Saturday, April 26, 2008

The North Wall Insulation

Karen is striking a pose with the stapler. It looks like she's singing to it, but I think she's trying to blow the smoke away.... She and Chris were putting up the house wrap one evening this week, and made good time on the North wall. We're about out of the wrap, actually, so we're being very careful about every little scrap.

Here's Chris, working in nearly the same spot.Andy and Mindy are putting up the insulation on the North wall. The house wrap isn't quite finished on this wall - the roof is on the ground underneath that patch of bare wall, and until we move it, we won't be able to put the ladder directly below the peak. We ended up laying the insulation in both directions. Sometimes horizontal, sometimes vertical, depending on what fit best or what would result in the least amount of cutting.
We had a nice surprise this week when the windows and doors showed up. It's great to see them stacked in the dining room, just waiting to go in. It makes us eager to hurry up and put them all in soon! The first thing we did when we saw them was to measure their dimensions, then compare it to the frames we've built into the walls... pheew... they match.
This is how we handled the intersection between the walls and the roof. Procedurally, we overhung the roof insulation, then trimmed it vertical after it was installed. Then we installed the wall foam, letting it protrude above the roof pitch. Lastly, we trimmed the wall foam to match the pitch of the roof and line up with the foam already there. This corner came out particularly well, and we're pleased with how it feels. It's nice to see how things go together in a house and know that we'll be plenty warm next winter.
Just for fun, we unwrapped one of the kitchen windows and put it in place. We aren't quite ready to install it, but that will come soon enough. We will need a few tubes of caulk, and then these two windows can be installed. We need to finish the framing around the rest of the windows before they'll be ready, too.

Saturday afternoon, and everybody was out at the house. Karen and Mindy worked on filling cracks and seams, the boys picked up scraps and cleaned up the house site a bit, and Andy and Chris kept working on the North wall foam. The pieces were fun to put together - kind of like really big tangrams.
The shot from the cherry tree... except for a few fiddly bits around the door frame and the windows, the North, East, and West walls are complete. The South wall has yet to be started, and with all those windows, that may prove to be the most challenging wall yet.
While we aren't quite ready to move into the house, somebody is! We found this in our basement last week. One day it was a few twigs and strings, and a few days later, it's a beautiful nest, complete with mud and moss. We felt bad about moving it and making the birds start over somewhere else, but our basement is just not the place for them... they'll make a new nest in no time at all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Gravel in the Basement

Within a few weeks, we should have the basement slab poured. Unfortunately, that meant we needed to prep the basement for the radiant tubing and manifold. We didn't plan well enough in advance, or even know just what to plan for, so we ended up making extra work for ourselves by not telling the foundation subcontractor about our plans for insulating the floor. We will place 2" of rigid foam beneath the basement floor, then wire mesh, and the pex tubing for the radiant system will zip-tie to the wire mesh. Our insulation needs to be flush with the footings in the basement, and then the slab will be poured on top of all that. The excavation/foundation guys filled in the basement with gravel, flush with the level of the footings.

And therein lies the extra work - we needed to remove the top 2" of gravel from the entire basement floor. My dad says you should never do math like this before a project, but I take after my mom, too, so I did it anyway: 2" of depth for 1,000 sq. ft. equals roughly 167 cubic feet of gravel. Using a standard weight of 95 lbs. per cubic foot, that makes about 16,000 lbs. of gravel. Yes, 8 tons. I didn't believe it either, so I did the math again. Ugh... now I know why not to do math before you start working.

The piles of gravel are visible here beneath each basement window. Andy shoveled a lot of it out the windows, and then Chris finished off the shoveling and leveled everything to even things out for all the work Andy did on the roof.
Here's a shot of the basement floor - footings now rise 2" above the gravel. When we put the foam down, it should match up perfectly to the level of the footings, and the slab will be poured right on top of it.

Andy and Mindy started to work on the North wall. We'll get the Typar up, then insulate all of this wall. There won't be much cutting around windows on this wall, so we hope it goes pretty smooth.

Forget snow loads, forget engineering specs, forget building codes... this is the real reason why you need knee braces in your house. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Roof Insulation

What a beautiful Saturday we had! 75 and sunny - you just couldn't ask for a more beautiful day.

The insulation is finished on the West roof in this picture. We put the Typar up on the whole roof, and then applied the foam insulation and lathing strips on top of that. The Typar makes a slippery, unstable surface that can not be walked on safely. In the large version of this picture (which you can see by clicking on the pic, by the way), you can see a yellow rope entering the view about halfway up the right of the picture and resting on a piece of sheathing on the peak of the roof. We tied the rope to a tree, then hung a ladder on the roof to provide a scaffolding of sorts so we could work up there. I say 'we' a lot, but in this case, Andy did all the work on the roof. Chris didn't like the slippery, nothing to hold on to, balance with a drill and a hammer and 7" nails kind of work that high up. Plus, he claims he was able to find a firm rule that says the big brother has to do all the hard stuff. He was unable to provide a reference for that rule...
Benson and Chris carried insulation over to the East side of the house. These sheets are 2" thick and 4' x 8'. They aren't heavy, but they are pretty awkward.

The East roof is complete here, too. The sheets overlap on the peak; the West wall went up first, so Andy trimmed that edge to be flush with the line of the East roof. The East roof insulation overlapped the West foam, and was trimmed to be flush with the outside of the foam there. The sheets overlap the South wall a bit, so we'll trim that later. Perhaps when we are working on the wall foam, or perhaps when we're back up on the roof to work on the actual roofing surface.

The 7" gutter spikes that hold the lathing strips and 4" of foam to the walls need to have a predrilled 3/16" hole. This prevents the lathing from splitting from the large nail. This is our cordless drill in action - the batteries are rechargeable with peanut butter and jelly, though they run better on a nice salmon steak. The roof and walls will all be predrilled this way.

The final shot of the day. Most of the foam is up on the West wall now, though we have a few fiddly bits around the windows and the foot or so that needs to meet up against the roof.
p.s. Somebody asked what a "Florian" was this week. I mentioned it in a previous post. I couldn't find a good close-up of it from this week's work, but if you go back in the blog to the 2/18/08 post called "The East and West Walls", there is a picture of three boys and Mindy crowded around a sheathing board. Nathan is using the Florian in that picture. It is a 12" pruning saw that has been used in every step of the house process. We have cut all of our siding with it, all of the foam, the sheathing, etc...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Stairs

Beautiful week! Several sunny days, and even a few with warm temperatures. Andy started on the house wrap, and has the roof and a lot of the sides covered. We'll get everything nice and tight and secure when we wrap the house in foam.
Laying out the 2x12s to make stringers - you can see the marks on the boards in the big version of the photo. We cut them laying just like this, using the circular saw for most of it and finishing up the unreachable bits with the Florian. You can also see the bathroom framed in on the North end of the dining room. That will be a full bath attached to Chris and Karen's bedroom.

Laying on the treads. We'll use pieces of the tongue and groove 2x6 flooring to make the stair treads. We'll trim the tongue off, and they'll make a nice, solid tread. Kick boards will be 1x8 sheathing left over from the walls if we have to... if it's ok with the almighty code, then we'd all prefer to leave the treads open.

The four of us. It feels great to have stairs now, and it's hard to imagine what we did without them! This is the view from the window in Chris and Karen's bedroom, looking South into the rest of the house.

Karen and Mindy are laying out the kitchen - using sawhorses, 2x4s, and anything else not nailed down. They're excited about the layout, which is great news for Andy and Chris. You know what they say... happy wife, happy life. You can also see the mudroom framed in on the North end of the kitchen. We'll have a half bath there, some lockers for coats and boots and things, and other mudroomy stuff. The doorway into the kitchen is a full 48", and will eventually be arched. The angles are such that we will be able to walk into the house with a wheelbarrow full of wood. This was important to Chris, probably because he'd be too lazy to take more than one trip out to the wood pile.