When I first started doin’ all this I asked the township supervisor (whom I’ve known all my life), Do I need to pull a work permit? He said, Well, whaddya doin’? I said, I’m turning this barn into a house. He kinda looked at me, scratched his head and said, Number One, you’re nuts. But no.
Around 2001 I built the deck–it was just a big pile of dirt out there till then. This yard was all dug up in the process of puttin’ in the septic system in the leach field–big piles of gravel all over the place. That was one of the few things I did “by the book.” That, and the electric work which had to be code-approved. The laws have changed drastically since that time. If I were to start this now I’d have to pull all kinds of work permits and there’d be framing inspections and this, that, and the other, and I’d be tied up forever. So it’s a good thing I did it when I did.
A lot of stuff I found in this barn was too cool to take to the scrap metal dealer. I moved it all–back when I first started–stashed it in the old chicken coop building. Gradually I started cleaning it up–wire-brushin’ it, oilin’ it, gettin’ the rust off–saws and old coal mining drill bits, buckets of wrenches, old wooden boxes full of tools. And started hangin’ it on the walls.
In about 2003 I started makin’ all these bookcases–old barn wood salvaged from right where I’m sitting. I started trimmin’ out the windows which had been installed for a long time. Putting in the kitchen cabinets and countertops. The sink had been working, but supported by plywood propped up by 2X4s.
It got livable. My mom married my fishing buddy, Moe, right here in the center bay, or foyer. I guess in a way, that christened the whole place. I’ve continued to change things, add things, subtract things, move things–right up until this day. It’s still the case of me findin’ stuff that interests me, and then somehow findin’ a place to put it.