LORRAINE â€” It was a tiring effort, one that came close to the deadline, but five good years of physically demanding work has come to a close for the Cronk family.
The project, a 4,000-square-foot home featuring more than 1,300 recycled tires and about 10,000 repurposed wine and liquor bottles, is finally complete.
â€œIâ€™ve been up here so much, the fact Iâ€™m going to be living here very, very soon, it really hasnâ€™t hit me that Iâ€™m actually gonna live here,â€ said Anthony S. Cronk, a technology teacher at South Jefferson Middle School. â€œI know itâ€™s kind of hard for me to conceptualize, to make it real.â€
The Cronks were approved for their occupancy permit Oct. 16, and got it in the mail Saturday. The deadline for them to receive that certification to meet the terms of a construction loan was Oct. 31.
The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity to meet the deadline, Mr. Cronk said, â€œburning that midnight oil.â€
â€œI couldnâ€™t go to sleep,â€ said Melissa Fregoe-Cronk, Mr. Cronkâ€™s wife, a science teacher at Watertown High School. â€œI knew he was here.â€
The home is built in the Earthship style, taking advantage of discarded materials in the building process that would otherwise be scrapped.
The rubber tires, each painstakingly filled with mud, work as a thermal mass, drawing heat during the day and releasing it at night. The Cronks collected the tires from area repair shops, junkyards and Craigslist users.
The gaps in the tire wall were filled with mud and concrete, then covered in stucco on both sides. Barring a truth window off the living room that shows a small portion of the tire stack, someone unaware of the building process might never realize the grueling hours Mr. Cronk spent filling the tires at a rate of nine to 19 tires per day. Other small details point to the effort, such as a tire chandelier with wine bottle light fixtures in the living room.
The house is positioned and angled to maximize heat during the winter â€” when the sun is lower â€” and to prevent overheating during the summer. Water collection points draw in rainwater for multiple uses in the home, including a greenhouse section at the front.
With the exception of a few family friends and businesses such as Berry Brothers Lumber Company, Mr. Cronk created the home almost single-handedly.
â€œItâ€™s just more work than I ever thought it was going to be,â€ he said. â€œIt took a lot more time than I thought it would.â€
On Sunday, more than 60 people came to the Cronksâ€™ home for the open house, drawing rave reviews from friends and co-workers.
â€œThe video doesnâ€™t do it justice,â€ said Suzanne Stenard, who works with Ms. Fregoe-Cronk, referring to the updates Mr. Cronk has put on the familyâ€™s Facebook page.
Julia A. Thornhill, who has been considering making a sustainable home of her own, saw motivation â€” and some anxiety â€” in the amount of work Mr. Cronk had to do to finish the home.
â€œI admire you and pity you at the same time,â€ she told him.
Ms. Fregoe-Cronk said she and her husband plan to use the home for demonstrations of sustainable construction, and said they held one for a large group of educators in June.
The Cronks and their three children, Daphne, 7, Maddox, 5, and Delilah, 1, expect to move into their new home in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, they are relishing the chance to enjoy the fruits of their extensive labor.
â€œThe other day I was walking through the house, thinking I donâ€™t have to do anything today,â€ Mr. Cronk said. â€œI can pick the jobs I want to do, instead of saying, â€˜That wall has to be done today.â€™ Now Iâ€™m like, â€˜I can paint that tomorrow.â€™â€