Saturday, March 5, 2011

Side Business

Today was a big day for me, as it marked the start of a new business venture. My new housemate, Dylan, and I have embarked upon the classic "weekend business," with a plan to build sheds, fences, chicken coops, playhouses, and studios for people in need of these sorts of things. In regards to my housing switch this past week, it's important to note that Dylan lives in the house right next to my sister, so I still have instant access to my nephew (without any of the guilt associated with being the bum uncle who sleeps on the couch in the home of a nuclear family). Our first project is a garden shed for a young couple, Ash and Giovanna, who live 20 minutes north of Durham and are starting a food forest on Giovanna's family's land. The shed will be a hybrid of conventional materials and very custom, natural elements from the land - cedar posts, stone piers, a cob exterior sheathing coat, and an earthen plaster finish coat.

The initiative for this business came from the thought that all I want to do is build, all day, every day, so I might as well make some money off this desire every once in a while. This doesn't at all mean that I won't continue to enjoy really loose work-trade relationships with my friends - come help me out digging for the day, and I'll come work in your garden for a day next week, and so on, and so forth. That's my preferred way to work. But especially now that I have rent to pay, and want to start a garden, and because I am becoming very interested in expanding my tool collection, I need some expendable income.

The logo is below. We like to say the acronym really fast, because it sounds like one is speaking in an alien tongue.

Here's the truck packed to the gills, mostly with concrete piers. These concrete forms are the same ones that I made for the piers holding up my shed. I've been storing them at the site, waiting for the chance to re-use them. Last night Dylan and I re-built the forms and then poured concrete in the street until 11:00 PM. After that, we talked about game plan, materials list, and so on until after midnight. Then we woke up at 5:30 and headed to our client's site. If there is one thing that has stuck with me from my years in the Syracuse University Industrial Design program,  it is how to devise a painfully hectic and sleep-deprived start to any good project.

It took a good amount of time this morning to excavate for the piers, get them out of the truck (what a trying experience! Each pier in its form is almost 300 pounds), and level them all on the same plane.

This is a capture-the-entire-moment-photo. Dylan is talking to Ash, it looks like. And we have gotten the floor joists in place at this point.

Here are some rocks that we harvested, with help, from the creek bed down the hill. These will be used to create mini-piers under the mid-point of the main runner beams, to cut the 12-foot span in half, and add a nice aesthetic.

While Dylan was at Home Depot for 2 hour this morning picking up the materials (a job I do not envy), I was harvesting a couple cedar trees for our four corner supports. I cut down two trees, and got two appropriate-diameter lengths out of each. These trees were slated to come down anyway to make space for a perimeter deer fence that will be going up soon around their food forest. Look at the gorgeous, Van Gogh-esque patterns on that far post, from all the limbs that were removed! A showpiece, if I ever saw one. Ash and Giovanna shaved the bark off to the level that they liked. It's a gorgeous aesthetic.

Here Dylan is toe-screwing (driving a screw at a diagonal to connect two pieces of lumber) the connection between the top plate (the long piece above his head that connects that top of the studs) and the cedar post. Before the sun went down, we got another wall frame up, as well as a second post at the other end of this top plate, but it was too dark at that point to shoot a good photo.

We expect that the rest of the project up through the cob part could get done tomorrow, if not for the forecast of rain. We were very pleased at how well we were able to stay on schedule. It makes it seem like this business is actually viable as a weekend operation (not every weekend, I don't think), and a source of income that I can feel good about. More photos to come, as things progress...

1 comment:

  1. Man those guys sure are talented... Where can I get me a shed like that?