How to Build a Cobblestone House

He huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down – certainly not if the house was built with cobblestones. Building cobblestone houses was a folk art that flourished in upstate New York from 1825 until the Civil War in 1860. Many of the 700+ cobblestone homes that were built survive today, a testament to their fine craftsmanship.

To build your cobblestone house you’ll need 5 main components: cobblestones, soft lime mortar, wood for windows and doors, cut stone blocks for quoins, lintels and sills, and lots of cheap labor. Lets take them one at a time – assuming the cheap labor is you, your family, friends, relatives and anyone else you can convince to do manual labor for $1.00 to $1.50 per day.

The first step is to gather the cobblestones. This may take several years. Cobblestones are small fist-sized stones deposited by the glaciers that swept from the north millennia ago. Rough-shaped ones can be gathered from the farm fields or rounded, lake-washed ones can be gathered along the shore of Lake Ontario. You’ll need over 14,000 cobblestones, so get cracking. As the manly work of stone gathering progresses, the women and children can be kept busy sorting the stones by size and color. You’ll want to use the finest, smoothest, similar-sized stones on the front of your house, and save the rougher, odd-sized ones for the back, sides and interior of the walls.

While this is progressing, you better start preparing the soft lime mortar. Don’t skimp and use Portland cement. It dries too fast and will pop the cobbles out as it dries. Soft lime mortar is made of lime, sand and water. Find limestone (calcium carbonate) or dolomite (magnesium carbonate) and break it into pieces. Burn it within heaps of logs for 2 to 3 days to create quicklime. Add water to the quicklime to create a hydrated lime sludge.

Mix in 5 to 9 bushels of sand to 1 bushel of lime sludge. Age the mortar in a ground pit covered by sand or cow manure for up to a year.

Fell a bunch of trees. They’ll need to be hand-hewn to build the doors and windows – each custom fitted to a specific opening. Also, find a quarry where you can get limestone or sandstone blocks for the corners of your building (quoins) and as structural support over the doors and windows (lintels) and under the windows (sils).

Now the fun begins. Start by laying the stones in walls 18 to 20-inches-thick. Build the wall with rubble stone, faced by cobbles. Use elongated or triangular shaped stones to tie the cobbles to the rubble wall. Use the soft lime mortar as your glue, getting fancy with straight ridges between the horizontal and vertical rows of cobbles. Build about 3 rows (or courses) per day so the mortar has time to slowly begin setting. It will take 35 years for the mortar to fully harden. Lay in the cut-stone blocks at the corners to create quoins. To finish the inside, apply horsehair plaster to the stone.

Once the walls are above reach, you’ll have to build scaffolding by burying poles in the ground 6 to 8 feet from the wall and tying cross members from the wall to the poles with hickory witches. Then lay planks on the cross members to provide a building platform. As the walls rise, you’ll have to repeatedly raise the height of the scaffolding. Attach a crane and tackles to the highest pole to winch up buckets of cobblestones and mortar.

Hand build your windows and doors to fit each opening and hand-hew trusses for your roof. Winter is a good time to do much of your carpentry work. Depending on how many workers you have and their skill level, you may finish in a year. More likely, the building process will take about 3 years.

When you’re done, you’ll have a fine home that will stand for centuries. Go see for yourself. A new guidebook called “Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings” (Footprint Press, http://www.footprintpress.com, 1-800-431-1579) offers 17 self-guided car or bicycle tours for viewing the diversity of cobblestone buildings clustered within a 65-mile radius of Rochester, NY, and no where else in the world.

“Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings”

By Rich & Sue Freeman

17 self-guided car or bicycle tours for learning the history and observing the diversity of unique cobblestone buildings in Western New York State.

http://www.footprintpress.com/Cobblestone/CobblestonePreview.htm

208 pages, 20 maps, 85 photos, indexed, paperback, 10 X 7 inches

Price: $19.95, ISBN# 1930480199

Footprint Press, Inc., http://www.footprintpress.com

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Photos available – email [email protected] or call 585-421-9383.

Where Do I Want to Build My New Home?

There are many significant considerations to be made when purchasing land to build a home. Typically when you make an offer to purchase a piece of land, you have 30 to 60 days to evaluate the property thoroughly prior to purchase. Ideally you will know what to look for prior to making the offer, but this is not necessarily the case.

One major consideration is the price that you pay for the property, and to feel that the agreed upon price is a fair price. You don’t want to pay too much for the property, but the seller does not want to sell it for to little. If you have taken the time to look for property and have had the opportunity to compare it to others, you will know when you have property at a fair price.

Another consideration may be any restrictions placed upon the use of the land. This would often come in the form of covenants. These are typically rules and regulations placed on the property by the developer. This might include restrictions on the size of home, the height, the color, the architectural style or the type of exterior finishes. This is important because you would not want to purchase the land only to find out that the type of home that you want to build does not meet the covenants.

The topography and soil conditions of the site are important. Poor soils mean poor drainage and additional development costs. Poor soils can also affect the concrete footing size and the cost of construction. You may wish to build a single story rambler home, but if the lot is sloping it may be difficult, or add substantially to the cost of construction

Water and sewer availability are critical to building a home on the property. If the site will require an on-site sewer system, then a system will need to be designed and approved by the local municipality. If soils are poor or very sensitive it may not be possible to design a septic system to meet the needs of your new home. If a well is required for domestic water, then it is important to have some idea whether water is available, what well depths are in the area, and what it might cost. Without water a piece of land would not be buildable.

If the property does not directly adjoin a public road, then it is important to verify that there is legal access. You must have some form of legal access to get to the property. This could be by easement or right of way.

Sometimes getting power to the building site can be difficult and costly. It is important to determine that power and phone will be available and verify the cost. Extend the power several hundred feet to the proposed building site can be expensive and prohibitive.

Selecting the right piece in the right location is most important to you. For this reason only you can decide how far you are will to go to develop the site for your dream home.

Build a Handcrafted Log Cabin For Under $50,000 – A Log Home Guide For the Do-it-Yourselfer

Do you dream of owning your own log home or cabin?

Living in a mountain retreat, lakeside resort, or country ranch lifestyle, is continuing to grow in popularity. Studies show that people who trade their urban lifestyle for a simpler, less stressful natural setting, where they can relax more often, are also living healthier lives, and actually live longer as a result!

In recent years many of us are embracing this lifestyle as never before. But… Many of today’s custom log cabin owners have become frustrated with the cost and length of time it takes to build their home. One would think that modern methods should reflect shorter construction times, but custom log homes today, on average, do take longer to build. This is due in part to some proven methods that cannot be improved upon, going back in history to European craftsmanship, skills, and techniques still used today in the effort required to properly build a quality custom home built to last. This approach requires patience from the homeowner, but can lend itself to a beautiful dream home, with high quality of craftsmanship.

This is the standard of quality that folks today expect, but it comes with a price. You can avoid the higher cost of building a custom log cabin by doing most of the work yourself. It is possible to build a 1200 to 1500 sq. ft. Log Cabin for under $50,000 (land not included)

The right approach requires thought, creativity, and an efficient, yet patient application of skills, but can be very rewarding due to the custom nature of a handcrafted home. Comparing a log construction time frame, with that of a Custom, stick-frame home, is misleading.

Log Homes of equal square footage will always take a bit longer to build on average. A log builder with a good crew should be able to properly dry-in an average size milled D-style home in less than three months, after the log package has been delivered to the building site. A “Hybrid” (Log Accents & Stick Frame Construction), should take a little less time to dry-in. A do-it-yourselfer building a handcrafted home will take 6 to 8 months on a part-time building schedule, but you will be continuously saving a ton of money.

After dry-in is completed, it could take from 3-5 months longer to finish or “turnkey” a milled style home or a “Hybrid”. These time frames could be even longer if you are building a handcrafted log home. The handcrafted cabin is the most time consuming style of construction, but is widely accepted as the “Ultimate” in a unique one of a kind log cabin. Weather, commute to the site, suppliers, building inspectors, or other factors can change this guideline. So… prepare yourself for this journey, and you will ultimately enjoy the rewarding experience of your own log home Lifestyle, with your own design and tastes, in the home you really want and can afford to enjoy.

How much does it cost to build a log home?

With this in mind… building a log cabin does not have to cost a fortune to become reality. If you choose to do most of the work yourself, you can probably build your home for as little as $45 per sq. ft. On the other hand, if you have all the work done by a builder, and purchase upscale fixtures and features, it could cost $250 per sq. ft. or more.

Although to suggest a certain price per square foot is only a guideline/starting point, I do think that an affordable custom log home without an owners participation can be built for around $110.00 – 150.00 per sq. ft… That is, if you don’t go hog wild!

Bear in mind that depending on where you are at, you will always realize a larger home equity when you are building it yourself from scratch!

How to Choose the Right Custom Home Builder Helping You Build Your Dream Home

Have you made up your mind to renovate or build a new house? Don’t know where to start from? Why not start with hiring the right planner that fit your needs, stay within your budget and help you construct a quality home that not only fulfill all your desires but also provide the personal attention that you deserve!

Believe it or not, finding the best contractor for carrying out your home improvement process is a nerve-racking task to kick-off with. With so many options available in the market these days, it becomes more and more difficult to choose an ideal designer that not only designs a custom dwelling for you, but also makes your dreams come to life by providing you with top quality service and craftsmanship at each phase of the home renovation process.

Choosing the right construction company is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll have to take in your home renovation process in order to construct the abode of your dreams. So, it is important that you make use of some proven techniques so as to speed up your research & selection process and prevent your home-building experience from becoming a nightmare.

Step #1: Define your needs

It is important that you determine both your current and future requirements for your house, which includes size, design, price range, type of abode, and so on. Also, you can do a bit research by visiting different home builders’ websites and checking out different designs they provide.

Step #2: Hire an experienced architect rather than a new one

Choosing an experienced and well-recognized designer is the most important step to consider when it comes to fulfilling all your basic home building requirements, which includes budget handling, customer satisfaction, warranty & service, and more.

Step #3: Ask for referrals

When it comes to finding the right custom home builder, you must ask your friends, family, colleagues or even your neighbors for recommendations.

Step #4: Make sure the company is licensed and insured

It is important that you ask for licensing and insurance as this will legalize everything and will put an end to corruption.

Step #5: Choose the right home builder

No matter what your requirements are, picking the right designer can help you carry out the complete home improvement process in a sophisticated fashion and take your lifestyle to the next level. They play an indispensable part in making the process trouble-free and reverent.

Smart Tips to Build a Birdhouse

There are many people in the world who loves to enjoy company of having their pet birds. For these people, building a birdhouse is a best way to enjoy their companionship. However, building a birdhouse at home needs to be durable, rain proof and clean as well. It is of no doubt that wood is the best material for making a birdhouse. There are many things that must be taken care of for building a home for your pet bird.

Right Place

Choosing right place for every specific type of bird is crucial. Every single bird species has changed requirements and it is essential to know all about birds. A house of bluebird needs to be in a place that is near or opposite to an open field where bugs they eat are in abundance. On the other hand, House wrens wish theirs to swing from a small tree in a yard and chickadees want their home to be in a group of shrubs and small trees.

Right Size

Next thing required is to choose right size for house with precise dimensions. Most people think birdhouses are all mostly same, but that’s not right. It is partly a practical tactic, but actually a small bird need a small house. A chickadee would be glad in a home about 8 inches tall with a 5×5 inch of base. Bluebirds demand a bit of larger box, so 10 inches high with a 5½x5-½ inch base would work well for them. However, for larger bird like a screech owl, you need to build a house of about 24 inches high with a base 10×10 inches wide.

Precise Height

One more factor to figure out is height for your birdhouse. Right height for bluebirds and tree swallows is about 5-8 feet tall on a pole. House wrens want their house to be 6- 10 feet high and dangling from a tree. On the other hand, a home for purple martins needs to be of 15-20 feet in air and it could be even higher for screech owl. The chance of appealing a chickadee is better if it is located about 4- 8 feet over a wood.

Door Size

The door is an important feature and needs to be of correct size. If entry hole is too big, it will merely inspire predators to attack family. A birdhouse constructed for house-wrens will need to be of smallest size of about 1-1/8 inches only. This will make sure that no other birds will try to enter. Just a small modification in entry hole really will control what type of birds can fit in.