house consumes almost all of my spare time, and my thoughts throughout the day always come back to the house, and what needs to happen next. If the site work, excavation, and foundation stonework were the gestation period, and then the first batch of cob on the walls was the birth of the house, then yesterday felt like her first birthday. It was a cause for celebration, and once all the flooring was laid I stayed up there for a while with some wine, admiring the view as the sunlight faded away.