0.11 Further Adventures in Housing

Another Step

If you missed the first of this exciting series on scratchbuilding a simple house, you can find it here.

Having finished the house and terrain boards, I’m getting dangerously close to being ready for my first game (at which point my post numbers will cleverly move to the 1.* series). All that stands between me and commencement of Operation: Honeypot  is a few trees, a stone wall, and some practical understanding of the NUTS! rules.

Gathering of the Materials

These things, you will need them.

I’m building a heavy timber & stucco house. Ironically, the campaign that I’m eventually hoping to do is completely set in Normandy, where everything is apparently constructed of stone, but that’s beside the point for the purposes of this post.

These materials should be fairly self-explanatory, but here are a few notes, anyway:

  • The blue-green thing is an ultra-cheap sculpting tool, available at any art supply shop.
  • There in the back is a 1/32″ sheet of basswood. Basswood is slightly more expensive than balsa wood, but is a far superior material in strength and grade of finish. You’ll never see a decent architectural model made of balsa for this reason. Save yourself some grief and pony up the extra money.
  • The white tub contains tile adhesive, which was recommended on other sites. It works fine, but takes quite a while to dry and has the smell of something horribly toxic. I’ve used it to simulate stucco on this project, but I think I might stick to drywall spackle in the future and save my few remaining brain cells for more important things.
An Inelegant Portal and other Mistakes

A not so clever solution for a removable door.

I’m playing a 1:1 skirmish set of rules, so I need to be able to get access to the interior of the house. This necessitates the presence of a removable roof and door. Above you can see my solution to a removable door. The large plank holds the sheet of basswood that is the double door to the house in place. I spent about 5 seconds thinking this up, and it shows. It’s especially hideous when the door is removed and you can see the log of wood behind it through the open doorway. In retrospect, I should have built some sort of ‘header’ that I could slide the door down through. It wouldn’t have been any more realistic, but at least it wouldn’t have been visible!

Moisture, meet cardboard. Cardboard, moisture.

Oh, boy. More screw ups. Here you can see that the tile adhesive has totally warped my cardboard walls. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to live with this in the future. It’s not very noticeable on the gaming table for this house, but this sort of warping certainly wouldn’t be acceptable on a multi-story building. Foam core may be the answer, though I find that stuff to be near impossible to cut with any accuracy.

0.07" polystyrene, thou art not easy to cut

Here you can see the house has been textured with tile adhesive and mounted to a sheet of 0.07″ styrene. The styrene was cut from a larger sheet with an x-acto knife. For a neat finish, beveling the edges with sandpaper is a good idea.

A Slight Rant
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’m a nontraditional architecture student (nontraditional means old). As someone who is somewhat informed about building practices and structural engineering, let me just say that there is some weird shit out there in the miniatures wargaming world when it comes to buildings. Here’s a few notes about this project from that perspective:

  • Heavy Timber beams span no more than 10′-12′. This means you need a column every 10′-12′.
  • Structure in traditional building types will be regular and symmetrical 9.9 times out of 10.
  • Columns do not need to be (and hardly ever are) massive to hold up a one or two-story house. A great many scratch-built  heavy timber houses I see on the internet have the structural members grossly over-sized, which leads to a cartoonish look. Which is cool, if that’s what you’re going for.
  • Columns are never interrupted by a window or door. NEVER.
  • Windows and doors have structure around them. In a heavy timber building, it’s likely to be visible.
  • Door and window headers are typically at a uniform height. In recent modern times this height tends to be 6’8″-7′-0″. That said, it’s no set rule, especially before the advent of building codes.

I realize this is the equivalent of being dismayed that the muffler is mounted the wrong way on some obscure armored car, but there it is.

Moving On

The texture is all out of scale. Ask me if I care.

In spite of all my grousing about structural accuracy, I’m willing to let things like out of scale stucco texture slide. This makes me a hypocrite, but I can live with that.

The blue-green sculpting tool you saw earlier is too large for this sort of work. I need to find something else. You can see that I’ve added material to the base to create some sort of ground. I used the tile adhesive again. One benefit of building up the base is that it lets you hide little problems along the bottom of the model.


Base coat the various elements, then prepare to drybrush

The tile adhesive will take some time to dry. I let mine cure for 24 hours, and it was dry to the touch by then. The model still reeked of adhesive chemicals for another few days, but the finish has done just fine.

I’ve painted the wooden members black as a sort of primer. The stucco portions of the house have been painted in yellow ochre. I’ll be sticking close to my palette for the terrain boards, as stucco on vernacular architecture is typically made from local materials. The base of the model is done using the exact process that I’ve used on my terrain boards, so that it will fit in reasonably well.

End Result

The finished product...

And there it is. The stucco has been heavily drybrushed with Vallejo Iraqi Sand. The roof is black with a drybrush of burnt sienna from the craft store. The roof looks pretty good on the table, but it’s depressing me to look at it in this close-up photograph. I’ve added in some Woodland Scenics bushes on the house’s base, along with a few sisal string weeds.

This building is a bit frustrating to me. I made some stupid mistakes along the way, and I’m not completely buying the paint job. That said, it looks believable on the table, and having it completed gets me closer to that crucial first game.

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  • Eastern Funker  On 11/29/2011 at 4:55 pm

    That house looks ok. As you build more and get used to the technique, you can always go back and get rid of earlier versions (as I am finding out with my based trees and my hills).
    Thanos’ from Greece’s blog has whole series of posts about building foamcore buildings, go have a good look at his instructions.

  • arkiegamer  On 11/29/2011 at 5:10 pm

    Yes, that’s true. Hopefully my future efforts will make these early ones look laughable. Or more laughable, as the case may be.

    Thanks for the heads up about Thanos’ blog; he definitely does good work. I had stumbled upon and bookmarked his site at some point, but my wargaming terrain bookmarks folder has quickly become an impenetrable forest.

  • twodogz79  On 11/20/2012 at 10:10 pm

    That is a great way of making a house. I am going to try it.

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