What Building Project Are You Most Proud Of?

| 2/4/2010 2:46:12 PM

Tags: DIY, question to readers,

I’m certainly not what anyone would call a carpenter — not by a long shot. When I was a pre-schooler, my parents built a lovely three-bedroom, Cape Cod style house. I got pretty good at identifying tools and handing them to my dad. I knew the difference between a Phillip’s and a slot screwdriver, and where to find the hammer Dad used the day before.

In the early years of my marriage, we did a lot of house remodeling, and (again) I was good at finding the right tools and developed a familiarity with the use of many of the tools in our workshop. But I had never tackled a building project all on my own.

A few years ago, while living on some rural acreage, I needed an outhouse on a remote portion of the property. So, I thought, “I bet I can do this!” I drew the little shed-roofed structure on paper and figured the number of 2-by-4s and sheets of plywood I’d need. It was a two-holer, so to make things easy, I made the dimensions 4 by 8 to take advantage of the size of a sheet of plywood. The most difficult part of the job was cutting the top of the studs at an angle to accommodate the shed roof. But I did it — the whole thing — all by myself. I did need help moving it to its final location, but all of the construction was done by me. I was very proud of myself!

What building project have you done all on your own that you are the most proud of? Share your story in the comments section below.


deek d_3
3/12/2010 10:06:33 AM

here's my most recent- although I've built a TON of tiny homes and cabins- and featured a good deal of them in an indie book I just released.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEvYT3CMtQI -Deek http://www.relaxshacks.com for some of the other things I've built recently.

denise holtz
2/22/2010 7:58:00 AM

The building project I am most proud of is one my husband and I began 2 years ago. We found out farmers around here were wanting to tear down old barns. Not wanting to loose the materials and history, we built an old western town on our farm. We started by dragging the grain bins from inside our first barn behind a tractor, three miles to our place. Out of those, I have made a General Store, Soda Saloon and Boarding House, (one is yet to be done). Then more farmers found out what we were doing and now we have, a school/church, livery stable, 2 story hotel front, and the beginnings of a bank. To furnish each building we have used things that are around the farm, or things friends donated. Now "Draggitville" is used by anyone who wants to see it, use it for gatherings, or have an old fashioned weinee/marshmallow roast.

pat miketinac
2/20/2010 8:49:48 PM

My earth shelter house. Rob Roy said it could be built for $10,000 in purchased materials (1987 dollars) and he was right, but in my case it was also about 3300 hours of labor. This included logging, sawmill work, excavating and backfill. 23 years later, I am still amazed what a great concept this is for safety and energy efficiency.

ricky newcomer
2/16/2010 1:46:42 AM

The building project I'm most proud of is called the Palladio's Escape Cottage. It is a two story, 412 sq. ft. building that is fully functional for the daily living needs of one or two people. It's also expandable. It's built (and sold) as prefabricated, hand-manageable parts. One can build or purchase the parts one at a time as their budget allows until they have all of them. Then they assemble. It's a truly doable step-by-step way to own a house from day one without having the burden of a mortgage. By the way, it's beautiful and picket-fence compatible. Please see it and read much more about it at www.planofescape.com

2/12/2010 1:58:20 AM

It is lovely to read the comments here and feel the obvious and deserved pride and joy the people have of their handiwork. I have found a bit of contentment in learning to build, too. In 2000 or thereabouts I got this intractable house-fever. After driving many, many weekends around the countryside, I found an almost abandoned farmhouse on a southwesterly hillside. I bought the place and started renovating it in 2002. The house had not been lived in in 20 years, but 150 years ago the rural builders knew what they were doing. I am a bureaucrat by profession and an electronics engineer by training. My previously biggest building experience had been a bird feeder 30 years earlier in grade school. Essentially, I took the house apart so that only the walls and roof were left and rebuilt it from the inside out. What was not obvious, I asked the farmer folk around, and researched in the literature. Took me five years to move in, but I feel this house, while modernized, still honors the old rural building style and the techniques then in use. Now I can turn my look to the 4 acres of shrubbery fields...

ryan basye_2
2/11/2010 2:13:40 PM

The project that I am most proud of is my root cellar. When I moved here four years ago I knew that I needed one if I was going to be able to live simply the way I wanted to. After much research on materials I decided I would build the underground walls out of old tires. It took me three years to complete the root cellar and the shed above the stairwell, but it has been one of the best things I have done. Not only do I store food in there but I also store barrels of apples for the animals as well as barrels of silage for my Navaho Churro Sheep. I discovered that barrels of silage will freeze solid in the winter time and it was pretty tough to chip away at it with a knive so now I roll the barrels over to the root cellar where it stays at least over 32 degrees even when it is sub zero for weeks on end. The roof was made out of 3x12's salvaged from a grain storage building on my property that I have also made a chicken coop and a "dog den" (I call it that because I berried it as well)out of the boards that have come from it. I have a photo album of it on my Facebook page if you would like to check it out.-Ryan Basye

2/11/2010 1:38:02 PM

After reading MEN's 6 issue series on "The Sun Cottage", I decided to build my version, also incorporating several other alternative building ideas from MEN-slip forming, earth sheltering, and cordwood construction. In 1982 my wife and I bought 34 acres in Tennessee, and started to build our dream home, passive solar space and water heating, earth sheltered, post and beam framed, slipformed stone, with cedar cordwood infilled south wall. We had some money from selling a house I remodeled, but funds were tight, so we did all the work we could ourselves. We hired a track loader to excavate a 25' by 65' recess into a south facing hillside, and then hand dug footer trenches, poured 15 yards of concrete in them, and started slipforming stone walls. We placed locally gathered stone into the forms and mixed concrete with a gas mixer to fill around the stone. Once set up, the form could be moved, using the same forms over and over again to move down the walls. I then felled and ripped posts and beams from oak trees on our property. I also cut Eastern Red Cedar (Juniper) into 16" lengths to stack for drying. After framing and decking the original shed roof, we poured another 15 yards of concrete with the help of friends and neighbors for a slab. We floated the slab surface for texture, and stained it a dark brown to improve solar absorption. After 15 months of drying time, we could wait no longer for the cedar to dry further, so we started building with it. First I built a shaving horse and using a drawknife, I had to peel all of the bark from the cedar. I later learned that if I had cut the cedar in the spring, when the sap is up, it would of peeled more easily. Laying two strips of sawdust rich mortar along the inside and outside of the wall, I laid the 16" cedar lengths onto them, filling the inner space with insulation. This way there is no continuous mortar bond through the wall to transfer heat. The cedar cordwood wall was

art hagar_3
2/11/2010 11:38:21 AM

I have added 1000 square feet of living area, including a new bathroom with a walk-in shower, 1100 feet of covered porches, and a carport, to our home near Glen Rose, doing most all the work myself. My younger son helped with the decking and sub floor. I had the roofing and concrete done by others. I really enjoyed the project, mainly because there were no permits and inspections required, because we live outside the city limits. I also installed over 1000 square feet of thin sliced native stone (from a quarry less than 15 miles away) on the outside walls. I guess I didn’t do badly for a 67 year old. At this time I am adding another 321 square feet to our steel barn. Oh, then there is the 12 by 18 greenhouse I built with six self-built solar electric panels and two wind turbines that supply power for heating and cooling.

pamela pollock_1
2/11/2010 11:13:03 AM

The most wonderful building project I have done to date is to build an arbor for my hardy kiwi vines in the front yard. The arbor needed to be sturdy to support the weight of the plants and fruit. I wanted to use recycled wood from a play structure that was on our property when we purchased it in 2005. I also wanted it to be colorful and whimsical. I incorporated iridescent fused glass pieces that were failures from a lighting design business I had in the San Francisco Bay area before we moved to Oregon in 2005. I added 3 colors of paint to highlight the structure, screwed on the hog panels for the vines to wind around. The only thing that my husband did to help me was to dig the holes and pour the concrete to anchor the four posts. The rest was up to me! I painted the words "Peace is in the Garden, Relax in the Moment" on the cross beam. The arbor has attracted a lot of favorable comments from neighbors as they pass by on their daily walks with their dogs! Enjoy! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?&aid=147749&id=519532774

k l _1
2/11/2010 9:47:54 AM

My project I am in the midst of...have built 11 raised beds for my new vegetable gardens. The materials used to construct them are 2X4's that are in the scrap heap at one of the largest home improvement chains. All the scraps are mostly 4' long as they sell the two by fours in 12' lengths normally, and many have them cut to 8'..they cost me .50 each......voila...very cheap wood and am doing a good deed on recycling too !! Have built nine beds this way and am working on number 10 and 11. Pretty good for a non-carpenter !

sally sudderth mandell
2/10/2010 5:51:40 PM

First project was a horse barn with tack room, hay sotrage and concrete foundation. Learned how to do drywall and electrical. Bought more property and added 800 feet of water and electrical lines. Ran electrical lines from the big barn to the horse stalls. Next I built a pump house with a concrete foundation and a storage shed. Then a big hay barn with 24' trusses. total size 24' X 24'. Then replaced my horse corral fences with a pipe that I welded. This was my first time really welding. Latest project was a overhang on the horse stall to store horse grain and a few bales of hay. Added more water lines during Christmas break. Spring break I want to extend the roof on the hay barn and add a covered section to the big barn to store stuff. I also need to replace my front porch roof. If I can figure out how to do it, I can do it.

marie devine_2
2/10/2010 5:23:33 PM

I built a colonial style fence with things I salvaged from a 100 year old house being torn down nearby. It had three square columns and I made the horizontal pieces so they could be removed and equipment could be moved in and out. The neighbors were impressed. There have been many ideas I could see since then where I would like to do something with something someone was throwing away. I call it God's supply.

2/10/2010 2:13:56 PM

I built a 10 x 20 lean-to greenhouse attached to the south side of my garage...... it has manual raised southern vents and ends that are framed up and removable in warm weather... I researched Aquaponics for about a year and then built a custom Aquaponics system in the greenhouse.... I have a 600+ gallon fish tank and 1 large and 2 smaller grow beds.... good thing about Aquaponics is the veggies grow in rock, no dirt and there are no weeds..... chemical free vegetables - fresh edible fish all from the same back yard system..... pics below http://www.decals-by-jt.com/AP_pics/gb_finished/finishedAPsystem1001.jpg http://www.decals-by-jt.com/AP_pics/gb_finished/finishedAPsystem1002.jpg http://www.decals-by-jt.com/AP_pics/gb_finished/finishedAPsystem1003.jpg

stephen tomas
2/10/2010 2:12:15 PM

just built an 8x12 shed that took a while but was worth the quality, my effort, and the money saved. i think my neighbors are tired how impressed i am with my own work - LOL my next project will be a 2 floor A-frame cabin w/heat and bathroom in the catskills, country living at its best!

ann _1
2/10/2010 12:49:12 PM

After my husband and I had our house built, we decided to leave the room over the gararage unfinished. We were not sure of what we wanted to do with that room, and was trying to save a little money. It had no heating and air, no walls. We weren't expecting someone moving back home with Mom, but 17year old son called me one day and said he was at the house with his clothes and everything he owned. My then 21 year old daughter(just home from college) let him bunk him with him, while we finished that room. Installation Sheetrocked, painted and put floor and carpet down, got him some furniture and in two days, he had the nicest, biggest room in the house. The thing is probably anyone can do that, but we worked as a family and got it done together for a cause. My children didn't stay home that much longer, but we have a nice excercise room and spare bedroom now.

russell meyers
2/10/2010 11:56:19 AM

This past summer/fall, I built a large PVC greenhouse. Then a violent wind storm blew it to smithereens. Then, this winter, I built a temporary solarium on the back of the house. Then a violent wind storm blew it to smithereens! LOL! I don't feel badly. The first wind storm blew roofs off of large buildings. The second one blew the roof off my neighbor's commercially made carport. Other than that, I've built my picnic table, computer table and installed shelves in the office and dining room. All solid. Made a seesaw for my daughter, also solid and adjustable height for as she gets older. Best I've done so far but lived in apartments or barracks most of my life.

joyce rapp
2/10/2010 9:47:06 AM

Although my husband had never built anything bigger than a brick wall before, we undertook our own remodel: digging out the dirt, shoring up the existing upper level and finishing our "buildup" (like a walkout basement but not previously excavated), by pouring new concrete walls adjacent to the old ones. He has framed the walls, built a stairway down to our master suite from the original level, installed drywall, plumbing and electrical. I just tell him what I want and he finds out how to do it. We have nearly doubled the square footage of our home. He has made several changes to the original level, as well, such as new cabinet doors in the kitchen and a dining room popout on the living room. He has also added heating vents to the downstairs so that it is the same temperature as the upstairs. Outside we have added several stairways on our steeply-sloping property and a lower deck outside our bedroom door. He will be 71 in May.

joyce rapp
2/10/2010 9:45:46 AM

Although my husband had never built anything bigger than a brick wall before, we undertook our own remodel: digging out the dirt, shoring up the existing upper level and finishing our "buildup" (like a walkout basement but not previously excavated), by pouring new concrete walls adjacent to the old ones. He has framed the walls, built a stairway down to our master suite from the original level, installed drywall, plumbing and electrical. I just tell him what I want and he finds out how to do it. We have nearly doubled the square footage of our home. He has made several changes to the original level, as well, such as new cabinet doors in the kitchen and a dining room popout on the living room. Outside we have added several stairways on our steeply-sloping property and a lower deck outside our bedroom door. He will be 71 in May.

todd reece
2/10/2010 8:54:52 AM

There are a couple I've done.... a 2x4 platform to place small engine equipment on, like powerwashers, push mowers and the like.... Then I am working on a gun cabinet, made of iron and wood...thats taken over a year to work, on in between minor disasters and more pressing "honey do" items.... But I guess the most memorable construction item was a duplex dog house me and my wife made with no plans.... That was something... We had 2 dogs and wanted to house them together. It worked really well actually. Tin corrugated roof, plywood walls, 2x4 frame and "rafters".... Next thing is a shelter for a goat my girl wants so badly...

2/10/2010 7:59:03 AM

I am a middle-age, middle class housewife living in Middletown, NJ with no particular construction skills -- however, I did build my own hen house for my 3 pet chickens. It is built of plywood that I cut, painted and nailed together all by myself. I designed it and painted it as well. Now that the weather has gotten badt, it provides a warm, safe, secure place for my girls! I had to go outside this morning and brush snow off the house and the run but the chickens were excited to see me and greeted me with their usual cackles of joy (or maybe it was the food they were overjoyed to see). Anyway, despite my family's initial reaction (keeping chickens is weird and that hen house will fall down) the chickens are happy and everyone now loves them.

2/9/2010 9:12:07 AM

My wife and I had our house roughed in the fall 2006/winter 2007. We have been doing the interior ourselves. My daughter, wife and I laid all of the hardwood floors and tile. My wife does all of the gardening and the flowers around the yard as can be seen on this page of photos http://www.superwoodworks.com/Cindy/HousePlantings.htm I am responsible for doing the woodworking such as the stairs, vanities, linen cabinets, interior doors, bifold door sets and all of the trim. I recenty finished a washroom door that is off of the sunroom which overlooks my wife's gardens. The door frame is made with ash. The door has three panels. The two lower panels are ash and the larger upper is a blank of basswood that I carved on both sides. The sunroom side has a deep relief carving of Hollyhocks, a birdhouse on a post and a bird perched on the bird house which my daughter drew on the wood. The side of the carving facing the inside of the washroom was quirky drawing of an outhouse that my son-in-law drew. The door carving can be seen from beginning to end result on this http://www.superwoodworks.com/Projects/CarvedDoor.htm page of photos on my site along with some of the other projects for the yard and house at the following link. http://www.superwoodworks.com/ProjectsIndex.htm

bill griffin
2/6/2010 8:32:08 PM

I am still in the process of finishing it, but I built an 8'6" by 8'6" solar shed. In the winter, it works as a green house, and in the summer, I move it to a different location, cover the windows, take out the woodstove (my secondary heat source), fit in an air conditioner, and turn it into a walk-in cooler for my market garden business.

jeffrey h. simonson
2/4/2010 6:32:30 PM

I built this house solo. Does it look like a big outhouse? The real outhouse hidden between the shed and the camper was the model for the house. http://blog.simonsonjh.org/blog/index.php?/archives/42-House-Panorama.html

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