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Maybe we can just cut the entire lighting budget out… December 31, 2006

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2nd floor deckingSo the second deck was completed on Saturday morning! Heather and I stopped by early in the afternoon after the framing crew had wrapped up and got our first taste of how much light will actually be coming into the first floor. Holy crap! We may not ever turn the lights on during the day! They put the rough stairs in place as well in order to get the decking up there (we were wondering about that). With all the load-bearing walls in place, the feel of the interior is starting to come through. There’s still the question of how they nailed the complete decking in place including the sheet over the stairs and got back down afterward. I’m speculating they swung in through the windows, but it’s possible these guys can actually fly…

Stairs framedAfter leaving the property we headed over to Percy’s to try to start to finalize our appliances for the kitchen. The big decision was going with a single oven and microwave instead one of the pricier double ovens or oven-convection microware combos. That may cause hosting parties to be a bit tougher, but for the $1800 or so we’ll save, we can afford to find a way to cope with it. Now we gotta compare the prices and get ready to finalize the kitchen cabinet design over the next week or so.

We got rocks! December 29, 2006

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We just got back from visiting the granite place with Ralph. Found the countertop we want for the kitchen as well as for the master bathroom. Also found the funky granite for the downstairs lav (we think) and possibly the slate for all the non-maple hardwood floor areas (bath, laundry, entry and hearth.)

The second floor joists were going up when I hit the site this morning. The beams/joists above the kitchen were up as was the dining room. At the pace they’re going, the second floor decking should be complete when they quit for New Years after a half-day on Saturday. My question is how they get to the 2nd floor! Do they cut the stringers and build the rough stairway? Do they just put a ladder in place? I’ll stop by tomorrow and check it out!

Life Above the Kitchen December 28, 2006

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Tim, El & Heather in the living roomAfter a few days off for Christmas, the crew was back at work today. We stopped by twice in the same day, the first time with Heather’s brother John and his girlfriend, Barb. The crew was down to 4 because a couple guys were away on vacation, but they were hard at work on the second floor beams.

We missed Ralph by 10 minutes, but he turned around and joined us on the site for a few minutes. Turned out his holidays were a bit less jolly with a pinched nerve in his back. He’s up and at it again, however, and we’ll see him on Friday to make our granite/stone run in Marlborough. John and Barb got the complete tour while I chatted with Ralph.

We returned to the house in the afternoon with our friends Tim & El. We’re psyched that they’re looking to move to the area this summer. You can see them in the living room with Heather in the photo above. Tim had been on the site earlier and had provided a lot of the early info when we were considering whether to buy the lot.

The crew had left before our second visit, but they have most of the 2nd floor beams in place and part of the master bedroom joists as well. The plan is for them to work another day and a half this week, then hopefully get the roof in place the first week of January.

Weather continues to cooperate! More photos tomorrow when I drop by the site with coffee & donuts after my networking meeting…

My two front teeth – and continued good weather! December 22, 2006

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1st floor south wallMy site visit today was fun despite the mysterious absence of Ralph and the entire building crew.  Our architect, John Wadsworth, has become a friend during this process and today was his first visit since before the site clearing was done.  Now John’s about as easygoing as they come, but you have to be slightly on-edge when the architect sees the work for the first time.  He didn’t make it easy, either.  Comments along the lines of “you’ve destroyed a beautiful site” made me catch my breath a bit!  Then I realized that this was John and he was just giving me a hard time!

In truth, he really liked it! Some of Heather and my questions were put to rest quickly and easily.  He was fine with the reduced with of the entryway.  The spacing on the kitchen windows wasn’t a concern.  He actually liked how high the house is sitting, saying the views from the first floor and going to be even better this way.

I can’t wait ’til we can have the housewarming party and he can get some public recognition for his work on this place.  Hopefully this blog will help him get a commission or two (especially once we get his website up and running!)

Complete first floor wallsSo the crew finished the 1st floor walls!  The top photo is of the south face of the house with the kitchen windows on the left, the patio door, and the living room windows on the right.  They still have to cut out the transom window openings in the kitchen but the amount of light that’s going to be coming in this wall will be incredible!

The second photo is the house viewed from the driveway.  You can see the the dining room french doors in the middle with my office on the left and the living room on the right.  The corner windows around the fireplace came out real well.

So we’re not sure exactly what happened to the crew today.  As much as I hope they take some wonderful time off with their families over Christmas, we’d love to see the progress continue at this pace!

Windows go here and here and here and here December 21, 2006

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1st floor walls going upSome more good progress on the site! The whole 6-person framing crew was there today and the walls were being finished, sheathed, Tyveked and lifted into place. It’s very cool to walk on the deck and see where the windows and doors will be. At noon the sun was coming through the top branches of the big oak tree. We’re going to loose a bit of sunlight to the trees in the winter, but they’re all deciduous, so it’s not too bad.

The top photo is the view from the driveway looking at the back of the house. The driveway fishhooks around the house and the door is on the left side of the photo.

There were some minor adjustments that had to be made to the plans due to small discrepancies. The front door is recessed from the east wall of the house and that area had to be built a bit smaller than planned. The spacing between the southern kitchen windows got tweaked by a couple inches as well so that the load can be carried properly onto the beams.The fireplace wallWe made a decision on the front door and are going to stay with the same front door style but have it made from fir instead of cherry. We’ll save $1100 in the process. So we’re only about $3K over budget overall right now – all due to the well/hydrofacking expenses.

This bottom photo is of the west wall. The closest part of the house is the living room. You can see the windows in the corners and where the fireplace will go in the middle. To the left of that is the double window in the dining room.

Back to the site tomorrow after a couple meetings. John Wadsworth, our architect is going to meet me out there, so he’ll have a chance to look at the construction thus far and give his thoughts.

Of Little Insulating Value Thus Far… December 19, 2006

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Basement - deck completeQuick stop by the site today with coffee and cookies for the framing crew.  They got the missing beams delivered first thing this morning and were able to complete the beams, joists and decking for the first floor.  So the basement’s starting to feel complete at this point.  It won’t have this much light once the sheathing & siding go on and will have even less once the porch is in place.  The slab won’t change the floor level by too much, however, so you get a pretty good sense of how high the ceiling will be down there.

Framing the wallsWith the deck in place, the crew moved on to the first floor walls.  At 2:30 when I left the site, they had about 75% of the walls framed and laying on the deck.  I don’t know if there was enough daylight left to complete the task and put them in place, but I can’t wait to see what it looks like when I go back!

Tally’s not to happy with the progress however.  Since ladders are a bit more than she can handle, she’s stuck with hanging out on the ground with the lumber and letting me know she’s unhappy by talking to me.  She did find a leftover donut under a tarp before I saw it, however, so the site’s slowly winning her over!

We’re finalizing the front door still.  Both Ralph and John like our choice of a front door but the solid cherry door is at the high end of our budget.  We’re checking to see what a couple less expensive options would run before making the decision…

It was Kinda Like Walkin’ on the Moon December 17, 2006

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The basementWe walked onto the house for the first time today! The decking is 75% in place. Apparently the lumber drop was missing just a few of the beams, so there’s a chunk of decking in the kitchen area that’s missing right now. But the rest of it’s in place and looking great! Heather and I walked around on top, checking out the rooms, the views, etc.

Tally can’t quite make the 4 foot hop onto the deck, so we’ll have to wait until there are some stairs in place. She did, however, check out the eventual site of our garden with us. There’s an open 50×70 ft area about 100 feet to the southeast of the house. It’s currently covered with long grasses and shrubs, wild grapes and – until Tally came through – burrs. Now? Well, let’s just say Tally’s getting quite the grooming during the Pat’s game today!

New Olympic Event - the 10 second tripod to house runI also made the initial attempts at our newly invented sport. Remember the threaded rod/tripod in the big oak tree 75 feet from the house? Well, the sport is to screw the camera to the tree, set the auto-timer, then push the shutter release. This gives you 10 seconds to run through the leaves and branches, around the stump, through the muddy part of the driveway, around the lumber and try to climb the 7 feet onto the decking before the photo is taken.

Needless to say, there has never been a successful attempt.

Heather and Tally were both quite amused however, so I’ve done my job. Won’t you come play with us?

What’s coming this week? Framing? In for the holidays???

I Love the Smell of Cut Wood in the Morning! December 16, 2006

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Mike makes the cuts, knee wall in the background

The 6 person framing crew got to work for the first time this morning! By the time I arrived on site at 11am, the sill was on, the knee wall was in place on the front face of the house and they were getting to work on the beams.

If I tried to work anywhere near the pace of these guys, I’d be typing with my palms! Measure once, cut 4 times, then flip them in place, The new sill in place, beams going upnail with the gun, reinforce with the hammer and move on. Fun to watch!

So I left just past noon, but the goal for the day was to complete the beams, hang the joists and get the deck in place. This coming couple weeks are the framing of the house and the first week in January is scheduled as time for the roofing crew!

In the house for the holidays? Well, yeah. Comfortable, warm, well lit, etc? No. Definitely not. But we’re most definitely rolling now!

And There Was Lumber! December 15, 2006

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Well trench, electical & water PVCLots of recent progress on the site! The trench from the well to the house was dug and lined with sand. The electrical connection for the well pump was put in place and I had a chance to meet our electrician for the first time. Bay State Pump returned to put in the water feed and return lines and drilled through the foundation to get them into the house. They then covered the PVC with more sand and then filled the trench.

Our foundation inspection is complete so they backfilled the foundation today as well. There’s a 3-foot wide layer of sand up against the foundation except for right at the surface where it’s just conventional fill.

There’s another load of driveway surface in place at the entrance from the street, bulldozed and crushed into place. Now my Honda won’t bottom out trying to get into the driveway.

And the big news pulled in just before 4pm! Our first lumber drop!

Tomorrow the sill goes on and hopefully the deck (the ground floor of the house) will be put in place as well!!!

This is Progress. And a Dry Basement. December 11, 2006

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Slab DrainageOkay, now we’re getting somewhere!  When I showed up on site today, Dave Richard was manning his excavator and he was working with a couple guys filling the sub-slab area of the foundation with gravel up to the height of the footings.  This means we’ve got about 18 inches of loose rock under the slab and should have a nice dry basement.

One they were done inside the foundation, they continued laying perforated PVC for drainage outside the foundation.  This will channel much of the water out the drain which runs East under the driveway.  The pipe’s covered by a membrane to keep sediment out as well.

Foundation DrainageThe foundation had already been waterproofed on Saturday.   Good news is that the foundation inspection happened 1/2 hour before I showed up on site and we’re all set with that one too.  It’s possible they had time to backfill after I left the site at 3:15.

Let’s see when the lumber drop shows up and the decking gets installed!