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Building our First House

by Going Slowly

Throughout the construction of our house, we often jokingly wished that our lives could be a movie montage…. because building is so much easier in montages. Hell, a trio of goofy teenagers can carry building materials to a remote location and construct a charmingly ramshackle summer house in just a single montage. A pair of Irish children can clean, re-thatch, and lime-wash all of the stone cottages on a remote island in just over seven minutes!

Over the last few years, when feeling exhausted or hopeless, we often ached to skip ahead to where we are now—the part where we're finally able to watch with awe as photos of our process roll by in quick succession. In a montage, the tough moments are less raw and personal—they're just crappy blips in a larger story of triumph. In the end, the whole messy, chaotic process is neatly captured and tied with a bow.

The house isn't really finished—we still need to build a loft ladder and railing system, put a stone facade around the bottom of the house, install a slate roof, and pour an earthen floor over our concrete one. But those tasks will come later. For now, it's finished enough, and we're hunkered down, enjoying winter in our cottage. It's warm and cozy, and we are happy and grateful.

Happy new year, everyone! Holy shit, we made it!



Once again, I am full of admiration and pride. It's kind of funny to be proud of you, because I'm not a parent or anything, but you are just so impressive--and so human! Also, I love the sneak preview of the kitchen!
Posted by Joy on March 1st, 2015 at 6:57 PM
You're right--the montage makes it looks so easy! I know it wasn't and there were buckets of blood, sweat and tears shed in this impressive process. You two are the epitome of perseverance!!

So...is this the finale? Say it ain't so--we want to keep watching this for years. (And, BTW, where is the bathroom?)
Posted by Nancy Kane on March 2nd, 2015 at 12:06 PM
"Buckets of blood" is in the DVD extras for the zombie version of house construction.
Posted by Joy on March 2nd, 2015 at 12:49 PM
Congrats guys. Can't believe all the amazingness u have created over the years. Also hard to believe I've been following the blog for over 3yrs since doing a google search for timber framing. Love the content, hope u keep us all along on the journey. Cheers from Seattle
Posted by Aaron on March 3rd, 2015 at 4:10 PM
Posted by BRUCE WOLLISON on March 3rd, 2015 at 6:00 PM
Congratulations!! Many thanks for sharing this wonderful, wild & exhausting journey with us. Your home is beautiful, inside and out.
Posted by Erika on March 3rd, 2015 at 10:18 PM
brilliant montage! have been following the whole process and its awesome to see it all come together. Enjoy the rest of winter in your beautiful little nest, you deserve it!
Posted by Naomi on March 5th, 2015 at 8:47 PM
I have so enjoyed watching you two and cheering you on! Congratulations! I hope you have a cozy time of recovery while you plan on the next steps in your Big Adventure life!
Posted by Sandra R on March 6th, 2015 at 4:38 PM
Wow! Im so impressed! Tara that kitchen is gorgeous! love to you both! you are amazing!
Posted by Eliza Hudson on March 7th, 2015 at 11:55 AM
So amazing!!! What an achievement. Congrats you two!
Posted by Magalie on March 8th, 2015 at 1:08 PM
I've been following your blog since back in the touring days. How far you've come and what a milestone!
After a three-year break, my husband and I are thinking about buying (another) home to renovate. (Don't tell him but I would love to build a traditional adobe home from scratch someday - I just have to figure out how to convince him...)
We were discussing the style of home to purchase and I showed him your montage. The style of walls/windows/beams are in some ways very relatable to the traditional architecture in the American southwest. And of course the kitchen is so incredibly perfect. We both drooled a little.
Posted by Jennifer on March 9th, 2015 at 7:19 PM
do you guys have a shower or tub? or just the hot tub? and what are your plans for the garden this spring?
Posted by sarah on March 9th, 2015 at 7:34 PM
Phew! I've been following along for a few years now, I think originally directed here via a game night post on the Cold Antler blog. Don't think I've commented before.

It was so hard at the end of 2014 /start of 2015 to look for new posts, and find occasional updates from a few months ago, where you were truly miserable, feeling that you would never reach the end, physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from all the work you'd been doing. I couldn't help hoping that the reality was only getting better - and what a relief to read it was.

I grew up in the UK, (live in NY State now) and spent summers in France in a touring caravan with my parents and sisters, So I have had a wonderful trip back in time reading about the start of your cycling tour, Scotland, England, France and currently I'm in Switzerland with you!

To find a few months of new updates and read how happy you are finally living in your straw bale home was an amazing start to my day, and even though I'm familiar with almost all of the photos, the montage had me crying as I watched.

Congratulations on all you have achieved, most of us dream about this stuff, talk about getting our land, and building our own place, but don't have the courage to get on and do it.

Apart from your actual home, what a wonderful support network you have built up around you, and such interesting people you have met along the way, all the family, friends and neighbors who just want to do what they can to keep things progressing along. Whether it's specialist skills or just extra hands to help with everyday stuff. Those who are just starting and want to get hands on experience coming to the work site for different stages of the construction. Mostly just your sheer guts and determination to keep progress going, day after day, however hard it gets, however down you felt, never giving up.

I hope you are really proud of yourselves sitting in your wonderful home, on your land, and I very much look forward to seeing what the future holds for you.

Tara - I'm a knitter too and was thrilled to read on the bike tour you took your knitting along. I hope you get some relaxation time now, I can picture you settled in your Grandma's recliner, by your fire, knitting an 'end of house construction' project as spring slowly comes to your part of the world.
Posted by Englishsheepgal on March 11th, 2015 at 10:20 AM
I am so proud of you both and so in awe of what you have done. It is beautiful!
Posted by Lisaalan on March 11th, 2015 at 3:26 PM
New year, finished house! Must have been nice to make such a fresh start in 2015. May this year be your best yet. :)
Posted by SavvyChristine on March 12th, 2015 at 12:51 PM
Congratulations for your house. It is wonderfull.
saluti dall'Italia.
Posted by Mauro on March 26th, 2015 at 9:20 AM
Hi friends, thank you all so much for your kind words about our house project! Thank you for following along and sending encouraging thoughts our way. :)

Nancy Kane - No, no, this isn't the end. We'll keep writing. :-)

RE: The bathroom - There is no bathroom in the house. We're currently using the camper, but will build an outhouse this summer.

Sarah - Just a hot tub for now, though we'll have a bath house eventually! Garden plans are non-existent this year. If folks send me seeds, I'll chuck 'em in the ground and see what grows. Otherwise, it's not a priority for this summer. :)

Englishsheepgal - Thanks so much for introducing yourself. It was wonderful to read a bit about you! So glad you're following along. :)

Lisaalan - Thanks mom! <3 I can't wait for you to see the house!

Thanks again, everyone!
Posted by Tara on March 30th, 2015 at 10:00 AM
I will definitely send seeds! I have Chinese broccoli earmarked for you. I haven't ordered yet because it doesn't feel anything like spring yet. Have you guys had the unending snow that we're still getting? (It's snowing right now!)
Posted by Joy on March 30th, 2015 at 10:14 AM
Joy - YESSSSS!! That was so much fun last year-- thanks for thinking of me! Chinese broccoli is my favorite!

I'm pretty sure we've had unending snow too, but I can't say for sure because we are currently in Roatan, Honduras, where everything is tropical and summery. We had a two week vacation here with our friends... and then we just stayed. :)
Posted by Tara on March 30th, 2015 at 10:20 AM
Honduras is my favorite place in the world (besides home, in bed, with a book)! Enjoy!
Posted by Joy on March 30th, 2015 at 10:21 AM
I don't know if you're planning to leave the beach, but D&D Brewery outside Tegus is a fabulous place to stay & eat. http://www.ddbrewery.com/
Posted by Joy on March 30th, 2015 at 12:59 PM
Hi you two!

Glad to hear the house is nearly done and also that you like Honduras. Are you now Miss & Mister ScubbaDivers? It's still snowy up there so don't feel rushed to come back! Btw, Anaïs & I are leaving in a week!!!!! We're hyper trilled to land in Rome in less than a week in full adventure mode! We'll send you postcards. ;-)
Take care and enjoy everyday!
Posted by CycleNaturel on April 4th, 2015 at 6:28 AM
WOW! Just WOW! I only found yall today 4-15-2015, and I have read all your blogs in one day from the first "Finding the Land" - yall are amazing in what you have accomplished and that is the most beautiful home! Congratulations!
Posted by Rebecca on April 15th, 2015 at 3:51 PM
So my wife and I are in the process of getting out of suburbia and into some land (the initial criteria for "some" is based on my ability to enjoy my morning tea on the back patio wearing only my slippers). That said, I've been reading up on homesteading and I came across your blog. The only way I can express what great work you guys did is to tell you that I found myself at this page at 2:30 AM with my iPad battery is down to 20% because I read the entire blog from beginning to end. Couldn't stop. This was a credit not only to your amazing adventure, but also stellar writing, photos, and an all-around great site. Thanks for sharing this, it's taught me a few things and heightened my expectations and excitement for our own journey! Keep it up and best of luck to you both!
Posted by Kurt on May 24th, 2015 at 1:37 AM
One of your friends shared your blog on Reddit... and I'm happy they did! We are in the middle of purchasing land in Idaho, bought our truck, bought our travel trailer to live in, and are about to embark on the life-changing journey of building our own off-grid home, getting free from debt, and starting a homestead. We are so excited for everything that is going to come our way and reading through your blog has been inspiring! We are documenting our journey on a blog of our own and want to share the good, bad and ugly, much like you have done. You are two talented, hard-working and driven individuals. Maybe we can attend one of your workshops one day!
Posted by Alyssa on August 25th, 2015 at 9:57 PM
I couldn't even watch this because I was already tearing up. So happy for you! Also, I haven't read your blog in a while because after google reader disappeared I was sad and confused, so now I had to go back to Jan and read all of them one after the other. I know I don't know you, but I missed you guys! Congrats on the house :D
Posted by liza on August 28th, 2015 at 2:36 PM
The process of building a house is colored many things. There is patience, pleasure, satisfaction. The most important thing is realizing building our dream home. I am amazed how your work. It so great and your home design was amazing. Remarkable achievement. You can also consult a home builder for any home idea you have. Surely you will get what you want. That's why I suggest you visit www.biesterbos.nl. Your satisfaction is their priority.
Posted by Kayla Smith on June 23rd, 2017 at 6:32 AM