Saturday, January 19, 2008

Say Hello To My Little Friend

This guy's been keeping me company the last couple of days:

Needless to say, it is HARD to put drywall up on a ceiling by yourself...

Beauty Shots

As we get closer to actually renting this place out, I've been trying to take more pics for marketing purposes...

(That's the ladder I climbed up to take a bunch of pics that didn't turn out so good. Because the grade falls off so quick below the house, climbing to the top of this 24' ladder barely brings me level with the deck, but it's the only way to get a picture of the front of the house. Don't tell Sarah I was up there...)

Friday, January 18, 2008


There are some folks reading this blog who like to see the step-by-step version of things. So here's how I built out the ceiling over the hallway ductwork. After I took down the recessed lights (which were positioned up in the joists by the electrician, who did his work before the HVAC guys placed their ducts), I ripped some 2x4s down to 2x1s, and nailed one set at the appropriate height along the wall, and another set on the joists next to the ductwork:

I cut OSB to size for the "side" of the ceiling (the side of the hallway will be closets, where the ceiling will remain open for now) and nailed it to the top bracket:

Set the studs:

Replaced the recessed lights:

And hung the sheetrock:

This is an essential tool for an drywall project with ceiling work - cuts nice clean holes for your ceiling penetrations:

And voila! Hallway is ready for tape and mud.

Who doesn't love snow?

I'm calling it a night - finished the hallway soffit downstairs, reinstalled the recessed lights, ready for drywall on the ceiling tomorrow. Here's what the house looks like in the snow:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Soliciting Suggestions

Kate suggested that we post a gallery of pics from this project (we're well over 1000 pictures already). I suppose I could throw everything on a Flickr page and just link over to it. Anybody have any better ideas?

Snow Blogging

Almost didn't make it up the driveway to even take these pics. Hope the snow's gone by the time I'm ready to leave; I have to imagine the trip down would be worse than the trip up...

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Car or a Chair?

Missed this in the Washington Post this weekend about the Eames Lounge Chair.

UPDATE: The title of this post is ridiculously unclear. Of course it's a chair. The article recounts the difficult decision of the author, upon graduation from architecture school, to spend $600 on a car or on this chair. (You'll have to read the article to see which he chose...)

The Old Apartment

We lived in Chicago for a year when I was doing my MA, right around the corner from the terrific Museum of Science and Industry. Michelle Kaufmann, whose designs we really love but were not available on the East Coast when we began this odyssey, is building one of her houses on the grounds of the museum. We were lucky enough to hear her talk at the National Building Museum colloquium last year, and to walk through the Glidehouse that was part of the NBM's exhibit on green homes, and if you're gonna be in Chicago anytime this spring you should definitely check it out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hibbert for Three!

Spent Saturday enjoying this.

I worked through the end of the day Wednesday before I had to come home, and I was able to just about finish the rest of the cedar on the outside of the house. I was originally going to put cement board in between the sliders and the clerestory windows on the front of the house, but John at Res4 recommended that we stay away from cement board in spots with such tight tolerances, and I'm glad he did. Cedar was much cheaper, much easier to work with, and looks great. Before:


I hung all the drywall on the walls; I'll head back out to the house on Wednesday and work on getting the rest up on the ceiling. Scheduled to be out at the house on Friday are the stone guys, who are going to cut the faucet holes in the countertops that didn't get done in the factory, and the propane company will come out to convert the oven rangetop from natural gas to propane. Then we are really getting close to being ready to go. I have to bang out the bathroom downstairs, and then we are just talking about finish electric and getting the treads down on the stairs, painting, woodburning stove installation...who am I kidding. Still a lot to do. But we're getting there.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Kids can't fall off (one side of) the deck!

Worked to finish in the dark last night, so had to wait until this morning to take pics. Still need to tension the cables and cut off the excess, but I'm checking it off my list:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kids can't fall off (one side of) the deck!

Lots accomplished. Sarah and the boys came yesterday and left tonight - fun to have some company:

They say it was only 66 for a high today, but as you can see from this picture it felt a LOT warmer than that. We didn't have shorts for the boys, so they made themselves comfortable. And as you can also see from this picture, our cable rail installation has begun. VERY simple. Here's what we're working with:

That's the cable (11 cables for each side of the deck), the self-tightening fasteners, washers and nuts, and decorative caps. Each cable has a bare end (which you insert through the fastener) and a threaded end (on which you fasten a nut):

Couldn't be easier. We actually screwed up and fastened one of the locking guys on too soon, and didn't have enough cable for the other end. We thought we were out of luck, but we called customer service anyway, and the very nice folks said a straw will usually release the locking teeth, and sure enough it did. I finished it up after everybody left, and here's a night vision picture of the almost final product (I still need to cut off all the excess cable):

I finished cutting and sanding and staining all the remaining cedar, so as long as the weather gods keep smiling on me I'll keep working outside and hopefully finish the deck railing and cable and the cedar panels tomorrow. The rest of the drywall (for the ceiling) is coming tomorrow, so that's next on the list...

Big Time?

What do you make of this? Perhaps notable for the absence of any of the commercially successful prefab architects working in the US, still kind of a big deal...

(I know that's the Queens MOMA, but I just love that approach on the train so much I had to put up that pic.)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Make Lemonade

Yesterday I built and drywalled the soffit to enclose the ductwork:

They say that the HVAC guys don't care about where your lights are, and that was the case with my guy. So I had to move my light boxes to new spots (thankfully the guys who did the wiring left some slack so I didn't have to re-wire anything).

Today wasn't so cold, so I took a break from drywall and worked outside on the final pieces of cedar. I was actually able to make use of the 2x6 cedar that was intended for the railing but wasn't the right length - I ripped them down to 3/4" and cut them to size to fit the horizontal run over the sliders:

Looks pretty good. Tomorrow I'll stain the rest of the dimensional cedar for the vertical runs, and then we're just about set for the exterior of the house (two pieces of Cembonit are coming for around the windows downstairs).

I'm also going to start the cable railing on the deck tomorrow. Sarah and the boys are supposed to come out - we'll see if that makes me more or less productive!

Oh, and tonight I took a shower. Which wouldn't be blog-worthy but for the fact that yesterday morning when I got up I had no water in the house, and no water from the spigot out at the well. After a brief moment of panic that the $10k well was dry after only six months, I found out from the well folks that a switch on the well pump was probably frozen. Sure enough, this afternoon the water came back on. They're going to come out and wrap whatever needs protection from the cold to make sure it doesn't happen again. So tonight I installed a very clever wire shower rod from Ikea and took my first shower inside the house (I took a couple of COLD showers over the summer underneath the scupper while it rained...).

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Stumbled across this snow totals map from the Blizzard of '96:

Our cabin is in the Potomac Highlands of WV - basically the white stripe of 36+ inches of snow on the border of WV and VA - right in the middle of that white stripe!

Lazy Bones

While I slave away on drywall, Mookie - who isn't allowed on furniture at home - snuck onto the bed:

I got out here to some COLD weather and the heat in the house was set to a toasty 48 degrees. Just now getting comfortable.

I put the table together:

Sarah is home with the boys, and I think they are going to head out here on Sunday (when it is supposed to really warm up - 60s!). The rest of my cedar comes tomorrow - so sanding, staining, and hanging drywall for the next couple of days...

Oh, and my new iPhone (thanks Mom!) is shuffling through Built to Spill, Wilco, Radiohead and Pavement. I always love when other folks post what they're listening to while they work, so there you go.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Unable to do any work at the house the last few weeks, I've made up for it by buying things. First, a replica Eames LCW bent plywood lounge chair. $629 at DWR; I got it for $150 on Craigslist:

I also bought two Herman Miller arm shells on eBay for $250; they are similar, though one doesn't have the embossed HM seal. (Anybody know why that would be? Is any original Eames shell ever without the embossed seal? The shockmounts are in the right spot, the shape is perfect...) Then I got two sets of rocker bases with walnut runners for $85 each (also off eBay) and mounted them on the shells. I'm re-auctioning the one with the seal (up to $300 already!) and probably keeping this one:

I'm back out to the house tomorrow, where it is currently frigid but supposed to warm up by the weekend. Drywall and deck railing are at the top of the to-do list.