Framing and sheathing complete
I've spent the last month working on the house approximately full time, and at this point am ready to weatherproof it: Housewrap on the walls, tar paper on the roof, and finally, the steel roofing. I originally hoped to reach this point before Christmas, but of course everything takes far longer than expected. Someone with experience, confidence, and the right tools could easily have done all this in a quarter the time it took me, but that's alright - I'm not just building a house, after all. I'm also gaining valuable knowledge.
Today I cut the holes for my windows from the plywood sheathing, and, as I suspected, the window placement on the two side walls is not the most aesthetically appealing. This is a compromise I made for practicality - with such a window arrangement I could maximize my use of interior space and use entirely recycled-ish windows (except the loft one - that's new). Hopefully when the windows themselves and the siding are installed it will look a little nicer.
Judging by the flow of money and time (read: everything costs more and takes longer than expected) it looks like when the target move-in date of mid-April rolls around, I should have an empty shell and not much more. In a way, I'm looking forward to it. It'll be like camping out in my own house. I could easily fit all my stuff in the storage loft, sleep in the big loft, and have plenty of room to work while I install the countertops, shelving, etc. as time permits during the growing season.
While gearing up to find somewhere to actually put the house, I've had to seriously evaluate my priorities: What are the relative importances of water on tap, electricity, permission to compost humanure on-site, bicycle storage space, space for guests to park, proximity to work/downtown, etc.? The question forces me to reckon with two competing fantasies, one of a high-tech gadget house with awesome computers and everything automated, and the other of a minimalist Thoreauvian cabin. If I seriously evaluate my own flaws (an exercise that has already contributed much to my design), I can't deny that a minimalist cabin would better help me become the person I want to be: studious, contemplative, and disciplined. If I seriously evaluate my own bank account, I can't deny that a minimalist cabin is actually feasible right now, while a high-tech gadget house would take a year or two more to realize (with me craving money all the while).
So, I decided that being able to "hook up" to water and power is a relatively low priority. Furthermore, I'm going to go ahead and finish the interior walls before doing the wiring. (It's not likely that I can afford both projects before moving in.) When I get around to wiring the house, I'll use exposed conduits, which will be more accessible and thus make it easier to fiddle with alternative energy anyhow. For a while it should be fun to get along without electricity.
I'm getting registered to substitute teach in Holland Public Schools. (Currently my paperwork is being processed in some way or another.) I plan to spend the latter half of February and most of March doing that. Then, when I've saved up enough to install the exterior siding and trim, I'll return to building full-time until move-in day.
This project makes me keenly aware of the Body of Christ (in the ecclesiastical sense). For example - I have insisted on remaining automobile-free before, during, and after construction, motivated directly by my Christian faith. However, I could not pull it off without the support of other people (with vehicles) who also believe in what I'm doing. My own auto-independence is enabled by the auto-having, and most importantly auto-sharing, of others. We are different people with different personalities and in different roles, and yet working toward the same objectives in the same spirit. And just as people with cars have helped me, so have people with big houses, expendable income, garages full of junk, and so on. This is not to suggest that people should seek after cars, big houses, excessive money, or garages full of junk on the chance that they might one day help someone who is trying very hard not to have those things - but that people who for better or worse find themselves with such things can and should use them for good. Furthermore, people like me who avoid the trappings of materialism like the plague, and seek a prophetic or monastic lifestyle, should be grateful and non-judgmental toward our support networks (the ones who "receive a prophet because he is a prophet"), the people whose hospitality makes our more radical living possible.
Anyway, here are some recent photos. As always, there are more on my Facebook page.