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!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Roof is done and moving inside...finally

I realized I forgot to mention in the last post that the 3 layers of garage doors are all locked to the timber rafters with 10 or 12" screws so that they can't delaminate and blow away.  That is particularly important since the metal roof is only screwed into the garage doors, not the timbers, which presents several other interesting challenges.  First, the wood screws that it comes with don't work on the metal faces of the garage doors, so we had to get different fasteners.  Its a hidden faster roof, so no one else will know about the substitution.  Also, the tar paper doesn't adhere to the metal as well as it does to wood, so when the sun gets hot in the middle of the day it starts to slide.  That meant that we had to quit early some days so that we wouldn't tear up the tar paper as we installed the roof.  Minor details, right?  The installation started with the north and south eaves.

The eave piece gets attached, then the soffit pieces slide into place from the end

Once both eaves and soffits were installed, we started putting the roof pieces on.  When I say "we" I mean mostly Jeremy.  I tried really hard to get on the roof and help but my fear of heights got me in a big way.  Instead, I ferried everything from the ground up to Jeremy for a long, hard weekend as he walked the roof.  Each metal piece had to be carefully aligned with the ones already on the roof which meant he had to be at the peak and I had to be at the eave to line it up and then tap it in place with a rubber mallet.  It was slow work, but it looked exactly the way we wanted when we were done!

Jeremy on working on the north side roof - he's my hero!

It took almost a full day to get the chimney box installed correctly and then cut the roofing panels around it.  The result is great!  The bucket (in case you're wondering) is to keep the rain out until we put the finished chimney stack on.

After the roof panels and chimney came the gable end pieces.  They wrap all the way around and then have soffit covers like the north and south eaves, so they took a bit of work to get right, but it looks great now.  Last came the ridge cap!  In the picture below, you can see the first 2 windows installed also.

Finished roof and windows!

The roof got finished on 5/10 just before a rain storm (note the grey clouds in the pictures above).  Next came buttoning up the rest of the outside which meant windows!  Luckily, there aren't very many of them in the house, so it didn't take too long to get them installed.  We also found 3 nice exterior doors at the Habitat Restore and painted them to match each other.  Installing them in our very non-standard house took a bit of work, but they look beautiful now.

Our front door!

The white house wrap you see will be covered with cedar siding made from the cedar trees we harvested at my uncle's farm in Arkansas and some we got from western Kansas at some point in the future.  For now, it sheds water so we moved inside.

In the in between time on the roof, Jeremy, Matt and my brother, Scott, managed to get the floor framed in and a section of subfloor installed so that we had a solid place to put things in the house.  Now we run into another unique challenge from the building method we picked.  The interior walls are only furred out (1.5"), not full studs, so any horizontal run of wire that goes through an exterior wall has to get routed into the garage doors.  Also, all the light switches and outlets have to get routed out because they need more than 1.5" of clearance in the wall.  Our answer?  Sharpies.  We drew all the wire runs on the wall with all the outlets and notes for what was supposed to go where, then Jeremy cut out all the channels and boxes.

Finished subfloor in the living/dining room and windows!

At that point, Scott could start pulling wire through the floor.  Again, since we don't have a lot of interior walls and horizontal runs take routing, most of the main power runs have to go through the floor and then vertically up the exterior walls. All the floor runs also have to go in before we can finish putting down the subfloor which has to happen before we can do the rest of the wall framing get the picture.

Wiring in the floor and taped to the walls
Marking the walls
Wire to the panel - the only actual normal framed wall section in the house....

While Scott was pulling wire, I started on a section of wall framing on the existing subfloor.  The studs are 2x4's on their side that are screwed into the garage doors and to each other to make a solid wall system.  The window makes the picture a little dark, but hopefully you can get the idea.

The first stud wall! 

The other thing that has to go in the floor is the gas line.  Luckily, we know a master pipe fitter who volunteered to do the line for us.  Thank you, Dan Saunders!

Installing the finished assembly

So that brings us to now.  We have a few more wire runs to go in the floor this weekend, then we'll start closing it up.  It's coming together!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Working on the roof!

It has been an exciting few weeks as we continue work on the roof.  Here is kinda how its going!

We got Catherine on the roof while putting up the decking

Finished decking from the top
Finished decking from the inside

The first layer of tar paper protects the decking from moisture

 The roof is insulated with the same garage door panels we used on the walls.  There are a total of 3 layers or 6" of garage doors on the roof which makes for roughly an R45 roof system.  Unfortunately, they take a lot of time and work to cut to fit and get all the way up on the roof, so the insulation process took a couple of weeks.

Then came the garage doors!  More garage doors!

Layers going up

All the seams are taped to prevent air infiltration and we installed toe boards to help with walking on the roof.  The metal is a bit slick!

After the last garage door layer comes another tar paper layer

So far we have the north side papered. 
So that's where we are!  We have one more side of tar paper to do plus the chimney box.  Once that's in place, we'll (finally) be ready to install the metal roof!

Due to some very high winds preventing us from working on the roof earlier this week, we moved inside and started getting ready for the inside finishing.  It took a bit of work to clear out the combined detritus from the walls and roof, but the first floor is clean now!  It felt like an important milestone when we removed the 3 tiers of scaffolding that had been standing in the house since we finished the walls.  We can't wait to finally start on the inside!

Cleaned out first floor

As always, there are people to thank for all the progress.  Matt Jolley continues to be a huge help.  We couldn't do all this without his near constant aid.  Our friend, Jule, has leant his much needed expertise on the roof also.  Its an amazing community and we continue to be humbled by all those who have stopped to lend us a hand!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Raising the timbers - finally!

We took a nice break after we finished the walls.  We were exhausted and it was the holidays which made for a good excuse to recuperate for a few weeks.  With the new year came renewed work on the house though. 

We had unseasonably warm weather for January and February which helped tremendously!  We got to seal up the beams with linseed oil on the ground instead of doing it once the house was enclosed.  That saved a ton of time!  Jeremy also came up with an awesome idea to use a sprayer to put the linseed oil on since we needed a nice heavy coat anyway.  We mixed boiled linseed oil half and half with mineral spirits to help with penetration in the wood grain and did 2 coats on all the beams.

First we had to create a wind break to work.  Thank goodness for old concrete blankets!

A birds eye view of the sealed beams part way through

First coat on rafters outside

Finished beams in the house

Finished rafters ready to go up!

Once they were sealed and ready, we had to do the final prep on the walls.  We imbedded foam blocks in the concrete everywhere that a beam needed to fit in the wall.  We now had to remove the foam and do a final leveling coat of concrete on the bottom of each pocket.  That was a pain, but the beams needed a nice flat surface to rest on so it was necessary.

Then came the big day!  Well, actually it happened over a couple of days and with amazing help from our North Village community.  We can't say enough about Dave Schmidt and Tim O'Brien for donating their experience to the effort and, of course, Matt Jolley and Doug Dubois were there to help get all the beams in position.  We rented a hand crank lift to get the beams up to the right height in the walls and that worked even better than we'd hoped.  It was well worth the money to not have to try and lift them all up by hand...especially the 22' long beam in the middle of the house!

Lifting the first beam

It fits!

Lifting the 22' summer beam

Thank goodness for the lift!

Easy does it...lower it slowly onto the peg


It fits!

Jeremy with the finished ridge beams

The first rafter pair

Here we stopped for the first day - 2 rafters up!

A close up of the center beam of the house with all the pegs installed

A look at all the rafters plus some of the soffits

View from the inside before we started the roof

Once the beams were finally up, we took a breather and started sealing up the car siding we are using as decking on the roof.  Again, the warm weather made it possible to do this work on the ground instead of in the air after the wood was installed. 

Sealing the car siding
On Saturday, 3/18, we started on the roof with a work party.  We were blessed with many helpers from the community - Susan Jones, Matt Jolley, Evie Schliffe, Ben Stallings, Robbie, Jewel, my brother Scott Dunn, and our whole family.  They say that many hands make light work and I would add that many hands that know how to build things makes for even lighter work!  In about 5 hours on Saturday we managed to get the soffits hung for half the house and about half of that span decked.  The work continues!

Where we left the decking on Saturday

Matt and Ben on the roof!

The progress continues this week.  There's rain predicted for the end of the week so we'll see if we have enough of a roof on that it doesn't rain in the building!