Lodge – Phase 1

We’ve been planning and dreaming for so long about the lodge that I wouldn’t have blamed Amanda for thinking it might never actually happen. Now that we can see real progress, it’s almost anticlimactic.


To refresh you, we figured out within about three months after taking up residence here in our little home in the pole barn just how happy life can be in a tiny living space. We think it unlikely now that we will ever live anywhere else unless somebody makes us. Someday I probably need to talk about how nice it is to live in a tiny space, but I won’t dwell on that here. Instead, I’ll use today’s article to talk about our decision to build the lodge and the current progress.

Even though the two of us find genuine joy in living so close together, Amanda’s joy is incomplete; she loves to welcome people in her home. We have invited visitors to come see us in the pole barn, and we tend to have nice people as friends, so they’re invariably good-natured about it. But we know, and they know, that our facilities for entertaining guests fall a little short. When the woman you love has identified her primary spiritual gift as one of hospitality, and it was you who talked her into living in such a way that she has trouble using that gift, you have a problem. The lodge is my solution.

One of the things we love about our little home in the pole barn is that it costs virtually nothing to keep it comfortable year round, through the sub-freezing nights of winter, the blazing heat of the summer, and the more moderate times in between. The combination of sound (or lucky) design, keeping it small, and our becoming accustomed to the seasons has allowed us to be relatively comfortable no matter the season (although I will have to admit that I felt the heat yesterday when the temperature peaked at 102 degrees).

It was important to me as we designed the lodge that we not give up the advantage of those ridiculously low electric bills. The last thing I wanted to do was to have to pay to keep a space heated and cooled that went unused for days or weeks at the time. So we’re applying to the lodge the same construction method we had used for our apartment in the barn. I’m reasonably confident now that it will add little to our utility bills when it’s not in active use.

That frees me up to be genuinely excited about the progress we’re making with the lodge, so I wanted to share it with you. The pad for the lodge has been ready since before we moved here. It’s a long story, but briefly, we thought at one time we would build the barn there. I needed some help from Rodney Griffith’s bulldozer ace Shawn to expand and smooth the pad, but he only needed the equivalent of one day to whip it into shape. Joey Morgan and his six-man pole barn crew from Addison, AL spent about a week with us, sleeping each night in a local hotel.

First they used their two-man auger to drill holes for 18 of the 20 posts that support the lodge. The two other posts mount directly onto the top of the storm shelter/root cellar, so no holes needed for them. They set the posts the first day and let them begin to set up that night. The next day, they began lifting and bolting into place the massive steel trusses that span the 50-foot width of the lodge. With the trusses in place, they began attaching to the trusses the wooden purlins that would hold the metal roof. The lodge has nine 12-foot bays, for a total of 108 feet. Each bay has 33 purlins, three below the trusses and 30 above. So that’s a total of 9 X 33 = 297 purlins in the lodge.

The final stage of Stage 1 was the attachment of the insulation and metal roofing. I scrimped on the pole barn and decided to omit insulation from the underside of the roof over the open air portions of the barn. That was a mistake, because the inside of the pole barn “rains” on cold mornings from the water droplets that condense on the underside of the barn during the night, freeze, and then fall as they melt the next morning when the sun begins to heat the roof. I knew better with the lodge, so the entire lodge roof is equipped with a thin layer of foil-backed insulation. Parenthetically, we’ll also add roof vents to both the lodge and the barn, which should not only reduce the condensation problem in cold weather but make both more comfortable in the summer as well.

One strip of 26-gauge metal roofing is too heavy for one person to lift it, so getting Phase 1 finished was all about teamwork. It was fun to watch this crew. They were experienced, efficient, and thorough. The last time after Bill’s crew had built the pole barn, Amanda and I were picking up screws after them for weeks. This time, these men were much more careful. I have walked the entire perimeter of the lodge, and I have yet to find more than 6-8 screws on the ground.

The video runs a little more than six minutes and takes you from bare pad to metal roof in place.

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