Culture Moldova

My Bungalow Project Part 3:  Planning

August 10, 2018

Now that I knew what it was, we still didn’t truly know what we were dealing with and I had many questions that needed answers.

  • Were the I-beams supporting the barrel solid?
  • How well had the barrel skids been attached to the support beams?
  • The belly in the middle of the barrel had some cracks, would the whole thing break in half?
  • We knew that the floor of the interior was squeaky, but was the sound coming from the floorboards or the structure?
  • How much would the exterior renovation cost.
  • Should we even think about renovating the interior?

To answer these questions, we had to put pen and measurements to paper. I started sketching and also doing what any economist does best, spreadsheet budgets!

Decisions about the interior, the garden, etc, could always be made along the way, but it was necessary to stop the rust and to create a dry outdoor space where we could start brainstorming.

The original interior, a sight for sore eyes.

Structural Stability

Even though I was eager to get to work on this project, I needed to ensure that the structure was secure.  The first good sign was that this structure had already been installed for at least 20 years and we could see no signs of cracking in the welds or shifting when we measured with a level.

Secondly we were concerned with some rust spots and open holes in the far end where it looked like birds or rats had nested.  It is one thing to weld shut a metal hole, however it is another thing to find the belly full of generations of rat houses. fyi, we never found a single rat or mouse

You need a vision for a project this “unique”

My business partner and water systems engineer Mike, was in Moldova for a project and stopped by to check out my project. Our company was designing  ways to rehabilitate old but massive Soviet Irrigation systems and Mike was an expert in pipeline soundness. He declared that the structure would not be sound if we needed to pressurize water in it, but it seemed super sturdy for a temporary dwelling.

My business partner examining the barrel


We also took a shovel to examine the concrete  around the I-beams and discovered that each support beam was secured with at least 2 yards of concrete footing.

In the meantime the number one safety issue became the open metal beams used as stairs. We needed to secure the staircase to make sure that my toddler wouldn’t slip through the cracks. We also enclosed the I-beams with metal sheeting to create a secure space where we could leave our tools.

toddlers and open metals stairs don’t make a good combination

Okay, lets jump in.

With such a great amount of work to do, there were so many decisions that needed to be made simultaneously.

What color, what type of paint, how to apply the paint, time vs. cost vs. quality of surface prep before painting. Anyone who has built their own home will be understand all the issues that come up when renovating or building a project.

Unfortunately I did not have access to a contractor or construction supervisor, so I had to figure things out by trial and error. We bought 15 wire brushes and also a wire brush attachment for a grinder. The entire barrel got exfoliated, and then we applied a 3 in 1 paint with a primer included. We painted using a sprayer, but in hindsight we needed to use too high a proportion of white spirit to paint and this weakened the paint properties. (we have painted the barrel again after 2 years using brushes and rollers)


Shades of Green

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders

A green barrel on stilts, beginning to take shape.

After getting rained on a couple of times that spring, getting the roof installed was high priority.

After the roof, getting pavers installed was next. We unfortunately had to cut out 6 established grape vines to install the pavers, but having a solid dry pad under a roof allowed us to start extending our supervision trips. It is hard to bring a toddler along between storms and among the mud.

After we finished installing the pavers, we now could truly start to enjoy the space. Sitting in a chair in the shade allowed us to start planning more thoroughly the rest of the remodel.

Now that the Exterior of the barrel was finished, we needed to examine what our options were to improve the interior.

In case you missed it, read My Bungalow Project Part 2; Is it a barrel or a house


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