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Cardboard Architectural model of the house
This is a house I built in the mountains, west from Nederland, Colorado, at about 8,800'. I wished I'd been able to build the whole thing with my own hands, but it just wasn't practical to take that much time away from my job to tackle that much work. Instead, I engaged Fruth Construction as general contractor, agreeing to take on certain labor intensive tasks, which saved a lot of money and built equity into the house. The Fruth brothers, Jeff and John, were some of the best people I've ever worked with, and I'd recommend them as contractors to anyone building a house.
Cardboard model
The first thing was the design. After completing the drawings, I made am architectural model out or cardboard with a hot glue gun. This was completed in about February.
roof removed from the model

The five-acre lot had been purchased a year and a half before, and once the construction loan was approved, my first task was the clear the land, as soon as the snow cleared.  After cutting fifteen or twenty good size trees, and cutting and stacking the firewood, I was exhausted.

Cutting trees
Finally July 7th, the exciting day came when the machine, called a track loader, showed up to dig the foundation.
Digging the foundation
Foundation, with the forms removed

The whole foundation phase moves slowly, but finally comes the day to start framing.  It seems like it takes forever to get a house "out of the ground", but once you start to put wood on it, everything begins to move faster.

Starting to frame the house
While the contractor worked on the framing, my job was to come up with two large wood beams to span the great room. I found two at a demolition company that had taken down a Safeway building, each 30" x 7-1/2", and 38' long, larger than the 25x6" the engineer had calculated. I got them for $150/ea, less than firewood prices, when they would have cost thousands of dollars new, money that just wasn't in the budget.
Two thirty-eight foot beams loaded on the truck
I cobbled together a simple 5th wheel for the back of my 1949 International Harvester stake bed, to which I could cinch down the two beams with chain binders. They were loaded up in Commerce City, and I drove them down I-76, then up the US-36 Turnpike to Boulder, where I'd arranged to work on them over the weekend in the parking lot of my employer.
The 5th wheel that carried the front ends of the beams
I needed a big space to unload them so I could sand refinish them, before continuing up to the job site, and I needed a good sized forklift to do it. I got permission from a Vice President at Ball Aerospace, with the caveat that I had to have everything out of there and swept up before Monday morning.
Sanding the beams
I rented a floor sander and generator, and spent Saturday walking up and down with it, tipping them up on edge, and flipping them over with the company forklift. Sunday early, I got a coat of Polyurethane on them, and by afternoon they were dry enough to wrap in plastic, and load back up on the truck and trailer.
Loading the beams on the truck and trailer
I was a week ahead of schedule, so the whole rig remained parked on the back street adjacent to the plant, while I walked a mile and a half to work.
Beams loaded and ready to go
Finally, on a pre-planned and well rehearsed route, I wended my way through the city streets, and up Boulder Canyon to Nederland. The calculated weight of the beams was a ton apiece, just under 10,000 lbs for the whole rig, but it was no problem pulling it up the 6% grade. I dropped down into 3rd just once, in the narrows, where the grade goes to 7%. Not stopping in town, I continued on up the dirt road toward Caribou, up to the job site, where I backed the rig down the driveway to the waiting crane.
On the caribou road
Getting ready to set the beams

As the rest of the exterior was being completed, I was gathering up pieces from places like Queen City Architectural Salvage, to add some color to the house. The front door needed to be completely refinished, and have the old oval glass replaced with a new double pane, to meet building code.
refinishing some of the architectural antiques
Finished antique door
I'd also contracted to do much of the interior woodwork, including all the railings and balusters on the stairs and the loft, and the arched window trim. These mostly had to be done on weekends when the other contractors weren't there, and I wasn't at my day job.
finish woodworking

The big beams remained wrapped in plastic until the painter came.

railings
The arched window was for the master bedroom, which overlooked the great room from a half story above. That needed extensive glazing work, but I opted to leave the dozens of coats of paint in place, for the antique look. The painter didn't want anything to do with the 46 panes of glass in the arched window, so I had to prime and paint all of them, both sides.
Finishing the installation of the arched window
Other accents included old green enameled street lights for the exterior, and some of the light fixtures inside. Those blue globes were hand made for one of them by an artist from the Renaissance Festival down in Larkspur.
hand made glass light globes
One early November weekend I put in the front steps, and the beginning of the retaining wall, made of railroad ties.  It was another exhausting job of digging, lifting, and pounding. 
Putting in the steps up to the front door
I finished just as the snow started falling.
railroad tie steps
It wasn't until the following spring that I was able to finish the retaining wall.
railroad tie retaining wall
The main deck
Main deck
view from the south deck
The two decks were framed, but I'd finished inside, so I tackled all the planking and railings.
view from the down hill side
Finishing touches
finishing touches
Closing was in mid-December, a couple of days short of five months after starting to dig.
Kitchen
View of the great room from the loft
Master Bath
master bath
East side
The outside light over the driveway is an antique streetlight from Queen City Architectural Salvage.
Last look down the driveway
I don't still live there, but I have fond memories of the project.
 
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