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…


Just in time for the snow, the double doors to the porch and in the basement are installed:



There are still a few unfilled holes (basement windows and a couple other spots), but, in general, the house is pretty well sealed up now against the weather.

Work also progressed this week on the porch. Here’s a view that shows the porch roofline:


This is the last part of the roof that needed to be built before the new standing seam (metal) roof can go on.

Yesterday, the guys put in most of the floor for the porch and began to build the support system for the deck floor.



The porch is perfect. Nice and wide, lots of room for sitting and playing and, since it connects to the deck, we’ll have quite a lot of space for picnics and parties. Even though the porch is fairly deep, the many windows and the glass doors in the new livingroom make the room sunny and bright, even on an overcast, snowy Thanksgiving day.

At our last conversation with Stewart, it became clear that we’re not moving in anytime in December. He says, though, that aiming for January 1 is realistic, so that’s our plan. The owners of the house we’re renting have been wonderful and agreed to let us stay through December, so we don’t have to contemplate an interim move.

We have plenty to be thankful for.

Pole position!

Well, we FINALLY have a power pole on the property.


This is a big deal because the house can’t be wired up until the pole is there (and connected to the pole across the street with wires), and there’s no chance of ever moving in without power.

Electricians can’t be here until probably right after Thanksgiving, and the walls can’t be finished until after the electricians are done, and so it goes. It’s definite that we’re not moving in by the end of November and looking pretty likely that the move-in date is now January. The good news, though, is that it looks like January is a realistic move-in date. Stay tuned on that one.

Also going on:

The concrete for the porch/deck supports were poured yesterday, so work has begun on building the porch:


Here’s the view from the end. We chose to make it a bit deeper than the average porch around here (8 feet deep rather than 6 feet deep), so it’s going to be a very nice shelter on a rainy day like today:


Inside, the soaking tub in the downstairs bathroom has been positioned so that we know how much space we have around it:


Over the weekend, we decided to eliminate the half wall that was supposed to be in here (between toilet and sink), and we tested the path from door to toilet (past the giant tub) and it seems like there’s enough room to get around without hurting ourselves.

As always, it’s wonderful to see things being put back together, even though there’s still so much to do.

Windows and walls

The biggest observable change last week is that we now have windows in the addition:


along with some clapboard on the front and end of the addition:


With the windows in, the house is now fairly secure against any weather that might come at us.

These windows will eaach have a separate “grille” that snaps into the window, giving the look of the six-over-six old-fashioned windows, but making it much easier to clean the windows.

Outside, preparations are underway to begin the porch and deck. In this picture, you can see the tops of what are essentially big, black, plastic ice cream cones:


The widest part has been buried underground. They will cut off the ends above ground at the correct height, and then pour concrete into them (I’m told that will be today).

Note: You’ve seen these cones in an earlier picture of the addition:


Inside, studs for the mudroom closet are in and, boy, do they look funny. Believe it or not, this doorway is plumb:


This just goes to show what the carpenters have to deal with in an old house like ours.

I guess the plan is to finish things off and hang the door so things look “eye right”. I hope so…

And upstairs, the walls for the bedroom closet have been mostly framed, too:


All in all, things are moving fairly smoothly (except for the kitchen ceiling — which we’re still working on but think we have a solution for, more later…), but the projected move-in date of early November has clearly passed and the next projected move-in date of December 1 is not going to happen either. We’re hoping now that we can be in by mid December.

Walls rising

This week, walls have begun to go up in two more spots: the downstairs bathroom/mudroom, and the guestroom closet.

This picture shows the beginnings of the bathroom walls, looking from the front door.


It’s a bit hard to see what the space will look like until the sheetrock is up, but the angle looks nice and, when we walk in, we can get some feel for what the entry area is like.

Upstairs, here’s what the guestroom closet structure looks like from within the guestroom:


and here’s the view of the same closet wall from inside the new bedroom:


Closets in two of the three bedrooms! What luxury!!

Bad news, good news and “Story in a Nutshell”

The bad news is that the ends of those two uncovered beams that were in the pantry ceiling are rotten:


They’ve been that way for a long time, had been reinforced somewhat before the ceiling was put in, and the bathroom/pantry walls were really taking the load for many many years.

Now that we’ve removed the ceiling and those walls, though, we need to find a way to support those beams. The choices at the moment seem to be either:

  • Reinforce the existing beams, and then recover the kitchen with a new ceiling (probably made of some sort of wallboard).
  • Buy replacement antique beams to replace the beams over the new kitchen, splice them somehow to the remaining length of each beam (over the dining area) and then support everything with new posts at the end of the kitchen (between the kitchen and dining areas) or by some other means.
  • Buy/make new sawn beams and use those to do as described above.

Our first choice is to use antique beams to match the rest of those in our house, but that can be pretty expensive. Stewart is investigating the options. All of the solutions will work, but we don’t know yet how this will be resolved.

On the good news side, as of Friday, we’re starting to see the new rooms in the house take shape.

On the main floor, the new bathroom/mudroom walls are laid out, so you can see the basic shape. This is the view from the front door:


That angled wall will be the home for our pine armoire, a place to hang coats and such as you first walk into the house (just a bit nicer than the pile on the floor we used to have…). In the bathroom, the sink and toilet (yes! that one you’ve seen in all the pictures) will go against the angled wall, with a 40″ partial wall between the two (position indicated by that bit of wood perpendicular to the angle).

Here’s the view from the dining area:


The tub will be against the straight wall in the foreground here, with the door in the straight section on the left (before the angle starts). In that corner between the tub and door walls will be (YES!) a laundry chute! The chute will start upstairs, in the closet next to the upstairs bathroom, continue down through this bathroom, and open into a waiting basket on the basement floor. We’d love to have a dumb waiter to get the laundry back up the stairs, but the chute is better than nothing and will provide Hyla and her friends with endless fun, we’re sure.

Speaking of the basement, the walls are going up for the office, which will be the only finished room in the basement right now.

This is what it looks like from the workshop side of the basement (next to the basement entry doors) into the office:


This is the wall where the laundry chute will empty out against.

And here’s the view from the laundry area of the basement, through the stairs:


When we were visiting this weekend, Hyla quickly discovered the cozy spot under the stairs and claimed it for her own. We hadn’t thought about it before, but we really had no particular use for that spot, so we’ve asked to have it walled in with a little doorway left so she can have it as a hideaway of her own. She’s named it “Hyla’s Story in a Nutshell”