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high desert. small house.

Days 265-268: Paneling Part II, Starting the Bathroom

Monday, 4/4
Check out the scary cloud monster (above) that I saw on my way to work.  Watch out!

A lot of odds and ends came up that had to be completed first –

  • Fixed location of water heater electrical box
  • Trimmed wire going to it
  • Sanded down door screws so the heads wouldn’t rub against the door in times of great humidity

The paneling portion featured the bathroom ‘closet’ – a narrow wall space between the pocket door and the shower enclosure.  This tricky space is only about 8″ wide – the panel on the first side will be relatively easy; the panel opposite it will be challenging.  Bearing a 1.25″ screw, the impact driver just barely fits between the two sides.  Brian cut the skinny piece for the back of this channel (8 inches wide and 8 feet tall) and one of the side pieces.

Nice shot of the morning sun rays and the house - it's the tiny metal structure on the hill.

Nice shot of the morning sun rays and the house – it’s the tiny metal structure at the base of the hill, more or less centered in the picture.  The mountain in the far background is Cook’s Peak.

Tuesday, 4/5
We had a busy morning at the coffee shack.  One of our new beans is being featured at the local food co-op, so we had some prep work to do.  Brian started at the house around 1pm.  He finished the narrow channel between the shower enclosure and pocket door.  We are targeting the hard paneling tasks first – the skinny channel and then the curved walls.

Brian cut the other piece for the skinny channel and attached all three pieces.

Narrow channel between the pocket door and the shower enclosure.

Narrow channel between the pocket door and the shower enclosure.

2016-04-05 17.33.11

The pocket door’s inner workings have vanished.

Tight space! Good thing we purchased the new drill - it's short....

Tight space! 

Next – The place where the bathroom wall meets the arched wall is curved.  That means the panels on the inside and outside of the bathroom need to be trimmed to meet the arch in just the right fashion.  To accomplish this, Brian took 4 measurements, marked them as dots on  panel and freehanded a curve that intercepted them all. Then he cut the panel and maneuvered it into the bathroom (not easy, considering it’s a 4’x8′ piece), held it against the arch and corrected spots to shave down.  Then, panel back out to be trimmed with the oscillating tool.  Back in to check, back out to cut, back in, etc.

Getting that curve correct was a HUGE accomplishment because it also gives us the template for the other three panels that connect to the arched wall.

2016-04-06 11.51.53

1/2″ plywood is also easy to cut with the oscillating tool; it just takes 4 times as long.

2016-04-05 19.04.47

The bathroom is starting to become a room.

Wednesday, 4/6
Have we already said that we are lucky to have the landlords that we have?  We’re clearly not going to make it by 4/14 (the plan 5 weeks ago when we gave our 30-45 day notice).  We’re going to need all of this month.  This is not the first time we have overestimated how fast we would be at getting to the next building stage (remember the plywood that sat outside for over a month?  Or how about the fact that we picked out and ordered our interior paint colors back in October?)

In any case, Brian worked on the 1/2 inch plywood wall – the outside wall of the bathroom that contains the pocket door.  We had been worried the oscillating tool would not cut the thicker wood but it worked great.

2016-04-06 17.34.19

Paneling nearly complete on the pocket door side of the bathroom.  The piece against the arched wall is the template that will eventually be connected inside the bathroom.  The piece against the front wall of the bathroom is a scrap from the template that is temporarily attached because it looks cool.


Ta-da!  We’re missing a gap at the top but otherwise this side is finished.

Thursday, 4/7
The day was focused on cutting the panels for the other two bathroom walls that meet the arched wall.  Brian finished the first one (on the inside of the plumbing wall) and started on the kitchen side of the plumbing wall.  The plumbing wall is a tad tricky due to the number of objects protruding from it that have holes cut in the paneling to accommodate them.

Before stopping for the evening, we brought our stack of 24 tri-ply panels we bought last weekend inside – rain expected overnight.

[Brian had a funny thought – Sometimes it feels like we are on a reality TV show where every few days we have to bring more stuff inside the house and at the same time, keep making progress on our build.  The clock is ticking, the house is filling and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find space inside to complete tasks.  Sounds kind of like Tetris.]

The 4x8 panels are fun to get into the bathroom. Kind of like another tetris puzzle.

The 4×8 panels are fun to get into the bathroom. Kind of like another tetris puzzle…or that game where you move one square at a time until a picture is created.  Move the toilet, move the sink where the toilet was, move the panel in a little further, move the step-stool, move the panel in further, move the toilet again, etc.

This is the plumbing wall inside the bathroom - arched panel complete.

This is the plumbing wall inside the bathroom – arched panel complete.


  1. It’s really coming together Chelsea, Congrats to Brian and you!

  2. I stumbled across your blog recently.
    Spent a short time in Deming, Silver City and environs back in the early 90’s. I love the area.
    I especially like your ethos of living your life NOW.
    Dig the house and the self-building process. Right on!
    I have a question: I read with interest and horror about how water rights can be carried away by the owner when they sell the land to you and that you can’t even collect rainwater off your own roof if you don’t have those rights.
    Can’t drill a well, either, I guess.
    So, I haven’t found what you guys did about water?
    City water?
    Thanks for the good example.

    • Hi Selwyn,
      Thanks! We attended a New Mexico water rights info presentation when we first arrived here and were similarly shocked about the rainwater collection. Surprisingly though, anyone can drill a well for domestic use on their property. Water rights only seem to come into play with water use outdoors, e.g. watering your lawn, garden or farm. Regardless, from what we’ve seen/heard around town, enforcement at a homeowner level doesn’t seem to exist and many people seem to defiantly use rain catchment for watering their lawn or garden. Also, water rights seem about at hard to get as a car. You’ll see them posted on a wall downtown for $3000. Buy those and you can use them on your land.

      In order to A. avoid the gamble of well digging, B. not have to find a place in the floor plan to put water treatment equipment, we went with city water.

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