Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Big Beam Tuesday

Because it was such a big day on the job site, it deserves another post. Here's a time lapse with two bits of video showing how hard the fellas worked today. When the beam got near the top, I had to silently bail and climb down because I just couldn't watch anymore. The guys were doing a great job of keeping it safe, but I began to feel nauseous from the degree of difficulty. But, it took me so long to climb down (unlike Bill the Monkey) that they were done by the time I got down to the first floor and I was able to get the big thumbs up of a finished task before I fully retreated. Take a look at the photos and video, and realize how your homes may have been built. Who knew?

...or is Bill a superhero?

There's really no other way to say it. If a team of four people can lift a heavy beam into the air, aren't they superheroes? Today, the biggest beam in the house was put into place with a lot of intelligent planning and hard work. It's enough to make a concerned office-worker wife go green with nausea watching this happen, but no one was injured and a big feat was a big success. Who needs play action figures when you've got the real thing?

Is Bill a monkey...

When all of your ladders are already pressed into service and you need to climb down from the second floor, you just swing from the rafters.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

One handsome transom

One side benefit of our little project is all the cool words that I get to learn. Like "transom." I've heard Bill talk about them in the past, but for some reason, the definition doesn't seem to stick, perhaps because I am visually oriented. So, when he said, "Let's go talk about the transom," I said, "Uh, sure."

According to the Wikipedia entry that quotes the Efficient Windows Collaborative, "In architecture, a transom is the term given to a transverse horizontal structural beam or bar, or to the crosspiece separating a door or the like from a window above it, as opposed to a mullion which refers to a vertical structural member." Right. No wonder I'm having trouble with recall. Thanks a mullion for another new word!

So, here's our soon-to-be handsome transom, or at least where the transom will go, separating our living room from the office. At some point, we will find an old salvage window to install in this space to allow light to be shared between the two rooms via skylights and windows. Don't be concerned with the seriously out-of-plum framing. That is an artifact of taking a panoramic photo on its side, the only way to get a shot from floor to ceiling. That's just how we roll.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Evita balcony is heading north

This the back wall, where our bedroom will be located. There will be a small balcony named "The Evita Balcony," from which I expect to address my people, AKA the dogs. No singing, though. Wouldn't want a people's revolt.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dogs don't climb ladders alone

Tinker wants very much to join the crew up on the second story but can't quite master the ladder. She will be running up and down the stairs soon, though. After some fine carpenter builds them. Don't tell her that Bill once carried 55-pound Nikki up a ladder to a roof. Woof!

Goodbye, knob and tube

One of the things we will be most happy to leave behind is our old knob and tube wiring. But, we will keep the pieces to use in a future piece of art. We were required by the insurance company to install a circuit breaker instead of the original fuse box way back when we bought the house, but the old wiring was still in use. Until now!

Take a wide view of things

This is already one of my favorite spots in which to stand and take in the project. The left portion is the kitchen, looking towards the living room near the front door. The middle doorway goes to the laundry room with half bath. The right side is the family room, where we expect to host many of you sometime. The sunlit area in the middle right will be a stairwell to the second story. Click for a larger view.

The old west boardwalk

Every girl in the Old West needs a boardwalk to keep her petticoats out of the mud. Or, just her shoes. Thanks to Bill's thoughtfulness, nary a shoe leather or other man-made product touches much wet ground on this job site.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Destruction is the new progress

Lots of people around the country are are anxiously awaiting the first snowfall, either in their yard or in nearby mountains. Instead, when I arrived home last night, I was very happy to see sawdust on the ground, more exciting than snow for me. No sledding, though. Too many slivers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A window to re-use

For a while now, Bill has been collecting quality windows from job sites, windows that were mistakenly ordered and could not be returned, or nice windows that were removed just because the owner wanted something different. So, we are the beneficiaries. These windows have been planned into the design and will be going in soon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Making nimbus nimble

When the skies open up, we are happy. Really. We had a dry year last year, and our summer water supply comes from fall/winter clouds and snow pack. Part of the joy of living in California is the rarity of rain between May and October. But, since it took so long to get our permit, we got a late-in-the-year start on our project. Until we get a roof on, we are spending time and effort being rain-ready. Bill has installed boards like this to create a peak in the tarp to help the rain to run off the site rather than create a pool that will in short time burst down onto the framing. The foam ends help the sharp ends from piercing the tarp. I know construction people think this is ordinary, but for a girl who works in an office, I love watching the little details that go into making this project a success.

[Insert Star Trek joke here]

Ah, the things that office workers don't have to accomplish and rarely think about. How do you get a huge, heavy beam (wait, two of them) up onto the second floor so you can begin to frame the second floor? You work together as a team using levers instead of muscles. None of this could have occurred until we passed the nailing inspection to be sure that the second story subfloor was properly installed. On a narrow lot with little extra space, you get creative and use your years of experience to make it happen. And, they're up there.  Excellent work!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It was a dark and stormy night...

...or we expect it to be. The forecast is for a fair amount of rain starting late tonight and going for a day or so.  Yahooeee.

To help protect the framing, Bill spent several hours installing a protective tarp. Sounds straightforward as a task, kind of similar to covering a baseball field when the weather turns, lots of fluid movement, the team swooshing the tarp onto the playing field. Yeah, not so much when your playing field is one story up and the tarp is folded tight.

Bill asked for my help to get things started and I was immediately grateful that I work in an office. I've seen him scoot up ladders quickly and solidly for years, but it was a challenge for me to climb up to the partial plywood surface covering the second-floor joists. Then, we had to start unfolding the tightly wrapped new tarps. Oh, did I say that there were two? Yeah. That was an online ordering hiccup that I won't describe here. :-|

The unfolding was a slow, steady process of unwrapping the heavy tarps, re-orienting, unfolding more, rotating, rinse, repeat. Fortunately, our friend and neighbor Fred came by to lend a hand, and since he is an experienced house painter, he is comfortable climbing all around on houses and was able to take over and help more than I could. Here's part of the story:

Bill came in for dinner and the final inning of the Giants game and then went back out until 9:00 pm to finish up. What can I say, he's a machine.

Meet Tinker

Tinker lives with John, our architect, and comes to "help" on the days that John is with us. She's a beautiful, tall young lady who enjoys chewing, romping, napping and long walks on the beach.


The team helps install second-floor joists. We couldn't do it without them!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

All heart

This has two purposes, to cause rain to run off of the tarp and to make the wife giggle.
This was found during the house demo and Bill added it to his heart-shaped collection.

Hey, iOS-ers!

If you would like to see our video clips, they are invisible on the iPad. And, the iPhone just shows a single video frame with no playback. So, if you see a big empty chunk in a posting, use a good old-fashioned computer. :-}

The big beam

Bill returned home from his latest civic activity and informed me that I forgot to show "the big beam" in this morning's video snippet. So, here 'tis.

And, here it is again with brackets.

A beautiful sunny Saturday

Our man Hank, enjoying the morning sun

Kyro gets what we call "sun drunk"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lumber Thursday

The lumber delivery truck brought more wooden goodness today.

Thinking about how to stack the new lumber so we don't create a lot of extra work moving it around as it is needed.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Working for lumber

The second story was delivered on Friday.

The Basenji Trap

Kyro learned on Friday that what looks like a platform isn't always a platform. She stepped off a piece of plywood and onto newly installed insulation and promptly fell through to the crawlspace below. She had nothing more serious than cartoon birds circling her head, so no worries there. But, she quickly learned to stay on the plywood. In fact, she is staying on top of multiple pieces, just to be sure.

The Basenji Trap

The Basenji, Untrapped

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The next phase

Our next inspection will cover the under-floor goodies like plumbing. After the inspection, plywood sub-flooring will be installed.

Copper is a girl's best friend, since it brings a new bathroom.

Lots'o lumber

Saturday, September 1, 2012


noun \-ˌsil\
Definition of MUDSILL
1: a supporting sill (as of a building or bridge) resting directly on a base and especially the earth
2: a person of the lowest social level
First Known Use of MUDSILL: 1685

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our favorite remodeling joke

Just for fun, here’s our favorite remodeling joke:
Two men in a pickup truck drove into a lumberyard. One of the men walked in the office and said, “We need some four-by-twos.”

The clerk said, “You mean two-by-fours, don’t you?”

The man said, “I’ll go check,” and went back to the truck. He returned in a minute and said, “Yeah, I meant two-by-fours.”

“All right. How long do you need them?” The customer paused for a minute and said, “I’d better go check.”

After a while, the customer returned to the office and said, “A long time. We’re gonna build a house.”

The foundation!

The forms are prepared for the big pour.

The compactor
The team gets in on the action
The forms are ready.

The Putzmeister is in (at) the house!
That Spawn, always in some kind of trouble.
An epic battle ensues to avoid the impending concrete.

Removing the old foundation

A look into what it takes to remove an old foundation.

Finding your heart

Our friends and neighbors Fred and Jan collect heart-shaped rocks and this inspired Bill to start our own collection while he's in Missouri each spring to canoe with old friends. He has brought home a big collection of heart rocks that he has found out in nature.

Removing the old foundation again reminded us of our heart-shaped world.

Lift the house, remove the old foundation, no problem

Because we need to leave half of the old walls, we needed help to lift the house so that the old foundation could be removed and a new, stronger one installed underneath. We got some help from the team.

Who couldn't use some help from Superman?

Lift, everyone!
The house is finally lifted and the foundation begins to be removed.

"So, what are you keeping of the old house?"

It feels like an old vaudeville joke, but the only part of the house we are keeping (besides the part we are required to keep, 50 percent of the contiguous walls) is the address. Literally. These numbers were on the house when we bought it and we kind of like them. So, they will get restored and rebuilt with new back lighting and be installed in the new house when the time comes.

Zip, zero, none.

We discovered on our first night in the house that there isn't a stitch of insulation in the place. We were laying in bed, about to fall asleep, when we heard voices, voices that seemed to be in our living room. But, no! The voices were coming from some people two houses down who were standing on the sidewalk. No big deal, right? The summer in the house was unbearably hot, and the winter was absolutely freezing. On winter mornings, it was often warmer outside than in. It was semi-exciting to rip open the walls and finally see what was causing all of that discomfort. Zip, zero, no insulation.