Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Building in Slow Mowtion

Ed has been trying to do all things all the time, and keeping up with all the stuff that has to be done has been a frustration. The growth has exploded. Just take a look at the trees in the first entry pictures, and the ones a week later. Needless to say, the 15 acres of pasture were in dire need of mowing. What Ed wants to be doing is building. But since I'm too much of a wimp to learn to drive the tractor, Sunday after church, he took time out to do it. 6 hours on Sunday and 6 Monday morning took care of it. He did have company.. a pair of nesting ravens took advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet that the brushhog turns up, and low and behold, the king of the sky showed up for dessert. He's been hanging around in a dead tree next to the pasture. With any luck he'll decide to move in permanently.

After lunch (Ed's, not the bird's), it was back to the garage. The first order of business was to rip off the old siding, put up 5/8"plywood for earthquake sheer, and drill holes in the existing foundation for tie-downs. Fortunately the existing foundation is sufficient for the second story addition. After the holes were drilled, Ed attached some plastic tubing to the compressor and blew out all the cement dust.

He shot the epoxy in each hole and sank the bolts, then installed eight of these super-duper tiedowns. And that's just the north side. These will go all around the foundation. Between the plywood going inside and out, and the tiedowns, this baby isn't going anywhere. At the risk of tempting fate, when Mt. Ste. Helens blows, we may have the last standing building along the Columbia. Seriously, after going through the Loma Prieta Quake in '89, there is no such thing as overbuilding for a major seismic event.
Once that was done, he marked out the top plates for the rafters and nailed those up. Next week the weather is supposed to be pretty good (subject to change at the drop of a hat) and Ed expects to be able to put up the rafters and the plywood flooring. That's the point that it will feel like the project is moving forward.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Keeping your head(er) on straight

First a little housekeeping.. for those of you who tried to pull up the website for the barn, one teenie extra punctuation mark can really mess stuff up.. it's actually I goofed and put in a parentheses where it shouldn't have been. And for the curious, here's a picture of the barn.

Ed is still working on demo on the garage. He said it feels like it's taking forever. But it's out with the old and in with the new. He finished taking out all the old roof joists, took down the garage door opener, and unhooked the electrical on Sunday.

The inside of the garage looks pretty weird without a roof. I keep opening the garage door and being surprised. Plus I've gotten used to storing stuff there...charcoal, extra chicken feed, you know..stuff. Now it's either wet, or relocated and I can't remember where it is.

Monday morning, after some manuevering, Ed figured out how to lift a gazillion pound gluelam header up all by himself. Now you know and I know that he's not called Big Ed for nothing. All that time in the gym comes in handy, but I was a little doubtful. Fortunately he has more than muscle between his ears. He rigged up some 2x6s and chain to the tractor forklift..the boards were notched to keep the chain from slipping down..and eeeever so slowly hoisted that baby up smoooooth as butter! It was pretty amazing!

Tuesday the game was called for rain, so we drove into town for supplies. The bad part is that we're an hour from a town of any size and it takes forever. The good news is..we're an hour away from a town of any size. Anyway between driving and the rain, it pretty much shot one day. Next weekend construction may be pre-empted by mowing. The grass in the pasture is getting so long the dog has to jump up to see where she is. Maybe we should just get sheep....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Long journeys begin with the first step.

Welcome to the first entry of what I hope is a fun experience. My motto has always been "If you can't have fun at work, you might as well not show up". This ought to carry through just about everything, with the possible exception of hitting one's toe with a flooring hammer. I have it on good authority that that's not worth showing up for. The main objective will be to share our building experience, and to have a good time.
By the grace of God and dumb luck, we found the dream property. Forty acres with a creek, a little valley and a pre-existing 3 car garage, and a decent double-wide. The view off the back is spectacular. It has a good well and the house site is well above the flood zone. Wo Hoo! Elk and eagles abound. Deer, coyotes..and it's too wet for rattlesnakes! A big deal for two kids who grew up in the desert.
Ed and I moved to southwest Washington on Thanksgiving day 2005. After a 15 hour drive from Santa Cruz, California (yes, more of those dreaded Californians) we arrived tired and excited with a dog, two really irritated cats, a pickup truck loaded to the gills, towing a trailor with the beloved but neglected Boss 302 Mustang. We looked like an ad for a Steinbeck movie.
Fortunately only the most important stuff we owned was in cardboard boxes in the truck. The rest was due in a week via moving van. Did I mention it was raining? Of course it was! The cardboard was not happy.
We've cleared acres of blackberry vines, some with canes the size of small trees. They were so thick in places it completely hid the hulk of an old pickup truck. Only when we got the old vines beaten back and a scrap metal hauler in to remove it did we discover the hay baler behind it! The darned vines were so thick you couldn't even see it! We hauled 24 old tires to the dump, and removed miles of barbed wire cross fencing. Man, that's nasty stuff! With that done, Ed built a beautiful barn ( with the help of family, friends, and neighbors. Yes, a good old fashioned barn raising! Do you have any idea how many smoked ribs and potato salad it takes to feed 12 ravenous guys? Well.. it's a lot!
Last summer was the Septic Summer. Ed updated and expanded the septic system in anticipation of starting the real building project. which is.... Taa Daa ..

Since we already have the existing garage and a spectacular view off the back into the valley, we decided to build the house and garage side by side instead of in an el as shown. The garage studio will be first. We will live in the studio above while we build the house. and yes,
Ed will be building it by himself.

And so it begins. We were waiting for it to stop raining so we could start construction. AHAHAHAHAHAA It's Washington. It rains here all the time. Actually that's a well-cultivated lie. The weather here is amazing...but I digress. Ed has started ripping off the roof of the garage.
Thank goodness for the tractor. What a workhorse!

The twins, Midnight and Mittens are functioning as union stewards. They use every opportunity to check out the job site. They don't seem to be bothered by the noise of the tractor, the nail guns or the compressor. They just won't wear the darned hardhats!
Ed is only home three days a week to work on the house, and it kills him when the weather gets in the way. So he decided to just go ahead and rip the plywood off anyway and make good use of tarps for the stuff left in the garage. The lumber delivery is enroute and he wants to get the new header up as soon as possible. Ok and I'll just say this once.. I'm not doing the work, I'm just typing, so if I use the wrong term or call something by the wrong name..well.. nobody dies. Just take a breath, OK? So here's the first load of stuff .. wood, joists, gluelam, shingles, exterior wrap. It's kinda like getting all the stuff under the Christmas tree but not being able to open anything to play with it.
And to me, it's all a bit overwhelming. How does he know where all that stuff goes? Or how it goes together..or if something's missing? But Ed says it's just a whole lot of baby steps. Heck, I don't even know how to crawl! Guess I'll learn.