Roger Knutson hasn’t always been a homebuilder. He hasn’t always had a penchant for home renovation projects. But, when Knutson moved to Rushford in 2006, he knew what he wanted in a house and he knew he could build it himself.
“I didn’t want to pay someone to do it,” he said. “I thought it would be easier if I just did it myself, because it would be cheaper.”
Roger began work in the summer of 2006 and finished his home in the spring of 2007, just before the Rushford flood.
Much of his knowhow came from Internet research, though he did work with a construction company for a year before he began his work with the city of Rushford.
When building the house, Roger knew he wanted to leave room for a deck, or a possible three-season room. In 2015, he finished construction of his deck, with the help of his wife, Tracy.
Since their marriage in 2010, Roger and Tracy have enjoyed time spent together, accomplishing various household projects, including building the aforementioned deck.
The first step was understanding what sort of style they wanted for the deck.
“We spent a lot of time on the Internet, looking at pictures. We knew we wanted something simple,” Roger said, noting they agreed on a sort of “prairie style” motif.
The married couple began preparing for their deck by first building the retaining wall and creating three deck footings. Roger’s thriftiness again became apparent as he was able to collect his own stone. He helped a friend tear down his barn and, in return, Knutson was able to walk away with enough stone for the retaining wall and the footings for the deck and enough to build a fireplace.
“The deck itself isn’t that hard. The rock work is hard,” said Roger, emphasizing the magnitude of the work. When structuring the footings, he was able to mix his own concrete and, with the help of his wife, dug out the area for the footings themselves.
This section of the project began in 2010, and the two worked on it for years.
Another unique touch to the Knutsons’ deck is in the railings.
“It was kind of popular with log homes down south that they had a special tree, like a mulberry. But we don’t have those here,” said Roger. After thinking on this, he had his own revelation. “We have our own trees behind the house, so, why don’t we go with cedar?”
So, the two climbed the bluff behind the house and began finding individual branches they could cut off and take. Roger would climb to the top of the tree with Tracy down below to catch the branches. The two then dragged their payload back down the bluff.
“We kind of estimated the size of our deck,” Roger said. “We figured out that we needed 100. Most of them were at the top of the tree. It was hard to picture it and we didn’t even know if it would work!”
He noted that a lot of estimates he did for the deck were in his head.
“He’s got a good eye for it,” affirmed Tracy.
The deck is nearly finished with Roger needing only to stain the wood. After this, his “final” project will be to use the leftover stone to form a pond near the deck that ties it to a small garden shed. He thinks this project will be the last he takes on, but that could change.
“I’d say all of the time, ‘When I’m 50, I’m done. I’m not going to do any more work.’ Now, I’m 50. I’m still doing work,” he said.
But who can complain when this “work” brings him closer to his spouse? When the two were planning their marriage in 2010, Roger enlisted his wife to help plant 500 trees around the property.
“There’s always something,” laughed Tracy. “It’s fun though!”
Roger has taken his newfound construction talent and uses it as a source of inspiration. “I tell Nick and Cole (his sons) that all of the time. When I was their age, or even when I was 40, I never built anything. I never thought I could do it,” Roger said. “And then, (I) just tried it.”