The ultimate do-it-yourself project


Sit tight while the image loads and I will tell you about how I carefully planned
and executed my very own timberframe addition to the family homestead. The frame now supports some very nice, warm walls of our new bathroom, kitchen and children's bedrooms.

It wasn't always so.

It was back in the fall of 1996, or was is 1995? We were just getting ready to survive another referendum on the future of Quebec within Canada, when we (mostly me) got the urge to build something. The barn was finished a year all ready. Why not add those rooms we needed, and use that pile of 16 foot long, 9" x 9"''s just for good measure? We had to find the 9 x 9's but no matter, we discoverd Durwood Doughety of Bury had all kinds of lunber. Three weeks after the order was placed, the entire 1,000 square feet of future living space arrived in two truckloads, costing a mere $5,000. hey, that was a deal, including beams, and teh raw material of studs, roof trusses, flooring and baseboards! Batteries were not included.

The plans were made in September. One of them is this mechanical drawing below.

No architect consulted. Why bother with all that process?

Time was spent on the more important task of recruiting enough people to get the job done. No less than 300 or so individual mortises and tenions were chisled, chain sawed, Makita'd and cussed at by, in order of appearance, Sir Francis Loomis or Waterbury and son Micheal, Christine Lecouffe, Robbie, Maurice Gagnon, and littl'Annie Axtell (9 at the time). I was the Boss for those we did hire and the "trainer" for the volunteers.

It was almost snowing on the moring after the referenum, the day we chose to hoist her up. The crane from down the road in Weedon, costing $90 an hour, added just enough pressure to keep us moving. I hung a OUI poster in the line of sight of the crane operator so we would be safe.

Up she went. In eight hours and 15 minutes.

They took a bow. A great performance by Deb Chapman (camera operator), Farmer Steve Heggison, Francis Loomis (despite putting several carefully numbered beams in backwards) Carlo, Maurice, Norman Longworth (were you there too?) and a whole bunch of other people I'll have to add here someday. And God bless him, Mr. Real Champoux, of Stratford on the Lake (Aylmer, that is) who went to the hosipital the next day because he had been feeling poorly all week. Turned out a few days earlier, while hauling a cord of wood on his back, the retired carpenter had a major heart attack, and didn't know it. Luckily, he didn't drop dead while atopour frame, or it would have been a real curse on this house. We didn't need a curse, that's for sure.

Raising the frame turned out to be the easy part. Finishing the roof and walls in November put us in a very poor mood for the rest of the winter. Andre Lehoux, Kevin Mulligan and Carlos worked like gang busters, in snow, freezing rain, and high winds, until it was closed in and we were exhausted. The following Christmas, we were living in the new kitchen. A slight delay on account of the additional pantry we decided to add on to the new addition. A week's extra work, time didn't matter, this was going to be worth the wait.

What's an addition to an addition called? Over budget.

I will spare you the details, but I will just say this, it was just like those stories you 've heard about. It was a real mortgage making, marriage stressing event.

But what's done is done, and like Mike Jaggar says, 'we don't plan to pass through here again".