Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thankful for my Home

With the economy the way it is and all the foreclosures I hear about on the news, I am thankful for my home. We built it on the island just about four years ago. (Though I have lived here, year round, for the past 16 years.) In fact they set the house on the foundation on Halloween 2004, but we didn't move in until New Year's Eve.

You may be wondering what "set the house on the foundation" means. Many of the homes on the island are prefabricated. That means large pieces of the house are built on the mainland and then brought over and assembled on the island.That's what we did; here's how we did it...

First we had a large hole dug on the lot for the basement. Full basements are rare on the island, but I am so glad we have one - where would I keep all my crap, I mean stuff? Next we hired a mason to build the block foundation. Luckily out land was all pea gravel. If we had hit bedrock a basement would have been out of the question.




Next the pieces of the house were loaded onto a barge for the three mile trip across the straits to the island. Actually the pieces were built in southern Indiana and then trucked to Escanaba, Michigan, where the finishing was done (drywall, cabinets, etc.) Then the house was driven to the boat dock and ferried across the lake to the island. We joke and say we have a very well traveled house...




There are the first three pieces patiently waiting on the dock before being hauled up to their future home (no pun intended.) I had to work that day, but luckily my dad volunteered to ride on the barge with the house and take pictures.




Eventually that (the photo below) became the first floor back of the house. Pretty hard to tell right now, huh.




The loons were quite curious about the whole thing, too.



Here comes the last piece...

The crane picked it up, swung it over...


and lowered it into place. Viola! instant house.


OK, it wasn't really an "instant house," but almost. The roof had to be finished, the porch had to be built, and the interior needed work. There were no stairs, and the four pieces had to be joined together and then the drywall finished, the flooring laid, etc.

You may be wondering, why not just build the house from scratch? People don't often do that on the island due to the expense. It is much cheaper to build a modular home. When building this way there is one vehicle permit, and one freight charge by the boat line instead of constant dray (horse drawn wagons) and freight bills for delivering building supplies to the sight. The horses are limited on the size loads they can carry, so delivering supplies to the building site is a huge cost on the island. So huge that my husband looked into hiring a helicopter to bring the supplies over. Pretty scary that the cost was about the same as the dray and boat charges would have been! Looking back on the whole experience, if I were to build again, I would do it the exact same way. Though I probably wouldn't choose to build a house and have a baby all within the same two month period. What were we thinking?

11 comments:

kate said...

Due to the increased cost of building, you see more and more people buying houses on the mainland or down island and then having them barged over to our island (or up island, as you wouldn't want to drive a house up some of our island highway). Even though we do have transportation, our exorbitant ferry fees add a lot of cost to our supplies sometimes. Most of these houses aren't new though, they are older houses still in good condition.

Thanks for sharing such an interesting adventure!

chimp1cards said...

The pictures are very cool! I've never seen them. Hey, speaking of new years...is there a plan yet?

Ellen said...

Hi Liz,
I loved reading your blog about what you are thankful for. It looks quite beautiful where you live. I see you are a teacher. I went back to school in 2006 at the age of 45 working towards my elementary ed. degree. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing!

Heidijayhawk said...

what a lovely adventure! thanks for stopping by my blog! i hope to keep up on your sweet life!

kawaii crafter said...

wow, that's quite the undertaking. It's nice that you have all those pictures to document the event. I would guess your children like or will like looking at them.

Amy Jo said...

What a great story Liz. I had no idea that is how houses were built on the island. It had to be quite a sight to watch it come over on a barge!!

jacquie said...

thanks so much for sharing this liz...island life definitely has its quirks.

muralimanohar said...

Very cool...WAY simpler than the process I am watching over on another blog, lol! She is building from scratch, and has been for a couple years now, and is only barely onto the frame now! lol

Mum-me said...

Wow! What an unusual way to build a house. I like the idea of a basement. They are very uncommon here. (As in nonexistant, just about.)

clara said...

It's so interesting to see your house delivered on the barge :-)
Many of the new apartments here are also prefab because they are faster and cheaper to build.

Bonnie said...

Gorgeous! Thank you for stopping by my blog. Most of my intel comes from the carriage drivers so I appreciate the update! You live in an amazing place!