Downstairs With Farmer Tom


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A reader wrote:

My wife and I have been building our house for just over three years now. We moved in on Nov.30, a year ago, and at that time there wasn't a single sheet of drywall up; all of it was in piles on the floor. The breakfast area in the kitchen didn't have the sloped glass installed, so we ate under a blue plastic tarp that leaked when it rained. . .

This reminded me of a rather large farming family who built a house on the prairie, near the North Dakota border (yeah, pretty desolate). I guess it was 1970 or so, about 180 miles south-east of Regina on a flat part of the flat part. . . not a living stick of wood for miles around. . . They dug a hole in the ground, and then every able-bodied family member, friend and neighbour pitched in to help lay the concrete blocks.

They dug the well, built the floor and basement stairs, roughed in the plumbing, heating and electrical - and then ran out good weather and almost out of money (bad crop year). Well, says old Tom (the father), we always wanted a finished basement! So, for not too much more, they built a basement rec-room, bathroom and kitchenette. That's where they lived for two years!

Basement apartment!

Well, when the snow drifted and the prairie looked more like sub-arctic than temperate, was that house ever hard to find! The school bus driver said he had to check his mileage, stop along the road, and wait for the kids to pop out of the snow bank!

Copyright Gil Strachan - All rights reserved.

Gil Strachan is a professional home inspector, representing Electrospec Home Inspection Services in east-central Ontario, Canada since 1994. Visit to learn more about home inspections.

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