Archive for construction

volunteer and donation opportunities

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by phoenixtree


When we finished erecting The Swamp, the sky helped us celebrate.

When we finished erecting The Swamp, the sky helped us celebrate.



it’s always weird to say “opportunities” – more like, “how you can give ’til it hurts…”

no hurting allowed.

Still, lots of people locally (and a few out in the Big Bad World) have asked how they can help.  Whenever I’m asked while on the hoof I can never think of anything.  it’s when I’m at home, sleepless, worrying and making mental lists all night that my long “needs” list appears.


So here it is, my current list of help and stuff desperately needed.


  1.  Volunteers!  I’m compiling a list of people to call for when it comes time to build.  we’re going to do a good old fashioned house-raising when the SIP panels arrive.  Volunteers will probably need their own tools and I’m not even sure what those particular tools will be, but I suspect a hammer is a good start.  more info on that later.
  2. Food!  during the house raising I want to keep all of the volunteers well fed with warm food, as it will likely be pretty late in the fall.  (bonus – no mosquitos!)  prepared meals would be great.  if you want to help either as a volunteer, a chef, or both – let me know, I’m making a little list… 
  3. Stuff!  okay, okay – more specifically, for the actual house and the construction:
  •   small wood stove – I really dont want one that’s too big because the house will be small and I hate spending my winters trying to stifle a wood fire and living in 90 degrees.  blech.  Used is just fine, I’ll clean and recondition as necessary.  Free or low cost, let me know what you have.
  •  kitchen stuff – propane cookstove, sink, used cabinets.  I’ll happily refinish, so it’s okay if they’re ugly or mismatched.  and I want lots of cabinets to try and make best use of the small floor space.  I have a fridge and a chest freezer large enough to hide a couple of bodies, so I’m set there.
  • bathroom stuff – toilet, sink, shower stall, tiles.  I don’t think I’ll have room for a tub.
  • building stuff – plywood, 2x4s, 2x6s, drywall, sand paper, scrap lumber… I’ll take whatever you have!
  • tools – of course I have most of the small, cheap kind of tools.  I need power!  I need a chainsaw, a cordless drill and selection of drill bits, a circular saw, a mitre saw, and a reciprocating saw. I also could use a snowblower (trying to plan ahead!) and I’ll really need some saw horses. I know these are not cheap and chances are I’ll be buying them.  But, if you happen to have old ones that you never use, or know of someone thinking of donating theirs to Sally’s, call me!  I’m a hopeless mechanic, though, so if you have something that “needs a little TLC” chances are it will just Rust In Peace if you give it to me.
  • ladders – there will be two small lofts, one for each Menace.  I need loft access ladders.  I can build my own if necessary, but not without the tools and the lumber.  (you see the problem…)


before the construction, I need a few other things and some help, also.  This is the “right away” stuff:


  1. a chainsaw, and even better someone to operate it!  I have a lot of downed trees that need to be cut up into stove-sized rounds.  I also have a few trees that need to come down before the house goes in, either because they will be windfall risks in the future or because they are already standing dead.
  2. a digger.  Either someone with a backhoe in the Woodpecker neighborhood or someone with a shovel and lots of energy.  We need an outhouse!
  3. Pallets!!!  The Swamp needs a floor, as does the storage tent.  I also need pallets for the construction of a wood shed, the outhouse, and for a compost bin.  This adds up to many pallets.  and if I get too many, I’ve found a wonderful set of directions on how to make a bench out of pallets.  So everywhere you go, ask for them!  please!
  4. Plywood. needed to finish the temporary “floor” in The Swamp.  I want to put down pallets and plywood over the top, so we’re a little protected from the damp of the ground.
  5. A Post Hole Digger.  The hand tool variety is fine, and I just need to borrow it for a few.  trying to get a wood shed and a few other things erected before the house build date.
  6. Tire Movers!!!  This is critical.  We have these huge tractor tires the boys use as a playground of sorts.  I need them picked up and moved to the property as soon as possible.  Now, they’re extremely heavy – this requires something like a forklift or at least the high school hockey team.  Please, if you can help call me ASAP!
and we still need donations for the money to finish the place, do the foundation, drill the well… all of that important stuff.  I’m going to investigate how to get a Paypal account for the Building Fund, but until then you can email me and I’ll put you in touch with the trustees of the Fund.  I don’t want to publish their information all over the web!  if you wish to be anonymous, that’s just fine!  but it will have to wait for the Paypal account.  Hold that thought!
Meanwhile, anyone and everyone, email me if you think you can help.  This is a big job and I need all of the help I can get.  
more updates to come.  and I promise to keep the pictures coming!
Menace Leader
Phoenix Tree House
Brave Huntress Blends Into Boreal Savannah...

we have a roof! sort of.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by phoenixtree

It may not look like much, but it’s home!  


well, it will be home.

yesterday the Menaces and I (with helpful canine cheerleaders) erected this fine structure that will be Chez Menace until the house is built and ready for us.


The tent – which I find myself calling The Swamp after the M*A*S*H abode of Hawkeye, et al – is 10/20 feet, 6 feet at the sides and I’m guessing 8 or 9 feet tall at the peak.  the frame is all steel, and was much harder to erect than we expected!  it took about 8 hours, and some serious creativity.


That puppy is not moving.


It’s in a little corner just past where the house is going to be, to the southeast.  

in this picture, the Menace Mobile is parked pretty much where the house is going to be, and the tent starts about where the southeast corner of the house will be.


since it was so much work to put up, I suspect is has a future in that spot – visitor housing in the summers!


I haven’t taken pictures of the inside yet because it’s all mud and mess.  over the next few days the boys and I will be working on scrounging some sort of floor (call for pallets!  all local people reading this – I need lots of pallets and some plywood for flooring for The Swamp and the storage tent!)


Notice how the place has a disconcerting gap at the bottom?  I noticed, also.  I’m going to dig holes under the legs to drop them down and hopefully make those gaps a little less so.  However, this is most assuredly not a mosquito-proof structure.  We have a couple of bed nets (assuming I find them) but I’m also hoping to get creative to somehow plug the gaps, which are mostly in the corners.


This was hard work. I must say I’m dang proud of us!


We did not stay out there due to not having the inside just so (and not having dug a latrine just yet) but I did set up the little kitchen area and made us a hot dinner and made myself coffee.  it was nice.  I’m going to like this place.


Though I suspect by the time we have the house I’ll be ready for a real roof!


The latest is that the parts for the main structure will probably not make their appearance until mid September, so The Swamp will have to do us into the fall.  I haven’t quite figured out the heating bit yet, but I’m creative.  if nothing else, I can build an outside fire and bring in hot coals in a brazier of some sort.


And since the driveway and house pad are completed, you can see the lovely little curvy driveway!

At the end is Gardeners Lane and the stuff you see out there is on the neighbor’s property.  the green quonset type tent thingie belongs to my mom -Menace Maker – and is our temporary storage unit as we wait for a house to move into.


It’s very pretty and peaceful there.


I’ll make another update soon, outlining the best ways people can help!  watch this spot!



Menace Leader

Phoenix Tree House

Update! And 3rd investor wanted…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2008 by phoenixtree

The following is a heavily edited version of my most recent update email:


Dear family and friends,

It’s time for an update on the house!

Thanks to your very generous donations, we’ve raised just about $10,000 in the building fund account.  Amazing!  Your generosity is humbling.

So far: aside from the donations, we have two “investors” who are also the signers on the fundraising account.  Each has funded a large amount of the process – from the land, to the dirt-work, and now to the house itself!  Both parties are doing this as a loan to me – with very generous terms. They are making it possible for me to do this.  I’m so humbled.

The house!  It’s a SIP house – Structural Integrated Panels.  These are a nifty new (to me) panels that are built of rigid insulation covered by vapor barrier and plywood skins.  The manufacturers make the floor, roof, and walls.  They install doors and windows, and create little holes within the insulated panel for wiring and plumbing.

The greatest thing about these is that the final houses have excellent energy efficiency – this one is expected to have R28.  With a 700+ square foot size and a fairly small wood stove, only a few cords of wood a year will do me.  It’s wonderful.

Now, the house will arrive with: subfloor, floor panel, 4 wall panels with windows and doors pre-installed, and two roof panels for the top.  It includes siding and roofing. It will also have the materials for the two lofts – each boy is going to have his own tiny aerie.

But that’s it – we will be installing all interior walls, all the kitchen everything, the heating, all cabinets and such, and all electrical and plumbing.  That’s where the donations fund will save the day!

We have a good number of skilled and semi-skilled volunteers to work on the interior wall framing and such, and hopefully wiring and plumbing as well.

Things are moving quickly!

The two investors are looking for a third partner for the loan.  They need someone who can fund the water and electrical infrastructure.  I assume this means the well drilling and septic system perhaps as well as such important bits as a toilet!

Anyone wanting to know more can contact me and I’ll give you their contact information.  I have no idea what exactly this will all entail, but they have it figured out.  Again, this money would be a loan, not a donation.

Thank you all for all of your help, it means the world to us.  I’m beginning to see a light at the end of this very long, dark tunnel.