Boulder City Magazine® December '06/January '07 Issue
Boulder City Magazine®
The Last Demountable
by David Hancock
Just off Nevada Highway behind the Flamingo Motel stands a stubborn little house that refuses to leave town. All the other homes like it were carted away for scrap to patch roofs or walls, maybe, or more likely they rest peacefully in the local landfill. But this little house has held its ground for over sixty years. As the new owner, I had a choice to make; evict the little guy and send him to the dump or else give in to my sentiment and rehab the structure. Like all the owners before me, I gave in. Boy, did I give.
The house is called a “demountable”. You might think of it as a quicky, pre-fab home that was used to house some of the many workers who came to build our town. The September ’06 issue of Boulder City Magazine has a great article on these little homes written by Dennis McBride. There were 100 of them at one time and now I’ve become the owner of the Last Demountable. I guess I should be proud, and I am, but I’m also broke! Talk about a money pit…
“Never, ever fall in love with a house”, I told my friend Denise. But I couldn’t resist. What began as a simple upgrade, now includes a new roof design, double pane windows, radiant barrier sheething under a top quality stucco job, all new wiring and plumbing, and on and on. I’m still spending money on this 380 sq. ft. house! But I can’t help it. I love the little guy. You owe me, buddy. Big time.
I made a commitment at the outset to stay within the original footprint of the house. I challenged myself to make the best use of every square inch of space. When completed, it will have a surprisingly large bath and a full kitchen using compact appliances. The bed will be built in with plenty of storage for necessary things. I left much of the interior ceiling open to the attic to give an expansive feel and a circle window, high on the end wall, lets in plenty of light. My friend Adrian poured a fancy shower pan using black concrete. He also wants to design and pour a concrete countertop for me.
I have big plans for the rest of the 8000 sq. ft. lot. In a few years I’ll build a larger house, but until then it will be xeriscaped. I enjoy our desert region and there are so many low water plants that can be used. I’ll also indulge my love for geology by using a variety of rock work. I also plan to experiment with outdoor living spaces, since the house is so small. I like to talk with folks as they pass by so it will be nice to have a comfortable place to chat.
It has been a rewarding experience for me. I’ve met so many good people who have stopped by to see my project. I met Tom who lived in a demountable with his parents. Once, he brought his grandchildren by to show them what his childhood was like. I felt so honored to be a part of that. Mrs. P and Di have been very patient neighbors. Pastor Derrick helps me to laugh when I’m tempted to just drop my tools and walk away in frustration. Denise and her ladies Bible study stop by with “ooh’s and aah’s”. I love it.
One day soon I’ll be finished and the Last Demountable will be safe for another sixty years. I’ll be gone by then but I’m sure this little guy on Elm Street will work his magic on some other sentimental fool who will dump another small fortune to save it from the landfill.
It’s a stubborn house, but clever. Very clever!
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