Sunday, December 7, 2008

Roofing starts at last.

The roofers have started-- can you see the green metal bits? They haven't finished yet because the stucco guys have to do the cupola with three coats of stucco and let it dry (takes two weeks) before they can do the rest of the roof. Ben says it will only take them three days or so to finish the rest of the metal bits. They are also installing my early Christmas present-- the dragon weathervane too.
You can just see the top of the chimney. Ben did the rock work on that. It is stack rock-- copper colour (concrete fake, but looks quite good. Real rock is way too exspensive-- though we plan to put our collected, real, rock mountain (from the excavation work) as trim along the bottom of the house and as a decorative front on the fireplace inside.)

The kids watching-- waiting

The kids have really been good about the whole project which has involved a lot of sitting around on their part while we do various jobs. Here they are sitting in the window openings on the deck-- three floors off the ground. The other picture is Claire peeking through the roof scaffolding.

Installing Windows

The windows all went in on one day. It rained! The guys had to be both outside and inside to install them. They put in the paper to seal the bottom of the window sill, then lifted the window from the inside to someone outside and pulled it back in to fasten. complicated and scary-- really scary with the five big, 6x8 windows not shown here.


More work on the outside of the house-- the cupola goes up and they tar paper the roof. We are really liking how the outside of the house is shaping up and looking. It is scary to visualize stuff just on paper. I knew I would like the space to live in, but I was not sure about outside asthetics especially after we eliminated a window.

Ben finishing concrete on the front porch

Our multi talented builder, Ben can do great finish work on concrete too. Here he balances and puts brush strokes in the concrete so it is not slippery to walk on in the rain.

Cobbing the Wellhouse

The Kids went to England with David for nearly three weeks. I could not leave the building project, but everyone was homesick and Grandma helped with the tickets, so we decided the rest of the family should just go. I spent the two weeks cobbing the wellhouse. I had to come up with a unique reciept for our soil and see if I could make it work. This has worried me since doing the class two summers ago, but it was actually easy. We have a very strong clay soil and I ended up doing almost fifty percent clay to sand. I also figured out another trick. Our soil is very rocky. That translates to hard on bare feet cobbing (jumping up and down on the soil to mix it!) If you try to cob in boots or normal shoes-- the clay just clogs onto your boot and it gets impossible to lift your legs. But you can use diving boots-- they are slick with no tread to grab clay and they fit tight to your feet like second skin. I found that they protected my feet from small stones and made me warmer/dryer so I could work longer. I did six to eight hour days.
These cobbed walls must look rough to you non cobbers, but I was delighted with them. They look just as they should. The cob will dry over some months then eventually I will put an earthen plaster over it and paint it. It will not looked spotted with holes and shaggy with bits of straw then. You will not be able to tell it from a normal plastered building--- except for the hippy style windows and glass.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's a House!

Geothermal Installation

This is the geothermal stuff. It comes in a ball and rolls out in this pattern. David says to tell you it is a refrigerator backwards. You bury the pipes in the ground deeply and the ground warms the liquid in the pipes to about 64 degrees. This goes into a pump and the heat is transferred in a closed system to the loops of underfloor heating pipe. (We have to top up that temperature with some electricity to make it warmer.) It heats the water for other household uses too.

Top-floor Framing

The top framing happened so quickly. Ben had a bigger team out this week to work on the top floor. Usually he has three people including himself, but for this stick framing he doubled the team and they did this in almost one day! The pictures are James' bedroom and the stairwell. Ray designed that to be very open-- bigger than just the stairs. We also said if we could avoid it we wanted no halls and he made everything open onto a landing upstairs.


These are roof trusses. This is an end roof truss. The middle has storage trusses-- that is they are framed in such a way that you can use the attic space. We won't finish it properly-- just plywood floor, but Claire and I can throw a couple of paste tables up there and put our scrapbook and other craft stuff in the attic and use it permanently-- leave it out. We are very excited about that space.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Doors, Doors and More Doors

These are the fabulous old doors that we got in Walla Walla 2 summers ago. We just went down to visit Jan and Cliff (with Sean's truck.) David dropped me off at a lovely antique store and when he came back I'd purchased eleven 100-year-old doors from a Whitman college building!! (not sure he will ever leave me in an antique store on my own.) I didn't mean too exactly. The antique dealer had all this furniture made out of old doors and I jokingly said, "What I need is THE DOORS." and he sold them to me. I didn't even know if it was a good price-- $36 a door. We went back to Jan's and she looked on line at Home Depot and a new solid wooden door was around $200 a door-- for nothing too special. Of course, they haven't entirely ended up $36 doors. There is a lot of stripper and steel wool involved here!

The white door we bought in Seattle at a great place called Earthwise Salvage. It is an actual HOUSE front door from about the 20's. What we love love love about it is that it came with the original, mechanical doorbell-- that works wonderfully! The top door is James' bedroom door--Tardis. Yes I stripped AND REPAINTED A DOOR! It wasn't as painful as you might imagine, because one of the Walla Walla doors had a layer of terrible green stain on it after layers of paint. I am not sure I could have gotten rid of that stain even with the electric sander! So I painted over that door.

Then to make the doors complete we went shopping at various antique and salvage places for wonderful door knobs. (I much prefer salvage places -- cooler stuff at better prices!) We have found a wide selection of glass, brass, and black porcelain. Every door is different.

I have now stripped seventeen doors- I think. (I am really ready to be done with doors!)

Main Floor

Some pictures of framing the main floor, the big beams and James crouching in the entry window. Finally it looks like a box with a lid on it when the top floor goes on. My sister refers to it as the giant beer cooler! Is this better than Kate's name for the derelict house, "The banjo shack?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Big Rock

The plumber made a ten inch mistake with one of the pipes set in the concrete basement floor. This called for a complete move of one of the walls. (Ben had figured how to sort this BEFORE he told me about it even though this was not his mistake!) However, this put the wall right under the fireplace upstairs. I looked at this and decided the mistake was meant to be!! I asked Ben if BIG ROCK could go IN the house and be a part of the fireplace with the extra support of the moved wall. Ben measured it and calculated the weight.

He waited until the crane guy had lifted all the beams up and into place, then casually asked if he would lift the rock INTO the house. The crane guy was not to happy about this, but when we assured him that we would take liability if it fell through the floor, he agreed. Ben's uncle was concerned I'd change my mind and how would I get it out of the house. Ben said, "I guess she'll cut it up." What really made me laugh was that we set it on the subfloor-- the underfloor heating isn't in-- the gypcrete isn't in!! I asked Ben about this and he said,"They just have to cement around it!"

I think the really funny thing about the whole operation was that the guys did it in almost complete silence. I think this might have been because I was standing there the whole time. I finally asked them how many beers they were going to get out of this story tonight to make them talk.


These are various pictures of framing the basement and then framing the next floor.
You can see the start of the deck off the master bedroom. Picture number four is the south facing wall. On the right is the front door (not that you can access it yet as it isn't back filled-- there is just a big hole under it,) with lance like windows. It will have an entry porch with a roof.

The Rock Pile and The Big Rock

This is the big rock pile that the kids and I collected painstakingly in the hot sun this summer for hours and hours. Some of them we pick axed out of the ground!! As I write this the geothermal guy covered half of it with a huge pile of dirt and I am going to be so cross if he dumps my rocks back into the ground on Monday. I left a long convoluted answer phone message to them and called Ben who is out at the land on monday.

James is standing on THE BIG ROCK. This rock is our favourite. It is perfect to sit on and when the plumber made a mistake .... (go to next section for the thrilling conclusion of Big Rock.)