Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Standing Seam Roof

This morning the crew from Iron Horse Roofing showed up and began work installing the standing seam roof. Standing seam roofs are top-notch and last for decades and are particularly abundant here in Vermont. To get a longer lasting roof, you'd probably have to have a slate roof.

Just like it looks like in the photos, the roof consists of a series of long pieces of sheet metal with the edges on each side bent up to form a sort of very low wall on either side that lays up against the next piece that is shaped the same way. The mated edges from the paired up sheets are then rolled over to lock them into place, sort of like you'd see with two pieces of fabric that have been paired up, rolled over and then sewn together.

The company warned us that the crew would be showing up weather dependent. Well, this morning it was flurrying and the temperature was hovering roughly around 10 degrees. We wondered if they'd be coming, but lo and behold, they did. I thought later in the day, what would the weather have to have been doing to keep them away?

They may or may not be back tomorrow, but in either case will be back at the beginning of next week to finish the job off. It looks great so far.

Its going to be interesting to watch the snow careen off the roof the next time there is a snow storm.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Root Cellar

Today we wrapped up a couple of day's work with me building the door and Joe building the shelves for the root cellar. Previous to this we insulated the shared walls between the basement and the root cellar to isolate the warmth of the basement, such as it is, from the root cellar.

I'm quite happy with the both the door and the shelves. My inspiration for the door was the typical design of a walk-in refrigeration unit such as you'd see in the back rooms of a restaurant or supermarket. They are big insulated doors which have a really wide flange around the perimeter of the door that mates with the outside wall when the door is closed. We installed the door and it worked smoothly; when you are in the root cellar you see nary an inkling of light, so it seems to seal pretty well. With a couple more tweaks it'll be just right.

Joe's shelves are beautifully crafted,industrial strength, and sized nicely for the various canned goods we will be storing. At this point we have shelves on two sides of the root cellar with room for more should we decide at some point we need more storage space.

I'll build a sliding latch for the door at some point, but for now I'm just glad we have a functioning root cellar that allows us to finally store our various goods such as saurkraut, olives, canned tomatoes, ketchups, chutneys, carrots, beets, cabbage, potatoes, celariac, and many other goodies. It is a treat to finally have the root cellar in operation. The temperature in there this evening was 37 degrees. The temperature outside is hovering just around zero. Fun.

Oh yes, we also put in the door on the west end of the house facing the garden. It looks great with the funky green color we've chosen and it sure beats the plastic tarp we were getting by with.

The wood stove has proved to be a godsend. With very low temperatures it makes working in the house bearable, if not quite pleasant if we get it really fired up.

Upcoming: The electrical panel goes in; the roofers come to install the standing seam roof; Joe and I begin building in our secondary perimeter walls along the inside of the house.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 13, 2009


The Jøtul 4 doing it's work... doing mine...

...and the stovepipe its

Joe and I installed the woodstove and most of the stovepipe on Friday, Nance and I picked up the one last piece of pipe we needed on Saturday, and today I fired up the ancient Jøtul woodstove we inherited with the property. I'd never really paid much attention to this stove; its been sitting in the corner of the garage for many years.

Once we had it in place in the house I was better able to appreciate its stately good looks, and once I'd fired it up, I was certainly able to appreciate its ability to warm up a frigid house.

After a couple hours of burning out the dust and breaking in the new pipe, the stove and I settled in for some comfortable work in the house. I'm working to get the paint/urethane finish on the garden-side door, so we can put it in the frame and be able to properly close the house. All the other doors and windows are in and good to go, so this last door is the final element to go in.

It was peaceful to be able to work in a warm, comfortable space with some relaxing music on and the snow swirling outside. Already I feel a sense of what its like to inhabit the house and it feels really really good.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Windows and snow

A visitor...

The door opening is covered in plastic while the door is awaiting its paint job

North side of the house--done

Today we charged ahead getting windows in. We tackled the high ones off the second floor on the back of the house and it all went fine, despite heavy swirling snow all around us. Today we got our first significant snowstorm of the season and now have maybe 8 or 9 inches. It felt like window by window we were truly inching out mother nature's ability to get into our house--no more wind or snow drift.

Tomorrow we'll put in the last three windows and the door that leads out of the basement to the hatch. After that we'll install the big old woodstove from the old house that once stood here to take the chill off inside while we work.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Before the snow...

The back (north) side of the house. The bulkhead is lower right

Our new door

Retaining walls with partial gravel fill--more to come

We spent a couple of days last week building the retaining walls on either side of the basement hatchway. Its been on the to-do list for a long time, but it hasn't been pressing, so it was only now that we got to it. With the retaining walls in place, we can level and fill the ground adjacent on either side, which provides level ground for staging to install the windows on the back side of the house.

We also installed the entry door off the porch. As soon as it was in, I took it out of the frame and down to the basement for painting and finishing. Its a beautiful douglas fir door and we're quite pleased with it. Nance suggested that we paint the exterior a shade of green we'd considered for the exterior of the house and so that's what we are going with. Its a cool color. Stay posted for the unveiling.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Windows go in

The supervisor wondering why I'm taking a photo and not working

Prepping the window openings

A window in

Jeremy and Sally holding the big window just before installation

The big window in place

Yesterday and today we've been installing windows and its going very well. As if on cue, the weather seems to suddenly feel raw and cold, with a persistent wind--a fine motivation to get those windows in! Its snowing this evening as I write this.

We started in the back of the house, on the first floor, with some of the smaller windows and have been steadily moving around to the front of the house.

Even the smallest of these windows are pretty heavy, so it takes some concerted planing to move them and get them into the openings. Each window opening requires a careful flashing detail before installation.

In our living room portion of the house we have a window that is something of a picture window that measures 6' x 6'. This creature weighs a ton and we knew we'd need some help. A phone call to Jeremy resulted in Sally, Jeremy, Anda, and Silas showing up to give us a hand. With all of them plus Nancy, Joe, and myself, we were able to carefully manoeuvre the massive unit into place. Getting that window in was a big hurdle and the rest are manageable by comparison. We'll polish off the the rest of the first floor tomorrow and maybe make a stab at the doors.

Every new aspect of the house brings a moment of anticipation and curiosity. Will we like it? Does it look like I thought it would? I have to say I'm really pleased with the windows; they look really good. Joe said they looked "old fashioned", which I took as a positive indicator of what I was hoping for.

Big thanks to Sally, Jeremy, Anda and Silas for showing up to help when we needed a few extra hands!