In December of 2002, Becky and I left Kenya to spend Christmas with our children in North
Carolina. While there, knowing that one day we'd want to move home, we began looking for
a lot on which to build. We had one request of the Lord - for "layers of mountains." He gave
us this wonderfully wooded 1.6 acre lot outside Hendersonville which we named "Machpelah."
Why? That was Abraham's name for the cave that, though God promised him and his seed
"as far as the eye can see," was the only bit of land he ever owned (Gen. 9:23ff). It has been
sitting idle for nine years, but now, Mark Casoria, a local PCA elder, is building the house
The high peak distant left is Mt. Pisgah - 5,721' or 1745 meters - on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The footings, "walk out basement" walls (the rest will be wood frame) and foundation slab
have been poured. The footprint is 54' wide by 34' deep, with lots of glass in the walls to
capture the mountain views. IF you look carefully, a brownish object can be seen above the
bank in the rear. That's the ONLY house visble from ours, and there are no other buildable
lots in the vicinity. Can you dig it!? : ) A wooden deck will run along the front of the house.
I bought a chain saw, and Becky and I cleared the lot ourselves ("sweat equity") felling
dozens of trees. Below is the stump of a pesky locust tree (they are covered with thorns)!
|Rejoice in God's Goodness to Us!
265 Sky Lake Drive
CLICK HERE for a map of our location - just off Brevard Road Hwy 64, Hendersonville.
Sky Lake Drive is a private road that accesses an old and very humble subdivision of some
25 homes scattered over the northwestern face of Davis Mountain. The only house visible
within a mile from our great room and deck is some 250' behind us and up the mountain. This
is as opposite of living in London as once can imagine. Our rented London flat was a "semi-
detached" (a duplex) which shared a common wall, so no loud music! When we sat in our
back garden (British for back yard), we were surrounded by 7 two-story houses with
windows overlooking our tiny lawn. One was ever mindful of the "curtain twitchers" peering
down on you. You were NEVER really alone.
CLICK HERE for a video of the "Wilderness Walk" in Roxbourne Park near our little London
house. SURPRISE! That's a Metropolitan line train - the line we most often took into the city.
An old plat from when the lot was first surveyed in the 1970s. The house will face NW and be
located on the flat spot at the bottom of this plat.
Because we're in the county, there is no water, gas or sewer service. We had to have a well
drilled (145' deep @ $9 per foot) and have a septic system installed.
THE MAIN LEVEL FLOOR PLAN as it now stands August 2011, but there may be changes in
the master ensuite and guest bath areas. The mystery stair front left is to the octagonal
neo-Victorian "Crow's Nest" - my study. Becky's office is on the main level.
The main entry into the house is via a drive around to the rear.
At the main entryway, there is a stair down to the "walk out" basement which will house a 1
car garage (left), a rumpus room, a 3rd bedroom & full bath, and a workshop (right rear).
We wanted a 2-car garage behind, but that would take another 30Gs!
WHAT STYLE IS THIS? "Wonky Neo-Victorian"? I dunno... but it's what we like and what
will work on our lot. Window configurations are not accurate here, and, the left-hand side
above the deck will be OCTAGONAL. All the necessities, 2 bedrooms, two baths (including
Master Ensuite), kitchen and great room are on the main level. Doors will be 3' to
accommodate wheelchairs in our dotage! Whoops! I forgot to draw the chimney!
The basement is "WALK OUT" - underground on rear and right, with main level at ground
level from the rear. (See slab above.) We want the full-length deck to wrap around the left
side so an exit door will be in Becky's office with a stair down to the ground on the left side.
AUGUST 2011 - Machpelah as we found it after 9 years of being overgrown! I bought a new
chainsaw, and we cleared it all over again! (I married a TROOPER!)
EARLY SITE WORK - the driveway from Sky Lake Drive up and around to the backside of the
house (main entry). We were in London when all this unfolded.
265 Sky Lake Drive - rocks & ice & Rhododendron (nickname: "Rhodies") on the hairpin turn
at the lower NW end of our property. There are huge areas of the lot covered with beautiful
old growth Rhododendron, some of the trunks being 9" around. Our plan is to have a "walking
path" to encircle the circumference of the property.
January 2012 - Son John Wade III is a architect in St. Louis, MO. This was a preliminary 3D
rendering much changed since. On the basement level, the garage door will be on the left,
and windows above the middle and right sections will be duplicated below. STILL, this
rendering gives a general idea of what the house will look like. BTW, he did this with a free
software, "Google Sketch." (But it's too complex for me!) Oh... and the house will be light slate
gray-green, not blue.
We want a FOX? DRAGON? (Eustace) weathervane - and a stained glass triangle (which we
will have to craft in our spare time) in the top pane (now shown here) of the Great Room.
CLICK HERE for a 360 degree panorama YouTube video taken as Becky and I began
clearing the lot AGAIN in August 2010. I had to buy a larger chainsaw and a heavy-duty weed
whacker with a metal blade - can slice through 2" saplings in a millisecond! Check out that
HUGE BRUSH PILE. I cut the stuff, BECKY stacked it! WHAT A TROOPER!
7 JUNE 2011- Photo sent by our daughter Rebecca Lance. Foundation seen from atop the
bank on the property above and behind us. We were still in London at this time.
7 JULY 2011- "Walk-out-basement" is being framed in. Hope to have the floor joists and
subfloor down for the main level by the end of next week... if the rain lets up a bit.
Almost every afternoon we take the 10 minute drive up from our little rented duplex in town
(above) and watch the sunset, talk about life, our day, dream of moving in, and to pray for the
many friends we love who are going through great trials - Walt & Robin Kendall, Joyce &
Wayne Herring, members of our extended family, some battling back pain, others cancer. This
keeps us sober as we remember that this house is but a temporary dwelling we will enjoy for
a few years until we make our final move to be with Him who loved us and chose us to be His
before the foundation of the world! THEN WE REALLY WILL BE HOME!
27 JULY 2011- "Walk-out-basement" framing done - subfloor is laid - the stairwell to main
level from basement in, and the foundation is backfilled.
21 JULY 2011- Our daughter Libba and hubby Josh and their son (OUR BEAUTIFUL
GRANDSON) John Nathan Roberts visits Machpelah and tries out thieir black lab "Keller"
(yep, named for you-know-who!) as an easy chair. Nathan is expecting a baby sister around
Thanksgiving! BELOW: Libba's "BUMP"... our grandaughter Adelaide due in Novermber! : )
23 JULY 2011- Subfloor down. This is "AVANTEC" flooring - tongue & groove panels that are
attached to the floor trusses by glue and ring-shank nails.
Mark and his crew plan to begin framing the main level Monday 1 August! Can't wait. Things
will really be hoppin' from then, and by week's end, the walls should be done and ready for
the roof trusses!
27 JULY 2011- Stonework around the left-rear side of the house. Building in the mountains
presents some grading/landscaping challenges, but the native stone that comes out of the
ground is a freebie. (The apparently curved cement foundation is a camera lens abberration.)
02 AUGUST 2011- UP GO THE MAIN-LEVEL WALLS! This is beginning to get exciting! Things
do move rather slowly with Mark Casoria and his son Andrew doing all the framing, but it
saves $$$ on labor, and they are experts who do superlative work! (ABOVE & RIGHT)
RIGHT: Look closely and you can see the front Becky's cantilevered porch/office that will
extend upwards to form the front of my office/"Crow's Nest" - or is that the "Owl's Nest"? Not
sure. Owl denotes wisdom (no fit) and crow, and old crow (perfect fit), so we'll see. : )
The "front door" is the wide opening on the right -- where you enter the house from the rear
-- the non-view woods side vs. the "true front" of the house -- the mountain view side.
Make sense? Not really.
IF the rain holds off this week, the main level exterior walls and interior load-bearing walls
should be up and ready for the roof trusses when they arrive - possibly next week?
BELOW: Becky is sitting in a lawn chair where the foot of our bed will be one day!
03 Augutst 2011- "Slowly, slowly catch the monkey." When the guys begin framing the
"Owl's Nest" I'm gonna FREAK OUT! Tonight at sundown, we had sodas while looking out our
"bedroom window" front right. Far side left will be Becky's office windows. - Johnny
BELOW: 04 Augutst 2011- We ran up during my lunch hour today to check some specs on
the house. The guys started work at 7:30 this morning, but the thermometer on the main
level under the fly read 120 degrees, so they stopped at noon. Two HS football players and a
coach have DIED of heat stroke in the SE US this week! The "bay" in Becky's office (which will
extend up to the Crow's Nest) is now framed. Exciting!
13 Augutst 2011- The floor to the Crow's Nest is in. It will perch atop Becky's office--where
she's standing. Her office and mine above it will be very small rooms but with great views of
the mountains! You can see three "doorways" here - the left into Becky's office, the middle will
be an open stairway up to the Crow's Nest. The rightmost one is to the guest bedroom.
The week of August 15th promises to be HUGE! The guys will finish framing the exterior and
interior walls to get ready for the ROOF TRUSSES which should be arriving on Thursday--to be
set by Saturday with a crane. Mark hopes to have the house "in the dry" by the end of the
16 Augutst 2011- BELOW - The sheathing is going up - to be covered later with HardiPlank
siding. Hope the rain holds off later this week so the trusses (to be delivered Thursday) can
be set on Friday with a crane.
15Augutst 2011- BELOW - Look closely and you will see Becky peering out of the kitchen
window. The wide opening is our "front" entry door - at the back of the house. Wierd, huh?
BELOW: The view side of the house faces Mt. Pisgah - almost due West, so what we will lose
in moonrises (hidden by high trees to the east) we'll be compensated for by spectacular
sunsets! In the 9 years since we purchased the lot, view-obscuring trees have grown up that
will be topped out.
18 Augutst Thursday - "GOT ROOF TRUSSES!" Crane to set them is due tomorrow at 10am.
19 August Friday -
"ROOF TRUSS DAY!"
Despite the threat of
Lord gave us PERFECT
weather! The Crow's
Nest and the
remainder of the Great
Room (vaulted ceiling)
will be "stick built"
(using 2x12 timber) by
hand next week, we
renowned NC framing
guru, is building the
5-sided vaulted roof of
the "Crow's Nest" in
his own back yard and,
when done, will haul it
Mark & Andrew hope to finish the deck across the front ot the house next week.
The Crow's Nest and the remainder of the Great Room (vaulted ceiling) will go up last. It'll be
"stick built" with 2x12" timber. Chris Beddingfield, the renowned NC framing guru, is building
the 5-sided vaulted roof of the "Crow's Nest" in his own back yard and will haul it over
CLICK HERE for a
short video of the
crane placing the
Casoria and his
Chris Beddingfield and his two crack Mexican carpenters along with Mark did all this (and
more) on Friday! They set the 400 lb. main center beam BY HAND without a crane! When Mark
told Chris he was "CRAZY!" Chris retorted that this was what gives him his kicks--why he
loves framing for a living!
And covered the Great Room vault and the rear of the R & L wings by Saturday at 1:30pm!
Look closely and you can see Becky sitting in the Great Room. : )
Becky faces North toward Long John Mtn. from the Owl's Nest. It's a bit scary with no walls!
BELOW: I took this shot looking WNW from the Owl's Nest floor (where Becky is standing at
right). Back in Dec. 2002 we prayed for "layers of mountains." Mt. Pisgah is distant left.
Today, Monday 29th August was a CRAZY BUSY day. Chris and his crew finished decking most
of the roof - and tarring it over. Mark and his crew did "collar ties" in the Great Room ceiling
and began building the front wall that will house the large glass fascade (right).
Chris and his crew of high-wire daredevils are busy on another job and can't return until
Friday. But, working Friday, Saturday and Monday, they should finish framing in the "Owl's
Nest" and have the roof completely done. THAT will be exciting! It's UNREAL to have drawn
the plans for this house and see it come to pass before your eyes--a once-in-a-lifetime event
for me! (Well, I did build a shack from scraps in our back yard when I was 10.) : )
|From the "Owl's Nest" at Machpelah, we bid you goodnight.
(Yep... that really is our view, not a stock tourist photo.)
To be continued... Deo volente!
Did you miss "JT" - James Taylor - singing "Goin' to Carolina in My Mind"?
Don'tcha dare! JT may be six years our junior, but hey... we've still
got MORE HAIR! : ) Click HERE to listen!
All the windows will be fitted with a special UV filtering variety that is supposed to prevent
the sun fading our furniture and fabrics. Floor to inside peak is 21'.
From the rear (where the main entrance is), it's really a rather humble little house. But, seen
from the mountain view-side, the walk-out basement makes it LOOK huge.
NOTE: This page is a simple step-by-step
record of our house project - VERY interesting
to our family, but quite possibly BOR-ING for
others. So, read it like a National Geographic
-- skim through the pics! : )
The deck frame is ready for the treated pine floor planking which arrived sometime today.
There will be a gated stairway on this end of the deck that will descend along the side of the
house --an alternate entrance to the house and egress... don't think we'd fancy jumping off
the deck in the event of fire! : )
"... and hey babe the sky's on fire, I'm dyin', need I. I'm goin' to Carolina in my
mind." - James Taylor (Click HERE to listen!)
Click here for
music to view
9 SEPT. (Post Tropical Storm Lee which caused some delays)
The roof of the Owl's Nest cupola should be completed soon. The subframe is up (an 8-12
pitch), and above it will be a 12-12 pitch overlay - the peak of which will be at the tip of that
rod with orange streamers from the side of it. GOBS of insulation will go between the layers
to give an R-value of over 50 so we'll not roast - or freeze - up there!
This afternoon, Mark called me to come up to "help them design a box & gutter" system to
handle the vast torrents of water that will spill down the valley between the Owl's Nest wall
and Great Room roof. I was clueless but watched appreciatively and nodded appropriately as
they worked it out a series of complex angles.
Mark and Andrew plan to finish the front deck tomorrow (posts & front rails later).
Mark has ordered all the windows. Yahoo! Soon we'll be "in the dry."
BELOW: The framing for the 45 degree "tray ceiling" in the Master Bedroom... a nice touch
Mark thought of -- would never have entered my mind -- until too late.
AVPC Déjà vu? Some months ago Mark actually accused us of "building a cathedral" and it
did occur to me that the overall shape of the front of the house will look similar to Altadena
Valley Presbytrian Church in Birmingham where I served for 12 years -- like the old building --
only reversed as its steeple was on the right.
Hmmm... Is this some bizarre subconscious architectural longing to recreate the glories of
bygone days? Rod Sterling enters right and the The Twilight Zone theme begins...
BELOW: AT LAST -- the 12/12 pitch framing for the Owl's Nest roof is up... almost completed.
"What a difference a day makes!" -- more of the Chris Beddingfield FRAMING MAGIC! Our new
worry is, WHO is crazy enough to SHINGLE IT! Mark and Andrew are building the "front door"
entry porch at the back of the house. It's coming along nicely too. See Becky waving!?
Windows are arriving and being installed! Sliding glass doors will be in the center - main floor
and basement. We'll have a woodburning fireplace insert with a blower that will heat the
main floor in the event of a power outage--a fact of life in WNC. Power lines in our subdivision
are underground, but the feeder lines at the base of the mountain are above-ground.
ABOVE: A slight miscalculation has the rightmost post for the deck
misplaced to far to the right.. It will be moved over to match the left
side. The footer is already poured.
LEFT: This is the weathervane for the Owl's Nest roof - got it on sale
at half price -- VERY cheap. It's from... yeah, sorry, CHINA! The arrow
is 30" long. The wind cups arrived broken (the replacement set too)
so I'll have them brazed in place. Hopefully it'll neither fall apart nor
do double-duty as a lightning rod. Heh!
BELOW: There's not enough money to finish the basement at this point (heating & cooling
system and walls) but at least the bathroom will be done - complete with an electric wall
heater. As time and money permit, I'll finish the downstairs out myself -- to include a 3rd
bedroom, workshop, rumpus room, my theological libraray and a full office. For sure, there's
GOBS of room down there!
ABOVE: 27 Sept. 2011 - Wowzie! We actually have a front, err... rear, err... front porch! The front door will be on the
back side of the house as you approach it from the street. Strange, but that's the way the slope of the lot dictated the
house be arranged. THIS WEEK, the HardiPlank siding will be painted in the basement (grayish-bluish-greenish) and the
carpenters will begin siding the house Monday. (HardiPlank is a fireproof cement-based siding that mimics the grain of
Shingles will go on too, so soon, the house will really be "in the dry" so serious interior work can begin. Fireplace goes in
BELOW - October 5th & 6th 2011 - Hardi-Plank siding is going on, starting on the right side and wrapping around back
to front. The missing windows are on the way. Plumbing being done inside. Fireplace box installed (wood-burning
catalytic that will heat the whole house). There will be a firewood box from the deck to the inside.
(Whoops! ColoUr for
my English friends!) The
camera didn't capture
this well... it's a
greenish-bluish - a
Benjamin Moore acrylic
paint - "Mountain Mist"
which quite accurately
captures the famous
bluish haze that gave
the Blue Ridge
Mountains their name.
This catalytic wood-buring fireplace has a 36" firebox to take a 21" log. The EPA rates it at
78% efficiency... nice, when the power goes out. Yes, we'll have a 10,000 Watt generator in
the basement to run the fan and basic appliances during power outages that our neighbors
("neighboUrs") say have lasted up to 5 days. The door and facing is not installed yet. I'll have
to build a mantel (from which to hang our Christmas stockings!) and add cultured stone
The "front" door
(which is around
back - at the rear of
the house) is a
unit by Therma-Tru -
with double insulated
Sorry for the "barrel
distorion" the camera
introduced. It really
is a perfect rectangle.
The porch will not be
fully finished. To save
money, I'll build the
posts and rails (with
pickets) when we get
some vacation time.
11 OCTOBER (ABOVE)
Above: Siding goes on! I sort of wish the color was slightly darker, but, too late now! : )
Tomorrow - barring rain - shingling will begin. Becky is waving at me!
Right: Fall colors from the Owl's Nest window. We leave for Philadelphia on Friday for 12
days, so will miss the peak!
YAHOO! The siding and trim are all done and the scaffolding is down! The deck railing needs
to be built and cement poured underneath, final grading of the site, etc.
The weather vane can be installed later this week, then work will begin FULL BORE on the
interior - wiring, finishing up the heating/air conditioning system, plumbing, kitchen, drywall,
flooring... * sigh * Looks like it's gonna be March before we can move in. ACTUALLY, that's
not so bad as from late January through the end of February, we've got ministry to do in
Chile, Philadelphia and Spain!
PUttered up to the Owl's
Nest late this afternoon to
do a little banjo pickin' 'n
grinnin' and watch the
Becky and I look forward to
many, many of these
sunset reveries in the
future -- as the Lord
blesses us with life and
Care to join us!?!?!
I thought you would!
- Johnny - for "bofus"
LEFT: 17 December 2011 - Some plumbing for bathrooms in; sheetrock (drywall) in and
painted; things will start moving along at a faster clip now as interior finishing is done -
hardwood flooring & carpet, kitchen installation, etc.
BUT, Becky and I have two overseas teaching trips coming up -- to Chile late January to early
February, then, I will be in Philadelphia in mid-February, and then we're off to Spain in late
February, then, a missions conference in Huntsville, Alabama in early March.
SO, even if the house is finished in February, we'll not be able to move in until mid-March!
The front deck will have to be stained AFTER allowing the treated lumber to cure for about 6
"All good things come to the one who waits." JESUS wants us to seek HIS Kingdom FIRST,
"and," He promised, "all these things shall be added unto you." : )
LEFT: FEBRUARY 2012 - The drive to the right side of the house to get you round back to the
main entry from which the house looks - as it really is - very modest in size - almost runt-like.
ABOVE: It's a WEIRD house, this - with the "front" door around the "back" of the house
(above) - a common feature of building in the mountains. Stair and porch railings yet to be
done... my job later after we've moved in.
It's difficult to see where your front wheels are when you park, so I REALLY need to put a
picket fence -- or plant shrubs -- along the top of the bank so our guests (YOU!) will not go
careening over the edge!
LEFT: MARCH 2012 - preliminary "landscaping" is done - just crushed granite driveway and
chipped wood in what will be the planted areas of grass and/or shrubbery.
BELOW: Kitchen is almost done. GE slide-in gas (propane) range is in the island so when we
are cooking, we're part of the activity going on in the Great Room ("open plan"). The bedrooms
are to be carpeted, bathroom floors tile, other rooms 3/4" x 3 1/3" Bruce "Marsh" solid oak
flooring - the thrifty "cabin grade."
ceiling is a
21' to the
lighting in a
at the top of
two of the
RIGHT: As for the old adage -
"Marriage begins when you sink in his
arms, and ends with your arms in his
sink!" - I (Johnny) actualy do a pretty
good job of cleaning up after myself.
Counter tops are fake stone.
The Moen sink I ordered has odd-
shaped basins to accommodate long pot
handles - and a stainless steel soap
dispenser (top loading). After 20 years of
wandering thew world (Africa and
England) and being at the mercy of
teeny-tiny rented kitchens, we're blessed
to be able to design our own!
known fact is
of the Round
grown to love
great for OLD
hands! : )
ABOVE: ALL MOVED IN!
We moved inaround April 1st, slept on air mattresses for a few nights until we could get our old bed from the apartment in
place. A MYSTERY DONOR gave us (many) thousands of dollars to buy bedroom & living room furniture. DONE! PHOTOS?
NO WAY. YOU are going to have to come visit us IN PERSON!
Thanks so much for your love, prayer & interest shown during this year-long project to build our nest.!
SO far, fourteen have signed our Guest Book, and we have an MTW missionary couple coming in for the weekend tonight -
Saturday 2 June 2012!
|"Fuzzy" - Our Resident Bear - on 6 Sept. 2013
(He's been around since Fall 2012) YouTube Video