Sunday, July 27, 2008

The South Wall - Basement Insulation

This is the view from the mudroom as you enter the house. The quilt on the right is covering the planer. We have started to apply the protective finish on some of our wood surfaces, and you can just make out the wet shine on some of the main floor posts. After some spot-testing and lots of discussion, it seems we all like the natural wood the best. At this point, we don't plan on staining any interior surfaces. We are using a Minwax polycrilic water-based sealer to protect the wood. There will be a few walls where painted drywall will add a different surface and color to break up the solid wood view. Plus there will be toys everywhere, spaghetti on the walls, and Christopher sliding down his firepole to add some aesthetic appeal.

The underside of the loft and the dining room ceiling - this has been treated with the Minwax as well. It will take a few coats before everything is sealed well.
Karen is busy in the loft, though sadly is without her hat this weekend.More siding boards have been painted this week, and our stack of Pepto-bismol wood is gradually changing into a stack of Cranberry Zing.
The insulation is up on the South wall in the basement. This is the half wall, and there will be a 16" window-sill here soon. We won't finish the insulation on the full walls until the plumbing and electric has been run along the sill plate.

Ahh, craigslist. We have a serious weakness for free materials, and despite the rolled eyes from Karen and Mindy, Chris and Andy picked up a few loads of bricks this week. They will become a patio, a walkway, a built-in dutch oven, or a whole host of other options. Not this year, though.We have had a lot of big rainstorms this year, and our partially completed driveway has really taken a beating. It has become clear that we will need some tools of our own to maintain it, especially this corner between the stream and the road. For reference, the water bottle is about 10" high, and the deepest ravine in the picture is about 16". One day our site company will come back and finish this properly. Maybe this week, maybe not. It's the subcontractor shuffle, and you never really know when they're going to show up.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Basement Framing

The front of the basement stays quite light, even in the afternoon. But on the North wall, away from any of the egress windows... that's a different story. We've planned our utility room and food pantry for that section of the house. Given the lack of natural light in this area, sometimes we work by flashlight.

And sometimes we work by lantern.
This is how the basement will be insulated. We will continue to trim the pieces to fit the beams. The plumbing and electric systems will use the small area behind the top of the foam sheets as a chase. Since the insulation on the outside of the wall extends to the sill plate, there is about 10" of overlap between the 2" of pink foam and the 4" of yellow foam. Time will tell, but we're looking forward to a nice warm space.
This is the boy's room, looking North toward the pantry. The boy's room is almost all framed in now, and their bathroom is about done, too.
I think this is called point of convergence, but in any case it's a neat shot of the hallway in the basement.
It was a busy week, and since Mindy and the boys had things to do at their apartment on Saturday, I don't have any pictures of them helping in the basement. I found some pictures from Christmas of last year when they were helping out in the basement, though, so hopefully that will appease those of you clamoring for their pictures. :)
Mindy was taking off the metal spikes from the forms in this photo. The forms are stacked in the cage to her right.
Benson took care of a lot of the spikes as well - the sledge was handy for this, and despite the cold weather, he was quickly working without a hat or gloves, and his cheeks are all rosy.
Ok, back to warmer weather. Karen and Chris painted about 40 more boards with the final coat.
All laid out to dry. We had several staging areas set up, with boards at varying levels of completeness. Karen and Mindy have a good system of organization with the paint, and it's a comfort to know we won't need to paint from the ladder.
We agreed on an electrician this week, Chris met with the power company to establish pole locations, and the well company came out to finalize their work.

The power company will return this coming week to begin setting poles, the excavator will return to finish up the bridge, driveway and septic system, and we'll all be back to paint, sand, and frame some more.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Last Door, Last Windows, and Basement Slab

A quick note: Mindy's boys were sick this week, so we apologize for no pictures of the little builders or Mindy. Two out of three are feeling better now, and they'll all be back next week. :)

Scott and the rest of his concrete crew showed up on Monday, and the basement floor is poured. It's very hard and very grey. Which, after 6 months of uneven gravel, is quite a novelty. We aren't quite used to it yet, but we're forging ahead anyway. The whirlygig is hanging from a board stretched across the stair hole in the picture below - Scott picked it up on Wednesday. Once the walls are placed in the basement, we'll sand the posts down and remove any traces of the concrete that splattered on them during the pour.
Andy and Chris' parents were out visiting this week, and Dad did a lot of sanding with us. We brought two more workbenches/shelves out to the house, and the bench made a good solid platform for Dad to reach the higher places.
Chris measured and cut the stairs to the basement. This set ended up with 14 steps, with an easy rise of 7 1/8". A switch to 13 steps would have meant a rise outside the code allowance. There will be a pressure treated "shoe" to keep the stringers off the concrete slab.
The second stringer. We sanded them down while they rested on the sawhorses, and prepared the space through the first floor deck.
Andy trimmed the hole a bit, and we moved the doors and windows out of the way. Again. The french doors are for Andy and Mindy's bedroom downstairs.

Andy and Dad cut the treads for the stairs, then drilled and screwed them in place. Apparently Dad didn't read the whole memo, so next time he'll be sure that his red t-shirt also has white trim. Man, it's tough to find good help these days.
The stairs from below. The rear window is installed also. The hole for that window was poured very crooked - we aren't sure why, since the rest of the foundation came out so well. Rest assured, the window is level and plumb. The framing below the window will all be covered up before we're done. I mentioned that the stringers will have a pressure treated "shoe" to keep them off the slab, but for now we just have a spacer in there.
We also put in the front windows, which were the last three to go in. They change the look of the house quite a bit. They also make it more awkward to hop in and out of the windows, which we are all prone to do.
The view from the North side. The rear egress window is in, as are the mudroom door and the kitchen door. All closed up!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Kitchen Door and a Little More

We've had a busy week! Lots of help, and lots of evening work. We're starting to get very eager to move in to the house. There is a sense of urgency in the air, so we're busy little bees.

Karen and Benson are painting the siding here. It will be a relief not to have to paint the house from a ladder. The paint looks orange in this picture, but it isn't...
Our resident timber tiger. He eats all of our bird seed, and can fit a surprising amount of it in his cheeks. He's living in the cracks of the rocks that were displaced during blasting for the basement. I hope he's not home when the excavator moves all that around.

Christopher is working, and Karen is not. But she's happy, and who am I to argue with that? This is the second loop of tubing for the radiant floor. It was very satisfying to put in, and seemed to progress very smoothly. Our plumber cautioned us to keep the loops about a foot away from any toilets. He's seen radiant floors melt the wax ring that seals the toilet to the floor. There are rubber gaskets you can use instead of wax, but we kept the tubing well clear of toilet drains.
Andy and Benson are working on the final hookups to the manifold in preparation for the pressure test. We have four loops of roughly 250' apiece. There are eight valves on the manifold; four outgoing lines, and four return lines. Once everything was hooked up and secure, we pressurized the system to 50 psi, then let it sit for two hours. The pressure gauge didn't change, so we were all set. If the pressure had dropped on its own, there would have been a lot of troubleshooting to find the leak. We're glad we didn't have to redo any of it.
Close-up of the manifold.
Everything is connected. The outgoing lines are on the left, and the return lines are on the right. There isn't a right or wrong way to set those up, they just need to be specified.
The kitchen door is finally in place. There are so many tasks at this stage, it's hard to keep on top of everything. Only one door came in from Perkins, so when we get up to the store this week, FirstDay said they'd have another exterior door waiting for us. John offered to have it sent down to us, but we need to run up there anyhow, so we'll pick that up while we're there. Notice the big first step from the kitchen floor to Andy's level. I don't think we'll be using this door for awhile.
Sanding. Sanding. Sanding. Wow, there is a lot of wood in this house. We had four sanders running this weekend - a Ridgid belt sander we bought recently, a DeWalt orbital sander, and two other little sanders that aren't nearly as effective, bought before we had a project large enough to justify a large tool budget.
We stuffed the cracks around the windows with pink fiberglass insulation. It's rewarding to feel the insulation in place and know that all the little seams and cracks are filled. Ideally, we would have cut the window insulation exactly the right size for the window, and would have no need to chink at all. Amateurs... Maybe on our next house we'll be a little more exact.

Some good friends came by on Friday and helped for awhile. This is Amanda, making her first cut with a circular saw. Both cuts came out just right, and they became trim pieces for around the egress window on the North wall. We installed that window, but apparently haven't taken a picture of it yet.
Hmmm... I think the perp was Andy, in the loft, with the belt sander.
Mindy took the trailer and the Subie to NY this past week to pick up the cherry. Andy and Chris' parents helped load it, and this is Dad, ratcheting the load up securely. They will be in Massachusetts this coming week, and will help on the house for a few days. This will be their first trip to the house since they helped with the decking way back in January.
We have lots of plans for this coming week - the basement floor is scheduled to be poured on Monday, the well guys should be back sometime this week, the excavator will be back to start on the rest of his work later in the week, and we will sand, polyurethane, and paint everything we can. We also have a few more trees to cut down before we send them away to be milled. Plus there's the rest of the kitchen to design, the basement to frame, the cherry plywood to buy, and the cabinet carcasses to build.

I'm beginning to think people were right - building a house is quite a bit of work!