Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Lower North Wall

Sorry... no pictures of people this time! Though you can see Andy starting to build a ladder in one of them. We figured it was about time we had one, and we're running out of ways to reach the siding.

We had 10" of snow on Friday, so we started Saturday morning by shoveling out the house. It's kind of neat to be shoveling snow off your floor.

We also did a little bit of work in the afternoon - the mudroom entrance is framed in now, and the lower portion of the North wall is complete. This view is from the kitchen, looking back toward the mudroom.
This is the living room. There will be three windows on the East wall, and two more on the South wall that is yet to be framed. We really enjoy watching the light play across the floor as the days go by, and we'll enjoy it even more when the house is done and we're toasty warm.

The mudroom entrance will probably be the most used entry to the house. We haven't decided on what to do with the North wall yet - right now it looks pretty sparse. The loft area will have two windows. Karen would like stained glass in the middle section of the main floor on that wall, but that will be a change we add after we've moved in.

Looking North through the house, it looks like three hallways that don't have any doors. But this isn't traditional 16" on center stick framing, so it's kind of hard to visualize unless you've been up here to see it. We're looking forward to getting the peak of the roof done, but we need some sunshine first to melt all the snow and ice off the frame.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The East and West Walls

We had lots of help on Monday - 15 people, in fact! Half of them were under the age of 10, but they all helped. It was a great day despite the drippy weather.

Benson had a school writing assignment recently - this is what he had to say:

"A Snapshot of My Dad"
Benson West
January 31, 2008
"My dad is working on the house. He is big and strong and can lift a heavy wall! Dad is wearing jeans and a bright red tee shirt with white stripes on the neck and sleeves. On his waist, Dad has his toolbelt. He has a hammer on one side and a square on the other, there are nails in the front pockets. In the big pocket he has a pencil for marking and a punch to get the nails in if the hammer can't. The toolbelt that he wears is a leathery tan with a black belt. When he walks the toolbelt bounces up and down. Dad has another toolbelt that is in the basement. He is working hard to get the house finished. You can see sweat run down his arms and his muscles when he hammers the nails. I like to see my dad working on our house."

Eli discovered a marvelous new method of carrying wood. And I'm sure the extra fiber must be good for him.

Mindy is keeping things steady while Robin (Andy and Chris' sister) cuts some sheathing for the walls.

Andy, Matt, and Matt's brother Andy work on the framing for the North wall. The East wall is visible here also. There will be three windows on the South East corner and two more on the North East corner.

This is Hunter, Andy and Chris' nephew. He's working on the East wall, and doing a very fine job of nailing our wall together. He's pretty happy to be helping.
Nathan is cutting, Mindy is holding the sheathing steady, and Benson and Ethan are supervising very closely. It's always fun to have cousins in town. They're cutting pieces of sheathing for a few spots on the East and West walls.

Hannah and Robin (two of Andy and Chris' sisters) work on sheathing the East wall. The mist in the background hung around all day, and looked really neat. The stream was quite loud with all the rain and meltoff over the last day or so.
The North wall framing. This will be a bathroom and a closet soon.

Andy, Matt, and Matt's brother Andy are working on the framing for the NW corner. The West wall is finished up to the rafters. It's really cool to see the spaces for doors and windows now. The East wall is also finished, though it's harder to see from this angle.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The 19 Other Rafters

Another two good days of weather! Andy and Mindy worked together on Friday, cutting and preparing rafter pieces to be assembled. They also spent awhile clearing ice and snow off the house. That's a cold, wet, unpleasant job, but it has to be done.

Andy and Chris worked together on Friday afternoon and Saturday, and made some good progress. We brought the scale out to the house to weigh the rafters, and to our surprise, they only weigh 68.5 lbs! That's spread out across 14' of lumber, so they're still very unwieldy and awkward. They certainly feel like much more than that.

It's quite possible for one person to install a rafter alone, but it would take a lot of moving around. By the time we got to the West side of the house, we were averaging 5 minutes per rafter. Much smoother than we expected.

This is how we left the house on Friday night. We had the East wall of rafters up, all the posts were assembled for the West wall, and all the pieces were cut to assemble the remaining rafters.

This is about 11:30 on Saturday morning. We assembled the 10 West rafters, set the posts, and installed the rafters. It was a perfectly clear day, and the sunlight really looks good shining through the house. We'll miss seeing the woods around us when we close the house in with walls and a roof.

Same time, different view.

Saturday evening, about 5:30. We did some measuring and planning for the peak of the roof, cleaned up some of the extra wood that had accumulated inside the house, and pulled out a few strips of siding. We have two courses of siding done on the East wall, and six or so done on the West wall.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Rafters

We made good progress this weekend, but not all of it was the "put it up" kind of progress. We finished the last three bents on the loft, then built, assembled, and installed a post and a rafter on the NE corner of the house. The joinery on the top of the post was a lot of fun to do, and we'll enjoy seeing the rest of them go together.

Working this weekend were Andy and his three boys (Benson, Ethan, and Eli), Chris, Hannah (Andy and Chris' sister) and her husband Matt, and their daughter Rebecca. We don't mind exploiting the help, so yes, Rebecca had a hammer for a bit. She thought it was pretty heavy, but she could hit the nail pretty well when we slid her around the floor to match her natural swing. That's Chris behind her, then Hannah at the far end of the photo. We're assembling posts for the East wall.

Close-up of the joinery where the post and rafter meet. The middle 2x6 of the post matches the profile of the rafter. There is a 2x4 between the two 2x8s in the rafter that butts up against the edge of the tenon of the post. It all goes together beautifully, though the rafter is a bit heavy. We'll take a scale out next weekend to weigh one, just for curiosity's sake.

By the time we left on Saturday evening, we had 2-3" of snow on everything. Very pretty, but it made everything too slippery to do much assembly work outside. We cut and assembled all of the posts, and have cut about half the material for the rafters. Weather permitting, next week should show good progress.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Upper Loft Bents

Here you go, Dad. Sorry about the delay! My camera was out of batteries on Saturday evening, and I didn't want to put up this week's post without a good capture of what we accomplished. Karen and Chris ran out to the site on Sunday (with the top down - woohoo!) for a few pictures.

Karen is on the left, displaying her mastery of the Makita. Andy is on the right, measuring and prepping boards for Karen to cut. Chris is behind the camera, taking a break from watching them work.
This is Benson, Andy and Mindy's 8-year old, helping us assemble the bents for above the loft. He put in quite a few nails with us. And don't tell OSHA, but yes, all the boys were up on the loft with us. That's what happens when Mom goes to a baby shower and leaves the boys in the hands of bigger boys.

If we put up a poll of who the most adorable builder is... well, just look at him! How could anybody beat that?
The traditional view, taken on Sunday afternoon. We've assembled and installed seven of the ten upper bents. Everything else is cut and ready to go, sitting under the tarp on the loft. We'll get to the last three on Friday this week. The house just keeps getting bigger!

Looking North through the house, the bents really look good to us. We've started to imagine everything from a detached garage, a covered bridge, and a distant cabin built in this style.

No more pictures for this week, but if you'd like to read, I'll ramble for a bit. Most of the posts and joists you can see in the above pictures will be eternally visible from within the finished home. The ten posts are roughly 3' apart, evenly spaced across the 30' N-S dimension. There will be natural traffic patterns between the posts that will end up being used as hallways, but there will be no framed in hallways, at least in the upper living levels.

These bents were fun to build. We cut and placed together one on Friday, but with sleet and freezing rain, it was too slippery on top of the loft to consider assembling any there. We chose to inset the middle knee brace. I'm not sure if you can make it out in the pictures, but it's apparent when you're in the loft. It provides an extra bit of aesthetic appeal.

The bents are composed of a total of 66 linear feet of 2x6 and 15 linear feet of 2x8. They are heavy, they are tall, and we took great care when installing them. Especially the Northern and Southern bents, since there isn't much footing to be found up there on the corners. We built one, installed it, and then built and installed the second bent, both on the North side. Then we built five more with the help of the boys, built one on top of another. Installation for the South wall was straightforward, though there really isn't much margin for error. Keeping the bents horizontal seemed best, and then with Chris on one post and Andy on the other, we caught the tenon on the edge of the mortise and slowly pushed the bent vertical. A few quick nails and a strip of lath and we were good to go.

Somebody asked recently about the picture of the stone wall on the front of the blog. Yes, that's on our land. It's on the back 30, tucked above the natural barrier of the cliff. Chris took that picture when he and Andy ran around the perimeter in the rain on one of our trips back East to look at land. Once Andy and Chris saw that portion of the property, they were sold. The day we closed on the property the seven of us gathered in the grove near that stone wall and said a prayer of thanks. It's a special spot to us.