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! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Transitioning to the roof

After the walls were done, we left the forms on them to help keep the concrete warm enough to cure.  According to the thermometer we tucked in with the concrete, it stayed above freezing for over a week which should have given it enough time.  It was very exciting to finally take the forms off the wall and see the finished stonework!

Jeremy at the north west corner

The east and south walls

The west and south walls

Once we had the forms off and got to see the finished walls, it gave us new energy to keep going.  The next project was an enclosure to set up the shopsmith and a table saw to do prep work on the wood for the house (tongue and groove flooring and siding).  Luckily, we had a bunch of 2x4's with siding already on them on site - concrete forms!  Jeremy set up this temporary shed with our concrete forms over the course of the last week.

Finished concrete form shed

Then, yesterday, we moved the 5 rafter pairs for the house into the shed to be cut to length.  Once these are ready and we finish installing the sill plates, we'll be ready for the frame raising!  Step by step, we'll get there eventually.

Rafters in the shed

Another shed view

Monday, December 5, 2016

Finishing the walls!

As of about 5:00PM on Sunday, December 4, 2016, the stone walls are done!  Here's the rest of the story...

On Monday, 11/28, we filled the second lift on the east gable. 

Jeremy and Matt Jolley working on the wall (I mixed concrete)

On Tuesday, Matt and Jeremy moved the forms up and finished the east wall (woo hoo!).

Completed east wall

At this point, we knew we were under the gun.  The forecast was getting colder and our window for getting concrete to set up properly was getting really narrow.  We had 3 lifts to finish on the west wall before it got really, really cold.  Because of that, Jeremy worked after dark to get the rocks cut to fit under the roof line Tuesday night.

Jeremy working by headlamp to cut rocks

On Wednesday, Jeremy, Matt and Tucker Saunders set up the forms for the first lift on the West wall and got the first 2 sections filled.  It was a very long day in the wind and cold.  These guys are my heroes!

Matt covering the new stonework for the night
On Thursday we didn't work on the house because of the cold weather.  Friday, Matt, Tucker and Jeremy were back at it first thing in the morning.  They finished the lift and got the forms set for the second gable lift.
Wrapping up for the day Friday
Saturday morning we were all working by 9AM to finish the second gable lift.  We hoped to get the forms set for the last lift before the day was done, but we didn't quite make it.  Fortunately, the weather was mild and not windy.  Matt brought his son, Sebastian, out too and he, Tucker and Catherine had a good day working with us.  We finished the day with the second lift done and the forms staged for the last lift.
Catherine and Sebastian making wire ties
Sunday was the day.  The forecast was calling for single digit lows on Wednesday and we needed the concrete to have as much time as possible to set up before that.  We had to finish the last lift before the day was out.  We started on the wall about 10:00 and finished about 4:30.  It was grey and cold the whole day but we had to get it done. 
The peak is particularly challenging because all the rocks have to be custom cut to fit under the roof pitch and the sill plates have to be set precisely.  It took an inordinate amount of time to get that little triangle done, but we wrapped it up about 4:30.  The very last thing we did was build and pour the pedestal that the center post sits on in the center of the house. 
Jeremy on the wall with me at the start of the day

The view of the kids making concrete from the top of the scaffolding

The pier in the center of the house

And so, almost 4 months to the day from when we took the forms off to look at the very first lift, we put the last stones in the wall.  We began this journey in July with Jeremy and I casting the very first corner.  It has been a tremendous joy to work with my family on this house and it was very appropriate and poetic that it was just us there to set the last stones. 

Family picture with the completed wall
Throughout this building project, Catherine has been stuck with an almost invisible but incredibly important job - making wire ties.  These little bits of twisted wire sit under every rock in the wall to give it that much more grip in with the rest of wall.  Over the house project, she made literally thousands of ties.  Here she is with one of the last batches.
I can't write a post about finishing the stone walls without saying thank you to a lot of people though.  Matt Jolley has been a life saver giving of his time and experience to get us through these last lifts.  Tucker Saunders has been clutch and invaluable with his constant positive attitude and willing to do whatever needs done.  Chris Kesslering gave up his days off to come out throughout the project throughout.  To all the folks who came out for a day or two - Susan Pauls, Nancy Ward and family, Scott Dunn, Doug Dubois, Sara Lehrman, Tim O'Brien - thank you for helping us through some tough days.  Scott Dunn gets a call out for welding our door lintels late into the night so that we could keep building on schedule.  A special thank you goes to Tim O'Brien and Otto Lehrman for loaning us scaffolding.  I have no idea how we would have done this without it!  Thanks to Erin Schmidt for taking the kids to school and bringing them home so that Jeremy could get a few extra hours in each day.  This was really a community effort and we appreciate everyone who pitched in.  I'm sorry if I missed anyone, but know that we are deeply grateful for all of you! 

Beginning the gable ends

It has been a busy few weeks of work on the house.  As the weather gets colder, we are doubling down to try and get the concrete/stone work done before it gets too cold to do it.  We also crossed another milestone - we have water at the job site!  The water line finally got put in and the septic is due to be installed sometime in the next couple of weeks.  It is wonderful to not have to haul water anymore!

The first running water at the house site!

We started moving forms up for the last full lift on the 14th.  As the work gets taller, everything takes longer.  We are tremendously grateful for the loaned scaffolding that is enabling us to do this work at all.  There's no way we'd get it done with ladders!
Setting up the last lift!

With the forms set, we started pouring on the north wall on the 16th.  This was particularly exciting because this lift finished the north wall!  We set bolts in the wet concrete to hold the sill plate and screed the concrete as level as we could.  It felt amazing to actually have a wall completely done!

Forms up for the last lift

We spent Thanksgiving weekend continuing the work.  We finished the lift on Friday and set the forms for the first lift on the East gable end.  With completion of the South wall, we have 2 walls completely done!

The north wall revealed!

Working on the first lift on the east gable

On Saturday and with the help of my brother and his daughter, we managed to finish the first gable lift.  This introduced some new challenges.  The rocks on the edges are cut to match the roof slope and we have to continue setting bolts for the sill plate along the angle edge.  Our solution was to set the first layer of sill plate with the bolts already installed in smaller sections.  The second layer will be continuous to tie it all together.  At this point, the working platform is a solid 12 feet in the air and every bucket of cement has to get pulled up on the end of a length of ratchet strap, emptied and then tossed back down.  We are like a little hive of ants running around moving materials up to the wall and then cycling them back down again!

Moving materials up the scaffolding

Sill plates on the gable end

Sunday was mostly a day to rest due to rain, although we did start setting the forms for the second gable lift (of 3).  One more pair of forms to set in the morning and then we'll spend the rest of the day laying stones.  With a little luck and a lot of work, we'll get that lift done and be on track to finish the East wall on Tuesday before the weather turns on us.

Keep your fingers crossed that we get 3 or 4 more days of decent weather yet this year to finish the stones so that we can keep going.