Friday, April 22, 2011

The Great Door Dilemma

When it came time to order doors, I knew just what I wanted.


I had seen these about in internet images and they seemed to always pop up in old house images.  I knew they would be just fabulous.  I just needed to see them in person and open and close them and feel them.

So, I went door shopping at several show rooms.  One was particularly swank.  They had this fabulous door display:


How cool is that?

I know it was meant to show the different styles and door heights (8 foot door opens to 7 foot door which opens to 6’8” door), but I couldn’t help feeling like Alice in Wonderland.  The salesman’s laugh sounded a little forced when I asked where the mushroom I was supposed to eat was. 

Ever get the feeling those salesmen are glad to see you leave?


Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, they had a whole wall of these door combos.  Arches, anyone?



It was so cool, but it would’ve been so much cooler if the doors were connected with a little tunnel so that you could go in one set and pop out of another one.  It was a bit of  a buzz kill to have a door open to a door that opened to a door that opened to … a wall.

And speaking of buzz kills, I ran my door idea past our esteemed architect, Justeen, expecting affirmation and congratulations on my great taste.  She told me very diplomatically that she thought that a two panel door would be more elegant.  When I relayed the information to Builder Gary, he started nodding his head up and down like  a bobble head doll on a dirt road.


I pouted for a while.  Then I sucked my thumb.  Then I realized that they were probably right.  I had a sneaky feeling that the five panel door would not have my enduring love.  So, I squared my shoulders and asked Gary to have the 2 panel door priced.

The doors (two panel) have now been ordered and it’s time to brace for:



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Gypsum Circus

At the end of last week, I was driving past the house with not  a moment to spare when I saw this:


Holy Sheetrock, Batman!  For this I have to stop!


Look at all that sheetrock!


They just popped out a few windows and loaded it onto the crane and through the window where  waiting hands loaded it onto dollies and wheeled it into the rooms.


Oh, and could I have a side of joint compound with that?


This fine fellow ran the crane:


The sheetrock hangers were trembling with anticipation.  They couldn’t wait to get to work.


They worked so fast!  They banged up the sheets and then… zip!


A quick hole for the smoke detector. 

I actually had a hard time taking pictures, because there were so many workers carrying sheetrock, nailing sheetrock and putting in nails and screws.  I was in the way wherever I went.


The overall process seemed chaotic, but they sure did work fast.

Now this, my friends, is called working under a deadline.


You see the fellow below had the job of making sure that there was no foam insulation sticking out beyond the profile of the studs so that the sheetrock wouldn’t bulge.  The guy straddling the stairs is hanging sheet rock.  And dropping nails.  That’s where the dead part of deadline comes in.

And speaking of straddling like that, I remember climbing walls and doorways (especially doorways) like that when I was a kid.  Did anybody else do that?  I think it drove my mom nuts.  We would run around outside barefoot and then come in and climb the walls and doorways with dirty feet.  It’s amazing that I lived long enough to build a house of my own, isn’t it?


Another load of sheet rock went around to the back and into the garage for the basement.


By the end of Saturday, you could no longer see through walls.  The only openings were the carefully designed axes that we first saw on the plans.


Here is the center line (or axis) from the front door through the foyer, past the coat closet and on to the living room windows.


And here the line or axis from the library through the foyer and on into the dining room.  Looks like we’re having sheetrock mud for dinner.


And then here is the line from the living room down the hall, past the stairs on the right and the powder room and pantry on the left and on into the kitchen.


The master bedroom is starting to look like a room.

And so are the kids’ bedrooms.








And of  course the heart of the home – the kitchen/family room now has doors, sheet rock, fireplace and


… a pyramid of sheetrock mud.

Oh, and speaking of fireplaces….


the brick mason (Santa to be precise) finished the raised hearth on the porch.  Now we can put the floor down and finish the siding above the French doors.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Return of the Arch Nemesis

When Jason the Mason set up the first arch form, I had serious reservations.


It seemed that he left a little more than the 5 inches he said he needed to form the arch with bricks.  It also seemed that his arch was… shall we say, freeform?  Builder Gary was lying in wait for the inspector while the masons were making the arch.  I walked back to admire their work, but I didn’t find much to admire.  Once I made my concerns known, there was a bit of distress on both sides. I didn’t get a photo of the first arches before they were torn back down.


From the back of the yard, you can just see that the highest point of the arches would have been about 6 inches below the height of the French doors. 


The next day, I came back and the arch had been rebuilt.  It looked much better.  The masons teased me and told me that they had built it back just the way it was before.  So, I told them I was going for my sledge hammer.  Actually, I went for my tape measure and made sure that it was 96” in the center of the arch.


That’s more like it the 8 ft. door beyond just fits into the arch.


Santa wouldn’t let me down!  I’ve been very, very good.


Then another form and carefully fitting the bricks in place


One mason on the inside of the arch,


and one mason on the outside of the arch.  I noticed who got the shady inside job and who got the sun on the back of the neck job.


I guess that when you are the one writing the paychecks, you can choose which side of the wall you lay brick on.


By the end of the day, they had moved the arch forms around the corner.    Four down and three to go.  The tops of the arches were left blank, because they can go faster on those parts.


And speaking of leaving things blank, I think we need to talk.  I did say quite a few times that I wanted the brick work to look old.  I even said that I wanted the mortar to be messy.  Now, I’m just sayin’ but anyone else think the underside of this arch needs a little work?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Foaming at the Mouth


Well, foaming at the rafters anyway.

Last week was so rainy that it was hard to get much work done.  But the insulation guys didn’t mind a little rain.


They suited right up and got to work.


They made quite a mess, but after the spray settled and they were finished foaming, they went back and scraped everything back down to studs and rafters.


Now we will be able to attach sheetrock.


Then they swept up enormous bags full of the overspray that they scraped up.


It looked like a health department raid on the movie theater concession stand.

While all this was happening inside, Wolf Lightning Protection found time to sneak out and bury the loop of copper cable.  I would never have known it happened, if they hadn’t broken a drain pipe and left the hole open so we could see it and fix it.


And on the days it wasn’t raining too much, the brick masons came down and worked.


Unfortunately, they worked on the back wall over the French doors instead of on the chimney.

You see, after I had a chance to get over the excitement of the chimney being finished, I began to notice that it looked a little squatty.


It seemed shorter than it should be and sort of  -- inconsequential.




It didn’t really measure up the the chimney on the plans.  So, we asked Jason the Mason why it was so short.  He explained that they normally make the chimneys 2 feet off of the ridge line, because that is code.  And it is.  It’s the minimum height specified by the code.  So, Builder Gary explained that we wanted it as drawn on the plans he was given.  It took a few days to get them working on it, but finally they did.


They tore off the detail at the top and started up again.  As I stood in the backyard admiring their work, guess what I did spy with my little eye?


Builder Gary gestured (politely) to Santa that the chimney wasn’t quite right, so ol’ Santa put the level on it.  It was pretty crooked.  So, Santa got out that essential masonry tool: the saw.


That seemed to do the trick, and they kept going up. 


Until they finally got it tall enough.


That’s more like it!  And you can see it from the road.


Now that they have finished with the chimney, we were able to get the French doors in beside the fireplace.


Now we are one step closer to being completely dried in and ready for sheetrock.  A little more insulation, a little more roof, a little more inspection and we’ll be closing up those rooms!