Building Our Upland Dream Home
(Part 6)

Dateline: 4 February 2017

When the spring of 1984 rolled around, Marlene and I were full of fresh enthusiasm for getting our dream home done. 

In the picture above, you can see that there is a faux foundation wall enclosing the open perimeter of the house. That wall is actually a framework of pressure treated 2x4 covered with pressure treated plywood sheathing. Over the plywood I attached 3/4" foamboard. Over the foamboard I parged a mixture of Thoroseal waterproof cement, mixed with Acryl 60. After about 30 years, the foundation still looked pretty good but a few seams and nails were showing. So I fixed the problems and re-parged with the same mixture. And it looks great.

I've never been a big fan of vinyl siding and I was determined not to have it on my homemade dream home. I went to a lumberyard in Cortland, NY and told the owner that I wanted to side my house with cedar, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money. Without hesitation, he replied, "You want #2 Red Label Western Red Cedar shingles." 

I bought a bunch of them. They were a relatively cheap form of cedar siding, but still an extravagance. My intention was to side the whole house. But I never did, and I actually have three bundles of those 1984 #2 Red Label Western Red Cedar shingles stashed in a shed. I wish I had more, as I expect to get the rest of the house finally sided this year.

Cedar shingles are made to go on a roof, not a sidewall. The sides of the shingles are not exactly parallel. If you want to lay cedar shingles in a straight, tight row, just about every shingle will require some cutting and planing to make them fit. It's very labor intensive if you want to do a good job.

When I buy more cedar shingles this year, I'll look into the "sanded and re-butted" option. They are made for siding a house, and are more money, but they go on straight and probably 10 times faster!

In the picture above you can see three windows. The sashes for those windows were inexpensive barn sash. They were single pane glass in a wood frame. I assembled and painted those frames in Marlene's parent's kitchen during the previous winter (when they were in Florida). I was pretty proud of how I made the windows and saved so much money using barn sash. 

Unfortunately, the windows did not open, and the single panes seriously iced up on the insides in the winter. The windows were a disaster, and I had to replace them a few years later.

The octagon window on the upstairs bathroom was another mistake. It never opened or closed very well. I ended up replacing that too. 

The interior of the house started to take shape in 1984. We even got a chimney and temporary wood stove ...

The stairs went up to a small landing and we had a bathroom and one bedroom up there.

You can see that I put the electrical service in a small closet. That was a mistake. It was a mistake because the electrical code doesn't allow it (but the electrical inspector let it be). And it was a mistake because the closet took a chunk of much-needed space out of the kitchen on the other side. 

The picture above is a view of the house from the road. It is the best view because it shows the two finished sides. 

By the winter of 1984 we had made a lot of progress on our dream home, but we still had a long way to go. We "camped" at our dream-home-in-the-making a lot, but were still living with Jay and Evelyn until we could get a well and septic system.

In the next installment of this series, I'll show you the house in 1985, when we finally did move in.


to go to Part 7 of this series.


If you have missed the other installments in this series, CLICK HERE now to go back to the beginning.


  1. Is that a Whizbang selfie-stick in one of the pictures?

    1. That's funny! Yes, I had the camera clamped to a stepladder and poked the picture-taking button with a long stick.

  2. With all due respect, Marlene is SMOKIN!!!

  3. Elizabeth L Johnson said,
    Beautiful home!!!

  4. Wow - Not only did you invent granola bars you were the first to take a selfie.
    Ha! Regards, Muns