Friday, October 27, 2017

Real rooms and lights!

At the end of the last post, we were starting the flooring in the bedrooms.  Since then, we have finished the flooring and trim and gotten the lights and outlets all done for all 3 bedrooms.  Woot!  We are all in our own rooms for the first time in 4 years with actual furniture (not plastic bins and suitcases).  Wow.  So, back to where we left off....

While Scott and I worked on flooring upstairs, Jeremy cut our leftover car siding into trim for the upstairs.  This way it matches the ceilings and the beams and we don't have to buy more stuff.

Stack of trim waiting to be installed

Once the trim was made, he moved on to finishing out the windows.  We used cedar boards milled from trees we cut off of my mother's family farm (where she was born) to finish out the deep window wells and do the window built in shelves in our room.  They are absolutely beautiful thanks to Jeremy's amazing attention to detail.  There is something really special about being able to tell my kids that when their grandmother was a little girl, she probably played around the trees that are now in their windows.  You can read the story of us cutting those trees 5 years ago here:

Sealing the boards after they were cut to fit.

The first finished window!
Cedar under our window waiting for the built in


While Jeremy was busy with that, Scott and I hung the ceiling fans in the bedrooms, finished out the rest of the upstairs electrical and hung the doors.   Doing the trim was somewhat tricky in that our beams are not square thanks to the trees growing on the side of a mountain.  That meant that the trim around every beam and collar tie had to be custom cut which was a very fiddly, tedious process.  The end result is beautiful though!

Doors hung

Finicky trim

They were predicting a very cold couple of nights and we really wanted to get the kids into their rooms and out of the RV before that happened, so we were all in on getting the rooms done.  We just made it!  The kids got to sleep in their own rooms for the first time on the first near freezing night of this fall.  Whew!  Then we started moving the rest of their furniture in and put the finishing touches on Jeremy and I's room. 

Jacob on moving day
Our room with actual furniture!

With everyone in a more stable sleeping place, it was time to get the power on to the house.  We had been running our refrigerator and a single lamp off of an extension cord from the outlet in the shed since August.  Now that we had all the circuits upstairs and in the bathroom tied off and ready, we started the process to cut power over to the main house panel.  First, we dug a trench and laid the heavy gauge wire in it inside of electrical conduit.

Trench with conduit starting

Then we killed the power to the power system in the shed - inverter, batteries, everything - to make sure no one got hurt.  Then my amazing brother took care of connecting the wires to the appropriate ports on the inverter and in the house while the rest of us buried the conduit. 

Covered trench and Scott working on the cables in the shed.
Then it was time to flip the switch!  As you can see in the sneak preview above, it worked!  There was much rejoicing that we didn't have to keep wearing head lamps around the house to see.  It was a pretty awesome feeling to get to pull the extension cord out of the house for good!

No more extension cord!!!!
Let there be light!

Due to the impending cold weather, getting the place for the wood stove ready to go became the next top priority.  The first step was to finish out the electrical by the front door since we needed to close up that wall.  That involved installing the outside light and outlet.  Scott and I knocked that out in about 2 hours last Wednesday.

Outlet and door light

Inside view of the wood stove corner

Now we are focusing on getting the corner ready for the wood stove.  It is going on a platform which Jeremy is busy building.  One step at a time, we're getting there.  It is starting to feel a lot more like home now though. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Working on finishing rooms and plumbing!

The last month has been busy.  When we left off, we were continuing the work on drywall upstairs.  Since then, we've finished the upstairs drywall and painted all 3 bedrooms. 

Catherine in her very blue room

Jacob in his white room

Me in our yellow room

Since we had the painting done in the bathroom already, I went ahead and built the built in shelves behind the bath tub so that I wouldn't have to work around the toilet later.  It was a tight fit, but I like how it turned out!

Built ins behind the tub

Our amazing friend, Dan Saunders, came out to help with the PEX connections in our plumbing lines and to extend our propane line closer to the water heater which was awesome.  When it was done, he set up an air test on the water lines.  We pressurized the system to about 80 psi leaked.  Crap.  The search was on!  We found 1 PEX connection leaking, 1 solder joint and 4 threaded joints leaking.  Unfortunately, the threaded joints were all for the shower which meant I had to carefully disassemble the shelves in the bathroom so that they could be done over.  Boo!  Luckily, the came apart with only 2 pieces breaking. 
Dan working on the gas line

While Dan was working on plumbing, Scott was busy with tile.  He did a beautiful job on the floor and the shower surround.  I almost can't believe we have such a beautiful space in our home. 

Floor tile complete and waiting for grout
Tub surround waiting on grout
After all the leaks were fixed, we re-pressurized the system and it held steady at 100 psi.  Woo hoo!  I re-installed the built in shelves and we went to town finishing the bathroom.  In the course of a day, Scott got the toilet mounted, vanity installed and the vanity sink plumbed except the drain (didn't have the right size trap kit). 

Holding at 100!!!!

Working on the sink

Bathroom with all the furniture!

Running water in the house

I polished off the drain the next day (last Sunday) and got the pocket door installed, so the bathroom is looking almost done now!   We just need to do the trim around the door and the ceiling.  Then the only thing stopping us from a hot shower at home is a vent for the water heater!  Maybe this weekend...

Finished pocket door

Last night, I started laying the floor in Catherine's room.  We're using snap together hardwood/composite flooring in a dark oak.  It looks really nice and is pre-finished which is a huge time saver.  The bedrooms lack finished electrical, ceiling fans, flooring, trim and doors.  While that seems like a long list, it isn't much when you consider where we started. 

Beginning of the floor in Catherine's room

Parts of the house are starting to look like a house! 

Along with the progress on the inside, Jeremy got all of the windows and doors pointed so that they are completely water tight.  Woot!

Jeremy pointing on the west wall

Its been busy and we've got lots left to do.  Its nice to see some mostly finished spaces finally though!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The work continues....drywall!

We have been hard at work which leaves precious little time to keep up here!  Picking up where we left off, the first round of drywall has been making its way up in the storage/laundry space and the bedrooms.  It is very satisfying to see walls instead of garage doors and pink foam.  There's still a lot of it to do though.

Drywall beginning in the bedrooms
Completed eave wall

Along with drywall, we have been working diligently to get the bathroom ready.  We managed to find an unfinished solid maple door on clearance at Menards, so I spent some time putting a nice tongue oil finish on it.  I think it turned out pretty well!

Sealed bathroom door

The next step in the bathroom once the tub was in was to install the bathroom fan and lights and then close up the ceiling to hide the duct work.  The bathroom is the only room where the beams are not exposed. 

Completed bathroom ceiling

With the ceiling in place and all the plumbing roughed in, we installed the greenboard on all the walls.  In a testament to how much we now appreciate the little things, we celebrated that the bathroom had walls!

Bathroom greenboard

The same day, we finally got to put up the car siding wall in the living room.  Eventually the stairway and some built in shelves will cover this wall, but for now it is the only visible and finished wall in the entire house!  Scott and Jeremy were a little slap happy at the end of it. 

Our final milestone happened yesterday.  We finished insulating the exterior walls with pink foam.  That meant we could finally get all the little bits of foam out of the house and start hanging sheetrock in the living spaces.  Woo hoo!

Finished foam in the kitchen

We have help coming today to work on sheetrock.  With a little luck, we'll get all the tall pieces up on the walls.  We should also get the first round of putty sanded such that later this week we can start painting in the bathroom.  That is super exciting as it is one of a very short list of steps before we can do tile and (finally) have a functioning bathroom in the house!  Its all about the little things for us at this point. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Framing, plumbing and closing in on drywall

It has been a busy 3 weeks since our last post.  First, we finished the floor in our side of the loft with car siding and garage doors.  It was a hard 2 day job with Jeremy and the kids (and a little help in the evening from me), but it turned out great!
The view of the other half the loft in the middle
of framing the kids bedroom walls.

Then we moved on to more framing.  First, we framed the walls around the bathroom so that Scott could get the electrical and plumbing going there.  Then we did the walls upstairs around our room and between the kids rooms.  It was so awesome the first time we could stand in the space and actually see the walls!

Completed upstairs interior framing

We weren't done framing yet though.  All of the exterior walls have to have boards attached as a fir wall to mount the final wall covering to.  That process took a while.  We also had to cut channels in the garage doors for any wires that had to cross studs since the fir wall is only 1.5" deep. 

Fir wall in Jacob's room

We also had to do the pocket door for the bathroom.  It was the first time we had every done a pocket door and it was, thankfully, not too bad.  That finished the last of the bathroom framing!

Pocket door!
While we worked on that, Scott worked on the plumbing.  When he assembled the vent stack, I got to climb up on the roof to do the roof cut and seal.  Did I mention that I hate heights?  It was actually ok.  Having the scaffolding available to set up and Jeremy there to help hand stuff up to me made it so much easier.  We also discovered that rubber cement painted on the soles of tennis shoes gives great traction on a metal roof!  That will come in handy since we have a couple more trips onto the roof to make before we're done (water heater vent and finishing the chimney).

Working on the washer drain
With the fir walls finally done, we started insulating the exterior walls.  The rigid foam insulation both boosts the walls to around an R35 and gives some extra rigidity to the drywall since we built the fir wall on 24" centers.  It does take some time to cut it to fit for each cavity though.  We aren't quite done with that step yet.

Meanwhile, Scott has gotten almost all the water lines in!  We finally got to set the tub in position permanently this week. 

There's a bathtub!  And we don't have to pick it up again!
Technically, we are ready to start hanging drywall in all the bedrooms and the upstairs bath now.  Talk about an exciting feeling!  We still have to finish insulating and doing the last couple of runs of electrical in the walls before we can button up the downstairs though.

First sheets of drywall are on site!
Lastly, Jeremy began trimming out all the windows and doors this week.  They are looking great!  More importantly, this is the last step before we can submit our "finished house" pictures to the county to get our certificate of occupancy. 

Finished east door

As always, the work continues day by day.  Each day there are small milestones - a washer drain is done, a door is trimmed, a new section is insulated - and over time it adds up to real progress.  It is a long slow process though.  Each new milestone feels great, but there are still so very many of them to get through.  Every day, little up.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We have (interior) walls!

Picking up where we left off...

Once the gas line and all the electrical runs were in the floor, we put down the rest of the subfloor.  It was heavy and slow work, especially the parts I did by myself.  A 4x8 sheet of 3/4" plywood is rather heavy!  We had to leave one corner open because in the process of building the stone walls we managed to break a drain pipe in the slab.  We had to repair it before we could finish the floor and, naturally, the repair required a mail order only part, so that corner had to wait an extra week. 

Subfloor except for the broken pipe area

We kept going though!  Over the weekend of June 10th, Jeremy and Scott framed and installed the 2 downstairs walls.  The bathroom, laundry space and a storage space all go into that corner and the electrical was held up until it was installed.  As with all the other parts of the house, Jeremy and I changed our minds about exactly where the walls were going the night before they went up.  LOL. 

Scott assembling the wall

Jeremy standing the wall up while I attach it to the south wall

The finished corner room

Jeremy spent all day on Monday leveling the floor joists on the east end of the loft so that we could put down the car siding that makes the ceiling in the dining room and kitchen and the subfloor for the kids' rooms.  He finished it up on Tuesday morning, then we started laying floor on Tuesday evening.  By the end of the week, we had the subfloor in and the garage panels installed and it felt like a real loft!  Catherine was enjoying 4H camp, so Jacob was clutch on getting the garage doors and car siding installed.  I don't know what we would have done without him. 

View from the kitchen of the new ceiling on Tuesday night

Subfloor in the loft

The finished and the unfinished loft areas

One problem we had to solve was how to support the dividing wall between the kids' rooms.  It falls directly between 2 floor joists.  We didn't really want it to just be resting on the subfloor and garage doors, so Jeremy and Jacob imbedded wooden sleepers in the garage door layer that span the gap between joists.  This way the weight of the wall will be supported on the sleepers which are supported by the joists.  Problem solved!

Sleepers in the floor

Jacob with his loft

The parts arrived to fix the drain on Wednesday and I did the repair on Friday night.  We already had the subfloor cut and ready to go, so it only took an hour or so to get it all closed up and ready for us to finish the first floor framing (except the tall living room bay).

Finished subfloor corner

This past weekend, we did a lot of divide and conquer.  Jeremy and I and the kids worked on finishing the frame out in the bathroom so that we could be set up to do the loft floor for Jeremy and I's room.  We also decided to turn what was going to be our closet into a half bath instead.  It will be nice to not have to go downstairs in the middle of the night.  That does add to the complexity of the plumbing rough in though.  Scott is taking the change well, thankfully. 

Speaking of Scott!  While we worked on framing, he worked on the electrical panel.  He got all the floor runs tied off and then started pulling wire through the downstairs walls for the kitchen and bathroom.  It was a very productive day all the way around.

Scott and his panel

Sunday, Jeremy and I enjoyed a very pleasant, 80 degree Father's Day working on the house.  LOL.  Jeremy got the joists on our side of the loft leveled for floor and I framed in the front wall of the kids' rooms.  Then, around 4 we went to town to buy all the stuff for the bathroom.  A tub, surround, vanity and toilet later, we have a bathroom sitting in boxes in the (will be) living room of the house.  It was an expensive day but felt really good to be buying finishing stuff finally.

Kids room front wall upstairs

This week, we are pushing toward getting the walls up around the downstairs bathroom so that the final plumbing and electrical rough in can happen this weekend.  Jeremy and the kids are also putting down the car siding in Jeremy and I's room and then the garage doors.  It's really starting to look like a house inside!