Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Storage issues

Well hell. Did you know that there are photo storage limitations on these blogs? Me neither. But I just got a message saying I was over my limit - but I could buy some. Huh.

Since this blog was supposed to be for updating family and friends about the build, and since it is definitely not a revenue source, I am not willing to shell out money to support it.

Huh again.

So - I have some choices. I can delete some of the photos in old posts and hope I reach the end of the build before my storage runs out again. I can just do text posts (boring). I can stop blogging.

I have discovered that I'm not the only one being affected by this - apparently it's a new thing and I'm seeing it crop up in other blogs that I follow.

So while I mull my options (and some wine), here's the update from Thanksgiving weekend:
Installed the rest of the windows; installed the big entry doors; returned and repurchased doors for the bridge; dug the ditch for the electric and the electrician put in the lines from house to pole and installed the fuse box (this was wildly exciting as it means we're significantly closer to getting power); bought many lights so that the electrician would know what he needs to hooks up (wall, ceiling, outdoor, light/fan, etc); bought the stove and fridge (awesomely on sale even if it was Sunday and not Black Friday); closed up the garage with plywood and tarps. Oh, and we passed the framing inspection!

And I caught a cold. Blargh.

Next up is the plumbing and finishing the electric. Woo-hoo! Hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures of all that soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Once we got the woodstove in place we needed to install the chimney. We're running stovepipe to the first floor ceiling and then enclosing the chimney pipe in a run through the second floor and out the roof. We wanted everything in place so that we could make sure we didn't accidentally get interference from the trusses.

The exposed stove pipe is double-walled, close clearance pipe and will be visible. We used Selkirk pipe and it was a joy to work with. Clear instructions and nice heavy materials. Woodstock Soapstone sold us the pipe with the stove and they worked out exactly how many sections and which types we'd need. They also supplied the fire stops, insulation shields, and exterior flashing and support. A complete package. My Dad opted to buy a chimney kit for his place and that worked just fine for him also. We probably had to do a bit more puzzle piecing than he did though, so maybe the kit is better if you have standard distances. 

Black stove pipe
We'd carefully measured before putting up the interior walls to make sure we'd have appropriate clearance.  Now we had to cut through the subfloor upstairs to allow the chimney chase through.
Cutting the chimney chase
 The reciprocating saw made short work of this.

We fit the sections through the appropriate joist blocks and made sure we had a minimum of 2" clearance to combustibles. Then we marked the top sill for the pipe exit. When they install the trusses they'll  make sure they leave room for the chimney exit.
Bottom section in, marking the next
 One step closer to having a fire!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Running electric

We're building very far from the road. Which means we're building very far from established electric lines. We looked at alternate energy (expensive!) and decided to go with a grid system (also expensive, but less maintenance). It's been a long process and I've only attached photos of the recent work.

Here's how you go about getting power: call Nat Grid and have them send out a Planner. He walks you through options, issues, and puts together a plan to get poles back to your build site. Ours was professional, pleasant, and cooperative about minimizing the number of trees we'd have to clear. Oops - they'd have to clear. One of the advantages of getting poles is that they do all the work. All of it. 

But before anything can be cut, the Planner sends the layout to the Home Office where your Coordinator reviews it, prices it out, and sends you a very large bill. Then everything is sent to Legal where they write up easement requirements for your neighbors. You mail them out and once the easements are back, everything happens more quickly than you'd expect.

First the tree cutting crew arrives (I showed some pictures of that in the Nov 4 post) and clears the way for the pole crew. Then the hole digging crew arrives.

The hole digging crew is here!
 The trucks have huge augers that are supposed to dig a 6 foot deep hole.
The auger in action
Unfortunately, it couldn't get through our Adirondack rock. This is actually why we decided to do poles rather than bury the line (in case anyone was wondering). Based on what we'd hit while digging the foundation (and the general geology of they area), we figured we'd have a nearly impossible time digging the required trench depth. And sure enough, they hit rock in every single hole. So they unloaded the poles and said they'd send back a different crew with a backhoe to see if they could dig rather than auger.

Couldn't dig the holes, but they left the poles
One of the trucks had a hard time making the turn and was heading for the well head. Only one of them - the other made it just fine - so we termed it operator error, not a design flaw with the driveway. Although we may go ahead and put some of our defensive perimeter between the drive and the head, just in case.

No well heads were harmed
The driver got into the soft earth on the side of the driveway and just kept sliding closer to the well head. Finally they decided to winch him out. He did ask if we were going to YouTube this - we told him "only if you actually hit the well and we get a geyser". Fortunately, that didn't happen.

 The very next day, a Saturday no less, the backhoe crew arrived.

Big backhoe
Unfortunately, he soon realized that they hadn't just hit rock, they'd hit ledge. Nothing was moving those suckers. So they sent for the big rock drill. That took a while to get here as they only have one for the entire Northeast. Good capital management on their part, but it meant that it took a couple weeks to get to us. Not complaining though - it could have taken over six weeks.


Measuring the drilled hole

The first pole in place
This drill is different from the well drill. It doesn't use water so the dry rock dust flies everywhere.

Once the poles are upright they run a rope through the attachments. This serves as a guide for the wires.

No wire yet
We were happy to see that the poles blend fairly well. They're definitely there, but your eye sort of passes right by them. And once the poles weather a bit, they'll be even less noticeable.
I think our trees are straighter than their poles
And the crew spared us the big T-supports that you typically see on poles. Since it's just us back there, they used a smaller support arm that is nearly invisible.

With wires
All-in-all, this was a good experience. It took time (lots and lots of time) but once the planning and legal stuff was out of they way it went fairly quickly. In fact, it's ready before we are - we need to get the electrician out to set up our entrance. We've got two giving us quotes and we should have that work done soon. Hot dog! We can give Dad back his generator!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

So that's what it's supposed to look like!

So, when last we left it was high 50's, sunny, and t-shirt weather (if you were working that is). The very next morning? 23 degrees and a heavy frost. *sigh*

Pretty frost on the truck
We've been quite fortunate with the contractors and delivery guys that we've dealt with - up to now. The trusses arrived Tuesday and the gentleman driving the truck refused to believe that his little 30 footer would go around the big turnaround. Despite the fact that all the other cement, excavator, well drilling rigs, National Grid trucks, and many, many Curtis Lumber trucks have all made it just fine. Well, there was a small issue with one Nat Grid truck, but that was operator error and the winch solved the problem just fine. Anyhoo - the truss guy said no go. So he backed all the way up the driveway (at least 700 feet, I'll give him props for good backing skills), then at the join on the driveways where they'd cause maximum mayhem, he dumped the trusses. Kaboom.  Nice, huh?
Not the driver!
And what happened soon after he skedadelled? The guys who were actually putting up the trusses arrived. Oh, and then National Grid showed up to finish putting up the electric poles. All at once. And no one could get through.

Queuing up the workers. 
But Chris soon got it sorted out. The Nat Grid guys started where they could (awesome crew by the way - they've been great) and the truss hangers got out the big equipment to move the trusses out of the way.
Look at that cool thing haul truss
They built the end ladders that support the gable overhang.

Huh, so that's a gable end. Neat. 
 And then they got right to work putting up the trusses.

Trusses on the main section of the house
 And soon they had the gable ends done, the trusses up on the center and both wings, and sheathing on most of the roof. These guys were quick!

It's a raised center aisle, or monitor, style building
And then it happened, the ah-ha moment, when the helper, M, said - "oh! so that's what those windows are supposed to look like!" Yes, to all those who wondered what the heck was up with those itty-bitty windows so high up on the wall, that is indeed what they're supposed to look like. They had to be that high to accommodate that roof line of the building wings, and they now make perfect sense.

Love this angle
It's really coming together quickly now. And that porch! Loving how huge the porch is. 

Enormous porch
Oh! And National Grid? Done! We have poles, wires, a transformer, and now we just need the electrician to hook it all to the house. Power - a full seven months since we first started the process and at least six months earlier than my worst fears. Not too shabby.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taping, porch wall, doors and windows

How's that for an "all but the kitchen sink" post title? We got many things accomplished this weekend. We're at the stage of the build where lots needs to be done, but the big things have to wait for something else to happen. For example - we have no roof yet. But that's because the trusses couldn't go up until the porch support wall was complete. Oh, and until the trusses actually arrive on site. But there are many other things that need doing and we tackled a few of them.

The building has been wrapped and we set about cutting the window and doors open. 

Light shining through Tyvek, so pretty!
Ta-da! Openings cut, stapled open, and ready for taping.

Chris and Matt built the porch support wall last week and it's ready to hold up the porch trusses. The porch is 12 feet deep and will be great for picnic benches, comfy seating, and all that wonderful summer stuff.
The porch wall
 It was cold at the start of the weekend. And, as usual lately, wet. I am wearing approximately 25 lbs of clothing. Puffy, bulky, hard to move in, but oh so warm, clothing. We're giving Carhartt coveralls some serious consideration.
Taping in the cold
Taping the house was pleasant work that unfortunately often involved leaning out the second story windows. This photo is quite circumspect as most of the time I was halfway out and leaning over to get a tricky spot. Or leaning over the top of the wall - this may cure me of my balance issues. Or kill me. Let's hope it's the former, not the latter.
See me in the little window?
We forgot to cover the back wall of the Bridge. We've taken to considering this space as living area, which is correct, but it's outside living area. It will be protected from rain but still subject to wind, so house wrap is a must.
Back wall of the Bridge
 It got progressively warmer as the weekend went along. And we loved it!
Warming up and climbing high
We installed two of the house doors, both exiting the mudroom. The left goes into the garage, the right goes outside to the back yard.
Mudroom doors
We had such nice weather that we decided to move a couple of the firepit chairs up to the Bridge and enjoy a few moments of peace and sunshine. That's going to be an excellent space.

Migrating chairs
Monday was even warmer and the sun was out in full force. We needed to refill the wood crib so that became the task for the day. We've got plenty of seasoned wood in lengths too long for the little woodstove in the Nest. So we took some time to cut it to length and split it.

At the beginning of the day
We've also got a lot of logs that have seasoned for about 6 months and need to be cut to length for the big stove in the house. We've been working on these as time allowed and have a decent size stack cut, but spent some additional time on it while the sun was out. Chris will spend some additional time this week moving more seasoned wood to the front of the stack so that this stuff has a bit more time to age.
 The day was perfect and we spent time enjoying the feel of the property as well as working.
Look at that sky!
 And we got the crib refilled. Nice!
A couple hours later
After lunch we decided to install a couple small windows to remind ourselves of the process. We picked the downstairs bathroom windows since they seemed easiest to start on. And cheapest to replace if something went wrong.
Sandtone finish
The install went smoothly and we'll be able to fly through the rest of the windows now that we've got the whole sill wrap, caulk, tape, level, screw, flash, tape again thing down.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

And now the wood stove

We decided it would be a good idea to move the wood stove into the house before the nice French doors were installed. Something about being worried about damage or some silly thing like that.

Dad and Matt on hand
We got the stove from Woodstock Soapstone in New Hampshire. An extremely friendly and pleasant company to deal with. I had wanted one of their stoves for many, many years and had picked exactly the one I wanted. Then they came out with this cool new stove called the Progress Hybrid and I quickly changed my mind and my order. (Note that I am in no way affiliated with the company and they don't know I'm writing this).

Much discussion and measuring went into figuring out where to place the hearth stone.
Leveling the hearth rock
 I was used as the counter weight so Chris could get the leveling pieces under the hearth.
I'm actually tipping up the rock (slightly)
Once it was level, the guys started muscling that stove around. Note that it weighs around 750 pounds and is top heavy as hell on that sucky pallet. That was our only complaint - the pallet that the stove sits on is great if you own a pallet jack. If not, the stove it very tippy on it and we almost lost it several times. There was much cursing going on. On the plus side, Dad's dolly worked great once again. We've decided it was the best 30 bucks he ever spent.

Hold it steady!
 We finally improvised a pallet jack using a couple of 2x4's and can you believe it worked??? Awesome!
Almost in position

Does it look as precarious as it really was?

Removing the pallet
The pallet was designed to let you install the legs easily and to keep you from snapping said legs off while moving the stove. Apparently that was a problem they were trying to solve and it did work. The pallet supported the stove while we put on the legs and came off fairly easily once they were in place.

Legs are on

Dead nuts level right off the bat

 The next day we put the rest of the stove parts on. Needed to install the grate and ash can.

Putting in the grate

Ash can in place
 The directions for these were clear, well written, and had several useful hints / tips embedded.

Outside air intake
We also got the optional outside air adapter and installed that through the wall. Modern homes tend to be extremely air-tight and that can cause trouble with proper burning. This way cold air is brought in from the outside and feeds the stove. Nice.

All-in-all, a very successful install and many thanks to the family for helping us with it. Matt says he loves it and, assuming it performs as well as it looks, will likely be getting one for his place as well. Let's hope so.