Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Big Build 08

It was a busy, exhausting and slightly soggy building bee this year.
Highlights and accomplishments:
main house platform put down
guest cabin roof & walls up
pat's propane heater & the hot rocks that kept us company on soggy nights
rj's magic tricks
rain rain and more rain
an almost entirely solar powered build!
Big thanks to: Pere & Didi, Patricia and Bill, Alt-K, Mike, Rich, RJ, Maddy, , Sean and Miles, Doug, Pat for the much appreciated heater & Cath for the treats.

we went from this

to this

with a lot of this in-between!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Building Bee August 2008

We are busy gearing up for our building bee the last two weeks of August. We will be building the walls and the roof for the south side of the house -- that's the little house where a bathroom and guest room will be. We'll also be finishing up the railing on the power tower, milling a little wood and having cocktail hour as well as late afternoon ocean swims and spectacular outdoor showers when the weather allows.
The righteous builders brigage so far is....Kevin, Sonja, Pere, DeeDee, Patricia, Bill, Maddy, Kevin N, Mike, RJ, Jan and Rich. Give Kevin a call if you want to be added to the list.

Even if you are not comfortable with a power tool there is still a place for you! Wash dishes, use a rake, build a trail or entertain us with your music or stories. We will definitely be having weekend runs to Horseshoe bay and maybe a few during the week as well. Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 8, 2008

August long weekend

What a satisfying long weekend we had! After lots of prep work we were finally able to make some visible strides. Joists on the platform! Stairs on the power tower! Lots of drilling and sawing opportunities!

Highlights & Milestones: Scaffolding
Joists installed (that's what the floor will sit on)
Stairs (and not just any stairs) on the power tower (see all the photos in the solar power tower photo album)
The hammock
Spontaenous sing-alongs to Jesus Christ Superstar songs

Our big gratitude to this weeks Righteous Building Brigade: Nugent, Mike, Jordana, Maddy, and Cath for fabulous food.
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From Late July
Here is a photo history of the powertower:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

late July

Another very productive weekend at the land with all thanks to our friends Yael, Birgitte, Maddy and 'the other Kevin.' The rain mostly stayed away and miracle of miracles, our fridge started working again! Eric brought his miracle excavator machine and we buried the septic pipe as well as lines for electrical and water and also adjusted the angle to ensure everything will flow properly. In the process, we made a better approach to what will be the front of the house, and moved a massive rock onto our rock garden area for a perfect bench. And we all got to be Eric's ditch bitch! It was good to get this done before the excavator leaves the island.

Maddy, Yael and Nugent sucked up far too many fumes laying the vinyl flooring for the power tower deck. The flooring will make the area below it water-proof, and useable for tools. More importantly, now that the decking is on, we can put in the rails for the power tower, which is a safety priority. Finding information about waterproof decking options was probaby my most trickiest internet research yet. One option we considered was EPDM, which does seem to be slightly better than vinyl although I'm still not sure why. Natural and water-resistent coatings seem very rare. However EPDM does have to be covered with something else, and that wasn't something we'd factured in when we built the power tower, so we would have had to modify the door. We are going to go with EPDM for the flat room portion of the cabin however. There were some roll-on products too, but we didn't find much information about the long-term durability of those.

The stair committee (Birgitte, Yael, Kevin and Sonja) worked out a nice stair design & gave us all a new appreciation of such an ordinary everyday feature of our lives! We were making progress too until time and screws ran out. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of Yael's glue messages on each stair. I'll think of you everytime I step on the fourth step! The stairs are another safety priority, since lots of people aren't comfortable on the existing ladder.

Lots of baby deer & squirrels & some post-rain slugs. Also two sizes/colours of garter snake.

  • Yael's Smores
  • Maddy's grilled vegetable sandwiches & potato soup
  • The wet boat ride
  • The excavator at work
  • The resurrection of the fridge for unknown reasons
  • The flashing and decking on the power tower
  • The septic, electric and water pipes to the house laid
  • Cool new rock bench
  • Birgitte & the rock drill
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From Late July

cabin plans

www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/ELEVATION - EAST.pdf
http://www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/ELEVATION - North.pdf
http://www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/ELEVATION - South - page 1.pdf
http://www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/ELEVATION - South - page 2.pdf
http://www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/ELEVATION - West.pdf
http://www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/PLAN - Deck.pdf
http://www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/PLAN - First Floor.pdf
http://www.sonjabegonia.net/cabin/PLAN - Second Floor.pdf
originally posted by sonjabegonia at

Monday, July 21, 2008


July has been rushing by and we've hardly had a chance to catch up. But here is what's new...

In the one step forward two steps back department our skookum new fridge is on the fritz. But in the serendipity department, it looks like we may be able to use a neighbours propane fridge for the summer. Serendipidty also got us a great new toolshed for use closer to the actual construction site. Thanks to our neighbours Andrew & Yaz and Nick and Janet for giving us a chance to give these items a new life with the L cabin.

Big thanks go out to Drew who helped out in June with the decking on the power tower, Maddy who brought energy and organic food in June and her friend Jordana in July. Their pickaxing and shovelling 'made level what was not' as Kevin put it, and made the new toolshed possible, and their patience in assembling it was commendable. 'Chip' aka Kevin N came back from his journeys away and wielded a chainsaw as well as helping build our first scaffolding. Pat brought real crab sushi (from fresh caught crab!) and blueberry scones, and if that wasn't enough, taught us how to make shakes and split rail fences.

Milestones and highlights:

  • discovering we have a) enough posts and beams for the bottom floor and b) only nine left until we are done
  • Split rail fence 101 - very fun
  • Shakes 101 - hmm... maybe we don't want to use shakes too much on the house....
  • new tool shed - so handy, so organized!
  • first scaffolding for construction
  • beginning of covering power tower teck
  • log pile continues to grow

Monday, July 7, 2008

Late June / Early July

Late June & July
Highlights of the last couple of weeks:
  • First swim of the season (photos to follow)
  • Windows to Power Tower installed
  • Second set of solar panels installed!
  • Happy discovery that generator can be used to charge power tower batteries. This means if we need to use the generator we can be put any excess energy (idle time etc) back into the system.
  • Significant progress on the log pile leading to...
  • New woodpile
  • Further discoveries into how to make the system more powertool friendly. Right now we are facing an issue with the surges some tools create when they start. There's enough power to run the tools, but not enough to get them started. There are some possible ways around this that are being looked into.
  • Ground wire laid for electrical system
  • Found and donated plastic shed (thanks Andrew!) and coroplast (thanks Gary & Colleen!)
  • Mouse in the frying pan! (Luckily not on...)
  • Lots of deer
Big thanks go out to Maddy, Bill, Andrew, Gary & Colleen!

Monday, June 23, 2008

wildlife report

  • racoons
  • seals
  • raven
  • squirrel
  • deer
  • mice
  • slugs
  • hummingbirds
  • woodpeckers
  • yellow finchy looking bird
  • robins
  • spiders
Slowly chipping away at our log pile. Tiring and hot work, more so for Kevin who actually has to do it. I'm just the log wrangler. The posts and beams themselves are so nice though...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

7L Big Build for Summer 2008

Our 7L project is being built with lots and lots of help from our friends. If you'd like to come and leave your mark, here's some info

The 2008 "Big Build" will be in the last two weeks of August. Our list of goals for this year's big build varies wildly depending on the day. But like, probably some floors. And some walls. And maybe a roof?

We've already started going up for day trips and should begin milling, working on the power tower and setting up camp any day now, weekend weather permitting.

The logistics
You can only get there by boat, it's a lovely 20 minute ride from Horseshoe Bay. We provide the boat (and the lifejackets!)

  • Starting in April and May we will be making day trips and as it gets warmer the whole weekend.

  • We will be there full-time for the last two weeks in August.

  • Promise to swing a hammer and we'll cover your transportation costs.

  • The amenities

    • Flush toilet in "toilet shack"
    • Large 2-6 person tent on platform in main camp area
    • Secluded 2-6 person tent on platform with water view
    • Roofed room (in power tower) with water view
    • Solar outdoor shower with spectacular view and variable temperatures
    • Kitchen cook tent with running (cold) water, BBQ and stove
    • Screened in eating area
    • Lots of tenting sites
    • Sunscreen aplenty
    The perks
    • The company of people who understand the importance of R & R
    • Yummy food for vegetarians and omnivores
    • Cocktail hour
    • Granola bars & other snacks
    • Hammock
    • Ocean swimming
    • Wildlife viewing
    • An excellent workout
    • A chance to use power tools

    The to-do list
    • Move smaller rocks off foundation area
    • Power wash rocks for foundation
    • Begin building power tower walls
    • Treat all lumber with oil-based natural wood protection
    • Lay-down platform
    • Begin building cabin!
    • Finish installing windows on power tower
    • Siding for power tower
    • Inside details of power tower
    • Cook / Clean-up
    • Build trails
    • Replant displaced trees
    • Reduce fire hazards by clearing brush
    • Build a swing
    • Be a gopher (go-fer tools, water, sunscreen etc)
    • General site maintenance (tents, tarps etc)
    • Set up a croquet set
    • Set up a Frisbee golf course?
    • Help mill wood (weekdays only)
    • Dream about future zipline
    • Glass-cutting/recycling project
    • Build things with wood

    Sustainable Design

    Sustainable Living

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    putting it in perspective....


    this is what we accomplished in under a month last year....


    I had such great plans of taking photos from the same spot everyday so I could do a time-lapse piece. Maybe when the walls actually go up.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Spring 2008 - Getting started, looking ahead

    We haven't posted in a while, spending the winter in urban life, all the while thinking and pondering over the house plans. After creating the Halkett Bay t-shirts for Christmas, we've gone and changed the plans. This is actually a clever ploy to make you want to collect all the t-shirts in the series. I'm very excited about the 'new' plan since it's really a return to our first plan, an open breezeway between the guestroom and the main cabin. We're also making the roof of the breezeway and guestroom flat. Suddenly this all seems much more do-able, and simple. Logical. We'll see where this philosophy gets us in the end, but for now, it's been great to have such a clear framework to think about what we are doing. And it is too cool that the house itself is going to be L shaped.

    We went up there last weekend, and spent the day evicting mice who had set up a busy little highway right into our supposedly mouseproof cupboard. Like most animals on Gambier, they seem relatively fearless. Some even ran back into the cupboard as we were clearing it out.

    Kevin and Don had been up a week before, and put the $6 metal doors on the power tower. They looked great! Since I started a creative writing program this year, I've been fantacizing about the room at the top of the tower as a writing room/retreat.

    The big build this year will be the last two weeks of August, so consider yourself invited! Right now we are heading up for day trips on the weekend as well, so let us know if you wanna be on the 'nice day let's go!' list.

    a blog about 1 cabin and 7 ideas

    local / logical / lots of uses / long lasting / low impact / low cost /loveable

    Big thanks to everyone!

    Help Gambier Island

    Gambier Island is facing numerous environmental threats at the moment when we are seeing a rebirth of wildlife. Wolves, whales, owls and more, all around us we see evidence of an eco-system on the rebound. But that resurgence is threatened by plans to allow clear-cutting, develop LNG plants, sink warships.