Getting ready for winter

Well, the house is now finally hooked up to power. The first sign was the power line strung from the pole across the street to the new pole on our property:


The next sign was the microwave oven the guys brought to the house so that they can (finally) have a warm meal.


And the last sign was the string of work lights on each floor.


With the power, the guys can be more comfortable, the furnace can be hooked up and started (after the oil tank is delivered, that is), and the whole place can start to feel more like a livable house, even if it’s still in quite a state of chaos.

Another big step to making the whole place more comfortable for everyone is insulation. Hyla was the first to notice the Pink Panther logo on the insulation packages:


Here’s what the new living room looks like with its insulation installed:


And here’s the cozy new bedroom:



With all that real insulation in the walls and ceiling, this could be the warmest, coziest room in the house (the old part of the house has minimal insulation and the upstairs, with no heat vents, has always been a bit, um, chilly, in the dead of winter). Add the heat we get from the wood stove pipe that will be going through the room and we might even get to sleep with the windows open all winter long.

The last kitchen window was finally installed this week, too:


This gives us a nicely lit corner in the kitchen, as well as a handy pass-through for serving drinks and snacks to those hanging out on the porch.

Also in the kitchen, work continues on the ceiling structure. Here you can see part of the support structure (which will be hidden by the dropped ceiling) to hold up the new beam:


Since the kitchen is being made of two previously existing rooms (the bathroom and laundry room), the floors were of all sorts of materials and heights/thicknesses. To smooth things out a bit, we’re having the existing floors of the kitchen area removed, and they will be replaced with new pine flooring (probably wide pine). Here’s what the area looks like with the just the sub flooring visible:


The old slate tile that used to be under the kitchen sink was also removed (when the sink and it’s old cupboard were removed) and that, too, will be new pine flooring that will continue into the kitchen. Aside from those two areas, we plan to leave all of the downstairs flooring as it was (with some patching in some areas, as needed).

The next step after the insulation is to put up the sheetrock. Some of this work began last week and I expect much more will be done in the new rooms this week.

Here’s the sheetrock in the new shower:


And in the office:



To continue the “sealing up” process, the little windows in the basement (over the laundry and workshop areas) have been installed:


These are more for ventilation than anything. They don’t provide much light and aren’t reachable by lowly people like me, but they’re there just in case we need them.

The utility portion of the basement (where the electric panel, oil tank, furnace, water heater, etc.) will go doesn’t have any windows. We had planned for windows here, but after the house was moved to the new spot, the grade just wouldn’t allow for windows.

Now that we have electricity, though, the area isn’t in the dark:


And Stewart says they will install some simple fans/vents so that we can get fresh air in the area when we need it.

Outside, the septic tank has finally been hooked up (I guess we were waiting for the power to be available for the final connections to be made) and has been covered by dirt so that it won’t freeze:


And McKernon has removed its portable trailer (which contained tools and the generator) so you can now see the entire front of the house, including it’s new clapboards):


To be able to move the trailer away, the guys needed to be able to have onsite electricity (check!) and to be able to store their tools in the house. This week, the new front and back doors should be installed, along with locks, so that tools and anything else in the house are safe.

The combination of electricity, insulation, walls, and doors is starting to make this feel like a “real” house, snug and ready to keep the elements out. There’s still a lot to finish, but here’s what the ol’ place looked like as of December 15. Not bad.


This and that

The guys have been busy finishing up all sorts of things inside and out to get ready for putting up insulation and wallboard (which will be finished with a coat of plaster).

As of Friday the 9th, the roof is done, but the day it was completed, we got a load of snow so I don’t have a picture to show you. I’ll take a picture when the current snow melts or slides off.

On the deck, the railing along the far side complete:


There will be a shorter section of railing along the near side as well, and then stairs from the deck down to the yard.

While we were admiring the deck, we noticed that the supports look a little funny:


This is because the pilings were put in and concrete poured when the ground was very soggy from some significant rain. We’ve been assured that the pilings are very large underground and that, while this looks funny, it’s perfectly safe. Still, Stewart says they can probably do something to make it look better.

The porch now holds most of the remaining posts and beams from the ell deconstruction:


We’ll look these over with Stewart and Robert to select the best ones for the mantel behind the ell woodstove and the pieces that will frame the doorway between the ell and the main house. Our plan is to keep and reuse as much of the old ell as we can.

Inside, work continued on the plumbing, as shown in this shot of the plumbing for the sink in the downstairs bathroom:


By far the biggest inside project, though, is the reconstruction of the section of the kitchen ceiling that had to be fixed because of the rotted beams.

The rotten ends of the beams have now been cut away and a new (old) beam from another house has been installed across the ends of the original beams:


As you can see, the new beam is similar to the ones we have, but not exactly. The color and size are a bit different, and it’s smoother. It’s close enough – and much better than putting a dropped ceiling over the whole kitchen. There will be a small portion of dropped ceiling to cover the support structure between the new beam and the wall (from the beam to the right, as you look at the above picture).

We also had to figure out a way to support the ceiling/floor in the spot where the chimney used to be. In this case, the original beams were cut away at some point to install the chimney. The wall for the old pantry used to support the ceiling, but now that’s gone and the area is a hallway between the main house and the ell.

Here’s a picture of what the hole in the ceiling looked like last week:


Now we have a new beam that matches the new one in the kitchen (just a few feet away):



In the rest of the kitchen, framing is in place to support the new sheetrock that will cover the spaces between the beams in the ceiling. This will match the rest of the ceiling in the downstairs of the main house.


Work began last week on installing the standing seam roof on half of the house and all of the ell/addition. This is what it looked like at the start:


The first step was to insert the two wooden forms for the chimneys and then install the roofing on the addition:


The far-right chimney is for the smaller of the two wood stoves (the Morso, which will warm the addition. The pipe for the stove goes through the upstairs room in the addition to help warm that room, too.

The chimney to the left is for the larger wood stove (the Jotul) and the furnace. The larger stove will perform the same function as our previous woodstove: heating most of the house in evenings and on weekends. The furnace is always there as backup to keep things from freezing.

Both chimneys will be faced in brick.

Next, they began roofing the side of the main house that faces the ell (the roof on the other side of the main house has kept its “old” roof on and won’t need to be redone):


They continued on to the valley side of the ell and porch roof:


You can also see the great new deck railing they put up on the long side of the deck. The railing will continue along the far side of the deck and around the corner a bit on the near side of the deck.

Speaking of the deck, here’s a view that shows where our kayaks will probably be stored next year:


And here’s the view off the side of the deck (the same side where the basement doors are):


This is where previous owners of the property apparently threw all the old car parts and washing machines they didn’t need anymore. Cleaning this up is a project for us another day.

Back to the roof, the next picture shows the roof on the porch and valley side of the addition and it also shows the clapboards that have been installed on most of the valley side. The clapboards are cedar and will be primed white as they have been elsewhere, then painted green/grey next spring (probably by us and our willing friends).


The roofing crew worked late last night (until dark), so I imagine that they’re nearly done with the roof on the valley side of the main house.


The plumber has been here just about every day since the middle of last week.

A lot of the work in this project is figuring out how to put in the pipes for the upstairs bathroom so that they fit in around the beams in the downstairs ceiling. Here’s an example, which shows the current ceiling of the downstairs bathroom:


When the plumbing is done, they’ll install sheetrock over the pipes and between the beams so that the beams will still show. We won’t see the full depth of the beams in this area, but they’ll still be visible and, since it’s the entry way and bathroom, we probably won’t be staring up at the ceiling in this part of the house that much.

Upstairs, Hyla’s old room is suddenly being transformed into a bathroom. It’ll include all the basics.

A toilet (just to your right as you enter the room from the hallway):


a bathtub (the same tub we had in our original/downstairs bathroom, newly leveled!):


and a tiled shower (in what used to be Hyla’s closet):


There will also be a vanity/sink on the wall to the left of the shower.

Having this room finished is one of the keys to our moving back in, so it’s nice to see some action here!

Wiring and plumbing and deck, oh my!

This week, the driveway has been nicely full of cars, although this picture doesn’t quite capture it because there were at least four other cars not in the picture:


Now that the power pole is up (owned by the phone company), the electrician could get to work with the wiring. Here’s the big wire, which will connect the pole to the house (via secret underground passageway):


On Thursday, we signed an easement with the power company that gives them access to the pole so that they can connect it to power (from the nearest pole, across the street). That’s supposed to happen sometime by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, inside, the electrician is pulling out the old wiring and putting in the new. This is what all the old switches and outlets look like now:


and this is what the new boxes look like (well, maybe not quite that out of focus…):


Wednesday morning, we walked through the house with the electrician, pointing out places where we wanted lights, light switches, and outlets. By Thursday morning, these new boxes were up all over the addition (upstairs and down), in the basement (plenty in the new office), and in parts of the new kitchen.

Speaking of the kitchen… to put the new windows in, the guys had to essentially build us a new back wall for one side of the kitchen. This picture shows the new wall and the two new windows:


The rangetop/hood will go in the space between these windows.

You can see a few remnants of the old wall still there. Note the piece of branch supporting the lower sill of the right-hand window.

Here’s the new kitchen wall from the outside:


As you can see, work continued on the deck flooring:


I don’t have any pictures yet to prove it, but the plumber is also at the house this week. Pipes are going in for the two bathrooms. It’s a bit dicey to do this for the upstairs bathroom because there’s not much space between the floor and the beams downstairs, so some of the pipes need to run through the beams. The plan is to cover these pipes while still allowing most of each beam to be exposed. Tricky.

Also, yesterday and today, roofing! Pictures coming soon…