Catching You Up

Hey.

Remember me?

I’m the lady who said she’d let you watch along while her men (a couple of them at least) built a cute little cabin. Yeah, you’re remembering her now. She’s also the one that, for no apparent reason suddenly quit writing and posting. Yep, got ‘er pegged. So. I’m back. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before. OK, this time I’m not making promises. I’m just going to do the best I can.

Last time I wrote, I told you about the interior framing being completed. I think they finished that job sometime in August. And yes, they are a bit further along now. Rather than drag this out for another who-knows-how-many-months, I’m just going to catch you up. The short story is – it’s livable and has been since mid/late-December. Whew, that was easy.

For those of you who like more details, here you go: All summer Dave and Ben put in 40 hours at the Truss Company, then came home and put in another 40 hours on the house. In September, Ben started school and he found the 80 hour work week, plus school to be a bit overwhelming. So he scaled back on the house-work until the Truss Company slowed down and he had more time during the day to do his school-work. The point is, these men worked HARD all summer and fall and early winter to get it ready for Ben and Sharon to live in.

It is absolutely amazing to me how many details go into building a house. And the time it takes to figure out, plan, assemble materials and actually complete them is astounding. (To me, anyway.) So once the walls were up inside, I thought, “Great! It’s just plumbing and electrical, insulation, vapor barrier and sheetrock. After that it’s decorating. Easy!” NOT. No. Huh, uh. It took months(!) -September, October, November and December, actually. Late December was busy with painting, installing flooring, putting in the shower and toilet – and wedding planning. By the 20th, work on the house was done and wedding preparations were occupying everyone’s attention.

We (the Rowlands and Persóns) had a grand time with all the family that was here to celebrate Christmas and the Wedding with us. Sharon’s family began arriving on the 12th of December and our family started rolling in on the 20th; every few days someone was back at the airport picking up another one or two. We had meals together, we partied, we cooked and baked, sewed, crocheted, painted, worked on puzzles and shopped. This event was truly a joint effort between our two families. Ben and Sharon designed a beautiful wedding day and their family did a great job of making sure it came together. (Their pictures can be viewed at www.wilderarts.smugmug.com . There are two sessions to look at. you can click on “Ben-Sharon Pre-Wedding Dec 21, 2013” OR the wedding day pictures can be found by clicking on “Person Wedding Dec 28, 2013”.)

While Ben and Sharon were gone on their honeymoon, the rest of us took a good break. We were again running to the airport dropping people off every few days (very sad). By mid-January, when Ben and Sharon returned, almost everyone had returned to their own homes and schools. The UAF school year started again and the kids took some time to get their schedules established. And then work on the little house commenced once again.

So what has been happening to the little house in the last few weeks? Well, the water line from the underground tank to the pump started to freeze up, so they had to do a bit of tweeking on the heating system in the basement (remember it consists of a light bulb, a wire cage and a temperature gauge.) Then the pump began rebelling at having to push the water so FAR up to the pressure tank. (It was just being a baby.) Dave cleverly fixed this issue with a few bits of hose and strategically placed piercings. A sight glass was installed to tell them how much water is in the underground tank. Dave and I upgraded the refrigerator and washer/dryer in the big house (yippy for me!) and so we put our old stuff in the little house. Ben and Sharon chose hickory cabinetry for the kitchen, so those were ordered and then installed. They found a vanity with a granite top for the bathroom and put that in. And just recently they found the lights they want and have purchased/ordered those. That’s pretty good progress.

At the same time, the living room is still full of tools. They have no seating except two tiny camp stools. The countertops are waiting on the counter guy to decide to come out and measure everything, then build and install. And there’s no door on the bathroom. Not to mention the exterior is still bare ply-wood – but that will wait for next summer. 

Now that the end is in sight on this project – sort of – I’m dreaming of what we should do next. Like maybe finish the addition on the big house. But, for now, we’ll happily watch Ben and Sharon craft their little house into a home.

How about some pictures?

The electrical panel - all neat and tidy as per usual for Dave. Every wire is carefully labelled.

The electrical panel – all neat and tidy as per usual for Dave. Every wire is carefully labelled.

This little contraption is an air way that they can blow hot air through to keep the pipes from freezing.

This little contraption is an air way that they can blow hot air through to keep the pipes from freezing.

There are three layers of insulation in the walls. This is looking south from the kitchen to the living area and front door.

There are three layers of insulation in the walls. This is looking south from the kitchen to the living area and front door. – When I choose this pic from my files, I totally thought there was insulation in the walls – whoops. Imagine pink stuff filling up the spaces between the studs.

Check out the plastic on the walls behind Ben. Every single exterior wall surface had to be carefully covered with plastic. Dave spent days doing this job, making sure there were NO holes - not even pin-pricks.

Check out the plastic on the walls behind Ben. Every single exterior wall surface had to be carefully covered with plastic. Dave spent days doing this job, making sure there were NO holes – not even pin-pricks. Note the red tape, it covers a hole.

These slanted ceilings required three guys to put up the 'rock.

These slanted ceilings required three guys to put up the ‘rock.

A view from the living area looking up to the loft.

A view from the living area looking up to the loft.

The 'rock jack is a great piece of equipment. It enabled Dave to do most of the sheet-rocking on his own.

The ‘rock jack is a great piece of equipment. It enabled Dave to do most of the sheet-rocking on his own.

After 'rocking, came the mudding and taping - a long and very nasty job.

After ‘rocking, came the mudding and taping – a long and very nasty job.

With the sheet-rock and painting complete it was time to lay the flooring.

With the sheet-rock and painting complete it was time to lay the flooring.

They choose "spalted maple" laminate and it looks amazing.

They choose “spalted maple” laminate and it looks amazing.

Hickory cabinets in the kitchen.

Hickory cabinets in the kitchen.

A hickory vanity with a granite top in the bathroom.

A hickory vanity with a granite top in the bathroom.

Laundry! (And dishes - until the kitchen gets done.)

Laundry! (And dishes – until the kitchen gets done.)

Next to the strip of blue foam in the corner is a clear sight glass. This will tell them how much water is in the tank.

Next to the strip of blue foam in the corner is a clear sight glass. This will tell them how much water is in the tank.

Dave and Ben conferring on something. I was playing with my camera and happened to also get a shot of the sconces  on the wall behind Dave. I'll get better lighting pictures as they get installed.

Dave and Ben conferring on something. I was playing with my camera and happened to also get a shot of the sconces on the wall behind Dave. I’ll get better lighting pictures as they get installed.

Still plenty to do.

Still plenty to do.

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Interior Framing and Plumbing

One of the nice things about building a little place is that there are fewer walls to deal with. Though there are at least four rooms in the house, only one really needs to be framed. With the loft up and the stairs in, Dave and Ben turned their attention to finishing the framing of the bathroom/utility room.

Ben also built the “basement”. Since the 1,000 gallon water tank is buried below the house and the house sits up on pilings, the pipe running from the tank to the house must be insulated. Ben built a super insulated tiny room around the pipe so that he can get in there to work on the tank if necessary. He made a heating system based on a light bulb, a metal milk crate, a temperature gauge and timer to keep everything above freezing. I would show you pictures but the space is so tiny I couldn’t get in there with the camera. That and the space is made for someone of Ben’s, ahhh, agility.

As soon as the interior walls were up, they installed the rough plumbing. Then, with the rough plumbing done, they turned their attention to putting the planks on the deck in front.

Little by little, things are coming together!

View of loft and bathroom/utility room wall from the living room.

View of loft and bathroom/utility room wall from the living room.

From the kitchen looking into the bathroom.

From the kitchen looking into the bathroom.

Floor access (under the refrigerator) to the "basement".

Floor access (under the refrigerator) to the “basement”.

Yes, he's growing to be such a great man. :-)

Yes, he’s growing to be such a great man. 🙂

Cutting another layer of insulation for the "basement."

Cutting another layer of insulation for the “basement.”

Gluing the insulation in place.

Gluing the insulation in place.

Cutting pipe.

Cutting pipe.

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The watering, plug-in station.

The watering, plug-in station.

Laying the deck.

Laying the deck.

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Covering Up the Bones

While I was partying it up Outside, the guys worked their tails off to get the plywood on the walls. With it enclosed, they’ve been able to put their tools inside and keep everything nice and dry. Let the rain come!

I keep saying it to myself, “This house is so CUTE.” When we were talking about the design of this place I kept pressing them to make something with a lot of charm factor. As far as the proportions go, Ben and Dave have totally nailed the charm. From the dimensions, to the roof pitch to the exposed truss over the diminutive deck it is an appealing space.

With most of the outside work done (not all, but most) They turned their attention to building the loft, the stairs and installing the windows.

Much to Ben’s joy (ours also), Sharon returned early to Fairbanks from her summer of fishing in Chignik in time to help the guys install the windows.

Definitely a cute little domicile.

Definitely a cute little domicile.

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These stairs are proportional to the room, I'm used to a wide set (fits my wideness). These are narrow, it's good that Ben and Sharon are narrow, too. (Not of mind, but of body)

These stairs are proportional to the room, I’m used to a wide set (fits my wideness). These are narrow; it’s good that Ben and Sharon are narrow. (Not of mind, but of body!)

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Sharon helped  - she's good at working with them and simply being there to encourage them.

Sharon helped – she’s good at working with them and simply being there to encourage them.

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Back At It

After returning from our blitz trip to McCarthy, Victory, and Palmer, the guys got busy right away. With walls up and more sunshine in the forecast it’s time to get the roof on. This is the job that Dave has been really pushing for. With a roof on, they will not have to worry about protecting the walls and deck from rain.

The tarp provides shelter from the elements.

The tarp provides shelter from the elements.

To my eye just having the trusses up makes the skeleton look complete. But, little do I know, there is BRACING to add. It’s little things like that that keep a house together. (There’s a metaphor for life.)

It was good to have the boom truck so that they could set each truss individually.

It was good to have the boom truck so that they could set each truss individually.

Early in the day.

Early in the day.

Ben's working Dave to the bone. He's lost so much weight that he had to re-size his tool belt to keep it from falling off.

Ben’s working Dave to the bone. He’s lost so much weight that he had to re-size his tool belt to keep it from falling off.

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Truss all up on the house.

Truss all up on the house.

Putting on the deck truss. This will be "exposed".

Putting on the deck truss. This will be “exposed”.

It's always best to concentrate when using the chop saw.

It’s always best to concentrate when using the chop saw.

Jay came over and challenged Ben to a little game of monkey bars.

Jay came over and challenged Ben to a little game of monkey bars.

Dave tells me that the framing is the fast part of building and from now on things will move along much more slowly. What that means for you the readers is that the photos are going to be detail stuff. “Oh look! Another electrical box!”  “How about that; more black pipe stuff in the walls.”  “Yep, I see more bracing.” It also probably means that I’ll insert other events that are occurring here, like the garden or trips or cooking or sewing; whatever takes my fancy.

Walls!

I know I left y’all hanging on the progress of the house. I went Outside for a couple of weeks and couldn’t blog. But, I’m back so I’ll get you caught up on what’s been happening here over the past month or so….

With just a few more evenings of work (understatement of the year) the walls are up!

I know you can’t see it in this first picture, but they have a come-along attached to the top of the wall that threads down over the board sticking out the back. Ben will pull the wall up, while Dave maneuvers the brace boards into place. When the wall is vertical, he’ll nail the braces in place.

Come-alongs are great for winching up a wall too big to pick up.

Come-alongs are great for winching up a wall too big to pick up.

Most notable injury so far. Just a smashed foot. No biggie.

Most notable injury so far. Just a smashed foot. No biggie.

We’re big on safety here. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…I think it, too.) Dave only dropped the wall once on his foot. But I dashed up with some essential oils to rub on it and (like magic!) he’s fine. Either that or he isn’t going to say anything so I won’t anoint him again.

We wanted that wall where?!

We wanted that wall where?!

Got the tarp up. Let it rain!

Got the tarp up. Let it rain!

North Wall

North Wall

We’ve had a hot, dry summer so far. But, the forecast is calling for rain, so they’ve put up a tarp to keep the rain off the plywood.

I think it’s beginning to look like a house.

Ditch Digging and Floor Trusses

Backfill complete. A layer of gravel covers all the dirt, making the site much cleaner to work on and ensuring that if work needs to by done under the house in the future it will be much cleaner and easier to do.

Backfill complete. A layer of gravel covers all the dirt, making the site much cleaner to work on and ensuring that if work needs to by done under the house in the future it will be much cleaner and easier to do.

The "filling station". Along the side of the right hand post is a two inch pipe that leads down to the water tank under the house. Also, at this station will be electrical outlets for plugging in a vehicle.

The “filling station”. Along the side of the right hand post is a two inch pipe that leads down to the water tank under the house. Also, at this station will be electrical outlets for plugging in a vehicle.

Digging the ditch to the electric pole.

Digging the ditch to the electric pole.

Yay for boom trucks!

Yay for boom trucks!

Ben got to build his own floor trusses. He's sure of his own quality.

Ben got to build his own floor trusses. He’s sure of his own quality.

Setting the east-side glue lam.

Setting the east-side glue lam.

Starting to place the floor trusses.

Starting to place the floor trusses.

While the sono tubes cured, Dave and Ben dug the ditches for the electrical line. At the Truss Company Ben built his floor trusses.

One evening, Jay came by with the boom truck to set the beams and put the trusses on the deck. With the ground looking all neat and pretty and a deck in place it’s really begun looking like a house!

Progress!

Clearing, Dirtwork and Foundation

In late May, Ben and Dave began clearing the property for Ben’s house. As a perk for us, Ben’s choosing to build right next door. (That makes this mama happy.) With the site cleared, early June found them putting in the septic system. Instead of drilling a well (several hundred feet deep at least and probable arsenic in the water anyway) Ben decided to bury a 1,000 gallon water tank under the house. He installed in a line of pipe fro the water tank out to a “filling” station located up the driveway. It is common practice here in Fairbanks to have your water hauled either in your own truck or delivered by one of the companies in town.

Rather than digging a foundation into the ground, Dave and Ben decided to build this house up on pilings. So, after getting the septic system and water tank insulated and buried, they built an insulated chute on top of the water tank that will allow Ben access to the tank from inside the house, should the need arise. Next, he dug the footers for the six pilings that the house will be built on. They poured the footers and installed the rebar for the sono tubes. A couple of days later the tubes were poured. As soon as they hardened everything could be backfilled and graveled.

Sharpening the saw.

Sharpening the saw.

Before he started cutting.  Looking to the east.

Before he started cutting. Looking to the east.

After cutting most of the trees down.

After cutting most of the trees down.

Hauling brush - several people helped out: Dave, Wyatt, Holly, Hannah, David D,

Hauling brush – several people helped out: Dave, Wyatt, Holly, Hannah, David D

Dave, being the good Papa. Watching with pride.

Dave, being the good Papa. Watching with pride.

Septic  - looking north of the house.
Septic – looking north of the house.

Laying the pipe for the leach field.

Laying the pipe for the leach field.

Scott did the dirt work and septic system.

Scott did the dirt work and septic system.

The driveway.

The driveway.

Setting the man hole access over the water tank. Note the layers of insulation they're standing on.

Setting the man hole access over the water tank. Note the layers of insulation they’re standing on.

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Pouring the footers.

Pouring the footers.

Rebar in, tube forms carefully set in place.

Rebar in, tube forms carefully set in place.

Ben's House June 011

Pouring the Sono Tubes.

Pouring the Sono Tubes.

Checking the plans. Making sure everything will line up from inside the house to the outside equipment.

Checking the plans. Making sure everything will line up from inside the house to the outside equipment.

Six pilings, poured and curing. Starting the backfill.

Six pilings, poured and curing. Starting the backfill.