Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Man lift

Can you believe that Home Depot rents these to just anyone? Totally cool and extremely useful - but oh so scary!

The unit is self leveling. Just deploy the outriggers and they lift the whole thing to level. 

The man-lift
The controls are simple and can be used either from the ground or the lift box.
Testing the placement and controls
Chris, who has no fear, had to see how high it would go.

The answer? "Very"
I was much more sensible *ahem*.

Even with the lift we still had to occasionally use the big extension ladder. It was unbelievably creepy to use the lift near the ladder. I was scared to death that I would mess up and knock Chris off. 

Both of us at the top
Having such a stable platform meant that we could easily and calmly do the highest boards. 

Easy as pie
There was enough room in the basket to fit lots of tools so we didn't have to keep going up and down.
That darn nail gun is heavy!

The west end covered
Cooper thought we were being boring and brought her leash out for a walk. What a cutie! She didn't get to chew it for long. We keep a pretty close eye on her.

What? Is this my leash?

 When we moved the unit to the east end of the house Chris decided to get some aerial shots.

East to west along the ridge pole
 The view was stunning.

Looking further east
 And we looked so little down there!
That is one tall machine
After goofing around a bit, we got right back to work. We finished the west end of the house in one day and had one more day on the rental to get the east end done.

East end of the house
 This end went faster because we'd already fit the long boards in place. Just needed to trim and nail.

I have to say the rental was well worth the money. So much easier than balancing on ladders set into uneven land.

We didn't get the north and south upper floors done. We're out of wood and will need to order more. But those don't need the lift - just sticky shoes for walking on the metal roof.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Property lines

I believe in property lines. I believe in property rights. And I believe that no one has the right to use you.

Why am I stating this? Because we find ourselves embroiled in a property line dispute with a neighbor. She's a nice lady. But her family owns a lot of land around us and they've hunted that land for "a hundred years". Because of this, they seem to feel they have the right to come on our property whenever they feel like it. Without asking permission - heck, even though we've told them not to do so. And let's keep in mind that they are not coming to visit us. They are secretly entering the property from the back. Now my thought is this - if they wanted our 60 acres so darn bad, they should have bought it when it came up for sale. And since they didn't, they have no right to use it. Especially with guns.

Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, this is not an anti hunting comment. I have no issue with hunters. I do have issue with trespassers. I am liable if they get hurt - even if they don't have permission to be here. And it's totally possible that an accident could befall them. So I don't want them here.

For example, we are having our property logged. We know not to go into the woods right now because there is standing timber (for those not familiar with logging lingo, that means trees that have been partially cut at the base but not yet felled). This means the trees could fall in a high wind. And if someone were in the woods they could get killed. Also since we have loggers actively working in the woods if the trespassing hunters let loose a bad shot, they could easily kill someone.

These folks didn't ask permission to be here. In fact they'd been told not to be (several years ago). Our property is posted and we paid extra to our surveyor to have it clearly marked with property ribbon.

None of this has helped.

So it came to a head. And our direct lot line neighbor is now offended that we don't want her and hers on our place. So she's decided that part of our driveway - a road that had been in place for years before we even bought the property and that we have used for the past six years without incident - is actually on her land.

The funny thing is - if it is, then we'll move it. Because I believe in property rights. But in the meantime she is being ugly by blocking the drive and refusing to wait until we have the surveyor back to verify the line. And I've been forced to call in the law. Just because she says it's so doesn't mean it's true. That's why surveyors get paid.

I hate this. But I believe in property rights - and I'll fight for mine if I have to.

Update: this has all worked out fine. We're back on speaking terms and even puppy playing terms (our dogs play together). By the Tuesday after she told us of the driveway issue we'd talked, hugged, and agreed to have the surveyor come out and tell us where the real line actually was. Of course we'd also extended the driveway ten feet away from her side. Note that we widened the driveway before knowing the survey outcome - we wanted a wider turn-in anyway and this way we showed that we were reasonable neighbors. Turns out to be a good thing too - the property line did turn slightly into the road (about 2 feet out of a 20 foot entrance) at the very end of the drive (about 2 feet back from the town road). Not a lot, but important. But since we'd already done the work to widen the drive, we didn't have to get upset. And we showed that property lines are important to us. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Garage doors

The garage doors have been installed. We went with Overhead Doors and they did a great job. Arrived on time, played with the new dog, asked good questions, made better suggestions, and got done in four hours flat. 

In process
We went with their Sandstone color, a single line of glass at the top, and a wireless door opener. The color perfectly matches our Andersen window Sandtone exterior color too. I mean, perfectly. Makes me wish we had some windows on this side just so we could show it off.
We added some fake carriage hardware to tart them up a bit. Still need to add the handles but the bolts that came with them were too short to make it through the insulated interior of the doors so that'll have to wait a few more days.
Oooh! Plus a peek at the siding.
We've been hard at work finishing up the board siding. Still have lots to do - battens, mid-lines, top trim, and the gables - but we're definitely getting closer.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Putting up the siding

We decided to go with the barn red rather than the horrible orange. Not exactly a tough decision, huh? 

Staining the boards takes a good bit of time as we're doing both sides so they breath the same (this is supposed to help with cracking). Since the back of the board will never be seen, we bought oops stain for only $7 a can. That's versus the $45 a can that the real stuff costs. Nice savings. 

Getting set up
The first boards up were the skirt boards. This gave us the proper overhang and a level surface against which to mount the vertical boards.
Level skirt boards
The weather was, once again, gorgeous. I mean, "how did we get so lucky" gorgeous.

Leaves just starting to turn
You need to cut holes for electrical lights and trim around windows as you move across the house. I have three lights, one gas pipe, one vent pipe, and two electrical outlets on this wall alone.
Fitting the light box
That means I got to do more jigsawing.

Cut, cut, cut
 But eventually we had all the boards up on the first level. Love it!

One side down, three to go!
The upper levels will get done when we rent the man-lift. Although we're already thinking that we can get the wings and part of the middle section done before we rent. At least the nails in the lower sections anyway.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A new addition

Well, so much for waiting another year before getting a dog. Yup, we did it. Took the plunge. Went to the local shelter and adopted a mutt.

Meet Cooper.
She's six months old (or so). A mix of dachshund and german shepard. Maybe. Probably. Could be some beagle in there too.

She hangs out with us while we're working and isn't afraid of the noise and movement.
Not shy around the tools
 She's perfectly willing to catch a nap on the porch while we chat.

That's actually the cat's bed
 She's quite fond of lookout rock.

Surveying her new domain
And thinks it's awesome to catch a few winks in the autumn sunlight.

We were nailing up boards right beside her
She's learning the standard obedience commands and has been enrolled in agility trial training too. She's already trekking with us in the woods so it should be a short jump to all the nifty obstacles in the ring. I'm sure you'll be seeing more photos of her for a long time to come.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Some random pictures and notes.

Have you ever noticed a dirt patch after a hard rain. Looks like an alien landscape, doesn't it?

Mars? Nope!
The cat has decided that she doesn't need window sills per se. A ledge is plenty wide enough.

How is this even possible?
 Turkeys! Opened up the back door to this sight the other evening. Counted at least 24.

The great turkey migration

Friday, October 11, 2013


Next up on the building agenda is exterior finishing work: soffits, board & batten siding, garage doors, and gutters. We priced garage doors and gutters and decided to hire those rather than DIY. Could we do it? Yes. Was it worth it to hire someone else? Yup. Especially as we're now free to stain and install 2,000 square feet of board & batten siding. Yee ha!

But first we needed to put up the soffits. This is actually pretty straightforward. Buy plastic soffit material at your favorite hardware store. Get F or J channel depending on your setup (we used F channel). Mount channel to decorative edge board (the 1x8s that I stained black). Mount decorative board. Mark level line on house side and nail up another channel. Then snip the soffit to size and slide it in. Simple. Time consuming. 
Finished soffits on first and second floor of south side
The south side went quick as it's not too far off the ground - we didn't need an extensive ladder set up. Just a couple ladders and a scaffold board and we could work on 10 feet at a time.

The east and west ends weren't as friendly. We first tried a Rube Goldberg set up of scaffolding and ladders and quickly realized that neither of us were setting foot on it. So we got out the extension ladders and wrestled those around instead.
Before soffit (and insanely dangerous setup)
The soffits not only give the house a more finished look - they keep critters out of the eaves.
Installing soffit

After soffit
The west end was a bit simpler once we added the truck as a ladder base. Actually used the truck bed rail more than the ladder as it was incredibly stable.
Just use the truck

West end done!
The upper gables are not done yet. We're going to rent a man-lift to do those along with the siding all at the same time. So now it's on to the siding!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Garage interior is done!

We finished the second bay of the garage! This was very exciting as it paved the way for the next several projects. 

Perfect washing weather
The weather was great during this time period. Which made it a bit tweeky to be working inside the garage rather than on outdoor projects. But good weather makes for faster drywall mud drying so we were pretty darn happy.

Before mud
We quickly filled the garage with tools and trucks.

And got started on the next project - framing the garage door openings. Yes!

The red board is our color test board for the siding. You'll be seeing much more of that soon.

The garage door guy gave us precise instructions on framing the garage. Really. He did. So we got the wood together and started nailing.
One side framed
I learned a new skill - using the jig saw.

Just follow the dotted line
Took us a couple mornings to get them done but they're now ready whenever the installer arrives. Should be soon.
Both doors framed