Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Update

Back to school tomorrow after an exhausting 9 day vacation.  No work on the house today for Easter.  A nice break after a week of hard work and frustrations (with some successes).

Looking ahead to this week:
  • Meeting with tile guy to finalize bath layout. He should start Friday.
  • Plumber doing basement piping, outdoor fixtures, and finishing downstairs bath so I can get rid of the outhouse - Monday and Tuesday.
  • Carpenter coming to do staircases and loft railing - Tuesday through Friday.
  • I should be able to finish the downstairs window trim and get ready for flooring starting as soon as the stairs are in.
With dad's help we finished laying the decking for the front porch in 2 days.
It was moving along smoothly until the last course that needed to be notched around the posts and routed on the bottom to not rock on the post brackets.  I spent 15 minutes making the first 20' board to put on.  When I tried to lift it it snapped at the thin spot created for the post.  Having only that one extra board to spare added a little extra stress to the remaining notched pieces.  Still some minor trim details to finish, but mostly done!
Chose the first non-rainy day to remove 10 windows and urethane the second coat.  Amy and I spent all morning prepping.  I spent the first half of the day doing the frames and bottom sashes (the ones laying flat).  Broke for lunch - thank you Gramma Buzzy - and returned to find a house full of newly urethaned windows turned into sticky flypaper by the ridiculous wind that blew through the house unobstructed since the windows were removed.  A near mental breakdown, a late night or reinstalling windows, and a good night's sleep later Amy helped resolve the problem without having to resand and recoat everything.  Phew!
Replaced suspected malfunctioning breaker for Ella's room.  Didn't fix the problem.  Later on a minor mishap with electrical staple leads to a call to an electrician leads to troubleshooting based on his advice leads to disassembly of the entire circuit one switch/outlet at a time leads to the culprit in the last fixture box of the run after eliminating every prior box as the problem.  A little white wire touching a little copper wire in the attic leads to hours and hours of work.
But the good news is that after I put this mess back together everything worked perfectly!  It helped that dad was there to run up and down the stairs 50 times to keep flipping the breaker as we tested each spot.
Strategically placing the trim packages throughout the house.
A completed window.  Now it just needs some wood putty, a quick sand, and a couple coats of paint.
Trim detail at the top of each header.  Still torn on whether to take the time to include it on every window/door in the house, or just the ones in the "fancy" rooms.
Easter egg hunt today was much more fun than working on the house.
Puppa's color-coded egg system: an ingenious way to avoid sibling fights.
Gramma, Puppa, cousins from Virginia, and the girls.
After a week in work clothes I felt a little weird dressed in a suit all day.  And a little older than I felt 10 months ago...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


No time for blog posts lately since I've been spending every waking hour working on the house.  So lots has changed since the last post.  April vacation this week.  Big plans to get things done.

My attempt at copying the chimney masons.  I wanted to create a stone cave next to the wood stove wall for kindling, etc.
Utter failure.  Spent a night doing the ceiling and left it to set up overnight.  Tried to do the sides the next day only to have the ceiling fall on my hand.  Then the walls fell.  I gave up in disgust.  Plan B: wood walls and ceiling with a stone floor.
The finished wood ceiling in the kitchen.
Wrapped up tiling the bathrooms.  Master bath with the floor done, cement board up in the shower, underlayment on the tub deck and the tub set in concrete.  Professional tiler will be here next week to waterproof and tile the shower.
Spent one long Friday night doing the wood walls on the sides of the wood stove.  Not too bad except for having to scribe the contours of the stones on the boards on either side.
Dad has helped a ton by doing a lot of the grunt work.  Here he is demonstrating the "knee saver" method of screwing down the subfloor.  Cushioned seat wheeled dolly courtesy of Karen Anderson.
A quick timeout for some creative photography.
An assortment of the empty paint cans.
Lots more if you include the ones that still have some paint left in them.
Clean.  Make a mess.  Clean.  Make a mess.  Clean.  Make a mess.
Mess.  The 2x10s dried and shrunk.  Then Microlam beam did not.  Result: hump in the middle o the family room floor.  An afternoon of setting nails and planing solved the problem.
First shipment of cabinets from Dean.
The rest of the cabinets filled the mud room.
Nail holes filled and sanded.  Wall painted.  All that's left is the door to the cabinet (tan interior) and some crown moulding.
The seemingly simple task of installing the front porch lights with Amy's help.  Two lights done.  Opened third light to go next to family room door.  Glass was broken.  Exchanged at Home Depot.  Came back in the dark after kids were in bed.  Dropped the tiny set nut that holds the fixture to the wall under the porch into a winter's worth of accumulated debris.  Spent an hour searching in the dirt under the porch by spot light.  Gave up.  Finally put the third one up a few days later with random stainless steel nuts that fit the bolt.
Toilets and sinks were delivered.  All are in place and ready for installation.  Plumber should be hooking up the well pump, sewer pump, and maybe one toilet (no more outhouse!!) in the near future.
Amy cleaned off the plaster and dad sanded the wood.  Then I cleaned up and did one coat of urethane.  Will do the second coat on the next nice day since I need to take the sashes out for the day.
Hot water heater(s) installed.  The geothermal will preheat the water in the gray tank.  That will feed the larger tank so it doesn't have to heat the water as much.
Piping for the geo units is done inside the house.  Now just waiting on some drying (unlikely if the spring keeps running in the back yard) so the finish grade can be done then the geo company can dig the trenches to connect the wells to the house.
I want to wait until we have a driveway before I order another dumpster.  In the meantime, the pile in the corner of the garage is growing quickly.
Interior trim delivery.  This is all the baseboard.  Thank you Jeff for helping me carry all of this into the house. 
Stair and railing parts.  Thank you Annika and Ella for "helping" me carry this into the house.  Finish carpenter is slated to start installing stairs and railings in one week.  Amy and I can't wait to be able to let the kids run around the house without worrying about them falling off the loft.
Central vac power unit came last week.  I spent the first day of vacation finishing the piping in the basement, wiring a new outlet for it, and installing the power unit.  Amy and I tested it all and it works beautifully!  Cyclonic system has no filters or bags so I can use the utility hose to clean up sawdust, plaster dust, etc. without having to clean a filter every 5 minutes.
Underlayment in the family room mostly done.  I finished screwing down the last piece tonight.  49 screws per 4x4 sheet.  Approx. 10 minutes per sheet.   Tedious... and loud since I have to use the impact wrench to sink the screws in far enough without breaking the driver bit.  I still shatter one about every 100 screws, so it provides frequent breaks to save my back.
Half walls between family room and dining room are framed.  I also spent a day crawling around the floors cleaning and planing the remaining subfloor to make for a smooth surface when I install the bamboo.  It's a lot of work, so hopefully it'll help in the long run when I get to installing the flooring.
Front porch flooring was delivered.  Thankfully Dad helped me get some into position since it is HEAVY.  Annika's dog, "Annika" is guarding the front door.
Installed the doorbells, transformer, and chime.  A pain in the neck process, but it worked great... for an hour.  I tried rewiring the transformer and it worked again... for an hour.  I hate doorbells.
Window and door trim packs were delivered today.  I had planned on painting everything before I put it up, but when I saw how much there is I had to rethink that plan.  The amount of space it would take to lay it all out to paint is ridiculous.  It fills the kitchen while stacked.  Most likely will be painting in place.
My calculations of how to get an even number of courses of bamboo to line up exactly with both edges of an even number of courses of tile plus grout.  Kind of intellectually fun, but too time-consuming.
Started installing the front porch floor today.  10 courses done.  9 to go.  Looking forward to the day when I can just sit there...