Wood and Stone

A site to track our progress as we build our FirstDay Cottage Canadian house kit. Come on in, get a cup of coffee, set a spell and follow along on our journey or join in if you like. Check back for the weekly update (usually by Wednesday when things are going right) to see what we are currently up to!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Open A Window

The window we ordered for the attic area didn't arrive in the expected time, so we'll be leaving the scaffold tower up in back of the house another week while we wait for it to come in. There is no sense tearing it down, moving it and then having to put it back, as that is hours of work on each move. We have the rear loft window to put in, but I have been thinking that an extra set of hands on that would be great since we have to either move it up three levels of scaffold or bring it out the window hole in the loft.

Either way, I also didn't feel like scaling up and down three levels of scaffold this weekend after a 5K walk Thursday. We decided to put windows in on the front fo the house. By taking the two scaffold frames not on the tower section and the short planks from on top of the tower, we were able to make a nice platform to put windows in from.

Saturday, we arrived and after discussing all the prior information, we had to decide what to do and then set it up, which took a while. We cut open the Typar and started fitting sheathing boards to frame out the window holes by lunch time. Having used sheathing and strapping, we prefer the sheathing with the tongue and groove ripped off. It gives more room to nail into with the spikes and the windows.

Grandma Lana and the kids came up during lunch and were there for a few hours enjoying the nice weather while we worked, albeit slowly since Wendy was either suffering from heretofore unknown allergies or a head cold and I was a achey from the walking. By the end of the day we put in the two windows in the living room and were about ready to move on to the dining room after restocking on window supplies at the Home Depot.

The living room windows from the outside
Sunday we started out by cutting out the foam over the three holes for the dining room windows. Around Thanksgiving, Pop and I covered the windows over with Typar and foam. While this combo did seem to keep a lot of the wind out of the house as well as the weather, in retrospect it is way simpler to cut the foam around the window holes when you are putting the foam on (except when 3 levels up on scaffold trying to finish the peak where you decided to put another window). Cutting foam out of the window holes is a messy, ugly process. We got it all cut out, and Wendy measured the required sheathing pieces to frame the windows while I finished the window wrap (a bituminious tape we used) around the windows we put in on Saturday,

The living room windows from the inside

The rain stared midday and continued lightly while we put in the first window. When we put the second one up, we foudn that the frame was bowed out, such that the top and bottom fins were snug against the outside framework while I was able to put a finger behind the fin in the middle and still have room to wiggle it. After a quick call to FirstDay about it to see what we should do (set it aside and it will be replaced), we went back to get another window out of the crate and foudn that we had a bunch fo windows in the way that had to be moved. We moved the rear loft window up to the loft inside, and then decided to clean up and clal it a day as the weather showed no signs of changing, it was cool and it as getting to be 5pm.

The dining room table windows, in and cut out
Next weekend is a long one - Memorial Day. Pop is coming up to help for the weekend, and the weekend after that we are expecting Jay "The Hammer" to return with another friend, Eryk, to help us out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Month of Weekends

Life is busy. Life building a FirstDay Cottage is busier. Blogging the life building the house is probably overload, as evidenced by the occasional lapse in posting that I suffer.

I won't make excuses as to why it didn't happen for the last month (or more really). There have been lots of things that haven't happened in the past month, but what matters most is that building our house isn't one of them. I just want to say I will do my best to stay on target and not become a blog that sits abandoned part way through.

When I miss posting, I often write the entries separately, dated appropriately, for posterity. Now, you can take a look at the last couple of posts and catch up on what we have been doing since April. On to this week's update.

We picked up on the 'back' of the house pretty much where we left off last week. Saturday we finished the first layer of foam and managed to get the second layer of foam up to the third level of scaffold. Before moving on, we took and cut two of our 13 foot scaffold planks in half and added cleats to make five planks that fit one section of scaffold snugly. The cleats keep the planks from shifting and falling off the scaffold. These should make working on the high tower of the scaffold much safer.

The foam is mostly done!
Sunday (Happy Mother's Day!) we headed back into the fray, and finished the second layer of foam with the help of the new planks. Cutting and fitting the foam to the angle of the roof ate up a bunch of our time, but shortly after lunch it was all done

Foam complete on the back of the house
We still had some daylight left before we had to go to take Wendy and Grandma Lana out to eat for dinner, so we put in the bottom window on the back of the house. Since the scaffold is up there already, we will put the windows in before we move it around to the front to finish the foam there. We will have to move it back eventually to do the siding, but for now getting the windows in will do.

The latest window to be put in, from the inside at the base of the stairs up to the loft.
It's not on the original plans, but we decided to put a window in up at the top on the back of the house, since we plan on covering the collar ties to create a sort of attic area, and decided it would be nice to have some natural light and ventilation up there. We ordered a window for the 'attic' area last week and it should be in sometime this week to pick up. Now if the weather next weekend would only change from the rain they are currently predicting!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We're Getting the Band Back Together....

This weekend, Pop came up to help us out. This was his first time back since December and the first time he Wendy and I were all there together since November, so it was a good time for all.

Mimi and Pop were in the area on Thursday evening and Pop stayed over at Grandma Lana's, so I took off from the paying work on Friday to work on the house. Friday, we were a little behind after dropping the Matrix off at the dealership for repairs and stopping to get some sweet, sweet donuts from Bella Napoli bakery, so we didn't get to the site until about 10am.

We got down to work and started putting foam on the north side of the house. The foam on the living room side of the house went on very quickly and before I knew it, I was approaching the height of the Typar we had on, and before I knew it I had put the first layer of foam over an area with no Typar, working from the third level of scaffold. It was getting late, so we called it a day and decided to remedy that on Saturday

Saturday we started even later, since we had to go pick up the car, then made a run to Harbor Freight before heading up. Grandma Lana came to work with us since Grandpa Tom was watching the kids all day. She went to work on staining siding, while Wendy, Pop and I decided to tackle putting the staircase up as it was covering our cellar access hole. Wendy and I lifted the staircase while Pop inserted some 2x6s as braces to hold the stairs in place after we lifted them up.

Once it was up Pop maneuvered the stairs into the exact position it needed to be in by walking it up and down with another 2x8 and a pry bar. We were able to get it flush to the ceiling and pretty level with that method.

When it was in place, I took the 1 inch plate we had made last week and with Pop's help, put it in behind the outside stringer to take up the space between the stairs and the beam. I think using the discarded end-piece from the stringer really makes it look good.

The stairs in place and secured
The best feeling was, after the stairs were up and secured, when Pop looked them over said that it was a good looking staircase. He was a Union carpenter when he was younger (when I was still little he got out of it), and of course knows or what he speaks. He told us all sorts of stories as we worked about the guys who were really good at stairs, and even admitted he found stairs to be difficult, so I took his compliment as high praise of the job we did on them. Now we just need to cut out the loft decking over the stairs so we can actually use them, but that is rainy day work.

After finishing the stairs and having some lunch, we went back to work on the foam. We pulled the remaining scaffold planks out of the loft, where they have been since we finished the roof sheathing last year. We figured that they had been I put the missing Typar in place behind the foam I put up Friday night and covered the rest of the West side of the peak with foam, as far as I could reach from my lofty perch before calling it a day.

Buttoning up the west side of the peak
Pop decided to stay and work until lunch on Sunday to help us get the foam as buttoned up on the back of the house as possible. We shuffled the third level tower of scaffold over to do so more work. We only have 2 short planks (short enough to cover only one scaffold section, or 2 frames) and only one of them has cleats to help keep it in place, so we put the longer planks on the top so as to have a platform to work on (especially since I needed to use a step stool to get the foam at the peak).

After adding some more foam, I had an accident. After a while of being up on the scaffold you get relaxed with it, and even though I had markers to show where not to walk past, when Pop asked a question of me I thoughtlessly stepped over the line. Fortunately we had the better part of a deck of planks below me, and the plank I was on slid 6 feet down and hit the deck on the second level of scaffold. After recovering and getting off the plank onto the second level of decking, I was a little startled, but full of adrenalin, so I started to put to planks back. When I moved underneath the tower to push the planks back, I stepped on a plank that had shifted a few inches and it swung up and fell through. I caught my weight and was able to stay on a plank on good footing, but now I was shaken. I sat down for a few to get my self settled, and afterward I put the planks back up and came down to have some lunch.

Grandma Lana came up with the kids and Mimi showed up to pick up Pop, so we all chatted for a while and ate lunch. The kids enjoyed seeing the stairs, though they were disappointed that they couldn't actually go up them to the loft. Everyone else took off, leaving Wendy and me to finish the foam. After getting up on the scaffold again, my arms and back were aching - I guess the adrenalin had worn off. I was feeling exhausted, so I came back down and We put some Typar over the bottom of the front door hole to keep the water out of the basement - we had collected a small puddle on the floor inside that had leaked in where there was no paper. At that point we called it a day and vowed to finish the foam next weekend. I also decided I would cut down two of our long planks next week to make enough short planks that this wouldn't be an issue again.

A first layer of foam on the peak of the gable end
The scaffold is one of the most valuable investments we have made in this house, and we aren't even finished with it yet! I got very lucky that things went the way they did, though. The plank deck on the third level of scaffold is eighteen feet above the ground, which could have resulted in a very serious fall (even 6 feet is enough to hurt you badly), not to mention the planks and tools that could have been falling on top of me after hitting the ground. The last thing anyone needs is that. We also tied the tower of scaffolding off the the bents inside the house to keep the wiggle down and make things safer. Be careful out there, and I will be too.