Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Skylights and Fireplace

I can't remember a time when our backyard was as spongy as it is now. With all of the traffic it's been seeing it's such a mess! But I'm not worried about least I keep telling myself that. It'll take some time but I'll get it looking like its old self once again. It's not that May was a record setting month for rainfall but the ground was already so saturated going into the month and that's been the problem. I'm not sure I can recall a wetter spring season.

The skylights and fireplace were installed today. We're very happy with the amount of light we're getting into the room through all of the windows; they're giving us the feel we were after. When we first started talking about this project we wanted to be sure we weren't just adding another room to our home because we didn't necessarily need that. We needed the new space to feel unlike any other room in our house and it's definitely going to do that.

When our windows arrived last week Joe noticed a dent in the metalwork around one of them. He wasn't happy. He called the manufacturer to advise them of the problem. If it were on another set of windows we may be able to overlook it but it's in probably the worst place it can be considering where this set of windows is located; just off to your left as you come up the stairs onto the deck. I believe they've got a fix in the works and will deliver it before too long. It's a little difficult to see in the photo to the left but it's there, right in the middle of the picture.

I emailed my insurance agent last night and sent a couple of photos of the project. With all of the stormy weather we've been experiencing I figured it would be a good idea to bump up my policy to get the project covered. I haven't heard back from him yet about how to proceed.

Jeff will be here tomorrow applying more primer to the cedar siding and if it's not raining I think Joe may be looking at shingling the roof. We've also got Perry from Condor Fireplace & Stone coming early in the morning to give us an estimate for the stacked-stone around the fireplace.

It should be a busy day around here!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Taking Shape

The project continues to move along at an ever quickening pace. I think Joe's plans for next week are to (among other things) get the roof shingled, finish installing the rest of the windows and install the fireplace.

Our home had hail damage back in the spring of 1999 and I had to have the roof replaced. I assumed then that I'd be building a porch some day so I purchased some extra bundles of shingles for the future project. I had no idea then that it would be this long before I'd get to use them. I also don't think I figured the porch would be as large as it will be so I'm pretty certain we'll come up short of shingles. Joe will use them on the side of the house that faces the street and do his best to find a match for the rest.

The most interesting aspect of the project for me continues to be how Joe was able to tie the new roof of the porch into the existing roof of the house. The photo to the left gives a good idea of what I'm talking about. Click on the photo to enlarge it then look closely. Consider all of the angles he had to figure out to get the boards to lie flush against one another. I told him that I'd like to sit down with him sometime over a beer and have him explain how he does that. Not that I'll ever have a chance to use the knowledge, I just want to know how it's done.

Joe installs a "cool roof", meaning he makes a sub-roof that creates an airspace between the roof and the shingles. It will lead to a longer lasting roof.

Charlie keeps trying to sneak out onto the porch to snoop around any chance he gets. There's so much stuff to see out there.

I'll let the video speak for the rest of the project...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Busy Monday!

Rain continues to plague our project in the form of very heavy downpours. One storm after another works its way up from the south and drenches everything. But despite the bad weather Joe was able to make some nice progress yesterday with the help of Mario.

They were both on site for close to 12 hours, determined to get the rafters in place. I came home from work around 6:30 and was surprised to see them still there and even more surprised to see how far they'd gotten. I quickly got out my video camera to chronicle a little of the action.

Joe had me come up on the roof so he could more easily explain to me how he was going to tie the project into the existing roof. I did my best to keep up but once he began talking about a reverse cricket I was lost. There's so much that goes into this aspect of the project and it's a part that fascinates me. Joe talked about water management and how it's important to make sure that any rainwater coming off the roof is diverted away correctly so it doesn't pose a problem elsewhere. He also talked about snow accumulations and how that must also be considered. We're working with a south exposure so that will be to our advantage.

It's one thing to view the project on paper but entirely different to stand inside the structure and get a feel for the actual dimensions. We're excited to see how it unfolds with each passing day.

They worked well after sunset trying to get the structure draped with tarps to protect the sub-floor from more approaching storms, finishing just as the rains began.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away!

The weather has not been kind to our project with rain being the biggest offender of late. Joe is easily one week behind where he'd like to be if not more. It can't be easy trying to reschedule subcontractors to come in and do their work when timelines keep shifting but it's all a part of the process.

I was watching Joe hoist up some main overhead beams a few days ago, impressed by his methods that allow him to do much of this work solo. You'll see what I'm referring to in the video below. It wasn't my intention to not want to lend a hand as I observed but instead I wanted to video his technique for others to see. He commented to me that he's been going over in his head how to approach this project for the last 5 weeks, imagining how he'll engineer the steps along the way.

As I write this there is more rain on the way. We must've gotten at least two inches yesterday and this morning between two separate storms. Joe has done what he can to protect the sub-floor from moisture but even his best efforts are no match for a driving rain that eventually finds its way beneath the tarp. He's back here daily to unzip the covering, squeegee the water off and allow the sun to dry it out.

He was hoping to have it "dried in" by this time next week. I think that means having all of the windows in place and having it roofed and shingled. He's going to need more cooperation from the weather than he's been getting but I think given a good stretch of dryness to work with he can get there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Making Progress Amid Some Hardships

Wet weather slowed Joe's progress a little earlier in the week but he made a nice recovery. He came out Saturday and spent much of the day trying to get the project back on schedule.

The biggest impediment to staying on schedule (besides the weather) has been a large rock directly under one of the support beams. It's so large and it's not going anywhere. Joe had to drill holes into it to be able to add rebar to it as part of an anchor embedded in cement to secure the post in place. I was hoping to get a photo of the rebar but I was too late. The photo to the left is the finished work. The built up area in front will serve as a foundation for some landscape blocks that will sit in front of the porch along the west and south sides. Joe added it so I wouldn't have a continual problem of the ground settling beneath the blocks.

I really like Joe's attention to detail and the way he takes the time to explain what he's doing. Whenever I've approached him with a question or a concern he has always taken whatever time is needed to talk with me. I really appreciate that.

We have the electrician coming tomorrow to run lines for some outlets in the floor of the porch area. We'll have outlets along the wall as the code requires but we also wanted a couple in the floor hidden under our furniture. I took my best guess as to where those outlets should be based on a diagram Karen made for us of the room with some likely furniture arrangements.

Joe mentioned how this part of the project phase we're entering into is where it becomes a lot more fun for him as the building will begin to take shape. He mentioned that by this time next week our project will look entirely different. We're excited to watch it become a reality considering how we've waited a long time for this.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

There's No Turning Back Now

The weather finally broke from the wintery cycle we've been stuck in long enough for Joe to begin work on the project. Unfortunately the break wouldn't last long.

Joe and Steve got an early start Monday morning intent on getting all of the holes dug for the footings for an inspection later in the day. Bald tires on Steve's Bobcat and a rock of behemoth proportions slowed the pace some. Joe worked well beyond sunset Tuesday night to try and get as much done as he could in anticipation of another large snowfall forecast for Wednesday. The snow missed us for the most part but wet conditions will keep the project on hold until Monday.

I spoke with Karen on Tuesday and she said that Bob came home and commented on our project saying "there's no turning back now". I had to laugh because he's so right. We're committed.

I've been in touch with Karen regularly as we kick around ideas for the south wall of the sun-porch. Keith came up with a design that I really like a lot but she had some reservations about it. Her concerns were with the height of the stacked-stone surrounding the fireplace. Typically the stone is either capped at a level considerably lower or taken all the way to the ceiling. You can see from Keith's drawing that he has it stopping at a point somewhere in between which to me feels just fine.

With Karen's concerns in mind I did an image search online to find something similar to what Keith has designed and found that she is absolutely right. Something other than the norm is very rare indeed but after a couple of hours spent searching through hundreds of images and coming close to giving up I came across this photo. It's almost exactly what we're looking to do. This can definitely work for us and Karen likes it a lot too!

Video from the first week of progress...