Thursday, January 31, 2008

It Can Be Done! How to Build a House for 7,000 Dollars

By: Andrew Warholic

I never built anything larger than a shoeshine box in my whole life, so with a prayer to God to give me strength, courage, and the needed knowledge, I started on my own home.

Here is my story.

Hand Built Home

During World War Two, like thousands of other families, we were in desperate need of living quarters. True, we were renting, but for my wife, three month old son, and myself it was too small.

We decided that we didn't want to rent much longer. So, in our spare time we would go out shopping for lots. We finally bought three lots (40 ft. x 130 ft.) and started right away looking at house plans.

Then we had our first damper put on our plans — I was being drafted into the U.S. Navy.

I wanted to go into the Navy as a carpenter, thinking that the experience would help me build my home in the future, but it seems that they needed electricians at the time. So, it was electrical school for me. I was discouraged at first, but after thinking it over, I remembered that a home needed wiring too. So I proceeded to learn as much as I could about wiring.

Once I got aboard ship, I started to plan our home. I would draw rough sketches and then send them home to my wife, Rose for approval. If there were any changes to be made, and I can assure you that there were many, I would re-draw the plans and then send them back home again for approval till we finally go on paper what we wanted on our lots.

While aboard ship, I sent away to a correspondence school for a set of construction books. I read them several times, but what I needed was the practical experience.

I would lay out a rafter in chalk on the ship's deck, and then I would have to swab the deck to get the chalk off. Shipmates would join, and several more got the building bug.

After spending two and a half years in the Pacific, I was Honorably Discharged as a second class electrician.

Within the first year at home we had an increase in our family, a sweet girl. Now we were really crowded into the three small rooms that my wife kept up while I was in the Navy.

We were more than ever determined to build our home. I took the rough sketch to a local architect, he looked it over, then put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Son where are your going to get between $18,000.00 and $20,000.00 to build this home, plus the fee for drawing up this plan?"

I was pretty discouraged. Did we bite off more than we could chew? Was this home too much for us? After talking things over with Rose, I decided to give it a try myself. I never built a home before, but I was willing to give it a try.

I bought myself a "T" square, 90 degree and 60 degree angles, and used my wife's dough board and drew the plans to scale.

We were fortunate to run across an old eight room house which was for sale. With the help of my Dad, brother, and brother-in-laws we tore the old eight room house down, and hauled it away to our building site.

To speed up production, I knew I would have to have a power saw. But the question was what kind to buy? This saw would have to be able to do my finished work inside. This and the safety angle were the most important considerations. After looking over all the popular makes of saws, I finally came to the De Walt. Just as soon as I saw the De Walt Saw demonstrated, I knew this was the saw that I was looking for. It could do everything. In fact, the way my brother described it was, "There's one thing wrong with the De Walt Saw, it doesn't pound nails, and that's just about it, for it does everything else."

So, with great morale support from my wife, and my De Walt Saw in my possession, I decided to start.

It was a great day when I got started! I never built a home before, and here I was starting one!

I never asked for any help from anyone, I was going to try it myself. After working about a month by myself, my brother and brother-in-laws started coming around and to them I give a lot of credit for a lot of hard work that was done on my home.

We wired the home and it passed the state inspection the first time.

With my helpers and of course my silent partner, the De Walt Saw, we got the house up and moved in.

Now, how to finish the outside? Our plans were to brick veneer it, but that would take lots of money, about $1,500.00, so that option was out.

The next choice was stone. Could I do it? Remember, I never built a home, let alone cut or laid stone. The De Walt Saw kept coming to my mind.

One day I took a ride out to the stone quarry, and brought home a few large pieces of stone. I bought a silica-carbide blade and put it on my De Walt Saw. I laid the stone under the blade and very cautiously I scored my first stone about an eighth of an inch deep — turned it over and did the same on the other side. I then took my hammer and chisel and hammered away on the scored line. Much to my amazement, the stone broke beautifully and was faced perfect, ready to lay. Remember once again, I never did this type of work before. You needn't spend a whole life time being a stone mason; just buy a De Walt Saw and go right ahead.

We were paying $6.00 a ton for uncut stone. Cut stone at the quarry was $25.00 per ton, but it wasn't cut as good as on my De Walt, for the simple reason that the straight scored lines were not on the cut quarry stone.

Our home took about 40 tons of stone. At $6.00 per ton, that's $240.00. Imagine $240.00 for a stone house! Can you beat that? Take a look at the pictures of our home, that's real stone cut on my De Walt Saw.

Now, it was a short time after I started laying stone for our house, that I also taught my brother John how to do it.

As the pictures show, Rose was a big help in striking the mortar joints. She did all of the striking of the joints in addition to taking care of three small children and taking care of the house work.

I found other ways to put that De Walt Saw to use. With the De Walt, I cut my hardwood flooring, made all of my doors and many other things, plus the cutting of 40 tons of stone. Has that saw paid for it self? Many times over I can assure you, and I still had a wonderful saw to put in my cellar work shop. The De Walt was so good and did so many things that it's impossible for me to write all of them down at this time.

Owning a De Walt Saw was just like having two men working for you, and best of all, the De Walt didn't talk back to you. Most important of all the features is that it was safe.

Yes folks it can be done. Here is a $18,000.00 home built for around $7,000.00. It took a lot of hard work, courage, and sore muscles.

The only hired help we had was the plasterer, and I even helped him so I could learn a little about plastering.

We have all the expenses marked down, and know exactly what we have in our home.

Today we have a home that we are proud of, and large enough for our family. We have five rooms and a bath on the first floor, and three unfinished rooms upstairs, which will be finished in knotty pine at some future date. Our large living room almost has more area than the three rooms that we were renting.

I made all our flush doors plus a roll-away bathroom closet door.

The home still isn't finished but with God's help we'll get it done someday.

Signed Andy

Postscript

This article was written by Andy Warholic somewhere around 1951 - 1952. Andy was Honorably Discharged from the U.S. Navy as an Electrician's Mate Second Class on December 9, 1944. He and his wife Rose started building their home in 1945 - 1946 and moved in to their brand new home in 1948. Andy always had a "can do attitude" which, to this day is one of the things that left an imprint upon me. As far as the house project is concerned, it went on for another 20, 30, 40+ years. The five children (three boys and two girls) throughout their lives put some work into various parts of the home as they were growing up and were witnesses to lots of improvements and expansions over the years. Andrew Warholic 12/6/1916 - 9/7/1995

Forever the son of a carpenter.

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You are welcome to leave your comments, however please be aware that comments are being moderated to keep things free and clear. That means it might take a while before you see them published live. Thank you for your understanding. Best regards, AW c/o JAW