I finished Earth and Tree’s Rye today and it’s time for a review. Right up front: I liked the Rye quite a bit. Its simplicity left room for innovation. It was a fun build, and I was happy with the finished product.
If you’re so inclined and just follow the instructions as written, you can probably finish the basic Rye in a day or two with the only delay being waiting for the glue to dry. That is to say, no interiors or electrical, and maybe not finishing the floors, but the basic crafting is fast. It’s a simple house with a relatively small number of parts.
Because it’s so basic, it’s easy to innovate. You don’t have a lot of tiny pieces and details to distract you. My two innovations were moving the stairs from the center of the house to the left side, and adding a second window to the kitchen.
The only thing I didn’t like about the build was the suggestion to use nails to hold things in place. I’m useless with a hammer and I went through dozens of bent nails, as well as nails driven into the wrong places. It was particularly tricky to do alone, so if you have a second set of hands available, this is the point to ask for help. Even though Earth and Tree recommends just one or two here and there, mostly to hold the walls in place as the glue dries, I hated this step and totally threw in the towel when I got to the second floor. (Hint: If I had it to do over, I would probably make starter holes with my Dremel and a micro bit.)
Nails or not, it’s a sturdy house and very heavy. I can see how it would survive generation-to-generation. At the same time, it’s a pain in the neck to move. I don’t know the final weight, but you probably want to find a permanent home for your home and then just leave it in place.
The interior is deceptively large. Although, it’s in the medium-sized category–a little more than two feet square–the rooms fit quite a bit of furniture. In fact, the depth was a bit of a challenge when it came to reaching the back of the first floor for finish work, but from a design perspective, it’s a wonderful space. The only shortfall was the bathroom, which was tiny. If it were a real house it would look like you tried to fit a bathtub or shower into the powder room. There is plenty of room to expand into the adjoining space. I would have done so had I planned ahead and had better tools
The Rye is a little pricey at $204 because the only thing you get in the kit is the shell. I paid extra for shingles, windows, porch, front stairs, interior stairs, foundation finish, and trims. This was fine because I wanted to customize the house. Earth and Tree also carries a line of what they call “affordable” kits, which are all-inclusive.
The construction was smooth except for the shed roof, which didn’t fit flush. I think this was more an issue with the assembler, moi, rather than the product.
The instructions were good, although I had a “huh?” or two along the way that I resolved by playing with the parts.
Finally, and not of small importance, the kit is made in the USA at Tom’s Mill at Earth and Tree, which scores extra points in my book. American-made goods cost more but they are worth it.
I enjoyed the kit, and I have my eye on two others in Earth and Tree’s collection, the Center Harbor, and the Merrimack, the latter of which recently came back into stock. Both are physically huge and will be more long-term projects.
Bottom line is Earth and Tree kits are of excellent quality, solidly constructed, and classically designed. My first experience has me wanting to come back for more.