Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting things done

On Monday, November 21, Charlie and Tom convinced our contractor to pour the floor in the basement. It was a totally crappy day, misty and miserable. Adam was reluctant, but Tom ran off to Lowe's and bought a gigantic tarp to cover over the top of the foundation to make the interior dry(er). Success! The floor turned out beautifully, and the boys were able to install the sill plates on top of the foundation walls the next day.

They had horrible weather again on Tuesday, even worse, really. Raining sideways, and the ground was a big mud hole. But they persevered and got the plate on top of the walls finished. Good thing they had their new matching rain suits on to keep them dry and warm!

Thanksgiving weekend ended up being perfect weather, so Tom and Charlie got all the floor joists in place on Friday. 

Inside the basement. The ceiling is high, more than 8 feet.

They were able to fix that gap.
It was a hard day's work, but they got all the joists done on Friday so we could start laying the subfloor on Saturday. The guys were really happy. So was I.
With the help of friends and family, we got the first floor built on the house on  Saturday. We had a crew of about 8 of us to lay the subfloor. What an operation! It was really a lot of fun, even though we worked really hard.
Chuck securing the stairway landing . . . with Brian's valuable help!
This gigantic 30x50 foot tarp covers the entire floor. The angle of this photo makes the house look crooked, but it's not. You can see the pond down beyond the right corner.

Since we won't be doing any more building until spring, we have to keep that floor dry. That's Tom, Charlie, Rocky, Nadine, and Brian sitting on the edge.

Tom and Charlie conferring after the last subfloor board is nailed down.
Then on Sunday, the three of us went back up to the property and got this kind of waterproof membrane laid over the decking and put the tarp back down. The guys tacked 1x2 strips along the rim joists to hold the tarp in place. It's a huge thing, 30x50'. We weighed it down around the perimeter too with rocks and block and heavy stuff to, I hope, keep it from blowing and lifting. We bought the patio door and windows for the basement today, it's Wednesday now, so Tom and I will be installing those possibly over this weekend.

It looks so much bigger inside the basement now that the long, load-bearing wall is up, and of course, with the ceiling in place, it really looks like rooms. There is a living room, a bedroom, and the new laundry bar and overflow room on the other side of the steps. Once the windows and door are put in, it will be official shelter from the weather. Hooray!

Tom at his worker dude finest.
Charlie flew back to Denver today, which is not hooray :(  He doesn't plan to be back here until probably April. We've all got to be patient now for the winter. He'll be taking off for Phoenix in a week or so, I guess. We'll be here doing some things to our Morgantown house, getting it prepared to sell. I'm really looking forward to that!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hoping for more dry weather

I took these pictures on Saturday November 12, 2011. The plumbing in the basement floor is in place. Now we're waiting for the inspection so the floor can be poured. This view is from the dock at the end of the big pond, also known as the Sea of No Cares.
After all the rain in September, we finally have had decent weather for most of the month of November. Wonderful, pleasant surprise.

 Catfish and bluegill come to the dock for treats. We've had four catfish at a time come right up to the edge to get bites of bread. I don't know if it's bad for them, but it sure is fun to watch.

This is Barry and Bushie. Spot and Scarface are down below.

And here's the dock. Feeding the fish is better than television.
This dock is the greatest. It's big enough to have the tent over it next summer.

This garden runs along the driveway. It's about 120 feet long and has all the nursery stuff that will go here and there eventually. We'll keep four witch hazels in there and some other things, but the bed was mostly made so we could get the plants in the ground before winter.
Gardeners live for the future.
The bed doesn't look very long from the end here. It doesn't look like there's much in it because all the plants are bare sticks.
I also wanted to show the house foundation in the background.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good weather for a few days

The weather is still holding, low 60s again today, sunny, perfect. Tom got the I-joists ordered yesterday. And the contractor got the foundation walls poured. That's a huge accomplishment, one we've been stressing about for, oh, like two months.

Now we've got to get the plumbing guy going. It would be so fine if he could get that done while the weather is warm and dry. Tom's ready to dig the trenches himself if Mr. Plumber is tied up.

We plan to head up there tomorrow and mulch the gardens so they don't wash out. I'm curious if that means T will also be digging trenches. Will post more pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A truly beautiful November day

So now it's Tuesday, and the contractor has told us the foundation walls will be poured tomorrow. It is just beautiful outside today, sunny, mid-50s. We'll see if tomorrow is as nice, I sure do hope so. I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude: Waiting until tomorrow will give the ground another day to dry, so maybe it won't be quite as muddy as I'm sure it is today. There, how's that for looking on the bright side?
This view is the back wall of the basement. We have to put that big window in case a fat fireman has to rescue someone from the back corner of the basement. First floor: dining area/kitchen from center to right. Bedroom to the left.

I need to write about the planting we've done at the property. My philosophy is to begin planting right away after you buy land, so that shrubs, trees, etc., will have some size to them within a couple of years. That way, everything gets a head start while we're building the house.

Tom made a border that's about 120 feet long by about 5 feet wide along the length of the driveway. It doesn't extend the entire length, but it's big enough to look like something. He spent a bunch of time stripping the sod with a machine and then removing the sod by hand. What a job that is. Then he tilled in (we bought a rototiller!) manure and peat moss and then dug in nursery planting mix to give the shrubs a boost.

The backbone of the bed is made up of four witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana), which will be small trees eventually. I had to plant as much of the nursery stock as would fit, so there are plants in the bed that will be moved as we create more gardens next year. There are at least seven hydrangeas (probably eight) of assorted varieties, mostly 'Limelight' and three Pinky Winky. I planted probably at least a dozen perennial hibiscus: Fantasia, Plum Pudding, Martha Washington. Nine sedum Autumn Fire anchor the end of this long bed. I put in several foxgloves and a few Asclepias plants too.

Five Viburnum dentatum are spaced in a hedge perpendicular to the bed, running along our joint driveway with Jim Stevens.  That's where I put the lamium and the couple of ferns I've had in pots all this summer. My vision is to have a six-foot wall of green there someday. These shrubs also get red berries that the birds like. It's a little far from where the house is, but at least they will serve a purpose by creating a uniform hedge that will wall us in a little bit at the end of the driveway.

Tom also got the three Austrian black pines planted. They're spaced about 20 feet or so apart along the turn in that same shared drive further down to the left, looking out from the garage. The trees will someday block out the view to Mae West road, and now they've got a head start before next summer.  

My goal is to plant several more pines along the bank down beyond the ponds so that the view to the road will be blocked in both summer and winter. The bank runs down into the woods all along the ponds, and I want to plant a bunch of pines, spruce, etc., to create a visual wall, and maybe block the sound a little too, although I don't figure they will help too much.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Learning patience

Earlier this summer, we bought 14.5 acres of property with our pal Charlie McCutcheon. The property is about a mile and a half south of Confluence on Mae West Road.

The land is mostly wooded with maybe three or so acres cleared. In the open area are a couple of ponds, one fairly large and impressive with a fishing dock, and the other about a quarter of that size, more of a shallow frog pond. There's also a third pond at the edge of the woods near where the house site is. It's frog-size too, but close to the house, so I've got lots of damp garden ideas running through my head.

The house is going to be rustic and two-story with a loft, bedroom, and bath upstairs. The first floor has two bedrooms, with the living room, dining area, and kitchen all open. The kitchen and dining part are beneath the loft. The living room has a cathedral ceiling that includes the loft. It is going to be so cool, I can hardly stand it. 

The porch wraps around three sides, and the house is turned at a slight angle to face the bigger pond, so we can sit on the porch and watch herons poking about for fish.

Okay, enough of the fantasy stuff, here's reality.
Oh yeah, we've got a long way to go. A very long way. This photo was taken around October 21.
We hoped to get the foundation dug and walls poured by mid-September, but the weather got in the way of that plan. September, in this part of the country anyway, turned out to be the rainiest it's been since weather has been tracked in the U.S. It was unbelievable. Charlie came in the middle of the month so we'd be ready to jump into construction when the foundation was done, but he ended up going back to Denver after waiting around for three weeks.

October has also been rainy, cold. And now, it's October 31. The foundation forms are finally built. Today is dry, so far anyway. There's a chance of rain, but then after today, it isn't supposed to rain for the next three or four days. Do we dare hope that we'll finally have walls made of concrete instead of rigid foam? I sure do hope so. The guys are not looking forward to working in the freezing cold, so now is the time to get crackin', eh?
Tom and Charlie will dive right into getting the first floor on and covered as soon as they're able. Then, the windows and the patio door will be installed, so we'll be closed up tight. The foundation forms are the insulation for the walls. Once the stove is installed, it'll be warm and dry in there to work. Our hopes are pretty modest for the rest of this year. Getting the basement dried in is about the best we can wish for. And when that happens . . . oh man, it will be so great!