Surviving our first winter

The first winter here has been hard. We are able to keep our house between 50 and 70 which is fabulous. It’s been a struggle and has cost us more than we would like (which has pushed some of our proposed improvements back a bit), but we have been more comfortable than we have been in several winters.

The current struggle has been between keeping the electric on and the water pipes thawed. This winter has been unusually cloudy, which has not helped keep our batteries charged. We have a generator but it has been having a tough time connecting to our inverter properly. It will start charging the batteries and then the inverter kicks it off charge. We should hopefully have the issue fixed in the next week, but for now we have had to have nightly blackouts where we turn off the inverter and turn it back in in the morning.

Due to these blackouts we haven’t been able to run our pipe heater when the temperature gets below freezing. Every few days we have to thaw out the pipes. Thankfully it’s only happened on nights when the temperature gets over 40 the next day or when the sun is out enough to run the heater during the day.

The plan for this year is to get a wind turbine connected to the batteries. That was always the plan but it wasn’t in the budget of things we could get done before we moved in. Once we get that hooked up we should have no issue running the heater all night.

I am not a fan of winter.

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It’s winter, I’m in a slump.

There is so much to post about but… winter. I have no drive what so ever. I can’t wait for this cold spell to be over.

Anyway… we had a goal to have the inside doors up by Christmas Eve. In order to do that we had to finish missing the wall, spray mud it, and paint it. Three days before Christmas and we had done absolutely none of that. Yay us. So the desperation that follows procrastination set in and we got it done! It’s not fully painted yet but it is painted enough to put the doors up. we also sealed the floors in the kids’ rooms which greatly reduced the dust.

Here is how it went:

A year in review

I have more progress to post. It has been quite a holiday break here! Before I do that, however, I would like to take the time to reflect on the gigantic strides we have made in this past year. The last thing we did on the house before winter hit was December 21, 2017. We had just backfilled for the second time (the first having resulted in the massive collapse of the tire wall). The loft had been built and we were putting up the walls of the second floor. The amount of work that has gone into getting this house ready to be moved into is fairly astounding. We put up wall, put up a roof (and to tell you the truth I am very surprised one of us didn’t die while putting up the 32 foot long trusses). We also installed our solar panels and put in our water cistern

we installed all of our windows and doors

C put in stairs. We put in insulation, put up almost all of the drywall, painted most of the rooms,

C installed a bathroom

We put in almost al of our appliances. The best part of all has been us finally being able to move in. This has been the most amazing month of my life so far. There is so much more that needs to be done but we are here and we LOVE IT!!

I don’t have any New Years resolutions for 2019. I like who I am, I like who we are, so I think instead I’m just going to make some goals that I would like accomplished by this time next year.

First I would like the kids/guest bathroom finished. We need to finish the tile, finish the drywall, paint, and add the shower. Compared to what we did last year this really shouldn’t be hard to complete.

Second I would like all of the subfloors in and at least the downstairs floors installed.

Finally I would like all of the drywall put up. There isn’t much left. We have to finish putting in the ceiling of the main room, finish the bathroom, pantry, laundry room, and the kids closets. They are all pretty small areas and most are at least partially done.

This should leave the flooring upstairs, the trim, our bathroom, and the outside to complete in 2020.

The stove is in!

Living here has really slowed down the amount of work we are doing, but it’s nice because we also don’t feel rushed all the time. We are also concentrating on paying off some of our bills. Buying the new car before school started has been really hard in the pocket book, but we are actually seeing some light at the end of the tunnel which is really refreshing.

We were able to finally move the stove we bought into the house. We can’t fill the hole in front of the house yet so instead we built a really sturdy bridge to help us move giant heavy things into the house.

The moving of the stove was actually sheer genius on C’s part. He took apart almost every part that could come off. The burners, griddle, back part, doors, until it was basically just a shell. Then we jacked it up, put a furniture dolly underneath both sides, removed the legs, and strapped it on the dollies with straps. We could wheel it right into the house after that. Putting it back together was super easy too.

and VOILA! We now have a $4000 commercial stove that only cost us $1000 (we bought it from a restaurant that went out of business after a year)! We need to clean it up a bit still but that’s not a huge deal.

Pancakes are so easy now.

The battle of insulation

We have been in the house for about three weeks. There are still a few things that need to be fixed, like the big hole in the front, the concrete floors covered in dust, and the lack of a stove, but all in all it’s quite lovely. The worst offense, however, has been the discovery of giant holes where the insulation has blown out from around the eaves. First we bought a kerosene heater, which has been fantastic, and helps with our lack of a stove.

Then we bought a propane heater which worked great for the two hours it took to use up a small propane tank. Way too much money than we wanted to spend. We are selling it.

Next we decided to suck it up and invest in a wood burning stove. I hate wood burning stoves. Have I mentioned they are my arch nemesis? I fought hard against it but in the end it won. C brought in this neat little thing that is about half the size of the one in the cabin. It’s also way easier to start a fire. Fifteen minutes is the longest it has taken. the only issue is that we need to use vice grips to close the door.

The stove helped a lot, but our main problem was the holes with no insulation. We had bought a small set of spray foam a few months ago and had the great idea to hold the fiberglass insulation in with it. This would have worked wonders if the spray foam hadn’t malfunctioned and sprayed foam from one side all over everything outside. We were still able to get about a third of the outside of the house sealed. Today we went and got more insulation and a replacement spray foam. Thankfully we only had to show them the pictures for them to let us take another. We did the easy fixes today and tomorrow will be going after the rest. It’s already so much warmer in here. This is exciting.

The move

We are officially living in our new house. It’s not as ready as we would have liked but it’s ready enough. The toilet and sink were installed last week by C which, other than installing the stove, were the last things needed before we could move.

We did learn one very important thing after moving: priorities are definitely changing. At first we were going to focus on getting the front room and kitchen finished. Instead we had to fix some insulation issues after the first night and pick up a temporary heater for this winter. A typical earthship has a large greenhouse facing south southeast in order to get full sun all day. This keeps the house heated all winter and then you vent it in the summer. Once we got the wall of windows up we realized that we really lived the view and didn’t want to obstruct it with a greenhouse. Instead we have decided to invest in a pellet stove, but the heater works for now until we can get that installed. We also decided that we needed to finish one of the two pantry walls so that I can start putting things away and use the kitchen more effectively.

(This is the view from one of our windows, we are working on getting rid of the pile of wood garbage and will eventually be building a back patio too)

We still don’t have the stove installed, but that’s mainly because we are waiting on the conversion kit to change it from natural gas to propane. The company was missing a few parts buts they said it should be shipped out by Monday. Hopefully that means I could be cooking on my new stove by next weekend.

We had bought a futon before we moved that was going to be used as a couch during the day and a bed for C and I at night. We slept on it the first night, then woke up thanksgiving morning and headed to Walmart to get us a queen size inflatable mattress, yes it was that bad. We have a king size bed but we were able to put down some plywood to put the mattress on until we can afford to get an actual mattress that fits.

Probably the worst thing though is the amount of dust in the house. The concrete floors still have residual dirt ground in which create a fine layer of dust on absolutely everything. I have been vacuuming 1/4 of the concrete everyday which has been helping a ton. Once we get the subfloors down (I’m the next few weeks) the amount of dust should start to subside too.

It’s not going to be easy at first but we definitely love it, and we can really envision what it is going to be. We are so glad to finally be out here too. We still have about half of our stuff left in the cabin but it won’t take long to move it.

Almost there!

Now that we are to the little things it’s going pretty quickly. This past week not only did we get our gas installed but we also had our septic hooked up too! I didn’t get pictures of those, sorry. C has been doing far more work than I have too (because most of my work is piddly stuff that can be done after we move and requires his help). He installed the bathroom subfloor, laid most of the bathroom tile (enough to be able to put in the bathroom vanity and toilet), and did a whole bunch of behind the scenes plumbing stuff that I can’t keep track of.

I sanded and painted the living room wall where the tv will go. I was nervous about the color but it ended up looking fantastic! The color is called “software” which partly helped with our decision making. It will go really well with the kitchen wall which will be painted a pinky- orange. the kids were really excited and wanted to be in the picture.

Learning to prioritize

We have been working really hard to get moved in that I have been too exhausted to write about it. Sorry about such a long delay! There is much to catch you up on.

First off… we officially have a kitchen sink with running water!

We also finished putting up the drywall in the living room and kitchen. As the person with the least fear of heights I tackled that job. It was not pleasant. Now to mud, sand, remud, and paint it I’m not looking forward to this next stage. BTW: I did not use the orange ladder which (if I had) is positioned in a completely incorrect and dangerous way to use. We put it here to move it out of the way. The silver ladder below is what we used. I am in no way looking forward to getting back up there… 16 feet in the air.

Finally we not only have an address, but we also have a mailbox! We have been waiting almost 4 years for this. Now for the daunting task of changing our address everywhere… we did take care of some of the important ones already, which is super cool!

P.s. I think we have the nicest mailbox around, oh well, we love it!

Paint, septic, and other things

We painted 4 rooms so far. We still need to paint the ceilings, but that will get done soon. The colors so far are pretty amazing. We are painting the ceilings a nice off-white-almost-tan color. Then it will finished with dark brown baseboards and crown molding.

They also started digging the hole for the lagoon. Hopefully we can get the pipe run from the house to the septic tank before they finish the job so that maybe we can get the hole in front of the front door filled in. We also are putting drywall up on the ceiling in the main room. This in itself has given me nightmares. Right now it’s going really easily but soon we will be the part that a ladder can’t reach. I’m not too thrilled. We may be waiting and hiring professionals for that.

Finally, just in case I haven’t told you lately, I love our house. Like, LOVE our house. So much that I don’t want to leave LOVE MY HOUSE. here is a lovely living room/kitchen picture.

Wrapping it up

Oh my goodness I never thought we would be here. First off they dropped off the dozer that will be finishing up our septic (it’s about time!). Monday they should be working on getting us a working septic so we can install the toilet!!!!!

The last two weeks have been spent putting up drywall and mudding that drywall. Today we pained our first room!! We still have to finish putting up drywall in the main room and the bathroom, but it’s almost all done! Instead of trying to get the drywall perfectly flat we did the best we could and then used a mud sprayer thing to spray a really cool texture on the walls. We are really loving it.

We picked our paint colors and painted the girls room a really pretty green (the coloring in this photo is completely wrong, sorry guys). Our 13 yo G picked out the color. Sometime next year we are adding a tree with lots of pink flowers. We let each child pick a color and a design and we incorporated it’ll the colors to fit the theme. G picked green and A picked pink. The boys are having their room painted yellow in a few days with blue and pink circles (they both wanted pink too) to be added later.

The coolest part is that we bought a paint sprayer so once we got it working it took about 30 minutes to have the whole room painted. We wasted a lot of paint trying to figure out the first wall so I have a lot of touching up to do still.

C also starting putting in the sub flooring in the kitchen and put together my kitchen sink cabinet. It isn’t in place yet but when it is it will be fully functional!

By next Thursday the upstairs will be ready for us to move in (except the bathroom) and the kids rooms will be ready to be moved in (except for the floors). I’m a little excited.