WESTMINSTER — Robert Foor-Hogue and his wife Nancy Lee have done what many people only wish they could do -- make their dream house a reality.
The Manchester couple, who built a solar home in 1976, have been enjoying since then the beauty of the predominantly wooded seven acres that surround the home off of Schaulk Road 1.
"My wife and I always knew that we wanted an energy-efficient house, and one we could erect ourselves," explained Foor-Hogue. "Since my wife grew up in Lewistown, Pa., and I had grown up in Ohio, we wereused to the quiet and solitude, and that was our dream. We wanted tohave a house that was in the woods."
The 3,000-square foot home, designed by the couple, features an unusual interior.
"The house looks like an Amish barn on the inside," said Foor-Hogue, describing the post-and-beam construction. "This was a design that always intrigued me, since both my grandparents had Amish-style barns on their farms in the Midwest."
After sending their plans to the Saw Mill RiverPost and Beam Company in Massachusetts in 1975, posts and beams 8 inches thick were cut in lengths of 10 and 12 feet.
"The posts and beams used on the inside are finished pine, while the outside of the house is constructed with pine boards and battens," said Foor-Hogue.
The house, constructed backward, is heavily insulated to insure proper cooling in the summer and warmth in the winter.
"The beams go up first and then the first layer of siding, which is the interior wall," explained Foor-Hogue. "Next is the insulation and wiring, and then finally the exterior siding is put in place. The roof is done the same way: first the interior wood, followed by the siding, then the insulation, plywood and shingles."
Foor-Hogue, who is a science teacher at South Carroll High School, and Nancy, a Carroll County socialworker, built the house themselves with minimal help.
"We had twomasons do the block, and then a carpenter put down the sub-floor andhelped us put up the beams and the first layer of siding," said Foor-Hogue.
By reading self-help books and seeking advice from others in the building trade, the couple taught themselves along the way andfinished their solar home within a year.
"The home is referred toas a passive solar home," said Foor-Hogue. "That is when the house itself absorbs and stores energy. This house is turned 13 degrees westof due south. At this angle, the house benefits from maximum sun in the winter time and receives less direct sunlight in the summer."
A cathedral ceiling accented by glass from floor to ceiling on its south side, and windows that start about 3 1/2 feet from the floor and go to the ceiling on the east side, allow the necessary sunlight to enter the house during the seasons.
Two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a large dining room and living room make up the first floor,while a second bathroom, library and master bedroom comprise the second floor.
The home is tastefully decorated with Victorian-period antiques and Oriental rugs. Wooden floors dominate throughout while quarry slate and quarry tile highlight the foyer and kitchen floors.
Outside are further signs of distinction -- two gold fish ponds, a gazebo and the most recent addition from this past summer -- a swimming pool.
"We spent the summer working on the swimming pool," said Foor-Hogue. "We like to do things a little differently, so instead ofthe usual diving board, we placed two 60-pound rocks at the end of the pool for diving."
All in all, the Foor-Hogues and their two children, 10-year-old Sarah and 6-year-old Josh, enjoy their wooded paradise, which they share with four horses, five dogs and five Siamese cats.
"Right now, I have the front of the house torn off so I can begin to build a sunroom and a deck," said Foor-Hogue. "This house is something, because it keeps me doing a couple of projects at a time. I am looking forward to finishing these projects, so I can start doing something I always wanted to do -- build furniture."