One my most enjoyable, but frustrating, experiences is putting up a building. I have built a half dozen buildings and each was a unique challenge. Two of them were full houses, and four were small buildings, with most of those in the 12’ by 20’ range.
I started building in 1977 after I took evening classes down to Bath (ME) once a week for several months at the Shelter Institute. When the basics were done my wife Marcia and I enrolled in their design class, where we took the principles of heating, snow loads, foundation systems, site orientation, beam forces and moments, and drew up our own plans. With detailed floor and wall plans and materials lists we built our house 1,200 square foot home on a 5 acre plot of land on the 430 foot contour line on Moody Mountain facing south. We’re still married and in the same house!
The post and beam frame of our house was harvested off our land. I was young and foolish enough to cut several dozen large oak trees by myself, and now consider it a miracle that I didn’t slice and dice a leg or have a tree fall on me. A case of beer was all it took to pay my neighbor Alan Davis to fire up his old John Deere tractor and haul the logs up to the road where they were picked up by Basil Pearse and trucked to his custom mill in Searsmont.
A couple of weeks later a massive pile of extremely heavy green and wet oak beams were dumped back roadside for the price of $140. That’s for sawing and trucking. The biggest timbers were 6 x 8 inches by 20 feet long. The rest is history. We are still here, with our lives were permanently simplified by that unforgettable quote from Pat Hennin of Shelter Institute, “ People who build small houses can afford to relax.”
My best friend in Maine is Lock, who worked with me all during that summer. We crafted under the direction of Jay Leach, a real carpenter who was experienced with traditional post and beam construction. Jay knew when we had to find chains and a come-a-long to draw the frame together as tight as possible before we sunk short lengths of rebar into the 1/2 inch holes we bored into the tops of the oak posts. Jay shared everything we needed to know for the job to turn out great.
The next summer I worked with Lock, who built his own post and beam house way up on Appleton Ridge.
I’m sitting here this morning appreciating my hammer and nail relationship with Lock. We’re back at working together ! Lock came over to my camp from Augusta to help me tighten up the new hut I am finishing up on Hobbs Pond. As the rain and the wind pound down this dark cold morning (It is 36 degrees out) I’m thankful for Lock’s friendship and help yesterday.