Family-Built Home

by Free Speech on January 25, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
by Carole Roche

Bill Weber’s Town of Berry home near Black Earth, Wisconsin is not only striking in appearance and design, it has a compelling story to tell.

Built with the combined efforts of family and friends, it is a testament to the value of people working together to achieve a dream. Country

Nestled in an area known as Spring Valley, the home was designed by Weber’s son, Jonas, and daughter-in-law, Danica, both LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environment) architectural designers who have “the expertise to organize space to benefit their clients,” said Weber.  “They are skilled architects and caring collaborators.”

There were other contributors to Weber’s dream, including his two younger sons, Nick and Wyatt, and a strong-willed neighbor by the name of LaVerne Holler.

Holler’s “energy and optimism combined with his genius for building and solving construction problems made the house possible,” said Weber.  “He was always there to offer encouragement and support.”

Weber’s home is a hybrid, a post-frame structure blended with more conventional construction.  Supported by Douglas fir posts and beams purchased from a company that reclaims lumber from building slated for demolition.

Weber knows that he could have purchased new beams for less, but he “ wanted to give older, more seasoned wood a second life. “ “Plus, said Weber, “ reclaimed wood is of better quality and is no longer shrinking.”

Purchasing the Spring Valley land in 1990, Weber had lived in a trailer on the property since 1994, waiting for eldest son Jonas to receive a master’s degree in architecture.  In 2003, Jonas graduated, and he and his father spent a year designing the home.

Initial construction was due to begin in June, 2004.

Yet, before work could begin, the home site had to be prepared.  This included building a retaining wall at the base of a hill at the rear of the property. “I had completed two rows of the retaining wall when a ‘fifty year deluge’ came, inundating the area with sixteen inches of rain. “All that water filled up hidden springs within the hill and gushed out thru the base,” said Weber.  “The retaining wall was leveled.”

Painfully, Weber realized the need to hire a geotechnical engineer “to protect my home from future rain event.”

This necessitated costly and time-consuming changes which included the addition of trenches behind the retaining wall, a sixteen inch layer of gravel at the bottom of the basement excavation, and three times the amount of rebar to the foundation walls.

“Plus, we moved the homesite farther from the hill,” said Weber.

Although these improvements delayed the start of construction for six weeks, Weber implemented the changes, and rebuild the retaining wall.

“And my children spent their vacation shoveling mud,” said Weber.

Construction finally began in July, 2004, and Weber, committed to having his home fit in with its surroundings, used “concrete board and galvanized steel for the outside framework, the same materials used in the outbuilding of neighboring barns.”

Air condition was not added for philosophical reasons.

“It’s madness to burn so much coal and gas to keep us cool,” said Weber.  With all of the window and cross-ventilation, it should be cool enough.”

In  November, 2006, two years after its shaky beginning, Weber’s home was well on its way to completion, though it remains a work in progress.

Weber uses the first floor bedroom, finding peace and quiet gazing at the hillside and witnessing the changes each season brings.  The library adjoining the bedroom is illuminated in part by the light that passes through a glass sculpture created by his daughter-in-law.

While the home’s 1,200 square feet may not seem large by today’s standards, there is more than room for visiting family and friends who welcome the chance to stay in the loft-like guest bedrooms on the upper level.

There is still more work to be done on the home including exterior painting, installation of birdfeeders, and planting of perennials.  Inside, Weber has “kitchen cabinets to complete, a bathroom to tile, and floor coverings to select.”  But Weber is not complaining.

“I love to keep busy,” he said.

Because so many contributed to the building of his home including his brother, mother, and three sons, Weber does not consider himself the sole owner.  “I just happen to be the current resident.”

Smiling wryly, Weber does admit he “would like to live here indefinitely.”

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