In August of 2008, we had ground cleared so we could build a new house. It wouldn’t be very big or fancy, but it would be a clean, dry place to live.

You see, the previous winter I had had pneumonia. Which was exacerbated by the mold in the existing house we lived in. It wasn’t until I left our house for a week that I was able to breath properly again. That was when we knew we needed another place to live.

Because we already had our farm we had room to build. So with a set of plans drawn up by a friend, we started.

That fall my brother and mother came up to the Yukon to help us start. All we had in place were the footings. But by the time they left three weeks later the walls were up and the rafters were in place.

Later that same winter we had a group of friends come by to help put on the metal roofing. Two focused on the chimney, others with the cutting of the metal, a couple of young guys up on the roof and a late arrival who brought doughnuts for our coffee break.

Over the next few months we would work on the house as we had time, materials and energy. Interior walls went up, a loft was built and windows were installed. But when spring came we became busy with farming again.

The summer of 2009 my parents and an aunt and uncle came up to help some more. My uncle made sure our sewer lines were insulated properly and my dad built the stairs to the loft.

Dad also installed the doors and we could finally keep the weather out. That fall we moved in. We slept in the loft, the heat came from a wood stove on the main level. Our kitchen consisted of a bar fridge, a hot plate and a slow cooker.

The electricity relied on an extension cord from our old home and the toilet was an outhouse.

It was rustic, but we managed.

My brother came up again at thanksgiving to build our kitchen cupboards. It would be two years before we permanently installed them.

As time went by we built, little by little the house became a home.

The living room was our main construction area because it had the most floor space. At Christmas we swept up the sawdust and put up the tree. Eventually there was electricity in the house and the extension cord was rolled up.

The plumbing was soon finished, the outhouse now used only as second toilet. The walls were soon paneled, but as yet remain unpainted. Our furniture was moved in and a few pictures got hung up.

Technically we are “finished” at least on paper, but our flooring is still in the boxes waiting to be installed.

It took years to get to this point. And the hardest part was living inside the construction while it was going on.

But I would do it all over again. Everyone who helped left a little bit of themselves here. Their gift of time and energy was freely given. One that we will never be able to repay. We built a house, but they helped us build a home.