Here are some thoughts I had while working on the half-scale bungalow kit, and some tips for those building it.
1. This is a good house for a beginner, in my opinion (though I don’t mean to imply more experienced builders won’t have fun with it!). The bungalow is small– fits easily on the corner of a table as you can see. It’s lightweight, easy to pick up and move, or turn over to work on.
2. The main section of the house consists of five or six simple solid pieces: ground floor; second floor; front; sides; main roof.
There are many fiddly little pieces, true, but most are trim, and easy to glue on once painted. My tip is to stick the the rafters and brackets on a piece of masking or painting tape, sticky side up, and paint them all at once. (Spray painting is also fast.)
3. Tape the house together first to get an idea how everything fits.
4. Paint exterior before starting to glue the house together.
5. The instructions, while thorough, are for finishing the exterior only, no instructions for the interior (so you can choose your own decor). I think it’s important to finish the interior as you go, especially in half-inch scale, to avoid having to put large hands into a tiny space to paper or paint walls / ceilings. (My hands are huge!)
6. I decorated from the ground up. Starting with the first floor, I laid tape wiring, then papered / paneled over it. (See my post on wiring this house.)
6. I finished the underside of the second floor (first-floor ceilings) before I glued the second floor on. Then I brought the tape wiring up to the second floor, did the wiring, painted and wallpapered.
7. I finished the entire interior EXCEPT trim and flooring as I went.
8. I painted / finished the interior of the roof and dormer window before I glued them on. Much easier than trying to do it after gluing.
9. Once the exterior was finished (all outside trim attached, shingles on), I then put flooring in the interior (measured flooring, cut sheets, installed with dots of glue–I never entirely glue down a floor in case I need to take it out for wiring repairs).
10. I then trimmed the interior (door trim first, then baseboards, then cornices. I also had to trim the ends of my living room front wall because my wallpaper was too short! (sheet came that way, and I didn’t want to piece it)
11. There are no trim pieces provided for the back exterior of the house. Those I painted and cut from 3/8 x 1/16 strip wood and 1/4 x 1/16 strip wood. I trimmed every raw edge I could find.
12. Latex paint is best for the house’s exterior. My exterior walls were milled plywood and MDF–latex was good for the MDF as well. Several coats are necessary, with light sanding in between coats.
13. I used craft paint (Americana and others) for the interior and back exterior trim.
14. Porch floor: I worried about laying a porch floor, because that would change the thickness of the floor, and the posts are cut to the exact height of floor to porch ceiling. I ended up painting with several coats of Folk Art Medium Gray (craft paint) to simulate a cement porch floor. I used the same color for the lower part of the posts (which I textured with terrarium sand mixed with the paint) and the steps.
15. Foundation: I could not get paint to look good on the foundation (textured with sand or otherwise), so I covered it with textured stone paper (model railroad supply).
16. One last tip–shingling is made more bearable if you listen to an audiobook or watch a video while gluing on the shingles … one at a time …
This house has a good look to the exterior and is relatively easy to put together. I am glad I chose the half-inch house–it looks great but doesn’t take up much space (which is at a premium in my house!). I had originally thought to do the 1-inch scale, but I’m glad I went small.
I wasn’t as happy with the interior (too chopped up, not realistic enough), but I managed to move things around until I liked it.
Now to furnish!
See my other posts on finishing this house:
Go forth and build!