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Alabama Vernacular
by Katy Purviance on 03/05/09 @ 04:32:57 pm
Categories: Articles, Vernacular | 310 words | 2505 views

I just read an article about a family in Alabama who built their own house with the wood and stones they could find.

I love this stuff.

As a contractor, Guy knew that most building projects waste a lot of usable materials. “In my line of work, getting rid of old junk and debris is part of the bidding process anyway,” he says. “So if I got a job remodeling a house built in the early 1900s and happened to see a dilapidated barn on the property, I’d just ask the owner, ‘What’s the future of that barn?’ Generally, he’d say, ‘You can have it.’”

In the five years it took to complete the project, Guy collected old wood, tin and other materials from as many as 75 sources; every town in Randolph County is represented. “I got wood from old barns and sheds; some pieces I just found in a field somewhere,” he says. “My company also did a whole lot of work on a church from the 1850s that people claimed was the oldest in the county. I got all the windowpanes, some trim and a few pieces of lumber from that.”

Guy estimates that 85 percent of the house is made from reclaimed materials; the other 15 percent is wiring, plumbing, lights and the store-bought rocks that make up the 30-foot indoor fireplace.

For Guy and Kay, building the house was more than a means to an end: It was an important part of raising their sons, Jeffery, 22; Kyle, 20; and Adam, 18. “I wasn’t about to raise three boys who wouldn’t know how to work and get really tired and sweat and bleed,” Guy says of his sons, who were 15, 14 and 12 when the project began. “This project turned them into three fine young men. It taught them values and character, respect and responsibility.”

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places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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