Monday, March 5, 2007


Well, that's my very first attempt at blogging, specifically house blogging, after reading several blogs for years.

I guess first I have to clarify one thing: the house I'm talking about here is mostly fantasy yet and probably won't be built for at least a few months, if not a full year. So I can't guarantee frequent updates and merely think of this blog as a place to collect ideas and some pictures of pieces I already gathered.

Now to the house itself...
My family owns a (very) small farm house in Northern Austria, just 400m from the Czech border and pretty close to Slovakia. The house itself has 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen. That's pretty small for a family of 7. SO already when the house was bought there were plans to extend it. The first thoughts involoved finishing the attic, but that would require a complete new roof over the entire house, basically turning everything into a huge war zone. That simply involves too much work and is too expensive.

So eventually we turned our attention towards the outbuildings. There are two of them, one probably once house goats, is tiny, damp and doesn't have much natural light.

And then there's the old pigs stables or whatever you want to call it... and that's what this is all about.

Built in 1971 this stands as a rectangle with a small bumpout for the outhouse (yes, that's right, that house didn't have indoor plumbing until 1997!), built of concrete and brick.
The foundations and walls maybe 3 feet above the floor are concrete. And not the usual farmer's mix (1 sack cement, 10 sacks sand) but real full-blown air raid shelter grade concrete. How I found out? I whacked that thing with a heavy sledge hammer just for fun and all I saw was a white mark on the surface.
Above it's double wyth brick, going back to single on the second floor.

It's more than half built into the hill, so the ground on the rear side is on second floor level.
That, in cinjunction with absolutely no gutters makes for severe moisture problems.

The second floor is merely an attic - maybe five feet at the entrance and 8" on the other side. In dry words unuseable. The floor is wood, severely sagging because the joists were cheap wood and undersized to even support their own weigth... and from severe roof leaks it has a huge hole.

The roof itself is a tile roof. Same cheap and undersized lumber as the ceiling, and waaaaay too flat. Besides, they never replaced broken tiles. So now, the wood is partially rotted, sagging and the roof leaked severely. When I first walked in during rain I stopped counting at the 10th leak.

First thing we did was buy 100 used tiles for half the price of new ones and I spent an afternoon on the roof replacing tiles since the roofer refused to go up there. That got it more or less waterproof for the time being.

The first floor still has the old stalls inside, solid brick half walls and wooden doors with huge bolts, a clay watering trough in every stall. When we got the house it was mostly used for storage - leftover bricks, tiles, the garden hose, old ironware, bags of plaster (that was useless because it had gotten moist), rotted doors and windows, bales of straw, dried weeds of unknown origin (and incredible amounts of them (the plants must have been up to 6' tall and one of the stalls was filled up to at least 3' with that stuff) and other trash.
We tried to get rid of some of the trash and put in lawn furniture, lawn mower and all that stuff.
Oh, I forgot two things in there... a working 1970s refrigerator we've been using extensively as a secondary and a brand new never used 1960s or 1970s electric range we don't have a real use for - in the kitchen we have a gas range we prefer by far.
How I can tell it was never used? The burners still have stickers on them...

The attic is even worse... almost only wood scraps, either rotted from moisture or eaten by powder post beetles. The only remotely useful thing might be a roll of tar paper. Yeah, and two replacement asbestos shingles for the roof of the main house (about 1/4 of the main house was covered in asbestos at some point, we won't touch it since it holds up noticeably better than the tile roof even though it's FUGLY).
There were also empty fertilizer bags galore, and by all means broken window glass and roof tiles!
We scrapped the tiles but decided to keep the larger pieces of wavy glass.

There's no running water, the drain goes straight to where the manure pile once was (the bottom of the outhouse just opens into that hole too, but the hole is no longer there) and the electricity is pathetic - merely an extension cord buried in the ground - it's a miracle that thing never crumbled away and shorted out. Inside there is a single receptacle and a 40W bulb above the door.
The attic doesn't have electricity at all - well, on the other hand, it doesn't even have a door, so what can you expect...

Wow, that's a monster post... Pictures to follow in the next post where I'm going to talk about our visions and plans.

1 comment:

Jarkko said...

Just read your comment at
and just wanted to tell your comment was very accurate.

Finnish companies have been using the wood advantage in Central and Southern European countries. Nowadays Germany has once again emerged as the European super power of wood, which it used to be.

Maybe we start to see more wooden buildings in that part of the world too as wood prices are falling and new building technologies have improved wood's fire resistance.

Good blog by the way. I'm going to enjoy reading it through.