Tim came out, assessed the job, looked at the 120 year old bricks with an air of concern and got to it. For the next month we worked through the unreasonably wet winter weather. Tim battling against the four different sized bricks that he had to Tetris together, and me, the newbie, trying to shovel the correct ratios of lime, cement and sand into the mixer, then determinedly trying not to flip each overloaded wheelbarrow full of concrete as I delivered it to Tim’s workspace.
At the end of the month, Tim had miraculously created three walls, perfectly plumb and entirely unique, from a bunch of hand made bricks, where no brick was ever quite the same as any other. The next lesson of the project, sometimes you just need to follow your gut and take a punt! The brick walls were now complete, I had solid foundations, with strong plumb walls. It was all up to me now.
Something I realised fairly early on in the project was the power of CAD software. Ultimately, Sketchup was the most powerful tool I had. One of the first times it demonstrated this power was when I used it to generate a cutting list of timber based off my 3D plans. Prior to starting construction, I had built the house from scratch six times in Sketchup, each time going deeper and deeper in the level of detail. By the time I was ready to build the timber frame of the upper storey, I had designed the entire frame structure in CAD and so could come up with a reasonably accurate cutting list to order the timber.
While the timber request was being processed I received a call from one of my dad’s best friends, Burkey. He was a retired carpenter, very old-school, with a set of enviable skills, half of which I’d be overjoyed to call my own. He had called to very generously offer me his old builder’s trailer, still in perfect working order, full of useful tools – including a compressor and a nail gun. I graciously accepted his offer and the trailer and Nook sat together side-by-side as best pals, inseparable for the rest of the project.
Burkey would go on to be one of my key motivators and mentors; championing me along the way, inspecting my work and boosting my confidence with each word of admiration. The timber arrived and with Burkey’s 25 year old nail gun, I set to work on constructing the frame, trusses and front façade.