The Little Things

We must remember all kinds of details to finish this house properly. Early this week we brought a variety of subcontractors back to the site. Now that drywall is up, Chuck’s Heating and Air Conditioning can install ductwork and machinery in the mechanical room, and Bugbee can blow insulation in the attic. Tim from Pillsbury Excavation returned to improve our footer drains so the backyard doesn’t flood, and the stove contractor stopped by to install and connect the propane tank. It’s rarely easy getting contractors to come when you want them, so kudos to Colin and Terry for their persistence.

Joe installs a maze of ducts in the mechanical room.

Joe installs a maze of ducts in the mechanical room.


The propane tank, hidden along the south side.

The propane tank, hidden along the south side.

Outside, Arnie visited another day to install more decking. The cool detail here is the way the planks fit around the posts. Terry left room for perimeter planks to form a continuous border, and cut out square notches so they fit snugly. (Eventually we will clad the posts to match the farmhouse style.) It looks really slick.

Don't you agree?

Don’t you agree?

Inside, there’s lots of touch-up paint required. The window extensions got really beat up over the past few months, surrounded as they were by construction activities, so I sanded off the bumps and ridges and then Abby brushed on two coats of white paint. That’s a work in progress. Abby also touches up each ceiling after she finishes the walls, covering up the inevitable daubs of paint that miss their mark. It’s tedious work, but someone has to do it.

Library walls are all painted; the living room and first-floor hall have one coat to go. Nat comes to help as needed. Painting is now on the critical path, because we want the paint to dry before we install flooring… and yesterday the flooring was delivered!

Several wall and ceiling colors visible looking up the stairs. I love the crisp lines.

Several wall and ceiling colors visible looking up the stairs. I love the crisp lines.

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Insulate is Great

The insulation crew blows cellulose into the walls... wearing much-needed face and skin protection.

The insulation crew blows cellulose into the walls… wearing much-needed face and skin protection.

Early this week, Bugbee Insulation stuffed the last bits of dense-packed cellulose into the exterior walls. But that’s not all they did. They foamed around the perimeter between floors, where floor joists sit atop the double walls. They unrolled fiberglass batts to offer a small measure of insulation in the breezeway. They also used batts on the interior for soundproofing, filling in walls around the bathroom and the ceiling between the kitchen and master bedroom.

Batts in the breezeway.

Batts in the breezeway.

The kitchen-ceiling insulator wore stilts!

The kitchen-ceiling insulator wore stilts! (That’s drywall propped against the walls… read on.)

Terry, Colin, and I stayed out of their way and continued the never-ending job of wiring the house. We ran a stiff telephone cable from the outdoor pedestal back to the road, Terry pulling it through the conduit with a rope while Colin and I unrolled the cable straight. Colin called the phone company with this news, and we’ll have operational phone lines as soon as Waitsfield Telecom completes the connection. We also wired some electrical circuits in the Barn, including the garage doors. No longer will somebody need to reach up and connect an extension cord to each garage door plug at the end of the day.

Also, the kitchen arrived. A massive tractor trailer from Pennsylvania-based Wood-Mode delivered 84 pieces including cabinets, doors, and trim. They’ve taken up residence in the Barn (good thing we have so much storage space!), to be installed after the drywall is installed and taped.

Some assembly required.

Some assembly required.

Speaking of which, the drywall is here too. A massive delivery arrived yesterday from the Wallboard Supply Company, who unloaded it into all the rooms in the house. Since it’s preferable to minimize the number of joints, some pieces are very long and unwieldy, up to 16 feet. We popped out that second-floor window for them, and later in the day we finally installed it for good, glue and nails and all. A new crew can begin the drywall installation tomorrow, now that our impressive insulation is complete.

An onboard crane hoists the drywall delivery to the open second-floor window. Good forward planning.

An onboard crane hoists the drywall delivery to the open second-floor window.

Wall Stuffing

Bugbee Insulation spent all week stuffing cellulose into the first and second floor exterior walls. It’s tedious work: one person in a truck breaks the insulation off compacted blocks and into a vacuum hose, and another crew member inside the house directs the other end of the hose. When a portion of wall is filled and bulging, they remove the hose and compress the cellulose back into the wall. They repeat this process over and over, day after day… makes me glad I’m not an insulator.

Unloading cellulose from the Bugbee Insulation truck into a vacuum hose. Their generator is very loud.

Unloading cellulose from the Bugbee Insulation truck into a vacuum hose. Their generator is very loud.

Instead, Terry and Colin and I spend these glorious autumn days outside. We built a roof on the breezeway and enclosed the walls, so it has become very much a part of the home. Colin assembled the roof trusses: two rafters and a ceiling joist, cut on an angle to match the desired roof pitch. (A 4-on-12 pitch corresponds to an angle of 18½ degrees, in case you were wondering.) He cut the last pair of rafters specially to match the Barn’s 15-degree skew, and nailed them directly to the Barn.

We had to jack up the shed roof to squeeze in the second top plate for the breezeway walls.

We had to jack up the shed roof to squeeze in the second top plate for the breezeway walls.

Installing the skewed rafters over the breezeway.

Installing the skewed rafters over the breezeway.

Terry cut plywood for sheathing the breezeway walls and for subroofing; I nailed and routed. Then we stapled our moisture barriers (Typar and Roofer’s Choice), and I stuck Ice & Water Shield on both ends where the roof meets the walls. We’re masters at installing windows, especially ground-level ones, and the breezeway’s three went in easily.

Breezeway window. Camel's Hump is still there!

Breezeway window. Camel’s Hump is still there!

The breezeway roof enabled Colin to run electrical cables from the house to the Barn. He kept them neatly organized with zip-ties and fit them inside the trusses. The Barn gets power from one master circuit breaker on the main panel in the basement, but Colin installed a secondary panel to split it into three circuits. Cables now run from the outdoor pedestal just north of the Barn, under the driveway, through the basement to the main electrical panel near the south wall of the house… then all the way back to the Barn, through the secondary panel, and across the ceiling leaving a stub for an outdoor light back on the north wall. One begins to understand how the electrical systems for this single house have consumed over a mile of cable.

Who's the boss? Abby watches Colin install the secondary electrical panel.

Who’s the boss? Abby watches Colin install the secondary electrical panel.

Terry runs cable out the breezeway... WAY harder now that the walls are stuffed with insulation.

Terry runs cable out the breezeway… WAY harder now that the walls are stuffed with insulation.

We also went full steam ahead on the front porch. Laying out the posts, Colin discovered with delight that a 12-foot spacing misses every door and window, giving him unimpeded views and maximum curb appeal. The deck received a second plate, and then the posts went up with temporary bracing. Terry prepped rim joists to tie the posts together while I found other small tasks to accomplish. When we raised the rim joists, they fit into the notched posts perfectly aligned and level… oh, what a joy.

Here's the first roof truss over the front porch. Stay tuned for many more.

Here’s the first roof truss over the front porch. Stay tuned for many more.