Friday, May 26, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 24
Heating, Phone lines, Deck footings and more

We started our second month with numerous visitors. The heating company sent out a crew to install the PEX tubing that will form the heating system in the basement floor. (A second installation will be done under the first floor to heat the upstairs.)

PEX installed

The heavy-duty gray plastic elbows will protect the tubing when the 5-inch thick concrete floor gets poured next week.

The phone company sent a pair of men and a ditching plow to run CAT-6 cable from the underground box on the road to the cabin via the electric company’s right-of-way. A couple of rain showers after they left, you can hardly tell where the cable lies. (Sorry, I failed to get a picture of either the heating crew or the phone folks.)

While these professionals were doing their thing, Don, Adam and I were doing ours.

We made use of the temporary platform Don and Adam built last Friday to finish framing out the northern gable.

Gable framing

We rented a tracked mini-excavator for a day. Under Adam’s skillful control it made digging 4-foot deep holes for the sono tubes for concrete piers to support the decks fairly easy. It also dug trenches for the drainage pipes that run from the corner of the basement shown here and backfilled and graded much of the foundation and trenches.

Sono tubes and drainage installed.

The building inspector had to come out to check the tubes and also looked around at the rest of the construction. He seemed suitably impressed.

1/2-inch plywood sheathing got installed on some of the walls.

Dormer sheathing.
Dormer wall sheathing.

Gable sheathing.
South end gable sheathing and lookouts with flyrafters.

Lookouts and flyrafters were also installed on the two gable ends of the living quarters. The south end was relatively easy to do since all the lookouts are the same length. The northern end was more difficult since it is a prow, i.e. the top sticks out further than the bottom so each lookout has an angled end and a flat end. And each one is a different length.

Lookouts and flyrafters are installed.
The LoadAll served well as a working platform on the outside of the building.

Friday turned out to be a short day as showers moved in around 10 AM and were forecast to stick around all afternoon. After installing two of the basement windows and trying to get started on the trim facia, Don called it quits. I took some borrowed materials back to Beaver Mountain and headed home to NJ for the holiday weekend. (Well, maybe just for a day. The grass up north in the Adirondacks needs cutting and some trails in the woods need clearing and the sun is supposed to be shining this weekend—unlike last weekend when it was out for—maybe, oh, 5 minutes in two days.)


Friday, May 19, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 23
Framing gable walls and roof rafters

After several beautiful weeks without any rain, the weather gods turned the tables upon us this week. It has been overcast and cloudy with spritzes of rain three of the five days—the other two (Monday and Friday) it poured. Even so, we were still able to accomplish much.
Wet, wet, wet
Wet, wet, wet.
The only ones really happy about all the rain were the robins who now had ample mud (and straw) with which to build their nests.

Monday, Adam and Don were able to finish framing out the dormer wall with window headers and jack studs before the rains came. (I had remained in NJ to get my truck inspected at DMV. A task that was actually a joy as I got to the inspection station early and there was no wait. And it passed.)

On Tuesday the three of us framed out the rear gable wall. (Rearranging the window placement while we were at it.)
Finished end gable.

Wednesday and Thursday we spent time cutting and installing the jack rafters and roof beam that ties the garage to the main house. Don also began framing out the front shed dormer wall. (It’s really a small wedge above the main roof and the shed dormer’s roof.) The roof line looks much more real with the tie being made between the two halves (garage and main living space).
The tie that binds.
The tie that binds.

Friday was a wet drizzling day so we worked in the basement laying out the plumbing for the drains and basement bath, laying down the plastic vapor barrier, the insulated styrafoam sheets and the wire mesh to which the pex tubing for the radiant floor heating will be attached. It is now ready for the tubing and then the concrete pour.
Basement work.
Basement work.

If the weather holds next week, we should be able to frame out the front gable and start installing plywood on the roof. When the plywood is up, it will really start to look like a home!

The three of us stopped to marvel at the progress we have made in the month since we had the materials all delivered to the site. It’s really difficult to believe that on April 19th we had only the foundation and deck in place and everything else was in piles under tarps, in the tractor trailer or in the shed. And nearly all of this was done by three people as Jim hasn’t been able to join us as much as we—or he—would have liked.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 22: Views

With just a little bit of rain last week, the fields and woods were greening up nicely.

Here's what you can see from up on the roof ridge.


And when sitting on the loft, we'll look through windows in the gable to see a view like this.

View 2

Molson Monday

Came across this Molson ad over at Pirate’s Cove and thought I would share with you.

You can see this and other Molson commercials at Google Video.

A "pizzly" or a "grolar bear"?

Seems there is now conclusive proof that grizzly bears and polar bears can and do cross breed.

Let's see...white with patches of brown fur. At least it can't sneak up on you in either forest or on the ice. I still wouldn't want to run into one in the wild!

Location, location, location

The log home we are building is located upon a 10.36-acre parcel of woodlands in north central PA. On the map below it is lot number 1. The home itself is only about 100 feet from the road in the upper right corner of that lot. (The actual location of the home is not shown and the one indicated here was the previous owner's and has long since been removed. But it does give you a general idea of how little of the land will be "improved.")

Lot number 2 on the map is the 6.94 acres up the hill that we also purchased. Because of its shape, the driveway (a very long affair) to the approved septic site—and therefore the most likely building site—runs right behind (on the south end) of our home.

Photo Hosted at

I’ve yet to explore the land but can tell you that there are lots of slate/shale outcrops in the area of the road and driveways. I am told it was clear-cut not too long ago and can see the evidence of this in the size of the trees near the home site. I am also told there are some overgrown fields in the far end (the west side of the lots).

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Make your trip to the grocery store pay for the gasoline

MorningGlory 2 provides commentary on The Grocery Game. (And a link to same.)

It looks like a great way to save on your grocery bill. MG2 reports saving an average of 37% each week with a peak of 56%.

(Registration and a nominal fee is required to enter the site to obtain coupons and lists.)

The LawDog Files: Go. Read. Now.

LawDog is at it again with some very funny stories and one liners.

First there is a list of Lines I'd really like to hear wherein Dog transcribes the commentary made by him and his buds as they watch some horror movies.

My favorite is:
“Oh, my God, Mr. President, the Alien Overlords crashed a family reunion somewhere in Southwest Louisiana. Early reports indicate that the Conquerers of 10,000 Worlds made, and I quote: 'A damn fine jambalaya.' Unquote."

Then he gives us the tale of the night Benny attempted suicide. (Why me?)

Go over and read ‘em. They’ll make you laugh and his other posts will make you think.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 21b:
Photos of a Ridge beam rising, and rafter and prow placement


While awaiting the arrival of the crane, Don and I worked on the prow problem while Adam and Jim prepped for the ridge beam.

Tuesday, 5/9
Prow on the end of the garage is finally installed. The top is 40 inches out from the wall and the bottom is only 18 inches.

Tuesday, 5/9
Posts are erected and some rafters are in place to accept the ridge beam. The beam itself has had the metal brackets attached.

Early Wednesday morning the crane pulled onto the site.
Wednesday, 5/10
A couple of hundred dollars well spent!

Wednesday, 5/10
Within a few minutes, the very heavy ridge beam is in the air being lifted to the tops of the posts…

Wednesday, 5/10
gently lowered to its position…

Wednesday, 5/10
and then attached to the waiting rafters.

Wednesday, 5/10
An hour after the crane arrived, it has departed and the ridge beam is high above supported by six rafters.

Wednesday, 5/10
By the end of the day, most of the rafters are up. Some will have to come down to make way for the shed dormer that will be on the right. These were put up to provide temporary support.

Thursday and Friday:

Friday, 5/12
Despite working with a short staff (Jim had to report to his regular job Thursday and Friday and Adam had a doctor's appointment Friday morning) the shed dormer has been framed out and the dormer rafters have replaced the temporary support rafters.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 21a:
Ridge beam rising, and rafter and prow placement

Another week of progress on our log home.

Things started off slowly as we faced the problem of lifting a 44-foot long glu-lam ridge beam into place. Don had decided last week that four guys were not going to be able to do this without getting hurt so we had to wait for a crane to be available. Adam and Jim prepped the beam and erected a couple of support posts and even a few rafters so when the crane arrived, we could get it hoisted in place quickly and safely.

Don and I worked on getting the prow on the end of the garage framed out, backfilling around the scapewell windows and prepping the area where we thought the crane would park to do its job.

First thing Wednesday morning the crane showed up and an hour later the beam was in place. The rest of Wednesday and Thursday we attached more rafters, began the job of framing out the wall for the shed dormer, and planning the connection between the loft and the garage attic.

The rains came late Thursday and continued through the evening hours and well into the night. The forecast is much improved for Friday, although it will be just Don and I. (Jim is at his full-time job and Adam has a doctors appointment.) We'll see what happens.

I'll be posting more, along with pictures, when I get back to NJ on Friday night.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 20
Panelized walls, roof trusses and floor joists

As I said, there was lots of progress made this week.

On Monday we installed two-thirds of the floor joists for the second floor of the living area (master bedroom, bath and loft).
Monday 3

On Tuesday, the remaining floor joists got installed…
Tuesday 5

and the two smallest panels for the mudroom/laundry were up.
Tuesday 4

I took the day off on Wednesday to close on the 7 acres adjacent to our lot but Don, Adam and Jim continued to work. By the end of the day they had installed the remaining panels for the garage and about a third of the trusses to go over this area.
Wednesday 1

On Thursday, I found out how they were able to accomplish so much:
Thursday 4
The LoadAll made placing both the garage panels and the trusses relatively easy. (Unfortunately, it can't handle the 44-foot ridge beam for the main living area. After all, it is well over 30 feet high and 14 feet in from the outer wall.)

We were able to hoist the remaining trusses into place on Thursday.

By the end of the week: All the trusses are up. The ridge beam for the living area is ready for lifting. (All we need is a crane.) All rafters are stacked and sorted on the deck.
Friday 11

There wasn’t a drop of rain all week and the temperatures were in the 70s much of the time. A super week.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 19: Progress and Purchases

It’s been another very busy week here in PA. The panelized walls of the garage are up as are the prefab trusses for the garage roof. While the attic space above the garage is huge, the garage itself seems small. It’s a good thing Terry has such a tiny new car! The Aveo could probably drive in one door and make a U-turn out the other. The Silverado however…well, that’s a different story.

The weather just could not be better and the heavy equipment (read: LoadAll) has made moving some very heavy and cumbersome pieces a snap.

The closing on the adjacent 7 acre parcel went smoothly after we got some clarification on an alleged right-of-way. (A neighboring hunting club (Club A) claims there is a right-of-way though our land—not for them, but for another hunting club (Club B) that has an existing right-of-way through the first club’s land. Club B has been using the current ROW since 1972 but the challenge only was raised this passed year. The realtor and attorney we dealt with both agreed that the ROW Club B is using is the correct one and that it goes through Club A’s land. This conclusion was based upon a copy of a ma[p frpm the county surveyor and a previous deed for the land prior to subdivision.

It should get interesting when this spat gets to court. Especially since the current ROW is only as wide as a truck but the deed says (and county rules call for) a 50-foot wide ROW so the road may be maintained. I think Club A may be in for a surprise.

Anyway, I’ll be back in NJ Friday evening and will have pictures to post showing the progress being made.