This is the House that Jack Built
Organized by: Jackie Holman Haas
My father always had a dream to build his own house with his own two hands. 20 yrs ago he started to build that dream home, 15 yrs ago his health failed, and the construction slowly stopped...
After the death of my brother my father felt no need to stay in TX anymore and moved back to our home state of MI. He secured a job and was on the hunt for the perfect piece of land to build upon. He found it, nestled way back in the woods, behind two other properties, was 10 acres of rolling hills, thick with trees and a mini field. My father, Jack, purchased a pop-up camper and moved in and on to his new land.
Jack would go to work every day, come “home” and start construction. He built the garage first. Brick by brick, day by day, he alone finished the first building. After one long year living in the camper, even through Michigan’s brutal winters, he moved into the garage. There was not enough money to pour a concrete floor before he moved in. The camper would not hold up another year and winter was closing in so, he had no choice, he didn’t much care honestly. With his four walls and a roof over his head he was content even with no electricity or running water.
When spring came Jack was able to break ground for the foundation of his dream home.
He made his plans to build his house to be as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Building into the side of a hill will help insulate the house, doors were set facing the prevailing winds for ventilation and windows set east and west to warm it in the winter. He built a fireplace that would not only heat that room but the entire house through pipes running through it and underneath the flooring for radiant heat.
Jack was a supervisor at a glass factory which came in very handy in building his home. Glass panels that were cut wrong or had minor flaws in them would normally be tossed away. Jack saw this as an opportunity to save money. He would fashion a frame out of wood for them and use them to make both small and large designs.
Doing all of this work by himself and after he already worked a full day at his job, progress was slow. Years were going by and there was still so much to be done. He would start one project and get bored with it and move on to another before the first was complete. Of course thinking, “I have the rest of my life to finish it”. He was wrong.
When I was little I barely remember my dad having back surgery. I remember looking at the line of stitches running down his back thinking it looked like Frankenstein. My faded memory was about to come back with frightening vengeance. My dad ignored his back pain for so long he was almost paralyzed! The doctors told him that if he had let it go a few more weeks the damage would have been irreversible. They took bone from his hip to repair disks in his neck, several herniated disks and bone spurs from C3-L5, along with several other maladies. After 12 long weeks of recovery he was slowly back to building again.
A few more years go by and he can now retire and devote all of his time to his dream home. Then my mother moves in, her dog and all of her stuff (a lot of stuff!). Work slows to a trickle now. Jacks time is now spent taking care of my mother as her health is declining quickly. His money is now going to help her instead of the unfinished house in which they both live now. Don’t misunderstand, there is running water and electricity unlike the garage. Jack was able to get most of the sheet rock up within the home and most of the flooring. My mother absolutely refused to move in with me or into a home. She was staying right there. She did too, until the day she died, 4 yrs ago in her sleep.
Within a few months of my mother’s passing I noticed my father’s health seemed to rapidly decline. His color was grey, his mind not as sharp and very short of breath. I mentioned this to my sister, who lives a few miles away, if she noticed. She had and we agreed that we have to make him go to the doctor. My dad does not go to the doctor, rarely takes an aspirin for a headache or pain. We got him to agree and good thing he did because he had carotid artery stenosis. He had surgery to have a stent put in.
After that scare I decided to move to MI and take care of my dad. I wasn't going to lose both my parents in 1 year! I was recently divorced and only lived out of state because of my ex-husbands work so, there was nothing keeping me there any longer.
After several years of neglect and my mother’s last obsession with hoarding, the house was in no condition to live in. My father passed on his bad back to my sister and I. My sister had already undergone 3 back and neck surgeries, the last one leaving the bottom half of her left leg paralyzed and in debilitating pain. I have had 1 neck fusion and 1 lower back fusion days before I moved. My back is rapidly deteriorating leaving me disabled also. Repairs on the house have been slow to say the least. Not only can none of us physically do any major work on the house, our income is also extremely limited. My boyfriend, son and I did what we could and cleaned the house up and almost finished 2 of the rooms, well enough for us to move in. We had been living in a travel trailer until we were able to move in. It has been 2 years now and I have almost lost my father two more times. If I hadn’t been here, he would be gone.
The biggest problem now is the roof. A few years ago a storm came through and a tree fell on the house. A support beam has been snapped and there is a hole in the roof somewhere. The chimney is also leaking, somewhere. We have tried to find it but without tearing all the shingles off, I don’t think we are going to find it. The shingles are past their lifetime and need to be replaced anyway. Every time it rains water leaks into the laundry room and mold is growing. Recently, heavy rains cause my dad’s room to flood (luckily it’s still concrete). The water is so hard it turns everything yellow and clogs up with mineral build up. Water pump is hanging on by a thread and pressure is so low it barely comes out of the shower head. The window wells are caving in, kitchen plumbing is a nightmare, and sheetrock is shoddy at best. There is no trim to be found around any window, door, wall or floor. Carpet is pieced together here and there. Unfinished projects everywhere. The driveway is almost an ¼ of a mile long and winds around and up and down two fairly steep hills. In the winter the hill going down to the road turns to a sheet of ice, I got stuck twice last year with a 4x4 SUV. In the spring when the snow melts and the rains come it turns into a huge muddy messy! At the top of one hill is a sink hole, if you don’t have four wheel drive, you’re not getting through it. I don’t know if ditches need to be dug or the driveway rerouted or what but, something needs to be done.
We desperately need a professional to come in and get things done right and we need the supplies to do it with.
I would love to be able finish what my father started, what he always dreamed of doing but unable to do himself anymore. The look on his face when we got a room complete was worth all of the blood, sweat and tears it us to do it. I want to see the look on his face when the whole house is complete and correct.