Monday, December 29, 2008

good times . . . . .

We've been putting in some really long days lately. We have an occupancy permit deadline coming up that we are trying to meet. Don't ask me why Doug is suddenly interested in taking a deadline seriously, but for some reason he is. Maybe he noticed that I was finally getting kind of comfortable with the lack of progress. We certainly can't have that.

Anyway, all of a sudden we have people helping us, which is great, but the coordination of schedules between our drywall putter-uppers and our drywall finishers got a little out of whack and as a result we've been putting in some really long and exhausting days putting up some of the drywall ourselves. I knew this would happen, dammit!!! We basically get up, do drywall, sleep about 6 hours, get up, do drywall, sleep about 6 hours, etc. etc. etc. I've noticed that our pace is about 15 times slower than the two guys who did most of the rest of the house. That makes me feel especially glad that I had this wonderful opportunity to participate in the drywall installation. It just makes the whole process that much more special. Right? Doesn't it make you feel jealous? It has been such a meaningful experience.

Yesterday we finally finished the three rooms that were left to do and today there were some final touches that needed to be taken care of here and there. I had a brunch gig and Doug probably slept in so we worked late, as usual. It's midnight now. We were too tired to continue, so tomorrow we'll get up, probably at 4AM to finish the cleanup so that the drywall finishers won't have to deal with our tools and other junk lying around all over the place.

For the second floor Doug ordered 125 sheets of 12 foot x 4 foot drywall. I don't know how this happened, but I for once did not check his math, partly because he didn't ask. I certainly regret that now because there are 27 (that's TWENTY SEVEN) sheets of absurdly heavy drywall left over up on the second floor. Guess who Doug thought might help him carry these down the stairs, out the back door and down the driveway around to the basement today? What? You have no idea? Well I helped him carry one of them all that distance and then six more from the first floor to the basement since he also bought way too much for the first floor as well. That was all I could do. I will have to use my brain (somebody needs to) to figure out a more intelligent (and probably expensive) way to get all of that drywall moved downstairs. I've done enough (hopefully not permanent) damage to myself on behalf of Doug's Foam Core Fantasy. It's neither smart, nor worth it, to completely destroy yourself just for a house.

Speaking of permanent damage, Doug chopped off about an eighth inch of his index finger with a circular saw the other day. So now our subfloor has blood all over it. He wouldn't go to the doctor. He thinks it will grow back. I guess fingers don't matter as much to trombone players.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

purple polka-dotted kitchen

Here's the before, from ten days ago:

Here's the after, from yesterday! Almost finished.

What do you think, should we keep this look?

This is looking from the living room to the front door:

Yesterday we worked from 7:00 AM until 2:00 AM. Today will be much shorter. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's like an igloo, only warmer

Our house looks like an igloo inside. I'm glad it doesn't feel like one - it's becoming more and more weather tight as Doug completes his last minute foaming around the windows. The inside of our house is so white now - it looks completely different. The drywall dust on the floor looks like snow.

It's a whole lot more house-like now that all of the bare OSB (that's Oriented Strand Board for you amateurs) has been covered over by the beautiful beautiful drywall. Dougs thinks all of it will be up in another day or two. The finishers are due to start next week, and we have a tile guy coming over tomorrow to give us an estimate. If we can't afford him we'll do it ourselves, I bet. So things are moving right along now, finally.
The mold and moisture resistant XP drywall matches our front door.
These are the final days of the Blue Room.
I'm going to kind of miss that blue painted OSB!

It's a purple kitchen! So pretty! So temporary!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Drywall, Day Two

Buc brought a couple of his guys over yesterday to help with the drywall and there was a flurry of activity instead of the usual plodding along. I'm not used to having so many people in my house so I'm really glad I had a bunch of other things I needed to do instead.

I think they are doing a great job of measuring carefully and working quickly. They got a lot done in one day. The upstairs is kind of a big job because we have ten foot ceilings up there. Our bedroom looks so civilized now! The greyish white wallboard is so much prettier than that ugly brown OSB.

One of Doug's frantic last minute activities that I was helping him with before the drywall guys came was shooting some more foam up into the intersections of the roof panels. Why he couldn't have done this two years ago while we were twiddling our thumbs waiting for the contractor to show up ..... oh never mind. He seemed to be proud of the fact that he thought of this great idea to cover the seams with aluminum tape to prevent the foam from oozing back out, since the surface needs to be smooth for the drywall, so I'm putting a photo of that up here for you all to admire. He really misses working with metal, I guess.

One of the things I most admired about the drywall guys was that they were thoughtful enough to lay a sheet of paper under their truck so oil wouldn't get all over our driveway. I'm easily impressed that way.

Today we put in another window on the south side. We have two remaining windows to replace. We left the old ones in all this time so that the drywall could get delivered through them (see below). Hopefully Doug will complete all of the miscellaneous odds and ends by the time everyone comes back next week. I wish (now she's totally lying!) I didn't have so many playing engagements this weekend or I'd be over there helping him. I'll be there tomorrow after my brunch gig until Doug finally conks out - sorry, that's the best I can do.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Drywall, Day One

Since we are almost finished with the outside trim, what better time would there be to drop that and move on to something else? So drywall it is!

The morning started out rather tediously with a bunch of tiny little things that had been left to the last minute (what better time?) which we had to quickly finish before Buc came over to get us started with the drywall.

Buc got here at about 1:00 and I quickly realized that this was "man's work" because all of a sudden there was nothing for me to do. Which was fine because I was getting kind of bored and I was still very sore from all of yesterday's window activity. It was very interesting to observe how the work dynamic changed after Buc arrived. Doug no longer needed me to be his personal manservant because he was so busy learning all about drywall installation from Buc. He actually seemed a little nervous about it, which is sort of unusual for him. Anyway, this drywall lift apparatus that Buc is letting us use is pretty impressive. It holds the drywall right against the ceiling so that it can easily be screwed into place. And to raise it up you just turn the crank. There are wheels on the bottom of it so it can be moved around easily.

They got the first 12x4 piece up and then I went to Home Depot to pick up some Zip Tool drywall bits for cutting out the holes for the lights and the vents and I also got some dust masks. When I got back they were preparing to put the second sheet up.

There was still nothing for me to do so I went out to get them some lunch. By the time I came back the second sheet of drywall was in place, ready to be screwed onto the studs. Hmmm, that sounds funny....
By then it was time for me to leave for my gig. When I stopped by the house tonight afterwards I saw that they had finished about 1/3 of the upstairs ceiling. Doug was completely exhausted but still working on some additional things that he had saved for the last minute. We will be back over there early tomorrow morning attending to more of these last minute details before Buc and his two friends show up. That's right, apparently it was decided today that more helpers are needed. That's good because I'm busy all day tomorrow except in the morning.
Even though it's just a small area upstairs, the wallboard that was put up today has completely transformed the rooms where it's been installed. All of a sudden the ceilings look really high! It's amazing and I am looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow. Maybe they'll get some walls done too. I guess it is time to really start thinking about paint colors, countertops and tile - all of the good stuff!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ready or Not, Here Comes the Wallboard

We got our wallboard delivered today at 6:30 AM. Wanna see how we got it delivered in through the upstairs window? Check out these two videos! Be sure to turn your sound down though - that's one noisy truck!

Not surprisingly, this delivery and the wallboard installation has occurred before the outside is completely finished. I guess we'll have better weather for that in January. That makes perfect sense, right? Well it appears to make sense to one of us at least.

There were three guys on the wallboard delivery crew. One of them operated the boom that brought the stacks of wallboard up to the windows, and the other two super strong guys pulled the stacks into the house and moved them to various locations inside.

I'm really glad it wasn't Doug and me doing all that heavy lifting. That will come later today. We kept our old windows in place on the south side of the house so that the new ones wouldn't get messed up from the wallboard delivery. Now we need to get the 4 remaining new windows put in quickly so that it doesn't hold up the wallboard installation. It's been over a year since we finished installing all of the other windows so I hope we aren't too rusty at it. Actually we were pretty good at it back then, so hopefully it will be a quick and easy process today.... RIGHT!

Time to get back to work!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

our house is at the end of the rainbow

It is like a pot of gold.....




with a big hole in it

North Side Improvements - almost finished!

Most houses these days have one or two sides that aren't as attractive as most of the rest of the house. On our house that side would be the north side. We had to make some sacrifices in symmetry in exchange for the floor plan - things like closets and stairs were needed on that side of the house. And Doug really wanted to have that gigantic window in the stairwell. It looks great from inside the house, and we are trying to make it look as good as it possibly can on the outside as well.

Doug asked me what I wanted the trim to look like on his fancy-ass gigantic window so I drew him this rough sketch:

Then he drew it on his CAD program and came up with this drawing, which includes the actual structure of the window itself:

I really liked the fact that he had added the points on the sides of the arch so that the top is completely parallel to the window itself, but I thought that it stuck out too much on the sides from the rest of the vertical trim. He cut it "his" way and I still thought it was too wide, so he cut it down to where I wanted it to begin with and now it looks perfect, I think.

But I can't wait until we can take that damn scaffolding down!!!

Maybe we should plant a tree on each side so that the lopsided window array is not so obvious! Notice the new gray vents up at the top. They look so much better, or at least a lot more subtle, than that big white patch that was up there before.

Now we are putting the bandboard trim around the bottom of the house and soon the cornerboards will all be in place too. I'm really eager for all of that Tyvek to finally disappear for once and for all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

making our house beautiful

It's cold!!! When we finish our house I want to sell it and move to Florida. Just kidding! Seriously, was it this cold in October last year?

We've been working on the band board around the bottom edge of the siding for the past two days. It's going okay. Doug has devised an elaborate system for constructing it which involves attaching the upper drip edge to the shim that goes under the band board. I'll post some photos after it's done. It is going to look excellent, especially now that Doug has realized that my suggestion for how much the drip edge should stick out looks better than what he thought would look best. When will he learn? And what kind of a hopelessly useless question is that?

Anyway, some small blunders have been made from time to time in the looks department on our house. I've had to work really really hard to make sure that some of the ugly looking things weren't allowed to fully develop. There are still things that need to be addressed, but I try to spread them out so that Doug won't be too overwhelmed by my need for an attractive house. Although I'm completely overwhelmed by his need for this excellent of a house at all. Since it costs the same amount in time and materials to do it right, by our standards, why not have it look the best it can?

We are not professional housebuilders, so a lot of what we come up with is based on our limited experience. I sort of feel that I have been paying attention to what kinds of things are attractive on houses and in yards for quite a bit longer than Doug has. Anyone who ever saw our previous backyard undoubtedly knows what I am talking about. I've been doing "research" with my camera for years, to determine what I like and what I don't like. Anyway, this post supposed to be about learning from our mistakes, so here are some examples:

Doug's Gable Box Experiment, conducted while I was away for ten days last fall. He was feeling creative and did this on a whim. He sent the picture to me in Wyoming. I was horrified and considered taking the next plane home. This is not what we discussed at all. Why does experimentation that looks like this need to occur at all?


Isn't this a whole lot better? At least it looks normal.

Then there was the recent Showcasing of the Vents in a specially built nice white frame. Way to call attention to the utilitarian aspects of our house, Doug! Fortunately he saw the error of his ways immediately.

YUCK!!! I knew this would look stupid.

So the new gray vent covers have been ordered and they will look pleasantly unobtrusive, just like these on the front of the house:

And to be fair, I too, made a bad choice. I wanted White Inside Cornerboards instead of the usual J-Channel because J-Channel really makes it look like vinyl siding. Doug wanted to use the special inside corners that Cedar Impressions makes. I was skeptical because I thought they would look fake. So to rub it in, Doug left up the ugly white inside cornerboards for nearly two months:

YUCK!!! I'm so embarrassed that I suggested this.
Finally, today, he replaced them with the Cedar Impressions inside corners. Thank you so much, Doug, you were right and I was wrong. And I've been urging you to change it for nearly two months. I'm so happy that you finally did it because it looks so much better now....... or does it?

Hopefully my next post will include photos of the completed bandboards and perhaps some outside cornerboards as well. And maybe even the front porch trim? The house is shaping up!

Friday, October 24, 2008

some men beat their wives....

Mine just makes me be a construction worker. I was so enthusiastic last week because my foot was finally out of the cast. I suddenly felt all excited again about the house. It was so great to finally be free to wear shoes, walk easily, and climb ladders and scaffolding. But I really overdid it with the hammer. My hands are killing me this week and I feel very grumpy about that.

Our house is never going to be finished. The only reason I agreed to tearing down our original house was because Doug promised that we would get professional people to work on the new part - and that meant not us. What I feared would happen did happen. Why in the world is someone like me building a house? It's ridiculous. I wanted to do the normal thing and let the insurance company restore our original house after the fire so we could move back in as quickly as possible and get on with our lives. And here we are, a couple of musicians still slaving away on our house that we haven't been able to live in for almost four years. Four Years. I can't do what I really want to do because I have to stay home and build my house. But I digress....

So we worked extremely hard last week and nearly all of the siding is up. But not quite all of it. Because not finishing anything is what it's all about around here. So now we are working on the trim - another long, drawn out, tedious process that will probably take several weeks before it is nearly done. I got really out of shape for construction work after being laid up with a broken foot for six weeks, and now I am really paying for it, both physically and mentally, after last week's burst of enthusiasm. I am not in the mood to build a house anymore. Why should I ever be in the mood to build a house? I never wanted to build a house. Why in the world am I building a house? Lots of people don't have to build their own house all by themselves. But I guess I should just suck it up - after all the pioneers used to build their own houses. Who do I think I am, anyway, complaining about this? I am a musician who needs the use of my hands. I don't want to destroy them just because of this house that I don't want to build. That would be really stupid.

Well I'll probably be feeling much more cheerful when my hands stop hurting, my foot is completely better, my back stops hurting, and we actually completely finish one of our many homebuilding tasks before moving on to the next one.

Monday, October 20, 2008

it's getting there

The north side is the last big section that is still waiting for siding. It's been going up pretty quickly on the lower part. The upper section is going to be tricky because there are a bunch of vents to deal with. My foot is not 100% better but I'm very happy to be back at work and now I can even get back on the ladders. See how much more work we get done when I'm there too?
Doug uses a laser level to make sure we're putting it on straight.
No job is too small to leave unfinished.
These siding boxes are definitely messing with my brain.
Cedar Walton, Impressions, D7, and Straight No Chaser.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

even more siding progress

So I've been kind of detached from the housebuilding scene lately. Look what has happened to the nice neat workspace that I used to maintain:

There are siding scraps everywhere, all over the entire floor. Hey Doug! Where's the trashcan? I can't walk through this room in my cast. There is no clear area of floor big enough to safely set my foot down. I know what I'll be doing when I'm back in action. But he's made really good progress on the siding all by himself, with no help whatsoever from me. Check it out:

September 24, 2008

October 3, 2008
When we were first talking about siding (about 10 years ago) the siding people convinced us to go with vinyl. I was really burned out from scraping and painting the exterior. They said "vinyl's final." I didn't like the idea of it too much, but the low maintenance was very appealing. Doug immediately went nuts about "Cedar Impressions" by Certainteed. It is quite a bit thicker than normal siding and does not look cheap like some vinyl siding does. And it most certainly is not cheap. But he had to have it and it has held up so well over the past 10 years that we decided to use the new version of it for the new version of our house. The color is called "Granite Gray." Most people say they can't tell it's vinyl. Maybe they are just being nice, but they seem to mean it. The new stuff has an even better texture.

One thing that's cool about the new siding is that it has temperature gauges built right in so that the siding can be spaced to allow for expansion and contraction based on the temperature at the time of installation. The nails go into slots, so that the side can move as it needs to without buckling.

Now that I'm back at work with somewhat limited use of my foot (no ladders for now) I'm putting up the siding in the lower sections while Doug works from the ladder. Doug has figured out a way for me to use the hammer with no risk of injury to my fingers. So I hold the nail with the needle-nosed plyers in my left hand and hammer with my right hand. Two tools at one time - aren't I something. By the way, the hairy arm shown below is not mine! I couldn't get Doug to take the picture I wanted so I photographed him doing it instead.

One thing I've noticed is that I seem to have a lot more control over the hammer when I used a backhand stroke. Isn't that weird? It seems so wrong. Maybe it's because in real life I play with a French bow and the backhand stroke of the hammer approaches the nail just like an upbow. The normal forehand hammer stroke seems more similar to the way the German bow is used. I guess we all can figure out what I'd rather be doing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

blah blah blah blah blah......

I've been feeling a little detached and uninvolved in the housebuilding process recently. My broken foot has been the main cause of this. It is extremely frustrating to not be able to work on my house. When both of us are there it seems like we get three times as much work done as when it's just Doug. That's mostly because I help him arrive at decisions faster when I'm there, and believe me, there are tons of tiny decisions that need to be made all day long. And I haven't been there.

Not being there is stressful because one of my "jobs" is to make sure that Doug doesn't engage in risky behavior while he's up on the ladder. I have no idea how far over he's leaning over or whether the bottom of the ladder is sufficiently stable. I cringe to think about it. Maybe he's more careful when I'm not there. I can only hope is that he is so careless about safety in front of me because he enjoys hearing how much I care about him when I yell at him about how unsafe he's being. That's kind of sick, isn't it?

We've both had our share of injuries which have slowed down the progress of the house. Mine tend to come from over use and Doug's are usually from accidental mishaps. We both messed up our knees and totally trashed our backs carrying in 25 of the new windows all in one day. My hands were stiff for months last year after I dismantled all of the old stud walls. My knees didn't enjoy that activity much either. Last fall when Doug decided that planting 2500 liriope would be an excellent activity for me, I ended up with a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. And my broken foot is the most recent housebuilding injury. It happened as an encore to the sprained ankle on the other foot. Doug's first house related injury was when he tripped in the dark over a circular saw that he had neglected to put away. He hit his chin on something on the way down and his teeth seriously cut into his bottom lip. Ouch!!! He couldn't play for a while but he used his other skills to deal with that. When we were carrying in all of the windows he thought he had a hernia, but it turned out to be "just" a strained groin muscle. Last spring he mis-stepped and fell through the floor joists on the porch and cracked one of his ribs. He's had occasional hand issues because of the nail gun, but he sometimes wears anti-vibration gloves to help with that. I always wear work gloves when handling wood and I haven't gotten a single splinter. As a bass player, I am terrified of getting splinters. Thankfully neither of us have suffered any permanent injuries. I think we're actually going to make it through this ordeal relatively unscathed!

Doug has been putting up the siding kind of randomly recently. He wants to get all of the tricky parts out of the way before we do any more big areas. I say "we" because I'm due to get my final X-ray tomorrow where the doctor tells me my foot is fully healed and I can get back to work next week. Wish me luck! Anyway, the screened-in porch has a bunch of different angles and we have to figure out how to do the siding and trim it attractively which means that sometimes we need to work through different opinions about what is attractive. I'm usually trying to find the least complicated way to make it look good whereas Doug seems to be highly attracted to complicated ways of doing things. So we are constantly trying to find the balance between those two philosophies.

It constantly amazes me the way "men" seem to think that carpentry and construction require mysterious abilities that only certain people have. There seems to be a certain mystique associated with it or something. I prefer the practical and matter-of-fact attitude that is presented in the Journal of Light Construction and Fine Homebuilding. We've both been reading these magazines for at least 10 years.

It seems to me that the main things that are required to do a good job building a house include common sense about structure and how things go together, measuring accurately, and using materials of good quality. It is no different than sewing in that regard. At this point, having done quite a bit of both, I actually think that sewing is more complicated. I am really grateful that I have that background because I've managed to come up with some solutions for our house that I know damn well came from the sewing part of my brain. The similarities are really quite amazing. The biggest difference between the two is the physical part. It's definitely not the most ideal activity for a couple of musicians, that's for sure.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

more siding progress....

The siding has gotten a little farther along. Doug's been working pretty hard although it probably doesn't look like that much progress has been made. When we are working together we get about 3 times as much work done as Doug does when he is working by himself.

I have about 3 more weeks before my broken foot comes out of its cast and I'm really looking forward to getting things back into high gear. The trimboards were kind of tricky to put up because there is a lot of shimming involved. And as you can see there is still a bit of trimwork left to do in the front. But our goal right now is to get up all of the siding and then go back and finish the trim. I'm so glad he covered those gable boxes though.

When Doug showed this blog to his friend Steve at the car show, Steve commented that in Canada where he's from they call those little windows like the ones on the first floor "piano windows". I had no idea - I guess my instincts for choosing windows for the piano room were right on target.

I got Doug to make a little house on the side of the house to enclose all of the utility ugliness. It even has the same green shingles on the roof. There will be a removable panel on the front and a hole to read the electrical meter through. So it won't look like this for too much longer.

This is our electrical box plus the 3 phase stuff that Doug had to have and the FIOS conduit. The hideousness of all this equipment was driving me nuts, especially since it's so near the front of the house.

Now that the broken bone in my foot is starting to feel a little better, I can see that I'm going to have to get out there in my cast and mow the lawn. I have no experience in nagging Doug to mow the grass since I've always just done it myself. So far, the gentle suggestions have not resulted in any grass mowing action on his part.