Friday, July 29, 2022

Not Quite Ready

(Perhaps some of you are enjoying a heat wave right now-- in that case I hope the timing of these building re-cap posts cools you down!)

As we were enjoying days where the temps were in the 50s, winter suddenly looked over its shoulder and said, "Hey, I forgot Oregon!"


Well, a little dusting of snow doesn't hurt. 

Well okay, six inches or so for sledding. Fine. 

Remembering the roof snow avalanche in an earlier winter, I steered clear of all eves, climbing up on the side of the porch instead. 

True to their word, the drywall pros came back the first of February. The announcements were thrilling: "This room is ready to paint!" "That room is ready to paint!" 
They moved down to the first floor and started doing what they could, but it turned out that we weren't really ready for them down there. We needed to re-build some in some places, re-plumb in some places, and order a bunch of materials. With all the time it takes to tape, mud, remud, mud again (not to mention if the pros were even available to come back), not being ready could mean quite a delay in wall progress. 

We couldn't manage to sell the ol' snow car. It was too much of a lemon and my honest husband ended up talking everyone out of buying it. Eventually the Prius went up for sale instead. And yes, now you can laugh. 

I just want to put a note here about not being ready from what we learned. Get a detailed list from the contractor of what he needs to have in, be done, or see before he comes out to do his part of the job. Don't rely on your memory, write it down! If you are doing stuff, or another sub-contractor needs to do stuff, make sure you have that list and check it twice. Also, something I recently learned from a contractor: nowadays, if you are not ready for a contractor when they show up at the appointed time, you will most likely be charged a gas fee & hourly fee for all their trouble and time to drive their diesel pickup out to a non-job that day. This can occur even if you forgot to leave a key for them to get into the job; they really don't like that kind of delay. So make sure you think ahead!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

More Interior Structure and the Forgotten Laundry Chute

 More beam-lifting resulted in this new, improved-looking window bay structure. I can't find if I took any photos of the installation but it was quite a strenuous thing to put this structure up. 

Heavy 6x12" beams rest on 6x6" posts. 

Some fancy cuts to join beams.

It is more in keeping with the look that is in the rest of the main floor. 

Meanwhile, upstairs, the laundry chute was going in. It wasn't quite in the place we thought it would go, nor was it quite the size I envisioned. This was because we forgot to mark it clearly for the plumbers and heating folk, who put drains and lines right where the chute was supposed to be, and then we forgot it ourselves and put more things in the way! We had to "go back to the drawing board." We went round and round on design options, and came up with compromises to move it to a new location. As soon as I saw it under construction, I knew it would not work. There was that moment when I had to disappoint everyone who was bending over backwards to put in this feature just for me. Did they really think that they were going to shove a handful of bath towels and work jeans down a chute that size? I had to admit that we were out of options and the laundry chute was not to be. Yes, it was plumbed and wired right out of the house!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Fine Day for some Siding

You may recall that our siding could not go up over our special exterior insulation unless the weather was in the 60s.  Surprisingly one week in January was in the 50s, but the sun was warming up that south wall to the 60s! So the crew jumped at the opportunity and finally got the front siding up!

One of my neighbors has said that here you have first winter, first spring, second winter, second spring, third winter... and it seems to ring true. Some of our Januaries may as well be April, and in some Aprils you wish you could have kept your studded tires on your car a little longer!

 It was also a fine weather for a walk. Daily January walks are the norm for us around here. 

A short walk up the hill behind our house rewards us with mountain views. 

I don't recall what is being pointed at, but we sure have some interesting rocky spaces around here. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Working Indoors

I have so many sunset photos on here, but rarely dawn. So here's one for you. 

The day brought snow, however. 

It was nice to work indoors on snowy days!

With the drywall up some of the echo came back, but it did reflect the winter light and brighten things up.  It was easy to imagine how nice it was going to be to live here during the winter. 

This interesting shot shows what is underneath one of the bathrooms. There was supposed to be a laundry chute up there somewhere. Sigh. 

The blue or green drywall boards have to do with waterproofing. This wall is the washer/laundry tub area. All of the plumbing is going to be hidden by cabinetry, so that it is in the conditioned space rather than between the wall.  

There were of course some late nights working up at the house, but admittedly it was so much better than it used to be. We were no longer in the days of spending the evening there working only lit by a few shop lights. Those days of no windows to block the wind blowing in, the rain dripping through the ceiling, and kids huddling around a propane heater waiting to go home. We were making progress. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Heat and Floors?


We lost our drywall Pros to other jobs in late December and January, but they assured us that since we were ready for them to finish upstairs, they would give us the whole month of February. In the meantime, the boys hung drywall downstairs.

I was often asked what we had to do to get in, and here is what once inspector told: heat, a full bathroom, a kitchen sink and washable surface in the kitchen. Seems so simple, right? But in reality it wasn't that minimal and those few things did not come very fast. That orange coil meant that the in-floor heat was on its way, but we were nowhere near a kitchen sink install.

Around that time I learned how to make a house disappear. This information was from a friend who wanted to build on their acreage without taking down the existing (perfectly fine) structure. They said they were told by their county that they would have to either tear down the other house or just take out the stove. So I wondered: if you take a stove out of a house it is considered “torn down," so if we just put a stove in would we get our occupancy certificate? 

Somewhere behind this tangle of plumbing, electrical and radiant heating lines is a bathtub. We missed a fantastic opportunity to put the radiant heating lines UNDER the tub. It was in the plans but somehow things got re-routed and forgotten. 

The shiny brass knobs of the radiant heating manifold. They look like you would be able to control things with them but we actually have not figured out the fine-tuning yet. 

We had to shift some things around on our house calendar because of the delay in the drywall progress. Having a calendar planning night was really good for us during that time, it helped us to see what was coming up and realize what we had to research and order. Every time we drop off the planning, work seems to slow to a halt. 

(Don't get excited; those prices are really old)
 One of the things we decided we could start doing while waiting for the drywall was shop around for flooring. We did stop at a flooring store to see if we could plan that purchase, but the salesman didn’t seem to know much and we felt like we wasted our time.  Flooring couldn't go down until the walls were done anyway.  

The order things should be done for wood floors was sometimes hard to juggle in my mind. The purchase and delivery had to be just so for timing. For instance, we wanted to paint the walls first. Although you are supposed to let your wood floors sit in the house weeks before you lay them, you are not supposed to acclimate wood flooring when there is paint drying (it adds too much humidity I guess). So you can't paint the walls if your flooring is already delivered and acclimating. Oh, and the radiant floor heat had to be installed and you don't want stacks of flooring in the way, so paint then heat. And the weather affects wood flooring installation. By the time I counted up the rest of the delays I could see there wasn't any hope of ordering flooring anytime soon. At least we were beginning the process of thinking about it!

Here's a cross-section of what we were looking at, adhered to some plywood. My husband wasn't exactly impressed with this stuff. 

Stair backing also had to be thought about. More things to add to the list. 

I would like to say our new year's work was "cut out for us" but the fact was we DIY-ers had to do all the cutting! I couldn't wait until something could be bought pre-made and installed, like a cupboard!

Monday, July 18, 2022

A Construction Christmas

Guess I'm going to blog about Christmas in July! It just so happens that the snowy winter posts will be up during the heat of summer. Hopefully it will be a nice relief from the heat for some of my readers. 

We were sick the end of one construction year (no, it was not 2020) and had to put off the Christmas gatherings until we were all well. So we spent the day at up at the house, just to get out of the RV. 
(It was amazing to look back now and see how often we were sick before we discovered the benefit of hiding away from all other human beings. I don't know what is going to happen to us when we get out and about again.)

Just look at that stairwell! Wow what a difference drywall made. 

This bathtub area did not get an arch like the master bath. The entire alcove here was to prove troublesome later on.

Since we had to put off Christmas, we took the day to give small gifts and venture out for a walk. This deer trail behind our house seems to point straight to the place that eventually housed my garden. Coincidence? More on that later.

Those who felt like it put on a Christmas concert, Construction style.

When we were better, we drove up to The Dalles to meet with relatives for the holidays. It is another place we love. 

Some cool murals there!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Arch, Oops, and sundry items

Since the weather prohibited the exterior work, my husband turned his mind to refining the interior, like building this arch in the master bathroom. It takes quite a bit of calculating in structure and little cuts in the drywall to make it do this!

One day we had quite a windstorm. It started in the Willamette Valley, and my folks called me to tell me about it. I timed it from their call, and an hour later it showed up here!
 I know RV's and camper trailers are built for going down the interstate at 55 MPH, but when strong winds hit it I would get nervous. I took the children up to the house to spend the afternoon. You could hardly hear the storm in there. Yay for 8 inches of insulation!

Look, a DOOR! The master bedroom was primed, cleaned, and a door installed to keep out the dust. This was because my husband was able to start work remotely and needed to keep his computers clean from construction debris. No, this wasn't yet 2020 so he was ahead of the trend. The nice thing was that he could skip two hours of daily driving in upcoming winter weather. Although he could take any mostly finished area of the house, we eventually realized something: we had not put an office in the house plan. We did have a nook designed for a "command center" type space, but not a full blown office space. Oops!

My "command center" nook (which included a place for a computer) also changed about that time. It was going to be in one of the corner closets of the bay window structure in the dining room. Since the weather prohibited outdoor work, this was one space that my husband turned his mind to. Down the 2x4's came and a new plan was made for the bays, and the computer closet was unfortunately going to be narrower. 
Measuring and cutting drywall


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Mudding and Paint Chips

Paint chips. We knew we wanted a combination of whites. It wasn't as simple as it sounded!

Though not as tedious as watching someone caulking every little hole on the exterior siding, there is a bit of a wait with the drywall. First comes the layer of paper tape that is adhered by “mud” to all the seams of the drywall, and the holes from the screws or nails are filled in too. Oh, and the Pros filled in all of the holes poked in the wrong places, huge gaps around outlets, and other mistakes that we made! Then after all that is dry, it is sanded. Then another layer of mud goes over all that but just covers a little more territory, then once that is dry, it is sanded. Then another layer. It goes on for I don’t know how many turns until that last layer of mud is quite wide.

In order to do these multiple passes, the drywall team had to come back numerous times. That was fine, until they progressed to a point where we forgot to build a wall, or we needed to suddenly move a wall about 6 inches, or put in an arch that somehow wasn’t done earlier. That is when we said, “Uh, we’ll call you,” and the Pros went and get another job to pass the time. Then of course when you call, you are on the bottom of the list. 

Nevertheless, we progressed  to the point where we could pick out paint! 
While I was in confusion over shades of white, my daughter knew what she wanted. A bright yellow called "Chickery Chick" caught her eye. It looked about like the yellow you would use on a curb or a fire hydrant. I was buying samples of something a little more pastel. 

Before we could prime the rooms, all the walls had to be sanded, dusted, damp-patted, cleaned. It was hard! Every speck of dust had to be gone otherwise the paint would not adhere. I tried all kinds YouTube contractor's methods, but I still missed some spots that would haunt me later. 
With electricity at the house, Interior work could go as the days got shorter.