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.