Monday, April 29, 2013

Building on Building Skills

  Yesterday I posted tips on making temporary or emergency shelter.  Today we can build on these basic skills.  

First, preserve what you have.
     In my neighborhood, we lost a neighbor four streets over and three homes were taken out by a single tree in one hurricane.  The lady across the street lost half her roof. It was weeks before her family could get together to fix it.  Meanwhile, a tarp and a couple of furring strips kept her dry.     This use of a tarp to protect a damaged roof is accomplished with a tarp, a strip of wood (1 x 2 or 2 x 2) and nails.  If you don't have the strength to hammer and nail repeatedly, make sure your battery powered screwdriver is charged and you have screws on hand.  But, know this, if you screw the screw to tight, it will spin and rip the tarp. 

     The tarp on my roof was something the FEMA adjuster mentioned.  When you apply for FEMA assistance the website encourages you to take steps to mitigate damage. The adjuster told me some people thought they should just wait for a check before taking steps to protect their possessions.  They were disappointed.  The insurance adjusters I spoke to wouldn't take your information until they warned you to do the same. 

     A tarp as a shelter may be needed when hiking or traveling in the wild, but the skills to protect your property from further damage is also an imperative.  

     You may not always need to erect a lean to or a tepee on the go.  It is good to know how, but since you have these skills, you can build on them and use them when you need.

     One of neighbors lost his shed.  It just blew away leaving the equipment from his roofing business exposed to the elements and thieves.  Without being able to speak Portuguese  I was able to offer several small tarps that he used to cover his property.    Another neighbor donated  some two by fours to make a frame.  It looked like a squared off lean to, but it served its purpose until his shed was found and he bought tie downs to keep it from ever blowing away  again.  

     If you are in dire straits waiting for an insurance check or other assistance, you may need to build on your building skills to provide shelter for yourself and family until help arrives. The basic lean to is good for a night or two but needs to be fortified for longer dwelling. 
     Lashings made from grasses should be made with wet twine or leather strips.  Leather strips could be cut from belts.  If the lashing is wet when applied, it tightens as it dries.  

     Lashings can be made sturdier if you apply wrappings of cloth strips to the joints and pack them with cement.  We are still using grade school skills you learned when you tried decoupage in art class!  You are just now using cement instead of white glue. 
    The covering of a temporary lean to is usually branches or brush.  The next step to make a lean to more durable or permanent is to cover the branches.  You can use a tarp or a mud covering. 
     If you are huddling up for an extended period rethink the lean to design a bit.  Re examine your landscape.  If you can find or make a living area and span the space with a lean to, you accomplish several things.  When digging in, you use the earth as insulation and protection.  You raise the roof by lowering the floor.  Take advantage of hillsides but be wary of depressions that may have been caused by wash out from rain or flood. 

Build on your basic building skills.  The Western pioneers lived for years in dug out homes made in the hills.  They also lived in the sod house, cut from the land.  Both of these could be accomplished with lashing skills and very few nails as they were expensive and scarce.



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