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Framing complete and roofing begun January 31, 2007

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Framing completeI called up Mike & the framing crew to see if they were on site and wanted coffee. Mike said something strange: “We’re done there.” I had to think about that for a minute before realizing it meant framing was complete and we’re moving on to the next step! I figure maybe they’ll come back to install the doors, but the house is sure looking pretty framed! [thanks guys – it looks great!]  The shed roof & windows under the gable dormer are in and the house is ready for the next crews – HVAC, septic & shingles.

Roofing beginsThe shingling crew was already on site yesterday and was able to get their equipment set up and take care of a small patch of the roof while it was still warm enough to work. The high temps this week are right around 30 – 35*, so they’re struggling to get the shingles pliable enough to install. Good news is that the house is established enough so that multiple crews can work at the same time. We’re expected Bill and the HVAC crew to start soon and Dave Richard is again due to begin the septic and do a bit more site work.Heather and I made a run to Raybern in Somerville to start specifying the hardware for the house. We found some pieces we really like for doors & drawers including some front door hardware from Rocky Mountain Hardware but got stymied by the time we were looking at bathroom hardware. Simply to many choices!

We’re looking at our first potential real snowstorm of the year (in February!) on Friday, so it’d be nice to have the roof shingled and maybe even the last doors in place by then…


Cool Ski Jump! January 25, 2007

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Complete roofYowza!  That roof is cool!  Given that the temperature is nasty cold today and descending to ungodly cold tomorrow, the crew is off for a couple days.  But the roof is awesome!  It looks great from the outside including when you see it through the trees from 1/4 mile away before making the turn onto our road.  Framing of curved roofInside it’s just as neat at this point.  The framing is beautiful (nice job guys!) and it’s going to be a shame to close it off eventually, but it’s just an aesthetically pleasing curve to look at.  Credit goes to our architect John and the framing crew – and of course to Michaela Mahady for the original design!

So what else is new?  They finished the interior walls on the second floor including the dropped ceilings in parts of the bathrooms.  The pantry wall is fixed to accomodate a pocket door.  The lally columns are in place in the basement (this happened a few days ago) .  Shingles!And the shingles are on-site just waiting for a day over 25* so we can finish the roof.  Oh yeah, and we authorized the second disbursement as well – for some reason these guys don’t want to buy the materials themselves and work for free!  Personally, I don’t know what they’re thinking!

South view with complete roofStill need to put the windows into the new gable, get and install the doors and get to work on the HVAC, etc.

Ralph and I met with Steve of Gene’s Woodworking in Milford, MA yesterday.  Steve and Jeff will be building the kitchen cabinets and have a quote due to me shortly on the bathroom vanities as well.  Good news is that Ralph really liked his work and prices, so they may have a continuing business relationship as well!

Progress with a Capital P January 19, 2007

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The windowThe crew has made some great progress on the house the last few days! I stopped by this afternoon and found all kinds of changes, including the big master bedroom window. The good news is that it looks incredible both inside and outside. It defines the bedroom and will likely limit us from ever having the master bed in a position other than directly opposite the window. On the other hand, what kind of an idiot would you have to be not to want to wake up every morning looking at something this beautiful? Window assembly from the outsideScore one for our architect, I think. John’s version is by far the prettiest window we’ve seen in any modification of the Maple Forest Cottage. The bad news? None of us caught the fact that the ordered, delivered and installed center bottom window is not an egress window. That means another one that actually opens has to be ordered, delivered and installed instead! Doh!

The interior walls were under construction as well, with the downstairs already complete and the upstairs due to be finished on Saturday. While it’s great to see these partitions going up, they’re one of the things that can only hurt the appearance. Rather than focusing on the open spaces and windows, I now saw how some of the rooms might be a touch cramped, etc. On the other hand, they’re a necessary evil and I’m just going to have to deal with it!

What else? The sonatubes were in place and the porch framed. You can see it on the front/right of the house in the photo above. Next week, the curved roof and last dormer will be built and they’ll be supported by the front edge of the porch.

French door stepsAnd the steps. It’s great that Ralph’s now reading the blog (Hi Ralph!). Instead of having to remind him of all the bits and pieces both on the phone and on site, I’m able to just type it out here and have him take care of it! My mom’s going to tour the house Saturday afternoon and, as of yesterday, we didn’t have steps leading up to the deck. However, Ralph read it in the blog and *Poof*! We have steps! Now mom can get up into the house and all’s well. Except for the 50MPH winds we’re supposed to get tomorrow, but what the heck – we have windows!!!

How can there be light without wind? January 16, 2007

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Kitchen windows from the outsideThe windows are in! All of them except the master bedroom window assembly and the master dormer windows are in place. The French doors off the dining room have been hung as well! You’ll note that I said ‘without wind’ rather than ‘without cold’ in the title, however, ’cause it’s butt cold! The eves remain open, the upstairs dormer is incomplete and we’re missing that all-important stuff called insulation. However, it’s rather neat having the windows in. The transom windows, especially, make a huge inpact.

It’s finally winter here. Temps are dropping into single digits at night and the wind is keeping it chilly even during the day. I was hoping for a passive solar effect to warm the place a bit, but that’s just not going to happen for a few more weeks/months. On the other hand, the place is pretty much sealed up, it’s the middle of January and we haven’t been hit by a snowstorm yet! Somehow I feel I’ve used up a little of my good karma. Does it work that way?

Kitchen windows from the insideDave Richard came through today as well. In addition to some fill/site work, moving stumps, etc. He dug the holes for the sona tubes which will anchor the posts supporting the curved section of roof missing in the photo above. Hopefully we’ll have the support in place by the end of the week and the roof will be completed next week.

Jeremy Maclachlan met with me on site as well today. Jeremy’s a friend and former member of my networking group. He gently dispelled my dream of a running waterfall in the back outside my office by telling me that it would likely run $10-15K and require about 10,000 gallons/hour to look good at the scale I was planning. On the other hand, he helped me out with some thoughts of a dry waterfall in its stead. We toured the house and walked the site as well and talked about the rocks and trees. A couple months from now, when the deck is up and the site is graded, we’ll have Jeremy back to do some landscape design work for us.

What’s next? The rest of the windows, the rest of the roof, the front and patio doors, more site work, interior walls – then we start getting into plumbing and electrical and all that fun stuff. ‘Course by then it’s February, so I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

We’re just happy to have windows!

We had our penny opportunity… January 12, 2007

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Last of the roof sheathingMy parent’s house in Framingham, MA had a cathedral living room.  And the kitchen shared that same roofline, so that one of the games my brother and I played was to see how high we could touch on the 11-foot wall between the kitchen and the stairs. Don’t worry – that’s not as dangerous as it sounds.  I don’t jump very high.

So we marked the highest touch point with a penny taped to the wall.  And when my parents sold the house in 2001, my Mom tore down the horrible flowered wallpaper in the kitchen – which raised the value of the house immeasurably.  And then my parents gave both my brother and I framed sections of that wallpaper for Chanukah that year.  With penny taped on, of course!  I’m still bitter that my brother got the original penny, but then again he got the bigger bedroom too!  But that’s another story! 🙂

Upstairs ceilingSo why the heck did do you care?  Well, today I got to decide the ceiling height for the second floor!  The plans specified a 7′ 6 ceiling in the western bedroom and a 10′ ceiling elsewhere.  We boosted the 7’6 ceiling to 8’4 to match the downstairs and kept the 10′ ceiling in many of the spots.  The shared bath upstairs will have an 8’4 ceiling and the shower/toilet area of the bathroom will be soffeted down to 8’4.  But the point is that I passed up my only opportunity to have a 21′-ceiling!  Instead, we’ll have an attic.  And warmth retained somewhere near floor level!

I know 10′ seems real high, but the master bedroom ceiling has to be around 9′ high just to deal with the window.  You’ll see.

So they finished framing the junction of the two roof lines.  They sheathed most of the remaining roof area and would have done it all if the lumber delivery wasn’t late this afternoon.  And they got the ceiling rafters/joists hung.  Ralph says windows are due on Monday and we’re going to be buttoned up next week.  Your thoughts?  Place your bets!

They make very heavy, ugly kites January 10, 2007

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Looking down on Tally through the rafters“Whoooooooshhhhhhhhhh……Thump – owwwwwww splintersssssssssssss!”

Wind does not help when you’re trying to get the sheathing on a house! I stopped by at about 4pm today and the roof beams and rafters are complete with the exception of themaster bath shed dormer . It’s cool to have the roofline finally defined and Tally and I spent about 15 minutes in the cold and wind looking around and taking photos as the light faded. I took the photos. She scarfed up all the leftover food dropped by the crew during the day.

Being inside is strange without the interior walls. I’ve gotten used to the feel of the first floor, but the upstairs is now just a big open space, made even more open by the lack of sheathing. The roof peak is about 16 feet high, I think, and it’s an echoing space! We’ll use some of that with a cathedral in the master bedroom perhaps. The rest of it will fall over the master bath, northern bedroom and upstairs bathroom. That will be for storage, I’d guess, and we’ll probably put in a pull-down stairway in the master bedroom closet. Not quite sure though – we’ll flesh those details out when the roof is on and the interior walls are in place. However we do it, there will be a ton of interesting spaces when we’re done!

West face Front of house from tripodEast faceNorth face

Roofage Underway! January 9, 2007

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Ridge definedBig day on site!  The crew was able to raise the northern gable wall and move onward to the roof!  I stopped by for an hour in the afternoon and watched as they finished their bracing/scaffolding and then raised the ridge beam!  The rafters have largely been pre-cut during the rainy & windy days, so the roof’s going to go up quickly – they’re expecting to have it done tomorrow!

Watching them put the scaffolding up was quite something.  I’ve been impressed by their speed and accuracy thus far.  Now it was strength and balance as well.  You want me to balance on a plank 12 feet in the air, lift a 2×12 beam, position it perfectly and then hoist the nail gun to set the sucker?  Thanks, no.  I put in 5 minutes sweeping up – that’s my skill level!

Rafters going up So the roofline’s pretty much defined at this point.  For the first time you can see the top of the roof from the street.  It is interesting that the two sides of the house you see first as you drive down the driveway are the least attractive sides, huh?  I guess we’re working on the principle that either:

  1. If they can admire the ugly sides first, they’ll love the front.
  2.  Who gives a damn what people think?  We have 27 feet of glass facing south!

Gee, am I sticking by my guns about the house orientation or what???

Roof on and window in for Mom’s visit in a week-and-a-half!  Now we need to build some stairs or something!

It’s Wet, but it ain’t Snowin’! January 8, 2007

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We’re in a little bit of a lull right now because it’s been raining Friday, Sat and today. It’s not so much the rain that’s the trouble though, it’s the wind. The crew needs to lift the north gable wall into position and then put the main roof beams in place to get the roof rolling. And if the wrong gust of wind comes up, it’s going to take the wall right off the deck and land it in the backyard. (In case you’re a bit new at this game…walls aren’t supposed to be in the back yard.)

Cut rafters waiting for the wind to die downIn the meantime, however, they’ve cut a lot of the rafters to put the roof on as quickly as possible. They’ve sheathed the small section of the roof by the fireplace. And they’ve gotten Miguel back from his extended vacation to Brazil, so the crew’s back to full strength now. The photo to the left is the rafters leaning up against the frame with an additional pile of cut rafters under the tarp on the ground.

Heather and I have been staying busy on our side too. I changed the plan on the single oven/double oven question. When I found out that the double oven was just $600 more and we’d save additional money by not having our cabinetry guy build the drawers under the oven, it came down to a $300-$400 cost to put a second oven in. We’re hoping that the new house will be a gathering point for family for years, so we opted up on this one – but we’re still $2500 under the original appliance budget we set for the house.

I met with Steve of Gene’s Woodworking in Milford on Sat. Steve’s building our kitchen cabinetry, so we measured the main kitchen wall and looked for problem spots. I’ll be meeting him at his shop later this week to finalize the plans and give him a deposit. In addition, we’re going to have him quote the cabinets for the bathrooms. In general, his work is about 5-10% over getting Kraftmaid cabinetry, but it’s more solidly built and we just like supporting local craftsmen.

Ralph says the roofing crews lined up for this week and the windows are due to be delivered on Thursday. In addition, Dave Richard is coming back on site to drop off upwards of 300 yards of fill and to work on the driveway a bit more. Should be a lot of progress in the next few days!

Walls going up. And Up. January 4, 2007

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Gable walls upThe gable end walls looked big when they were flat on the deck yesterday. Today? Wow! They’re way up there! The western walls are up, the shuthern wall is up and the northern wall is nearly finished on the deck. In addition, the sidewalls for the master bedroom are in place.

Master bedroom viewWith the master bedroom wall up, I could see the view out of the big window for the first time as well. The huge oak is nearly centered in the window when viewed from where the bed is going to be. Very cool!

Busy day today – also got a lower quote on home appliances thanks to a referral from our friend Katie. Ralph’s going to check around as well and see if he can save us a few hundred dollars more through any of his suppliers. We’ll be meeting with our cabinet maker on site Saturday morning and going over the kitchen cabinetry. In addition, we’ll see if he’s interested in building the bathroom cabinetry at the same time.

Got a chance to hang out with our neighbor Kevin and walk him through the house. It’s a shame that we’re building just 200 feet away from them since we’re both sitting on nearly 5 acres of land. Just a matter of where the best spot is on both our lots. We’ll plant some evergreens in the spring to start blocking the direct view from their house to ours. Kevin also told me there’s plans for a small development in the field just to the east of our house. Not really a surprise but not something you ever really want to hear. The good news is that the only windows in the house that look out that way are the eastern kitchen windows. There’s already a 40-foot buffer of forest in that direction and we can plant evergreens on that side as well in time.

Building before raising… January 3, 2007

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Second floor house walls ready for raisingQuick visit to the house today showed us that the second floors walls are nearly ready for raising.  They completed framing the complete western wall and sheathed both the western walls and the southern bedroom wall.  In addition, they framed and attached the overhanging sections of these walls.

The comparison of the second floor walls to the first floor walls isn’t something I’d thought of at all before yesterday.  Because of the massively irregular roofline of the house, there are very few second floor walls!  In a number of spots the roof sweeps all the way through and it’s the roof that will define the second floor rather than the walls.  In having John adapt the original house plans we had him remove 3 dormers  both to reduce price and because the smaller size dictated a simpler design.  We’ll have to see how those rooms look without those windows.
Tomorrow?  If they proceed apace, I’d expect to see some walls up!  Just found out today that my Mom’s visiting in 2 weeks, so let’s see how much gets done before she arrives!