Other House Updates

A few other things that got done over the last couple months are the interior walls on the second floor, the electrical and the balcony sheathing.

Here are some pictures of all of these.

Electrical panel

Electrical panel

Our electrical rough-in inspection was done. We’ve got a few things we need to change/adjust, but otherwise, we passed. Our panel is a bit unique. We have wired the house to be generator ready for when we lose power. Up on our mountain, it is a matter of when not if. There were three outages this summer alone. Rather than do two separate panels, one for the generator and one for the regular power source, we got a combined panel. It requires a switch that cuts off the grid power and turns on the generator power at the same time to avoid feedback from the generator into the grid. A panel like this was difficult to find and a special order. We ended up finding one on Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon shipped with a company that likes to leave items like phones outside in the rain, and delivered our panel with a torn up boxes, boot prints all over the box and broken components on the inside. We were in a bit of a time crunch to do the electrical so we installed the panel anyway and went back to Amazon afterward and they credited us with the cost of the broken components so we could order just the replacement pieces for the panel. A frustrating experience, but at least it got resolved in the end. We’ll have our refrigerator, well pump, lights and some plugs on our generator panel, so when we lose power, we won’t lose the essentials. It also leaves us with the option of later installing a solar-wind combo as a back-up instead of using a generator.

Second floor interior walls completed

Second floor interior walls completed

More second floor walls

More second floor walls

Downstairs with the doors installed; only the staircase is left to put in

Downstairs with the doors installed; only the staircase is left to put in

The balcony sheathing and sloping got done before installing the french doors.

Sloping the balcony

Sloping the balcony

Sheathed and flashed balcony

Sheathed and flashed balcony

The balcony is going to be amazing. On a cold sunny day last week, we brought our temperature gun up to the property with us. The inset balcony is working just like Nathan had hoped. With a ground temperature in the mid-20F , the balcony inset was clocking in at mid-120F.

Outside ambient temperature

Outside ambient temperature

Balcony temperature

Balcony temperature

Nathan comfortably sitting on the balcony in a t-shirt; I did not sit there as it was way too warm in my winter coat and pants

Nathan comfortably sitting on the balcony in a t-shirt; I did not sit there as it was way too warm in my winter coat and pants

That’s the current state of the house at the moment. I hope it won’t be another 4 months before I update the blog with the building progress again.

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Windows, Doors and Woodstove Delivery

Another update on the house as lots of things have happened since August. With the roof completed, we could focus our attention to some other items that needed to be completed before the weather turned. Windows, doors and heating. I’m throwing the electrical rough-in in here too.

Our wood stove was delivered in November. We went with the Amish built, Kitchen Queen wood cookstove. We couldn’t wait to get up, but had been thinking to ourselves, how in the world will we move an 750lb stove. Nathan was prepared at the time of delivery, had many options laying out ready to go. He also had the tractor warmed up because we thought that would probably save us. The delivery guy was extremely helpful and gave us a lot of ideas and ultimately helped us load the Queen into the bucket of our tractor. He probably saved us hours of thinking and trial and error.

The Queen loaded in the tractor bucket

The Queen loaded in the tractor bucket; she’s a good tractor and barely made a fuss

Nathan then used the tractor to bring the crate into the eastern french doors of the downstairs. Once it was over halfway in, we could untie it from the bucket and use the bucket to push the crate into the house a little further. Finally, she was completely in the house and we could uncrate her a little more and get a good look at our wood stove.

Very happy with how she looks; the glass doors are not as efficient as the solid doors, but the solid doors were included in case the efficiency loss was too great for us

Very happy with how she looks; the glass doors are not as efficient as the solid doors, but the solid doors were included in case the efficiency loss was too great for us

From the east door, we used the car jack to lift the stove onto some casters to roll her over to her final resting spot. We had very little chimney left to install as most of it had been installed while we were doing the roof.

Almost in her final spot

Almost in her final spot

All hooked up and a little fire going in there

All hooked up and a little fire going in there; I can not wait to get some bread baking in there

We’re so happy that it’s installed. While the house is not yet insulated, even having a small are near the stove be nice and warm helps a lot to keep warm.

In between all the other things going on at the house, we managed to get all our windows installed. We got Andersen 100s in the terratone exterior colour. We’re very happy with how the windows look, but we do need to get a few things adjusted on the two larger ones and we have a rep coming to check out some strange damage on a couple of other ones. The small downstairs windows, Nathan was able to install on his own. The large windows upstairs were installed while my brother was in town helping us out. Thank goodness for him helping with those. I helped with the large windows on the first floor and I was barely able to get them high enough. I can’t imagine the horror if I had to help carry those up to a second floor on a ladder.

The large windows were installed when my brother was in town helping us out

The large windows were installed when my brother was in town helping us out

The last step to getting all the house closed in for the winter were the doors. We just made it. It snowed a few times before we were able to get them in, but we got just enough nice days around Thanksgiving to get them all installed. We bought stock doors from the large box stores.

The day after the doors were installed

The day after the doors were installed

Mudroom door

Mudroom door

Balcony door and view from the balcony

Balcony door and view from the balcony

We also had two days of temperature we could paint in, so we got one coat of paint done on all the doors to match the windows. The doors had to be painted for warranty purposes. After the painting was done, we could put some locks on and we finally have a locked and closed in house.

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Special Visitor

Just a quick post about a very special visitor we had this summer. A monarch caterpillar decided it would cocoon in our home 🙂

Caterpillar climbing up our post to get to it's chosen cocoon location

Caterpillar climbing up our post to get to it’s chosen cocoon location

I suppose he thought an LVL would be the perfect place for a cocoon

I suppose he thought an LVL would be the perfect place for a cocoon

After about two weeks, a beautiful monarch emerged :)

After about two weeks, a beautiful monarch emerged 🙂

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Second Floor and Roof

Alright, it’s been a few months since the last house update. We have a second floor now, a roof, the grading around the house has been done, windows, doors and electric rough-in. This post will mostly be chronological pictures of the progress.

Before we started framing the second floor, we needed an actual floor. We ordered these LVLs to attach our floor joists to. Two 36′ lengths for the main house and three 12′ lengths for the mudroom. Somehow, Nathan managed to get these up there by himself. I was surprised to go up to the property and see them up there without any of my assistance.

These LVLs needed to be lifted into place, weighing about 250lbs each; Nathan managed to get them up there by himself

These LVLs needed to be lifted into place, weighing about 250lbs each; Nathan managed to get them up there by himself

A different view of the second floor LVLs installed

A different view of the second floor LVLs installed

Next were the floor joists, we had to put hangers into the LVL for each joist. We found out later on that it was a lot easier to pre-drill the holes. Unfortunately for Nathan, he hammered all of them in and bent a whole lot of nails in the process. Once the floor joists were in, we could put on the sub-floor for the second floor.

View of the downstairs with the second floor sub-floor installed

View of the downstairs with the second floor sub-floor installed

View of the sub-floor from the second floor

View of the sub-floor from the second floor

Once the second floor was up, we could start laying everything out for the second floor exterior walls. We had a hard time lifting the balcony wall portion due to the size and weight of the header for the balcony opening. I just couldn’t lift my share of the weight. We decided to put a counterweight on the wall to help us out. It worked like a charm and it was almost easy to lift with the counterweight. Lifting the second floor walls into place was a lot easier than the first floor as we didn’t have to lift the walls vertically to get them over the bolts in the concrete foundation.

Balcony wall with the counterweight attached to it

Balcony wall with the counterweight attached to it

The remainder of the second floor walls went up fairly easily

The remainder of the second floor walls went up fairly easily

Once the second floor walls were up, it was time to get the attic joists into place and start thinking about the roof.

Attic joists being put into place

Attic joists being put into place

Once all the attic joists were in place it was time to start the roof…

We spent about two months on the roof. Between putting the ridge beam up, all of the rafters, the lookouts, the sheathing and finally the metal roofing. Two months of being 20-some feet in the air was about the longest two months of my life. We originally planned to have a 9-12 roof pitch… but when I was on my tiptoes and couldn’t hold the ridge beam high enough, we had to rethink things and ultimately decided on a 7-12 roof pitch. In the end, I’m really glad that this is the pitch we went with, because it made putting the metal roof on a little bit safer and less intimidating.

Putting up the ridge beam for the roof, had horseshoe style seats for the beam to hold it in place

Putting up the ridge beam for the roof, had horseshoe style seats for the beam to hold it in place

Once the pitch decided and the beam in place, we could start cutting out our rafters and installing them. This was mostly a one man job as they were awkward to put in place and any help I tried to give in lifting and placing them, I ended up being in the way. So Nathan worked on this piece on his own while I worked on lifting all the rafter boards to the second floor for cutting.

The first few rafters up

The first few rafters up

Rafter jig made out of OSB to make it quick and easy to make the angle cuts needed for the rafters

Rafter jig made out of OSB to make it quick and easy to make the angle cuts needed for the rafters

Nathan's measuring setup for when he was alone

Nathan’s measuring setup for when he was alone

Clamping down a stop in order to be able to rest the rafter in place while nailing it to the ridge beam

Clamping down a stop in order to be able to rest the rafter in place while nailing it to the ridge beam

The clamped piece of wood helping the rafter sit in it's proper place

The clamped piece of wood helping the rafter sit in it’s proper place

Rafters in place and rake walls completed; time to work on the lookouts/overhang

Rafters in place and rake walls completed; time to work on the lookouts/overhang; rake walls took some time with all the angle cuts needed

Nathan sitting atop the lookouts

Nathan sitting atop the lookouts

Me laying across the ridge beam staining our eaves; I was harnessed in

Me laying across the ridge beam staining our gable ends; I was harnessed in

Installing the fascia on the eaves

Installing the fascia on the eaves; another clamp and block setup to keep things in place

Finally, once the fascia was installed on the eaves, we could start getting the sheathing done on the roof.

First row of sheathing completed on the roof

First row of sheathing completed on the roof

Ice and water shield at the eaves to prevent ice damming

Ice and water shield at the eaves to prevent ice damming

View of the ridge from the roof

View of the ridge from the roof

With most of the sheathing up on the roof, we started putting the metal on the roof. We didn’t completely finish the sheathing before starting the metal because we wanted somewhere safe to tie in our harnesses and go on and off the roof from. So as we put the metal panels on, we sheathed what was necessary to do both sides. We installed the metal roof before finishing the sheathing on the second floor because the roof would be more affected by future inclement weather than the sheathing.

We did a standing seam roof. After completing the roof, our rep at our lumber store told us that every roofer in the area usually contracts out to a standing seam specialist because they are such a long job to do. The system we had in place was that Nathan would bend and cut a bunch of panels ready for when I was done work. I would be on the roof while he got the panel fold placed under the cleat in the hidden fastener installation. Once in place, I would walk the length of the panel and screw it into place. At our fastest, we could get about 6 panels done in an hour. The first half of the roof was pretty smooth sailing once we got in our groove. I did use up a majority of any time off I had from work doing this and I’ve been rationing the last two months.

First portion of the metal roofing installed

First portion of the metal roofing installed

View of the installation from the top

View of the installation from the top

Hidden fastener ridge cap, also a tedious task but looks great without any screws exposed

Hidden fastener ridge cap, also a tedious task but looks great without any screws exposed

Halfway done the roof... time to stop to install the chimney

Halfway done the roof… time to stop to install the chimney

When we hit the spots where the chimney and plumbing vents needed to be installed, the roof install started going at a snail’s pace. We didn’t recover from it after these were finished either. The chimney installation took a bit of time in order to get the metal around the chimney flashing cut right. All the extra steps we needed to take for the chimney really slowed things down. In the end though, the chimney looks great!

Chimney install completed

Chimney install completed

I really like how the chimney looks and it often reflects the roof colour

I really like how the chimney looks and it often reflects the roof colour

After two long months of being up on the roof, it was finally completed. I was so relieved to have it done. By the end, when I left work I only had about an hour before the dew started settling in on the roof. As soon as the roof got the slightest bit wet, it was time to get off, harnessed in or not.

The high roof finally completed

The high roof finally completed

While the roof was being installed, Nathan’s dad was in town and helped us get a good chunk of the second floor sheathing done while Nathan and I worked on the metal. Sometime during the metal roof installation, our excavators got our septic system and our grading done.

The mudroom roof waited a little longer to get done, but with how relatively low to the ground it was and still feeling relief from completing the high roof, we didn’t feel rushed to get it done. The mudroom roof ended up being a 4-12. The angle complements the 7-12 quite nicely. Due to the impact of the snow falling from the roof above, Nathan made the rafters quite bulky and doubled them up. We waited to sheath that portion of the second floor so that we could work from the inside instead of from the ground below.

Mudroom roof rafters installed

Mudroom roof rafters installed

Lookouts completed

Lookouts completed

Our first snow and the sheathing on the mudroom roof completed

Our first snow and the sheathing on the mudroom roof completed

Sheathing completed on the mudroom roof

Sheathing completed on the mudroom roof

Metal roof on mudroom installation completed

Metal roof on mudroom installation completed

View from the road of the two roofs completed

View from the road of the two roofs completed

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Framing the First Floor

WE HAVE WALLS!!!

The first floor framing is done and work has already begun on the second floor with laying the subfloor.

I won’t add too much commentary here because I know little other than I had to hammer, lift and hold things. I love the floor plan so far. While it isn’t a huge house, the space feels great. We made the walls a little bit taller than 8 feet and it makes a big difference in how the space feels. With all the windows, the light is really good, but only about a foot of sunlight gets through them at the peak heat of the day. In the winter, with the sun lower, we should get plenty of light though. The orientation of the house is really perfect. Our living room has multiple layout options, many we hadn’t thought of until we were actually in the space with walls. I really can’t wait to get to see the upstairs! We’re also still loving how the slab looks.

Nathan’s parents have been up here several weeks over the summer to help us out. I can’t thank them enough for taking so much time to drive up here and then work all day helping Nathan while I’m at work.

Nathan used Larry Haun to learn most of the framing tricks. The few days prior to putting the walls together and raising them, Nathan was busy making all his cuts. By the time I was there to help, all I needed to do was hammer and lift… those are two things I can actually help with. It was so well prepared it was almost easy to build the walls.

Nathan contemplating the framing…

The prep

That tractor sure is handy.

First floor walls are up.

Put up the first floor sheathing right away to stiffen things up.

Nathan somehow managed to get two 36′ LVLs onto the second floor by himself, I think he used physics.

Second floor joists going up

Hemlock posts purchased from an Amish sawmill.

The rough sawn posts will frame out our staircase, almost done the joists.

Break time 🙂

Second Floor Joists done, time to get the second floor going! Calling it quits for the day.

A look at the future balcony sticking out the second floor.

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Blossoms and Wildflowers

I’ve really enjoyed all the flowers in the fields this spring and all the blossoms in the woods.

The rotation of dominant flowers in the fields seems to go as follows:

  1. Buttercups
  2. Daisies
  3. Black Eyed Susans
  4. Queen Anne’s Lace
  5. Goldenrod

Mixed in there is also some heal all, clover, I saw a single spotted trout lily, some marsh marigolds down by the beaver pond, the chicory just started coming out, and many other miscellaneous flowers that I have yet to identify.

Despite how dry it has been this summer, the fields are looking great. The hay is much longer than it was last year. We still haven’t cut it. It will be on our to do list on a day where we aren’t doing too much on the house.

A beautiful bouquet of wildflowers from the property.

Some of the blossoms I’ve found and identified (other than apples) are the hawthornes and service/juneberries. I suspect that I may have also found some wild blueberries. I’ve tried the serviceberries, they have multiple large pits.

Hawthorne blossoms

Serviceberry blossoms

Blueberries?

Apple blossoms

On a recent canoe trip, I also found a large amount of wild chamomile. I will need to return there to pick some for teas when things have slowed down a bit more at the property.

Wild Chamomile/Pineapple Weed

The wonderfully relaxing Chenango River

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Underslab Plumbing, Insulation and Slab Pour

I’m a bit late on the house progress updates, but here is finally the underslab plumbing, insulation and the slab pour.

Before the foundation was filled in, we put in our foundation drain. It was the last thing left to do with before everything getting filled in. This wasn’t too bad of a task, it just required some time.

Foundation drain

We filled the foundation with self consolidating stone. This allowed for less tamping down when the foundation was being filled. It was so nice to finally have everything filled in and be out of the mud. At the same time, it was a bit sad to see all that work get covered up.

Nathan in the filled in foundation.

Once the foundation was filled in, we started the rough in for the plumbing. We have one bathroom on the first floor, the kitchen and the laundry room. We plan on using an air admittance valve in the kitchen and the laundry room for venting. For the bathroom, it will be vented into the attic where it will attach to the main stack and go out through the attic. We also had to rough-in the drain for the upstairs bathroom. Originally we were going to put the drain in the wall, but decided instead to have it more inset and build a bulkhead around it in the kitchen. Finally, we put in a radon vent. We are in a higher radon area, so it made sense to do it right away and for the $50 it cost to put in, it seemed like something silly to skip on. Also, because we are covering all of these with concrete, we upsized almost all the sewer pipes in order to reduce the chances of issues in the future. We also measured our slope often and made sure if it was off, it was sloped slightly more rather than slightly less than required.

We had to send my brother a lot of pictures and text him quite a bit to make sure everything was looking good. Big thanks to him for helping us out with drawings and answering all our texts.

Kitchen and sewer stack for upstairs bathroom.

All the first floor plumbing.

Another view of the plumbing.

Once the underslab pluming was set, we were able to start insulating under the slab. We put 4″ of insulation under our slab to ensure that it will be comfortable to stand on during all seasons. With that much insulation, it shouldn’t feel cold on our feet in the winter. Over the insulation we put down vapor barrier and followed by remesh. The slab was then ready to be poured.

Insulating under the slab.

Poly vapour barrier and remesh installed.

Our excavator poured the slab for us. So far, we love how it looks. The goal was to finish the slab so we could live on it for a few years and hopefully keep loving it and not cover it up, or if we decide we do want to cover it, we have time to decide with what and how. We covered the slab with burlap after it was poured and kept it wet for a few days. It’s been curing nicely and it’s also getting a more even colour. As the sun hits it during the day, at night it stays fairly warm and emits the heat. It’s a good thing we oriented the home so that minimal sun would enter during the summer months.

The slab 🙂

Having some coffee in my living room!

Another thing that was completed was dropping the well pump, and running all the pipe and wire for the well pump. This was a very intimidating task that actually ended up being less of a big deal than we thought. Everything went well and now we have water and saved ourselves about $2,000 by installing it ourselves 🙂 Nathan needed to first drill a hole through the cast iron casing. From there, we could connect the pitless adapter. Once the pitless adapter was installed, it was time to wire and plumb the well pump and finally drop it down 200 feet. From the well to the house, we ran everything through a corrugated pipe in order to protect the wire and the poly pipe a bit more. We also put 2 inches of insulation over the water line in the ground and in the shallower spots, about 4 inches. I don’t think our water lines will be freezing in the winter. We attached a plug to the well pump and hooked it to a generator so we could finally try that water. It was cold and it was delicious. The only place it compares to are a mountain stream in Montana that we drank from when we were hiking.

Nathan drilled a hole slowly in the cast iron casing.

Here are Nathan and his dad dropping the well pump into the well.

Looking down the well to where the pitless adapter sits.

Insulation running over the underground water line.

Our delicious well water.

I packed a lot into this post, but I’m about 2 months behind in my postings, so there will be more to come shortly.

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