Chapter 12. Nice Garage. Where’s the House?

Given the project has entered a new phase—I finally live here—I figured a new chapter was in order. It feels as though I've entered a new chapter in my life, at least. Early May 2019 I moved in, even though I didn't have a Certificate of Occupancy (temporary or otherwise) at the time; the Township has been most gracious in their willingness to work with me as I battle with the County Health Department to secure their blessing.

Originally I was reserving Chapter 12 for the house's completion, but that could still be a year or more away given the rate at which things are accomplished these days. Now it's time to savor the bright side of where I live; even though it's not finished, it's at least safe, sound and fully functional. Whenever I think that I'm woefully behind schedule, I must remind myself that I'm not on a clock, and never have been. Schedule? What's that? And those two years spent living in a tiny cabin are now just a memory (albeit not a pleasant one).

The chapter title is actually something that many first-time visitors utter when they pull up the driveway, since all you can see from there is the garage; the rest of the house is tucked down in a deep ravine, out of sight. To be honest, I never planned for the house design to "deceive" visitors this way, but I enjoy the joke nonetheless; it's fun to watch their faces as they step inside and are drawn down the stairs into the living space by the view—which has been known to hypnotize people into staying hours longer than they'd planned. After a while, I'll say to my guests, "Now you understand why I did what I did," and the response is always a wide-eyed nod and a broad smile. Recently an architect friend paid my home a visit and declared its design was "genius," and asked if he could "steal" it; that certainly pumped up my pride.

Perfect example: on 16 August 2019 a UPS driver who's been coming here for years was making a delivery, and after realizing this was where I lived, he confessed he honestly thought the garage was all I'd built so far, and that I'd be getting around to building the house one of these years (he thought it was going where the camper was parked). When I talked him into taking a few minutes off for a quick tour of the house, I thought his head was going to explode when he saw the living space and, more particularly, the view. Plus, he couldn't believe how cool and comfortable the house was—especially since the AC was off and it was a toasty afternoon. He helped justify everything I've done.

Recently I shot a panoramic image of the main living area to see if I could convey the 180°-plus view of nothing but woods. (The second image was taken through the windows, as if the house didn't exist. Click for enlargements.) It genuinely makes me feel incredibly blessed that I can do what I'm doing where I'm doing it, and it's inspired me to work that much harder to finish the place before I die. And also to invite people—those who appreciate this sort of environment, at least—up to the property to enjoy it with me.

One of the final major additions to the space was the wood stove, which involved a curious little adventure all its own.

I also built my own coffee table, and plan on building other furniture.

The only major downside to the house design (so far)? The steel roof has turned it into a cell phone black hole—I literally must go outside to talk to anyone. As if that really bothers me much!

Setbacks

There have been many—far and away too many. Getting permanent electric service proved to be five times costlier than it would have had I been able to install it the year before. I'd hoped to sell a small chunk of my property to a neighbor, but they're now gone. The process of obtaining a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy has been going on for over ten months, with no hard stop in sight. And so on and so on. I fully anticipated encountering speed bumps when work resumed, but I wasn't prepared for so many things becoming such herculean efforts. There have been days when I've wondered if I'd be able to carry on with the project.

Where To from Here?

See the latest news for a running diary of progress. Or, explore the website from the Site Map—there are over 200 pages plus over 2,000 images and counting. The latest additions include Five Years, The Healing Place, I'm a Hedonist, My Own Furniture, Transformative Moments, and What Will Become of All This?

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