Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Phew! Winds gushed at 90km/hr knocking down massive spruce trees along our road this past weekend, and shredding some of our temporary tarps to bits on the building site. It rained for days on end, and the cold, howling wind continues still tonight. *Perfect weather* to celebrate Halloween. I can smell snow in the air too. Ah, fond memories of trick or treating and freezing my butt off are flooding back.
It's wonderful to have the main roof complete, with only minor adjustments to be made, but it didn't come easy (ask my Dad). With the dormer and roofing metal done, we can theoretically finish the final two rows of bales on the outside under the porch. We had left them unplastered b.c we felt they were too vulnerable to rain without the roof complete and we wanted to be able to replace any bales if they got damp. The main wall was well protected from the elements by a typar skirting along the top.

The days are so short and cold, that I'm beginning to wonder if we'll actually get to the plaster before Spring. We'll have time to apply the first spray slip coat, but the fill coat will require a lot more time than we probably have. We'll be tarping everything else in until Spring to protect it until we get the final plaster coat on, so we may simply cover it enough to protect it from the elements (though the porch roof should suffice for the most part). We'll be plastering it thoroughly on the inside in the coming month, so it should keep the heat in nicely anyway.

It breaks my heart to cover up our beautiful home, but we're moving into tarp-land now. Blue and silver tarps. Every where. Nasty. I just keep chanting that "it's only four to six months, it's only four to six months...for a lifetime of enjoyment..a lifetime investment that we have to do right." argh.

This isn't my Halloween costume, btw. This is me all covered in safety gear prepping some lime putty to create test patches of our finish coat to see how they work over the winter.

Visiting victims...

I say, "visiting victim" because my brother flew in from Edmonton, AB a few days ahead of his partner Lyndsay for a visit, and we managed to snag him into some hard labour. My father, ever the patriarch, even organized a family-wide work party on his first weekend here. Whoo hoo!

Outside of the few days of work as a family (that's when you know blood is thick!), we took a break from the house building to enjoy this rare visit. We ate like kings for the full 10 days, even managing a seafood/lobster feast for a full east coast experience.

My Dad, with assistance from my brother and brother-in-law, worked on shingling the dormer for several days. The weather was very cold and wet, and working on such a steep metal roof left them all bruised, miserably cold and stiff. It was also very slippery - even on the wood sheathing. I'm thankful they're done (as is my Dad!) and we're thrilled with the results of Dad's perfect shingling job.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Blog Slacker

Cold. Rainy. Dark. Alas, the indian summer I dreamed of never came this year, although snow has yet to fly here. We've taken a break from building this week to enjoy a few evenings with my brother Rob and his partner Lyndsay while they were visiting from Edmonton. We're still feeling a bit weary from the overload, but eager to get started on the inside. I'll take some photos this week while we're working and update everyone asap. We have a few days of outdoor work that has to be done to plaster those bales under the porch roof, so cross your fingers for sunshine...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Waste Not...

Stricken [love the dramatic word] with a cold-flu bug, I'm desperately searching for some positive thoughts. The past week brought a lot of extra demands - we'd pushed hard on the long weekend to get the exterior fill coat of plaster done, our jobs were particularly demanding and, in the midst of it all, a dear friend of ours passed on. It helped shake us from the surreal world of building a house briefly. The extra pressures bored through our stamina a bit, hence my cold (despite my stellar immune system) and Dave strained his back during some plaster mixing on Sunday. We'll bounce back in a few days time, but in the mean time, here's my positive, uplifting note for the day:

People have remarked on the small amount of construction waste a straw bale home produces. In total, we'll take about a dozen bags of bits and pieces of foam, metal, packaging and general every day waste (including food packaging...yuck) off our site from several months' work. Wood pieces leftover from cuts are given to family and friends for home heating fuel. Trees that were salvaged from the site will be used as fence posts and some have been given to friends for milling. Leftover soil and rocks will be used for landscaping. After that, all we have left is our composting straw. No need to rent a dumpster!

Excavation will be complete today, so photos will follow once I'm back on my feet.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Plaster, plaster and more plaster...

The lean, mean excavating machine did its damage (or good work, depending on your perspective on large machines) on the weekend. Mark the Excavator created a huge trench to enable the plumber to run wiring and pipes from the well to the house on the north side. We now have running water indoors(!).

As of today, we should have a functioning septic bed on the south side of the house though we don't have our bathroom fixtures installed on the interior yet (can't wait for that! *Good bye* little blue, nasty chemical outhouse).
We plastered our pants off on this three-day, Thanksgiving weekend. The weather worked in our favour and we had a hard working crew. Here's my [newly red-headed] niece Val up on the staging pitching in. With the assistance of my folks, Jozef, and Val, we finished the west gable end fill coat, and the east gable end will likely be completed today. We still have some fill coat to do under the porch, but that's all.

We're hoping we might even be able to apply some of the finish coat since the temperatures are still warm. This will enable us to see how it performs for the winter and make adjustments for the finishing touches in the Spring.

In the spirit of the holiday, my sister twisted our rubber arms and convinced us to join her family for Thanksgiving turkey on Saturday night - a fabulous treat and a much needed break. This week, our driveway will become more drivable when Mark the Excavator breaks up some of the rock and cuts down some of the steepness. Mark will also backfill around the house hiding most of that pepto-bismol-pink insulation (GAWD, I hate pink) that wraps around our foundation. Our soffits and fascia will finally be complete, and we'll hopefully be able to finish the dormer shingling, if we're not too tied up w. our plastering.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Where are the flamingos?

It was "A wild, wild party," said Kim Mitchell, but he didn't attend this wild one. Dave S. turned FORTY this week and celebrated this event with a single cool, tall one (a beer, that is), and an enormous piece of our secret-family-recipe carrot cake.

Party guests celebrated in style, with the finest of mud-stained clothes (so avant garde), and thematic decor of retro latex balloons and "over-the-hill" motif.

Far too much Chinese take-out was had by all, and far too little beer was consumed.

My gawd, we're getting old.

Happy 40th, Dave!

Not House & Home magazine material...yet

A few photos to give you a glimpse of our progress this week:

Dad has finished shingling the front of the dormer. The roofers have finished that section of the roof now, so we'll be able to complete the sides soon as well. The soffits and fascia aren't in this photos, but they are complete on the dormer now.

Here's a glimpse of Gerald from Atlantic Post & Beam working on our soffits and fascia on the west side of the house. We still have some mudding to do up in the gable end and I am *so* not loving working high up on staging...especially when the wind gusts! We're considering keeping this side tarped for the winter for protection 'til we put the finish coat on in late Spring (until the wind shreds the tarps to bits).

This is the north side of the house taken during a very dark morning before I left for work. The roof is almost complete, except the section over the porch. We're anxious to get it complete to ensure our bales don't get soggy. For now, we've stapled tyvek there to prevent leaks. We've finished putting the last row of bales up under the porch rafters, but have to stuff them and put the first two layers of plaster on them.

A cropped glimpse of the east side of our house from under the tarps. You can see the completed soffits along the roofline. We still have some mudding to do on this end, though Mom and Carol Taylor made some more great progress yesterday, building off of the work Dave S., Carolyn & Erroll Hatfield and Frank & Kathy Rutherford did over the last two weeks. Dad has finished installing the arched-top door on this side, but I don't have a current photo.

And...the south side of our home. You can see the roof is pretty much done, and the solar panels are in place. The fireplace will have an "out" vent pipe on this side as well, but that's still to come. The mudding is pretty much done on this side for the winter. It remains well protected by the overhang and the low profile of the wall. Our garden doors have arrived (we have fortress-like plywood doors in for protection against the elements right now), and our porch entry door is also ready for installation. We'll wait until the subs bring in the materials for the stairs and the main plumbing fixtures before we install them.

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