Sunday, December 30, 2007

41 degrees and lots of breeze

Unlike Molly, who tells great stories of winters in Nebraska, I never thought I would willingly go out in, let alone work in, 41 degree weather! So much for nevers... here I am with Bob filling in around the footings of the house...progress.

And while we are working in front, Molly and Shannon are building block walls!

After hand hauling all the roofing up to the garage last November, Emily and Matthew are gratefully watching the conveyor belt delivery of our house roofing materials. Matt and our Christmas angels, Aaron and Russell, offload it.

This is Aaron, our first Christmas angel....

And this is Russell, our second Christmas angel.

Emily and Matthew install our first window!!! Oh how they wish they were inside a completely windowed house looking out! Brrrr. With the test window done, the front picture window is next.

See how clean our working trailer looks? See the pan warming on the cook top? Nona came up to save us from ourselves in this trailer; working on the house is all we can do. Cooking warm, yummy meals and keeping our trailer clean is appreciated! Here, Nona is taking refuge from the icy day in the warmth of the trailer.

So our family project is daily looking more like a house. Keep us in your thoughts as we push hard this month to get this house "wrapped."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

not exactly a white christmas

This Christmas, we didn't have a white Christmas.  In fact, we played with a whole lot of brown and red dirt!

While we continue to make good progress on both the roof (which is now being shingled) and the wall sheathing and windows (several of which are now installed!), the big project for the last couple of days has been playing in the dirt.

Mom worked hard cleaning up the scrap heap in the front yard.  Now, in two loads to the wood recycling area of the landfill, it's gone.  We have a front yard again!  And, we cleverly buried some broken pieces of concrete and chunks of mortar at the edge of the front deck.  
We finally got to filling in the trenches next to the house foundation.  We're hoping we might be able to use ladders and scaffolding to help install windows and put up siding, so it won't work to have trenches anymore!

While Mom supervised from the driveway, Matt and Dad cut away the little wooden dam that had held dirt from the edge of the house (a legacy from our footing-building days).
Phil and Travis worked hard on the back deck--assembling scaffolding and then putting sheathing up on the wall, so we can get closer to installing those big, big windows.
We started moving dirt to fill in trenches.  Matt used the compactor.  It was heavy.
We shoveled a whole lot of dirt.  One wheelbarrow at a time.
I didn't get any pictures today--it looks a whole lot better!  We made some retaining walls, and moved a bunch more dirt.  It's nice to walk around the house now...

Matt and I are off on a little vacation tomorrow; we look forward to what will happen while we're away.  And, hopefully, to getting the rest of the windows in and the house wrapped before it gets any wetter and wintrier (and, possibly, even "white") up there!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

a roof overhead

A roof!  A roof!

With Matt and Emily's semesters ending, and Phil's holiday break beginning, folks have been working hard on the house this week.  And, I get to report that there's now a roof!
You'll have to ask Matt about how he very quickly descended from this edge of the second floor landing.    I wasn't there.  He promises it wasn't nearly SO bad, or as bad as it might have been.  He says he'll blog about it soon.

In the meantime, he's driving down from a Sunday half-day of work where he helped put up the last fascia boards on the side of the house, and this is a quick update to say that lots is happeneing.  Now, we're reading for they county inspector to look at our roof sheathing tomorrow! 

(A Christmas Eve inspection.)

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2007

a little closer to a roof...

With the hard news of an upcoming redeployment to Iraq for Matt, we've launched into getting that roof on with a vengeance...

We hired some help from a local contractor for the past few days, as well as from a neighbor who happened by, and we're pretty much ready for a roof now, after today.  All the rafters--even the tricky ones over the back end of the house--are ready.  The plywood for the roof is on the second floor, and things are lookin' good.

Dad and I put some of the thick plywood we'd used for concrete forms on the back deck rafters, as a temporary deck.  It's swell out there.  And now it's much easier to reach the back of the house!
Josh came up today, too, and did a bunch of good things, including finally bolting some of the walls together.  He's good with a router, as it turns out.

We enjoyed some soup with meatballs from Matt's deer today--it's good to share warm things on this chilly days!  Thankfully, the sun warmed us, and the wind was still.
So, thanks to Dad and Emily and Josh, plus Aaron and Kyle and Ted.  We'll go up again next on Wednesday, after Matt's finals are over!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

more thanksgiving work

Some folks went up for more work this Saturday--and we're a few steps closer to a house!

We didn't get a good pic of the beautiful new stairs on Friday, so I thought I'd start with that celebration.  Thanks for your good work, Dad! 
Andrew and Jay worked hard all day, installing the rest of the deck joists for the outside edge sections, and carrying all the wood for the joists into the house.  I'm grateful for anyone who'll do heavy lifting and carrying down that hill...and I'm especially grateful for Jay and Andrew!
Here's the front of the house at the end of Saturday--Matt finished the sheathing on the front.  Doesn't it look splendid?!

Now, when the deck is built, we can finish the plywood sheathing on the back of the house, and it'll be all covered.  (Of course, there is still the roof...but that's for another day.  ;) )

Saturday, November 24, 2007

giving thanks for good work

In our new Thanksgiving tradition, we spent part of this holiday weekend working off our turkey with some housebuilding, and we're thankful that we got to do it with so many good friends!

Phil worked with Brandon and his friend, Tony, on the plywood on the front wall, using our new scaffolding.  (I lurked around them, too.)
Shan prepped a wood column for the center of the back wall, and drilled a whole bunch of holes to attach the board that'll hold the deck joist hangers to the edge of the house.
Jay and Dave worked on the back deck, drilling into concrete, hanging brackets, and more.
Mom and Dad came up for the first half of the day.  Dad finished the stairs, and Mom cut blocking for the front wall and plywood for the stairs.
Here's Dave with those brackets on the back deck.
Karen, Ryan and Karen's mom, Linda, brought up a tasty lunch.  Ryan put his hammer to work, removing nails from some boards upstairs.
He and Karen used the new stairs to check out the house progress!
Marian and Wayne laid the first joists for the deck.  They are good and strong and well-placed (of course!).
Sometimes, it takes a whole team to get this in place.
The folks in front did a wonderful job of adding lots of plywood (and layers of scaffolding!) by the end of the day.  Just look how tall Tony is...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

one step at a time...

This week, our biggest progress has come in something like steps...

Matt and I found a set of scaffolding that meet all our hopes on Craigslist this week, and he picked it up on Thursday and took it to the mountains. Happily, it came with its own trailer, which also carried some long boards we needed on up the hill.

Now, we'll be able to climb higher and work in safety.

PLUS, as an added bonus, Dad and Matt put the first set of steps up on the staircase in the house. Now, you can climb REAL STAIRS all the way to...the landing and turn.
Since we're not working on the house this weekend, I got to do something I haven't done in a long while: visit Julian as a tourist.  Some friends came down to visit.  Besides checking out Julian, we had a picnic under the big oak tree, and explored the house.  Oliver rather liked the stairs to nowhere, and is pictured demonstrating his status as king of the plywood pile.

You can see the trailer of scaffolding just over Colleen's shoulders, too!

Monday, November 12, 2007

friends and veterans

On Friday, Dad, Matt, Don and Josh worked on things--they didn't take pictures, so there's no evidence to share here (incriminating or otherwise).

This Saturday, some friends came to help with our project--Marian and Wayne, Amanda from Boston (er, Cambridge), and Jay.  They helped make progress in hanging plywood, building stairs and hanging rafters.

Here's Jay (in the back) getting a rafter ready to hang, while Marian and Amanda cut some plywood sheathing for the back wall.
Wayne helped Dad make progress on the stairs to the second floor, too.
Jay helped in many ways (as usual).
Marian and Amanda built experience with the nail gun.  The plywood is in place. 
Today (Monday) is Veterans' Day, and we celebrated with more work.  Matt is our resident veteran, and that's what he said to do.  Mom and Phil and Shan came to play (er, work), too.

Phil enjoyed the rock-climbing-like aspects of construction today.  We tried to persuade him that the nail gun in his hand clearly distinguishes this work from rock climbing in its usual sense; his acrobatic artistry would not be constrained.  Happily, he and Shan finished the sheathing on the east wall--now both east and west are complete!
Mom got into lots of action today--holding ropes, cutting blocking, gluing flooring on the stairs' landing.  
It's been exciting to watch some of the last, oddly angled rafters go into place--and to see how good everyone's getting at the rafter-raising work.  They make it look so easy... (though that height, on that thin little ladder, never really looks "easy" to me!)
Now, only two pairs of rafters, plus the back fascia, remain to hang.  Then, we'll be ready to figure out how to get all that plywood up onto the roof!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

more walls, more rafters, more deck

We had two lovely days of work on the house this weekend--on Friday, Dad, Don and Matt went up. Look how happy Don looks. I think that's because he knows he's gonna help put almost all the rest of the rafters up. And he gets to wear the new safety harness, so he's less likely to fall while doing it...

Saturday, Phil, Josh, Jay, Mom and I came up, too, to join Matt and Dad. We worked in a bunch of places. Starting the interior work of building the stairs and the wall behind them, putting up the last little wall that goes between the steel column and the edge of the back, and putting the vertical supports for the back deck up.

Josh didn't get to wear the safety harness for this step, but he did get by with a little help from a friend. Thanks, Phil...
Then, Matt got to try out his plan for getting the plywood sheathing on the house, up high: rock climbing gear. It's like climbing a mountain, holding a nail gun.
Josh got into the swing of things (pun intended) and helped secure more plywood into place. You can see it in still, or in video...

Jay and I shared the glamorous job of holding the plywood in place, from inside the house.

But lest it look like I spent the day holding ropes, I thought I'd include an action shot of ME: nailing blocking into the front wall. My *favorite* job. (Remember, cousin Sarah?)We'll be working again next weekend--Friday and Saturday. Let us know if you can help!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

back up the hill

It has been a wild week here in San Diego--fires across the county (and all through SoCal) have been raging. On Monday, news accounts threatened that this year's fires could be "worse than the Cedar Fire." The air was thick with ash, and evacuation noticed displaced half a million people as the Santa Ana winds moved flames quickly through the region. Again, the fires threatened Julian. But, for one more time this year, the fires were only a threat and not a reality in Julian.

On Saturday, the evacuation order was lifted, and we went back up the hill to work on the house so more.

The day was beautiful--the view out the back windows is glorious this fall. We did some little bits: bolting the beams to the steel columns, adding a few rafters, adding more brackets to the side walls to catch more rafters, and adding plywood sheathing to the east wall.
The best part of the day, though, was on the ride home--we spotted a glorious rainbow out over the desert. We pulled over to look, and the scenic viewpoint just south of the house. The rainbow stretched all the way across the sky.
As we stood looking, little drops of rain started falling on us. As if to say that God's promise is still with us--we will not be completely destroyed. Both for folks whose homes were spared and for those who suffered loss this year, I take the rainbow as a reminder to claim hope.
The work will continue next weekend--anyone up for some building?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

it looks a house!

Here's the progress as of Saturday evening. There are still a bunch of rafters to install. And plywood sheathing on the house and roof, but the shape looks like a house. :)

On Friday, a wonderful crew of folks came up to help work with the crane to put the walls Dad's been building in place. (And a few beams, too.)

Thanks to Josh, Andrew, Don and Jay for their help. With Dad, Matt and I, and a patient crane operator named John, it was a wonderful crew.
You can see a little video of the action here. We edited out the *long* pauses to make things fit right.

Everyone worked hard on tall ladders to make everything fit together.
Our last "lift" of the day was the ridge beam that will hold the roof in place. With Don guiding the crane, it fit neatly into the frame of the house. All is well.

Today (Saturday), Matt and I, Phil and Shan, Dad and Jay worked on setting some of the rafters in place. That ridge beam is really high. We made Matt climb the ladder. (And tie a rope around his waist and to the beam!)
With a little ingenuity and teamwork, we devised a workable method for hoisting the rafters up all that height. Hooray for ropes.

It was a day of good teamwork. Nearly half of the rafters are up, the walls are all plumb, and the frame should be secure. Dad heard a forecast of "hurricane strength" Santa Ana winds, so we put a few extra nails in...We worked 'til dark (and, well, a little past.) Enough to get the worklights up to help illuminate the nailing-in of the last rafters to go up.