Cville Abode Cover article – October 2009: As an oak grows
How a builder crafted his own home, the slow and steady way – an excerpt from the original article.
BY KATHERINE LUDWIG
It’s a well-known phenomenon, and Thomas Jefferson was a prime example: builders, carpenters and architects whose own homes are perpetual projects. Like a chef too tired to cook his own dinner, those who spend their days building and designing other people’s places typically have precious few hours and little energy to spend on their personal habitats. It’s unfortunate, because more than their professional portfolios of work, builders’ and designers’ homes may best illustrate their skills and sensibilities—their ultimate dream jobs.
|Thanks to 14′ timbers discovered after Hurricane Isabel damage, the home’s one main living space looks and feels spacious.|
The timber frame Keswick home of Alec Cargile, founder of green building firm Lithic Construction, has been years in the making—the culmination of a drawn-out process that at various times has required him and his wife, Leslie Ryan, to camp in a tent on the property’s wooded 15 acres, to live in the moldy basement of the property’s original vintage farm house and to cook all their meals in an outdoor kitchen.
Surprisingly, save for the moldy basement part, none of this has been hardship. Both former academic wilderness guides for the Sierra Institute, Cargile and Ryan love living an indoor-outdoor lifestyle among the flora and fauna. Because of that and their own attentiveness and patience, they’ve been able to carefully and methodically build a home that truly reflects their personalities and values as well as the mission of Lithic itself: to honor a site’s surrounding environment, to use local and sustainable materials and to highlight craftsmanship.