For some, Oddisey means a heroic journey crossing unfriendly territories and slaying terrible beasts. For me it meant just building a house, the house, OUR HOUSE. After the doctorate research (2000-2006), this project qualifies as the single most focused and sustained effort I have ever undertaken. This gives the reason for my long absence on the web (if anyone cares).
It all started at a friend’s wedding celebration, where I met this old friend of mine turned house builder, with a keen eye for new technologies. He told me about his intention to build a house for his family and then to others as well. Nothing awkward in this so far. But the type of house was very strange to me – a globe. Since we had time to hang around and share, he took me through all he learned about the qualities of such a dome house and we agreed that when we will have the money we will do it for ourselves as well. Since my parents in law offered us a piece of land in the village they live in, we accepted the offer to leave the city we used to live in for the last 20 years and return to our home town to build this house in the countryside. After we reached this decision we could sell our properties over a period of one month, although we tried that unsuccessfully for years.
In May 2012 we were declared authorized proprietors over a 500 squared meters lot and we started to process all the other papers giving us the right to build the house. By the end of November we had all the authorizations ready. In the meantime we started to dig for a well and for the foundation (see the round shape on picture 1). Plans had to be altered because we found too much water in the soil (former marshes on site). Instead of a continuous regular foundation, we had to dig holes to get across the mud level to the solid high density soil beneath (2,5-3 m deep). Thus we ended up with a pile foundation having 19 pillars (see picture 2).
Later we realized that drainage is also necessary in order to detour the waters from near the house and send them to the nearest valley, one hundred metres to the south. During the unnaturally warm months of August to October 2012 we were able to dig for all the pipes needed for a self-reliant house such as ours, including the purification of sewage station. Even after four months of drought our 19 holes in the ground with fill again with water in 24 hours. The water in the drainage flows constantly even to date.
By mid October we had electricity installed on the site, so that we did not need to ask our neighbours to help us with that any more. The wooden structure was actually put in place in November 2012 and it was completed in a week (16-24). It was covered with foil and in a month with the wood that will hold the roof tiles.
During the winter cold months the workers continued to work inside at temperatures that did not fall below – 100C. We had a stove running with wood that helped to make a milder temperature inside. Until spring the workers completed the walls and the floors, so that we could actually see how the house will look inside. We made use of every single opportunity of good wheather, so much so that on February 5th 2013 we poured the concrete over the underfloor heating system put in place a week before that. We enjoyed a week of positive temperatures. The heating solution we opted for included a solar panel and an electric boiler, meant to work together to produce the hot water needed in the house. All these will be installed and ready to work only in late April.
We spent most of March and April 2013 to install electrical cords and outlets, insulate the house with cellulose insulation (30 cm thick), install drywalls and wooden panels. I had the chance to contribute in many ways throughout the process, but the most consistent one was to plaster the drywalls and dryceillings and paint them as well as the wooden panels.
The greatest achievement of May was installing the roof. Four men needed two weeks to have it done. Fiberglass asphalt shingles were nailed on top of a bitumen membrane stratum and a ventilation of 8 cm all over the roof. In early May we could have the floor tiles and the tiles in place, as well as the doors. Soon we had the bathrooms ready to work. Painting the dry-walls and finishing the floor with carpets or wood flooring follow. Few things are still left unfinished outside, especially the main alley to the gate, and the fence towards the street. Since our windows do not open we had to prepare for a ventilating system that brings fresh air into the house. An underground tube 50 metres long help us to do this, but we need a small engine to push the air more quickly inside. Although we have plans to move in by June, we are not sure whether that will be possible due to lack of funds. If I will be forced to do all the jobs left by myself, then it will take me considerably longer to complete all that.
Fortunately, after a very unsettled year I will be able to resume my research and lock in my study again for some fruitful intelectual enterprises. I hope that I will not discover myself entirely unfit for such an activity any more. There are some projects needing my attention: a commentary on Genesis (still writing), a commentary on Revelation (preaching notes rather, in process of editing), preparing for publishing as an e-book a pre-published book on prophetism, and the first volume of a Old Testament Introduction.
During this time there were very few supportive friends, most of them Romanians, who understood the importance of this project to me and kindly offered their timely and generous help. I thank them one more time and hope that, if nothing else, they will feel proud of their investment. During this long process, not completed just yet, we had a strong feeling of divine assistance that ordered the things ahead of us. Working with so many groups of workers revealed me a lot about work ethics and work habits. My best inner ally was my resilience to have this completed and determination to have a roof over our heads. Next to them were my family (wife and daughters) and our parents (in-laws included).
What follows is, as eloquently put it John Walton, to transform this house into a home. Here my daughters’ contribution will become more evident. Unfortunately they will not have the funds I enjoyed to offer them options. Some Swedish friends announced us that they secured a kitchen for us. It will be shipped on May 20th and will reach us before the end of the month. This is the only furniture we have so far.
Sadly, by installing the shingles roof the funds we had at our disposal were depleted. Therefore we had to borrow money from somewhere. Some friends helped us so that we could avoid borrowing from banks. With that we could continue, but still more is needed to buy carpets and / or floors and complete some works on the outside, including the fence with the gates. Looking at our house some people will advance the judgment that such a building is rather a fancy house, and we shouldn’t attempted to build it. But having a passive house for 500 EUR/square meter is quite a deal, compared to everything we could do alternatively. Besides this means a house we could actually live in independently (except electricity).
If any of you, friends reading this, want to help us fitting the house (floors and furniture), we encourage you to do so. We are not picky on this matter. At least for now. Below you will find my bank account needed for a deposit. Feel free to share our load in this project. With gratitude,
BANCA TRANSILVANIA, str. G. Baritiu, nr. 8, Cluj-Napoca, 400027, Romania
SWIFT CODE: BTRLRO22
NAME: SILVIU TATU