FEBRUARY - MARCH 2006
FEBRUARY 10, 2006
And yet another milestone...the exterior facia and soffit are now complete! Greg and our contractor have been working on this project for the past two weeks or so while inbetween working on that staggered edge in the area just below the turret.
Greg has pre-painted all the facia, at least the primer and the first coat, to make sure it's protected from the weather. This shot is of the facia over our front porch.
FEBRUARY 13, 2006
Time is running short: our contractor will be coming to the end of his "contract" soon and so Greg is making sure his extra pair of hands are used to best advantage. So for now they're concentrating on completing the exterior siding in the highest areas which is mainly that area just below the turret.
FEBRUARY 14, 2006
You'd never know it was Valentine's Day around here. Greg and I both put in a full demanding day. Painting the staggered edge siding is really taking a toll on my body. And don't even ask about what all this work is doing to poor Greg's. We're both just keeping our fingers crossed that when this is all done our bodies get back into some semblance of pain-free condition.
FEBRUARY 16, 2006
While I worked with a helper all day to do much needed site clean up , Greg was running himself ragged trying to keep ahead of our contractor who's installing the staggered edge siding just below the turret.
FEBRUARY 21, 2006
Today the "last" window was installed . That makes the grand total about 38 now. We added one more window at the top of the stairwell which surrounds the eventual double helix staircase. Although we knew it was going to be pretty dark up there, Greg opted against a skylight because he hates making any more perforations in the roof than absolutely necessary. There are enough problems - no sense going looking for more! So a window at the top seemed like a great alternative.
This last window was an "on-the-job design decision", so back to our window supplier to order it. A few weeks later, the new window was delivered and somehow it was an entire foot bigger on either side. A mystery how that mistake was made. And although our window supplier tried to convince us to keep it and find a place for it, we stuck to our guns and kept to our budget. A replacement was ordered (which slowed down the work below the exterior of the turret - we had hoped to remove the scaffolding earlier). The new window arrived a week or so ago. And still they didn't get it right! Greg and Mike were just about to hoist the window into place and nail it off when Greg thought to measure it. Typically, a 4' by 5' window would be rough framed to a 4' by 5' opening. At least, that was the case in all 37 windows previously ordered. But on the last window, for some unknown reason, Milgard, whose policy is to make the window a quarter to half inch smaller, made it exactly 4' x 5'. Bottom line: add an extra few hours to reframe the opening. Remember I said a ways back, the mark of a good carpenter is how good they are at correcting mistakes....
Greg has been absolutely diligent making sure to allow for proper attic ventilation. Between proper ventilation and attention to insulation, we hope to eliminate the need for air conditioning. Attic ventilation is one of the most overlooked areas of residential construction. Either the contractor simply ignores it, or installs some minimal venting, or installs it incorrectly (both of which ends up doing absolutely nothing). We attended an all-day "ventilation seminar" in Seattle put on by the AirVent company last year. They manufacturer roof venting products. All attics get warm or cold, attract condensation, mold, mildew and subsequent damage from moisture soaked framing and roof sheeting. Proper ventilation of the attic eliminates these problems and will keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Proper ventilation is a simple concept. This diagram shows the air flow through a typical attic. Outside air enters the attic through the soffit or rafter vents at the roof overhang or eave. It flows up through the attic and vents out the attic vent system installed on the ridge of the roof. If your home doesn't allow for soffit or rafter vents and a ridge vent, demand to know why from your builder or architect. The next step to proper attic ventilation is to keep it as "balanced" as possible. It's recommended that soffit or rafter vents provide 9 square inches of air space per foot. Referring to the diagram, that means we have 9 inches, or a total of 18 square inches, of air coming into the attic on either side of the building. Then the ridge vent must provide that same amount of venting out to be effective. This is the simple formula of attic ventilation. Also, this passive ventilation of soffit/rafter vents and ridge vents is the most effective. There are also mechanical vents, vents that install into the roof sheeting, gable vents, and so on. These are less effective. But you can't use a combination of these vents; one will defeat the purpose of the other. And this is where most people make mistakes.
In our case, portions of the soffit required custom venting to get proper placement for correct ventilation. Thanks to Greg's ingenuity, he made them on the job and, with an eye for detail, made sure to camouflage them.
MARCH 1, 2006
The exterior of the area just below the turret has four peaked roofs. We're calling it the "gallery". It was a design "add on" once Greg saw how the roofline was coming together. I like the detail. And I like the look of that staggered edge siding - extremely labor intensive though it is (this also shows the new gallery window we installed). The last of the four sides were completed today and it looks like we're using much more of the stuff than the Hardie website calculator lead us to believe. I can only imagine how much more we'd be using if Greg weren't on top of making sure the material was being cut and used as efficiently as possible. But still, that means most likely hundreds more pieces I'll be spray painting in the spring. Can't wait!
Where the long straight Hardie boards only required two coats, this staggered edge is taking three and requires using a brush to get the stain between the individual shingles which come five to a board piece. With all this extra goop, the stain tends to coagulate on the underside of the panel. This has caused some problems when stacking the finished pieces. We've found the boards are sticking together, either pulling off small pieces of the stained material or "gluing" a small lump of the unpainted material from the underside to the finished side. Either way, it exposes the white chalky board. Greg and I are both perfectionists, but ya gotta let some things go. Since these pieces will be high off the ground, I was able to chip off the excess using a tiny slotted screwdriver and then use a small make-up sponge applicator with a dab of stain for touch up. You better believe we'll come up with something to make sure this doesn't happen again with the boards that will cover the front of the house. When it comes to eye level, I'm going to let my perfectionism run wild!
Now that we have those corbel details just under the eaves above the exterior gallery walls, Greg realized we need to make sure no birds decide to roost there: it's so high up, it'll be difficult to do maintenance work. A little Googling and we found an Internet store that sells those "bird spikes" which look like porcupine needles. We sent off a diagram to make sure this was the best product for the job and that we were placing them correctly. Greg installed the spikes in the inner crook of the corbel.
Often, to complete one project you must think ahead and attend to other details before you can proceed. Greg is wracking his brain trying to come up with everything that needs to go on the roof or through the roof before he can begin roofing in a number of areas. One of those is our plans to illuminate the turret.
The lighting design is two part: softly illuminating the turret as seen from the front of the house and spotlighting the moonvane. Because of the height and the desired effects, installing these lights for convenient maintenance on the ground isn't possible; they will have to be installed on the nearby roof. This area could be accessed by an extension ladder, however, a ladder leaned against the building requires protecting the gutter from being crushed. Or we could get access by actually stepping out one of the turret windows onto the roof below, possibly by creating a catwalk. The type of metal roof we're using allows for foot traffic because the metal has a memory, but you don't want to over do it. So, if roof access is chosen, we must bolster the roof in that area to minimize wear and tear. Greg thinks using a foam pad under that area will do the job. To begin the process of finding the correct lights for our purposes, Greg created photographic diagrams to send to the lighting designer for their input. One picture shows the soft lighting for the turret, the other, the location for the spotlight for the moonvane (if we were to go with access by ladder).
MARCH 2, 2006
Our contractor's last day. Another milestone met. All of us spent the day, as they say in The Producers "tidying ooop". Greg and Mike put the finishing touches on several projects they'd been working on the last two or three weeks. This included finally taking down that scaffolding surrounding the gallery walls below the turret.
Meanwhile, I was straightening house; organizing supplies and removing construction debris. By the end of the day, it was really starting to looking like a real home (I can see it now!).
MARCH 3, 2006
We're finally on our own!
Greg and I took the day off in celebration. From now on in, with just a few exceptions, we can march to our own drummer...structure our days just like we want to. No more divided attention supervising someone else's projects. Now Greg can focus his creative juices on details for . Already he's come up with coffered ceilings in the entry, above the double-helix stairway, and in a portion of the hallway; window seating in the Solarium; and space for a "secret" library high up in our closet with access to the turret study.
MARCH 4, 2006
We spent the day together at . Greg was checking a myriad of things for finishing touches, corrections, shopping lists, next projects.
I did a bit of landscaping. I planted some more of my precious bearded iris that I brought all the way with us from California.
I also worked on finding places for the forty trees and twenty other native shrubs that I bought through the county Conservation District program. Buying these plants helps support the county's conservation efforts. Not to mention the bargain of all those trees and plants for about $70. On Monday I have some friends coming to help me plant.
MARCH 6, 2006
Greg begins to tackle the plumbing, while I plant trees and shrubs I bought through the Clallam County Conservation District sale. As always, the internet proves itself invaluable as Greg familiarizes himself with plumbing requirements.
My friends Melissa & Lisa show up to help me plant some 50 trees and shrubs: Noble Fir, Sitka Spruce, Grand Fir, Red Osier Dogwood, Shore Pine, Nootka Rose, Indian Plumb etc etc. And wouldn't you know it, just as we get started, the sky opens up and it's a deluge. There we are digging holes in what turns out to be mud pudding. Thank goodness for friends - who didn't seem to mind at all.
MARCH 11, 2006
Greg continues on with the plumbing. He needs to get to a certain point installing drains to determine where vents will come through the roof. Once that's done, he can go back to installing the roof. I try to help a bit by pushing down on pvc pipe while the cement sets up.
Our "gutter guy" shows up to work on the roof gutter system. Because our guy is a one man show, he's willing to come out to install small sections to make use of the scaffolding Greg already has set up for the roof work.
Before we finished up with our contractor, he helped Greg install our 1928 dumb waiter Greg bought through Ebay. It's not motorized, but we figure it'll be good exercise. And for about $200, the price was right when compared to a new, motorized version which today sells for about $4,500.
MARCH 13, 2006
Greg works on the plumbing for our laundry room. We've invested in some of the newer technology including the Maytag dryer "closet". This handy dandy machine not only dries in the conventional way, it also has screened shelves that allow you to lay out sweaters, sport caps and tennis shoes in addition to a "closet" that allows you to steam clothes on hangers. Can't wait! It'll be a pleasure.
We also purchased one of the Maytag Neptune washers. These machines do away with the center agitator which allows for bigger loads. And a friend of mine, who already has one, pointed out it eliminates clothes catching on the agitator which leads to rips and tears.
Since we're up on the second floor, Greg wanted to eliminate the possibility of an overflow problem with the washer and via the internet found a tray that sits under the washer and directs the overflow into pipes that lead directly to the plumbing drain. And since the washer is a front loader, he's also building a platform to raise the washer up about a foot to save my back.
MARCH 15, 2006
Our contractor's son, Justin, is returning to work for us as a day laborer. He just bought his first car and needs to earn money for car insurance. His price is right and we'll be able to keep him plenty busy over the next couple of months before high school graduation. I have him gathering more rocks which seem to have bubbled up from the ground during the rainy season to be used for our pond and waterfall. I've also had him use some of the dirt from several small mountains of it we've collected from holes we've had dug for the septic, propane tank etc. and use it to smooth out the trails we had cut in last year. Now it's a pleasure to walk and not worry that your ankle will snap as you hit a pothole.
MARCH 16, 2006
We're beginning to talk to other subs for work we won't be doing ourselves including the drywall - and the stonework which will cover the front of the house on the first floor.
When we were still working on the house design, Greg and I drove through the "pricier" neighborhoods hoping to find homes under construction so he could get an idea of how things are done here. One house we found was being built by a California builder. At this point in time, we were considering an English Tudor design which required a stucco exterior. We had done some poking around and found that although the weather here isn't a problem when it comes to using stucco, stucco contractors were few and far between in our area and what contractors there were, had given eyepopping bids. So high were their bids that this California builder found it tens of thousands of dollars cheaper to import his California tradesmen to do his work. We made sure to visit his site when the workers were there and told them we planned on getting in touch when the time came.
Eventually, we decided to go with the Craftsman look and gave up the stucco for stone. Turns out these tradesmen did stonework too. So today we met with the foreman, who had driven up from California, to go over our job. During our conversation we learned his crew also does drywall and painting. Not only that, they are skilled in "smooth" wall drywall...a dying art. While the "orange peel" drywall finish is definitely a "look", our interior design ideas work better with the smooth wall. So, we'll be getting back to him for a bid when the time comes.
Meanwhile, Greg began installing the roof over the master bedroom. The technique isn't difficult but working with your ankles at an angle for hours on end, not to mention the fear factor (despite using every type of safety equipment we could find), takes a lot out of you.
Since scaffolding is a necessity for exterior work, and rental prices add up when you require this equipment for months on end, we decided to purchase most of ours. We took advantage of discount coupons at our local Home Depot and when all is said and done, we'll sell off most of it.
MARCH 20, 2006
We've asked the satellite dish installers to come out to help us predetermine where the dish will be installed for best reception, so that Greg can get the prep work done beforehand.
Although I thought I made it clear to the schedulers that this was to be a preliminary meeting, the installers thought they were coming out to hook us up. After we got that cleared up, they told us to be sure and let the office know because there could be the possibility of shutting off our service at our rental house.
MARCH 21, 2006
The roof over the master bedroom is now complete. Greg is trying to take advantage of sunny days to work on on it. With these angles and the slickness of the roofing material, you want to make darn sure there's no morning dew, not to mention rain, when working on such a potentially dangerous project.
MARCH 24, 2006
Greg made the decision to have our plumber help him with the major drain pipe installation. We're trying hard to keep to our October date for moving into the downstairs guestroom. If Greg has to do everything, that possibility looks less and less possible. So the decision was made to hire a plumber to get us to the point where we can determine all of the roof perforations.
MARCH 31, 2006
Building this house virtually by ourselves is taking a heavy toll on our bodies - especially when you're approaching retirement ages!
Greg has developed plantar faciaitis in his feet which required getting custom orthotics for his shoes. I've developed tendinitis in my forearms and either arthritis is worsening in my fingers...or I've developed the muscles in my hands. Either way, I can no longer get my pretty rings on my fingers. I'm hoping, months and months from now, when all this physical labor is behind me, that my rings will fit once again. Painting the Hardie plank nearly did in my upper back and wreaked havoc with my degenerative disk disease in my neck...and lucky me...I have several hundred more pieces to paint in the coming weeks.
After months of rainy weather, the ground is solid enough now to install our waterfall and pond. Our excavator dug out the pond a couple of months ago and I was thinking I'd tackle this myself. But placing boulders and installing heavy liner is more than I can handle I see how. So I've asked our waterfall team to add this to their bid. But I'll still be working right alongside them to keep the price down. Here's where the hundreds of rocks of all sizes, and small and large boulders we've been collecting, will come to use. I'll be placing any rock I can physically move myself. I spent about five hours today prepping the pond: removing twigs and rocks and anything else that could puncture the liner. Once I start a project like this, I'm like a dog with a bone. Even though I'm exhausted to the point of collapsing, I keep working. Later this evening when we finally sat down to dinner, I could hardly move. What would I do without acetomenophen and ibuprophen!
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