Birch Hill Happenings

"Building of a Dream"


Click Here to see the 2007 Construction!

In April 1981, Al and Penny bought a 4 acre parcel of property from her father, William Habhegger, for the consideration of $1.00 (and the lawyers fees to draw of description of the land and write the deed).

The property has a very Large, Single Birch Tree on a Hill. Two acres are wooded, two acres are on an open, old hay field.

They had never been the general contractors before for building a home but now were getting their chance.

They hired a local contractor to build them a walk out basement, a solid foundation upon which to build their "Dream home". The basement was dug by someone hired by the contractor. After the concrete was set, a crew of relatives and friends began to "cap" the basement. A tarpaper covering was placed over the joists and sub floor. That is all the farther they would get this year. You got it, no water, no sewer, but they did have electricity and phone! They had a roof over their heads and they stayed snug and warm with their 3 sons.


The summer of 1982, Alan was very busy, he dug the entire septic system by hand! He then laid the septic tank block and plastered the inside. The leach field too was dug by hand. Al had a busy summer. As at that time we still heated our basement "home" with wood. He cut and split and stacked over 15 cord of wood before each winter.


Up she goes, the Main floor of the "house"! The house was completely framed in 5 days and shingles on the roof too by 3 workers, Al and Penny and someone who knew how to build it! Al and Penny did all the finishing work. Electrical, insulation, sheet rock hanging, hanging window, doors, doing the plumbing, well everything else with exception of the mudding and taping of the sheet rocked walls. The vinyl flooring was put in by another relative. We also had a well drilled and no longer had to carry our water. We even got a shower so didn't have to go to Grandma's any more for bathing! And Penny could wash laundry at home again!


The year we spent building a Garage. Lots of landscaping has been done too.
Al is getting pretty good at trimming the Hedge that is almost 150 yards long.

Lots to do!


The basement bathroom project gets started. The room is enlarged from 5' by 7' to 8' x 8'6". Al has to cut through the basement floor to change drains. They completely rearrange the original plumbing in the upper part of the house. By summer of 1995 They have most of the rough work done and the room gets prepared to be ceramic tiled! Penny sets over 2000 - 4"X4" tile. Alan builds a vanity as they can't find one to fit their needs. The newly remodeled bath room with shower is ready by October 1995.


We added on to the wrap around deck. Plans are to eventually put on a 3 or 4 seasons room.

Basement bedroom and computer/library room get remodeled.


Stairs to the back deck were completed.

You must understand, we do everything we can by ourselves so these projects take time. We are still working away from the home and have 2 sons still at home. One is heading off to college soon.


Money is tight this year as we are starting a new business. The only new remodeling project this year will be taking what used to be a bedroom and adding cabinets and sink for our businesses inventory and rebottling/repackaging area. Al has started on it and should have it completed by the first part of July! He has the room completed by the July 4th Weekend!!

We may try to add a covering to our back deck also. (1999)


Yep the back deck was covered with a temporary structure made from 2" x 4" and Corrugated Fiber Glass sheeting for the roof.   We now call it our "Verandah".
We also replaced an old retaining wall next to the walk out basement door with some of the locking decorative blocks used just for that purpose. My does it ever look nice. Al was very handy and built a pen for the little dogs. Our "Yorkie" pen provides them with needed space to run and plenty of shade and sun throughout the day.
Those same retaining blocks were used to make a wrap around the front flower bed.  Al and I worked hard on these projects in our spare time. Hopefully I'll have pictures soon to show.

Other projects we want to do or have completed


Al and Penny decided in March to put on an addition to the house. A new Master Bedroom and in the basement a much needed storage room for the business and a workout/hobby room for Penny.
Here are some Photos to tell the story.

One Big Hole in the Ground!

Basement is just about ready for us to begin! Just needs some back filling and then
it will be Al and Penny's turn!

Getting the joists in place.

Penny fastening subfloor to joists.

Al working on Southwall,
although this is a photo of the eastwall.

Our son Phil and Al lifting the trusses to the roof.

Our son Phil working with us on the roof.

Roofing - Shingles all on!

Our Big Picture Window in our New Bedroom to be!

Looking out the Big Picture Window
at a beautiful White Pine

Penny nailing the last of the siding in place.

Penny Painting the west side of new addition

Al moving some pearock to a different place in the yard.

Our front entry.
The entrance has not been functional for over a year.

The Building of New retaining block/paver entrance.
Our son, Austin, was the President/owner of A Keay Landscaping, Inc in North Branch, MN (just north of the Twin Cities - Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN) and built us this new entrance.

Our New Front Entrance!

More about our son Austin. He is a Paver and retaining wall specialist.

His work has won, State, National and International awards!

As you can tell we are very proud of him and his work.

He and his wife have now moved to Ohio.

He has taken a position with a much larger Landscape company in the Columbus Ohio area.

Our New Side Entrance!

I have more photos to share of all the landscaping but didn't have time to edit the photos yet.

Please stop back again soon! We will have more photos within the next few weeks as we continue.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at

This page created on June 22, 1997
Last updated July 2007

Thanks for being interested. Come back soon.
I'll continue to update these pages as we complete each project and as we add new ones.

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