We evacuated our home that burned on the late afternoon of June 28,2012 as the Charlotte/Mink Creek wildfire roared into life charging up the sides of the draws eating anything that she yearned for.
It did not matter what it was. She consumed the yellow paint on the right and left the firewood stacked on the left. Some houses that were certified as having a 100 ft defensible space around them burned. Some houses that were certified did not burn. Some houses had trees everywhere and did not burn. Our house had one huge tree sitting all alone by the front steps but it was right by the door. The house burmed but not the tree. Rickey wood houses burned or not. Masonry houses burned or not. Our house burned. Every house up the road for a couple of miles burned. One did not. The fire creates its own weather system and when the flames are aloft you need every thing from defensible space to luck to divine intervention to save yourself and those under your care or comradeship. Wildfires are hot, frightening and so massive in scale that it is hard to know how to think about them on a human scale.
The past month we have been thinking about all of this a lot. We have been struggling with the outside walls for our house. We considered rebuilding our old whole log house again but for a variety of structural reasons decided to build an equivalent design with stick framing. Enter siding. Enter problems. Typical wood siding makes no sense under the circumstances. For us, since we were replacing a log house that we loved in part for its woodines, going to something like cement board or vinyl just seemed personally painful. I could imagine driving into the driveway at the end of every day thinking, “I am glad to have a house.I am glad to be home. When I get inside I won’t notice the cement siding.” There are cement logs. They cost about twice as much as wood logs but they won’t burn and you never have to maintain them. I have not seen them but I know they are there. There are also vinyl log that have been made into siding. We have examined laminated logs and whole logs too. All were too expensive by 10s and 20s of thousands of dollars budget or were just not appropriate. We have been feeling despondent.
When our house burned we started calling it our “Not House” or our deceased house or our house that died. As the months have passed it has gently grown to being known as the old house. While enough healing has come that our deceased house is now just our old house, we have been stuck in this terrible process for our new home for months. We have a not-house. We were getting a House-to-Be and then we get confused about the final step, the sheathing of the outer walls for house. In our crestfallen confusion of not understanding enough about building products we felt so helpless we christened the The-House-to-Be the Not-To-Be-House hoping we were wrong but in the panic we are feeling knowing that we are coming soon on the one year mark it seemed appropriate.
Today, our Not-to-be-House may truly, finally be our house-to-be. The county has the plans and we hope all is proceeding apace there. Everyone likes a nice half log siding. For the unenlightened like me, this means that a log home company takes a log that would have been your inside and outside walls and splits it open like a hot dog bun and then you nail that puppy right down. With a swish of Tinkerbell’s wand your hot dog bun siding turns into half logs that are nailed to your conventional framing and your house looks perfect. It has nice straight inside walls to go with the round rollie-pollie shapes of whole logs outside. You can take advantage of new green building materials and you have space to run wires and other critical building system in the walls. These types of houses are called hybrid houses from what I understand. Like cars, the hybrid houses can be more emergency efficient. You have the insulation properties of logs and of your house wrap. Here it is: cut it in half, groove it and then you put those two halves onto a conventionally framed wall. The best of both worlds. I will miss my whole log house but I am looking forward to my half log house too.
If things go well we should be able to take a Tonka Truck, some legos for a foundation and some link-n-logs for walls and get right on it.