Janna Hafer


Urban Frontier House

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06/08/16 - Our banker wants to know when the house is going to be done. That is a fair question. I have asked the same thing myself! We have already been under construction for 22 months. The sinks, faucets, and showers have been installed; our seven rainwater tanks are full; the pumps are in place. It must be time to turn on the water. On May 18, 2016, Tristan Bounds with Orenco came to town to assist us in starting up the water system. The plumber was there; the low voltage electrician was there; Randy was there. They flipped the switch. The water started to move from the tanks to the point of filtration. Then, it stopped. Why did it stop? Well, we forgot to un-wrap the filter. (time out to unwrap the filter) Ok, try again. This time the pump in the gray water tank doesn’t kick on. Bummer!!! The electrician verifies that power is flowing to the pumps. A day later and after a call to the pump manufacturer, we learned that the water has a minimum level requirement before the sensor will activate the pump and the water level in our gray water tank was not to capacity yet. Wow, the things we have learned during the building of our self-sustaining house! Other lessons we have learned are:

• Purchase enough tile at the Restore to cover the entire wall because you will probably never find the same tile at a later date.
• Speaking of tile, it’s okay to be a little creative when you discover that you did not purchase enough tile at the Restore to cover the entire wall.
• AC LED lightbulbs are not the same as DC LED lightbulbs. Who knew???
• Be sure and add the peat moss in the bottom of the composter BEFORE adding 60 cubic feet of wood shavings.
• Don’t assume that those really cool recycled barn floor boards won’t smell like a barn and require A LOT of scrubbing – pee-eewwwwww!!!
• Maintain patience. Trying to change the world while building a house can be extremely challenging; so, scream in your pillow if you need to and then put on your game face and carry on.

Things don’t always run smoothly and often take a little longer when attempting something for the first time; however, we are very excited about what this house has to offer (and the many additional lessons we are sure to learn?) and are looking forward to moving in!
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