Enon Hall

October 2, 2005

Today's project was to make a door buck that would hold both windows and doors for planing. The door bucks that I've seen use two triangular braces fastened to a thin piece of plywood. The weight of the door causes the plywood to bow and the triangles to pinch inward on the door, holding it upright. But, this wouldn't work very well on windows where glass or fragile muntins could be broken by the pinching. So William and I made a variation, using only materials found in dumpsters. All of the wood was scrap from our dumpster. In fact, we only had to make one saw cut, everything else was used as-found. Scrap rafter ends became our triangular braces. Attached to the braces are pieces of OSB so that the door or window is braced over a large area, eliminating the chance of damage to windows. On one side the braces are attached to the base with screws. On the other side bolts in the bottom of the braces travel in slots cut in the base so that they can spread from 1" to 2". Wingnuts underneath tighten that side down once it's been pushed into place against the door or window. For further protection, the inside faces of the OSB panels are covered with carpet harvested from a dumpster behind the local flooring shop. This new helper will be seeing a lot of use in the coming months as I work on countless doors and windows. I used one of our sacrificial window sashes to try out the buck and my new Delta Power Planer and they both worked great!

I traveled to Richmond on Thursday to pick up 1000 feet of custom rake moulding (used both inside and outside of all of our doors and windows). I also bought the William's & Hussey Molder recommended by a visitor to our Forum. This machine will enable me to make our own moulding on site without paying a fortune to a millwork shop or waiting weeks for an order to be ready. This investment should pay off with big savings in time and money. Now, I just need a table saw and I'll be all set. -- Bill

October 4, 2005

Things are progressing with the framing, but the daily changes aren't as dramatic as they once were. The "ooh ah!" factor has diminished some. There are two still roof sections remaining to be built...over the colonnade and over the upstairs screened porch. They have started framing the roof extending the back porch to the new kitchen.

I am concerned that our mason is going to be holding things up. The copper can't go on the roof until his chimney is built and the front and back porches can't be built until his piers are in place. He was here last Monday to pour footings, but we haven't seen him since. I called him this morning to try to light a fire under him and he sent his assistant to deliver the fireplace flues and fire brick. I hope to see him on the job tomorrow.

As we see things coming together we are now strongly considering removing the "dummy" chimney on the addition-end of the Dutch Colonial. This is the chimney that is corbelled over in an amazing, but scary fashion up in the attic. Everybody has told us to use this opportunity to take it down, including our architect. It's already leaning above the roofline and is putting un-needed weight on the framing in the attic. This chimney was built sometime in the 1940s. The original 18th century exterior chimney on this end of the Dutch Colonial was torn down in the 1850s when the story-and-half-addition was built. Removing this chimney is probably not only smart structurally, but it would also enable me to put a gable-end vent there for the attic. And it would also allow the two center chimneys of the addition to stand out, rather than competing with them.

Speaking of chimneys, I contracted today with Golden Flue to come restore the other two chimneys...five fireboxes and flues in all. This work should happen in November and will take about 2 weeks.

We're back on dial-up for Internet. The addition is now blocking the "view" of our antenna. We can't move the antenna to its permanent home on the end of the garage until the siding is up. So unless there's another interim location for the antenna that can be set up without much expense, we're back in the slow lane. -- Bill

October 5, 2005

With all of the trees in the front yard, it's kind of hard to get a good view of the roadside elevation. But in this photo I think you can start to see how things are coming together.

I'm lobbying hard to lose the crabapple tree. That's the big blob right where the Dutch Colonial and the addition meet. (The trunk that you can see is from a Dogwood that's in the foreground.) The crabapple is a gnarly old thing that's pretty one week out of the year when it blooms. It's the other 51 weeks that are the problem.

The chimney being discussed in yesterday's post is visible right above the blob...uh, crabapple tree. The new chimney will come through the roof to the right of the front door, as shown in the drawing.

Today I marked out all of the kitchen cabinets and appliances on the floor with a Sharpee so that we can start plotting lighting.

The mason was a no-show again today. -- Bill

October 8, 2005

We have been so fortunate to have dry weather ever since framing began, with only the occasional nighttime shower. Today, however, it is pouring.

Much of the addition is under felt paper, but water is flowing in from the areas that aren't. Oh well, we could have seen a lot more of this along the way. It'll dry out.

Confined indoors, we turned our attention to planning some finish details. For instance, we have been discussing using horizontal beaded, shiplap paneling in the family room. The boards will be mixed widths like this photo from "Creating A New Old House" by Russell Versaci.

It's interesting the some of the boards in the wall above are beaded and others aren't.

I sketched out how this might look in our family room, mainly to determine how to handle two cabinets that I plan to build on either side of the fireplace to hide stereo equipment, etc. This would be the view from the kitchen. (Again, pardon my weak perspective skills.)

I'm thinking that on the return walls I will switch to vertical boards so that the doors can blend into that wall. I think the transition will work well and add to the old feel.

I took advantage of this rainy afternoon to add create the new Enon Hall Old House Book Store. Here you will find our favorite old house-related books! -- Bill

October 10, 2005

Boy did we get rain this weekend! It was standing in several areas of the addition and made me very thankful that we used the Advantech subfloor. I have heard of it being under water for weeks at a time with no damage. It rained more today and still more is being forecast through Wednesday. I guess we're due.

The mason got going on the family room fire box today. The opening on this fireplace is 43" wide and 36" tall with a 20" deep hearth. I had no luck finding fire brick that looked remotely old, so we have opted to parge the new fireplaces instead. This will help them to feel older. I will create the hearth out of salvaged bricks from around the property. These will be set in a shallow bed of sand so that they can be leveled up with the firebrick inside the box. -- Bill

October 11, 2005

Today Gay and I ordered this light fixture for the new center hall. It's our 15th Anniversary gift to each other. -- Bill

October 13, 2005

I wish I had a photo of our 15th anniversary dinner. If I did you would see a lovely table (set for three), candlelight, 2 and 1/16 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, and the three of us raising our glasses in a toast before enjoying a wonderful meal together. Just beyond the table you would see a window. And out the window, in the waning sunlight, you would see (and hear) our mason cutting through a tile flue with a diamond bit saw, stirring up a cloud of dust. How romantic...

The cold this week has brought the mice back inside. Lucy's been busy tracking them and barking at the floor. And I'm once again thinking that it might be a real good idea to put sheet metal under and behind all of the new kitchen cabinets in the new kitchen. Extreme? -- Bill

October 16, 2005

After a solid week of drizzle, the beautiful weather this weekend left us giddy and we happily took on some outdoor projects.

Even frustration with the finish quality of our Jeld-Wen windows couldn't dampen our spirits. (Out of 15 windows, only one miter joint wasn't spread wide open. See the forum for photo and comments.) Instead, I went to work sinking nails, filling holes and joints and priming the casing. Once done, the windows looked really good.

The windows in the kitchen are casements. I've never lived anywhere with casement windows and think we're really going to like these.

Gay undertook the job of priming 450 feet of bed moulding that will be a part of our cornice.

These old sawhorses, inherited from the previous owner, are backbreakingly low. So I made a new pair out of dumpster-salvaged parts. Turns out, engineered joists make great sawhorses! William tested them out...repeatedly.

Looks like the framers should be done by the end of the month. Then we can get going with siding!

I'm having to rethink my siding choice. My intent was to use 1 X 8 flat cedar boards with a 6" exposure. But the casing on the Jeld-Wen windows isn't deep enough for this. We'll need to go with a beveled siding instead. So tomorrow I'll be shopping for quartersawn Western Red Cedar.

Meanwhile, William's busy getting ready for Halloween! (Hope the ancestors don't mind a little decoration.) -- Bill

October 20, 2005

This week has been quiet. The framing crew hasn't been here since last Friday. They were supposed to be back today, but didn't turn up.

The electrician did get going today. The hours and hours that Gay and I spent marking outlets, switches, and light fixtures a couple weeks ago really paid off today as he was able to get to work pretty quickly. He expects to finish the rough-in by the end of next week.

I ordered our siding today. I finally found a source for vertical grain (quartersawn) clear beveled cedar siding in a thickness that I am comfortable with. Most are 1/2" X 6", but I found 3/4" by 8" which will give me my desired 6" exposure and some more thickness. The clapboards will be arrive in about two weeks with one coat of primer on all sides and one coat of paint on the finish side!

I am trying to find an assistant who can work with me for the next 4 months or so as I hang siding, blueboard, install flooring, paint, etc. Another set of hands would be tremendously helpful. I'm hoping to find some dependable young ("young" = "affordable") guy who will be able to treat this as his full time job for a while.

I have started setting up the room above the garage as a temporary workshop. It's not great that it's upstairs, but I figure that we will be needing the garage itself for deliveries. Like our kitchen cabinets which are going to be here in about 3 weeks. (Yikes!) The electrician is going to run a temporary line to this room from the existing panel. At least it will be easy to pass long boards up there as long as the interior walls are just studs.

We've already started talking about how we're going to decorate for Christmas this year. We naively expected to have our stuff out of storage by this fall, including our Christmas decorations. Well, that obviously isn't going to happen. So we've decided that this year we will have a tree decorated with ornaments that we make out of construction materials. Stars cut from copper roofing scraps, blue foam insulation cut into small shapes and strung on string, nails, etc. We're gonna start making a pile of stuff that might be useable and then we'll spend a day in December making all of our ornaments. A tribute to Christmas in the midst of construction! (We'll have to see how this idea works out.) -- Bill

October 26, 2005

Some days the advances are more visible than others. Today was one of those fun highly-visible-change days.

We had a crew of eight today. Two working on the new front porch. Five working in the law office. And one hiding as far away from the action as he could, trying to look busy.

The front porch framing moved pretty quickly except for its barrel vault ceiling, which took some extra ciphering. The guys drew out it out actual size on the family room subfloor to figure out how it would work. I wonder if someday somebody will discover that drawing and figure out what it is.

The rest of the crew removed the siding from the front of the 19th century section in order to sheath it in OSB and relocate the law office windows.

For 125-some-odd-years these windows have not lined up, but now they finally will. It's a good thing.

By the end of the day the front of the house had changed dramatically and by tomorrow afternoon everything will finally be homogenous and balanced, except for the new chimney which still won't have pierced the roof.

It's so nice to finally see something (the new front porch) breaking the long flat plane along the front of the house.

Views like this are pretty common when living in an old house during construction.

Regarding the Jeld-Wen windows, I believe that they are going to hire a contractor to replace all of the window casings on site...but I haven't gotten the word officially yet. -- Bill

October 27, 2005

First off, hello to the guys from the framing crew who just found out about this Web site! See...I really have said nice things about you and your work!

Today the downstairs bathroom window was sacrificed for the greater good. It was the "third wheel" that stood in the way of symmetry on the outside elevation.

I wanted to remove the window from the outside, while preserving it from the inside. Nice trick, eh? On the inside, the trim goes up into the ceiling and the wall, so pulling it all out would have made a big mess in a bathroom that we have to keep usable right now. Instead, we removed all of the outside trim and then cut off the sill flush with the studs so that it could all be covered with plywood.

We now have several ideas as to what to do with this from the inside. My favorite is to hang exterior raised panel shutters inside, to make it look like a closed window. Or we could use louvered shutters. If we did the latter we could even put a flourescent light box behind them so that you would see light coming from between the louvers. I hate flourescents, but maybe with the "daylight" tubes this could work.

The removal of this window has, amazingly, been the only part of this whole construction process that has invaded our present living space and made a mess...and only for about an hour.

There was some bad news today that had me pretty upset. (Here's where I do say something bad about the framers.)

I spent a lot of time this spring removing the plaster from William's bedroom (law office) that absolutely had to go, while preserving the plaster that could stay. William especially hated to see any of the old plaster go, but it just had to in order to move and add windows.

This morning I went upstairs to investigate a suspicious noise and found the crew removing the remaining plaster, even though it had nothing to do with the two windows that they were supposed to be working on. I really thought I was gonna be sick. But at that point it was a done deal. The guys working in that room this morning have not been on this job from the beginning, so I guess they just assumed that it was supposed to go. Oh well, more blueboard and plaster veneer. Sad to say, there is now only about 4 feet of original plaster left in that room. William is not going to be happy. He's at an overnight outing with school, so he hasn't found out yet.

The window opening on the left is brand new and will be in William's bathroom. The window opening on the right is an existing opening that was reframed. The plaster that was removed is between those two windows. I had already removed all the plaster in the area where the left window was to go.

We're in the home stretch with the carpenters. They should be done by Monday afternoon! The only things left on their list are to pull the siding in the back porch and sheath that area, put up the fascia and rake boards, and a few other odds and ends. Then it'll all be in my hands to finish up. An overwhelming, yet exciting prospect! (So to all of our friends and relatives who have been asking when they can come help...NOW would be good!)

The mason made some good progress on the master bedroom fireplace today.

That's the door to William's bedroom in the background. -- Bill

October 28, 2005

Fascia and rake boards and bed moulding are going up. Looks very nice. -- Bill

October 30, 2005

Saturday I built a prototype window for the reproduction sashes that we had made back in the spring. I used the existing dining room windows as my model. Today I started mass producing the components. There will be a total of twelve of these windows. Once I have all the parts and pieces produced, they will assemble very quickly. Several months ago I bought two Porter-Cable trim nail guns on sale. One is a brad nailer and the other is a finish nailer. Gotta wonder why I didn't buy these years ago; they sure will sure speed up projects like this.

Gay spent a good part of the weekend cleaning up and broom sweeping the addition. I'll be glad when the mason is done with the chimney as his work is pretty messy and the brick and block fills much of the family room and master bedroom.

The electrician made minimal progress last week. I hope that we will be seeing much more of him this week. The most significant thing he did last week was give us one GFI outlet in the addition running off of our existing breaker box. This is quite a luxury, giving the framers and myself two outlets to work from! Well, for a while anyway. We then lost one of those outlets when the siding came off of the back porch area. The wiring was so scary looking on that outlet (located on the back porch wall) that I killed it until it can be rewired. Unfortunately, the electrician wasn't around when this was going on so I just removed the old work, put in a new box, and ran a new wire for him to hook up later.

Our limestone tread for the front porch step arrived Friday night!

Our siding order is going to be late. The company called to say that it would now be November 15th. I'll have plenty to keep me busy in the meantime, but it sure would be nice to get going on it before the weather gets too cold!

Been a while since I've done the budget update...

Yikes! The glass is more than half empty! -- Bill

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