Glenn & Kathy's Troglodyte Cabin

The Challenge... to build a cabin using earth friendly alternative methods of construction without going broke in the process!

Location: California, United States

Registered nurse & grandmother, married to Glenn, a building contractor. We have 5 children & 8 grandchildren.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The views looking out from the front of our cabin

Guess I should continue with the story... after all the hassle I've been through already trying to post... it's embarressing! First I forgot my log on name (too complicated) then I had the whole post done, including pictures & the stupid modem had gone off line. Glenn just installed a new one & it only stays on for a few minutes to an hour - may have to replace it again. So - lost the entire posting & had to start all over again - grrrr

We were able to scrounge the money to buy the property without having to get a mortgage & were all set to go! We hiked all over our land, exploring everything - found the year-round spring - pure, ice cold water - refreshing after traipsing all over the place. We thought about constructing some kind of trolly that could hang from a line off the ground so we could get down to the spring without a mile hike up & down the steep mountainside. We also thought about using a sled to slide down over the grass but figured we'd probably run into a rock or tree, so settled for just hiking down - good exercise.

First we brought our RV horse trailer up & parked it on an area that hadalready been excavated. The trailer had everything we needed - queen size bed, shower, sink, stove, microwave, fridge, port-a-potty. It also had a hook-up for solar & generator. Glenn had converted the back part into a shop & partitioned an area where he built bunkbeds for when he used to take the trailer on jobs out of town, so there was quite a bit of room & we could lock things up when we were gone.

Next Glenn brought up our old Bobcat & also bought an old John Deere tracklayer backhoe from a friend. A well had been dug the month before we bought the property, but we still needed to install the pump. Glenn & his friend Al (the guy we got the backhoe from) put in the pump while I operated the crane to let it down into the well. Our well is 675 ft deep but we only had to put the pump down to about 165 ft I think (can't remember all these details). He also had to dig a trench for the phone line - that wasn't real long, but the trench he dug up the hillside to go to the 2700 gallon water tank he'd installed was 600 feet long. What a job it was placing all the pipes - we layed out electrical & water pipes, then had to walk inside the trench glueing the pipes together. Glenn did the water line & I did the electrical - hot & dusty! With the 80+ feet drop from the water tank, we consistently have 30# of pressure.

The views from our place are so gorgeous. Glenn & I would sit out in front of the trailer in our lawn chairs to eat our meals. He would always say - "there's my kingdom & all my subjects down there..." as he surveyed the valleys & hills - ha.

I'll have to continue later... got lots of work to do.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The "near free" RV garage with our 1926 Dodge Touring car parked inside. This is actually 2 stories high with attic & cupola. It is made with recycled timbers from the Wawona bridge in Yosemite, boat docks from Bass Lake, & corrugated iron roofing. The 1st floor walls are made with rammed earth with rock walls above that include an arch & window. The wooden siding was milled from our sawmill & the rocks are from our property.

Angelina & Samson - 2 of our grandkids in the doorway of the conversation pit
(cob floor with several coats of linseed oil applied)

Veggies - pic taken in April (also on rooftop)

Flowers on our rooftop

Looking down from the uphill patio/greenhouse onto the cob stairway & the kitchen door

Cob (clay, sand, straw & water) oven Glenn sculpted located in the front porch conversation pit area

Hello! Getting started on this blog a little late but at least I am finally getting started... There's so much to write about & many, many pictures to post, please be patient. I've never blogged before, so this is a learning process.

I'll start out by giving you a little background as to how we decided to build an underground cabin.

February 2002 - I was looking for a 4WD pickup so I could haul stuff. A family member had totalled the one we had - of course my husband salvaged it & was driving it, but it had a lot of little quirks now & wasn't the greatest thing to drive, besides being all dented up. After looking in the want ads of the local newspaper I found a Mercedes SUV 4WD... no, it's not a pickup but it looked really nice, drove great & had a pretty fair price tag on it, so... I decided to buy it. My husband told me, "Whatever you want, it's up to you." Of course he had to tease me about my "pickup" & wanted to test drive the 4WD.

We took a few days to drive the California Gold Hwy. My brother & sister-in-law had bought a home near Sonora, so we went to see their place. Really nice, lots of mountains & pine trees, some snow on the ground which my SUV handled just fine. We drove to several other small towns along the way. The last town we stayed at, we decided to look at some property, not that we were going to buy any, mind you, just to look.

We went to a real estate office & asked if they could give us some listings of acreage. With 5 listings in hand, we went off exploring the properties. It was near dusk when we found the last piece of land. It was along a mountain ridge with views that seemed to go for hundreds of miles, a gorgeous sunset, close to town, yet seemed like it was out in the wilds. We were sold!

The next morning we were at the door of the real estate office right when they opened. For people who weren't planning on buying anything, we had to have this property! The realtor who had given us the listing was home sick. They called her in. In the meantime we were told that the property was still in escrow. Talk about disappointment! But then they did a little more searching & found that it had just come off escrow that day, the people had decided not to buy the property.

Now the fun part... figuring out a bid to offer the owners & finding the money to purchase it. We took a trip back to the property to visit the sellers who also owned the property next door. After talking to them for quite awhile, they asked us what we had offered. When we told them, they said, "that should be okay." The realtor told us the next day that our bid had been accepted - we were quite ecstatic!