Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
As we press on to weather-tightness, we get excited. The garage door is about 90% done and should be finished today. So that plugs the big windy hole, then there's just three small ones, two windows and a man-door.
We can't put those in until we get the tyvek house wrap installed. Joel volunteered to help out on that a few days ago. You can see it in the pic of the garage door, the shiny new white stuff on the wall. The rolls we are working with are 9' x 100'. Now I have to make a little detour before I can fill you in on the rest of the tyvek story.
Airplanes were not the first method mankind used to get airborne. Prior to that, both balloons (thanks to the Montgolfier brothers in 1783) and kites have been used to put people up in the sky. There are sketchy reports about the Chinese doing this centuries ago, but the details are lacking about exactly when and how.
Samuel Franklin Cody was probably the most visible and famous proponent of the "man lifter" kites. The British army and navy both paid Cody a substantial sum of money for both the hardware and the expertise for raising a person into the air with a big kite. See photo above. The lucky person in the basket could look for enemies, or torpedos, or make signals with the wireless telegraph and other tomfoolery. Airplanes pretty much put the manlifting kites out of business.
And now for the rest of the story. The day we chose to install the tyvek was not too bad. Not really cold, not snowing, not raining, that's all good. Not much snow on the ground. But man was it windy! We tried to roll it out and nail it down as we went, pretty successfully. But there were a few moments where Joel almost couldn't hang onto the roll, and/or almost got airborne. Tyvek is a lot like a 9x100 foot kite if you don't restrain it just right. Eventually, we got it all properly subdued and nailed down tight. A little excitement every week or two is a good thing, provided there is no arterial bleeding and no stopage of breath. Only 3 more rolls to go.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Thanksgiving weekend we hung a couple strips of moisture barrier along the ceiling and walls. (Ok, Troy did most of that too b/c I got interupted by company.) Then Troy got the drywall on the ceiling. Not the whole ceiling, just the part in front of the door. His new drywall hoist (correct term?? drywall lift?) tried to kill him but fortunately was not successful. The new one has been behaving and has been working well with the modifications Troy made. (Funny how a 12' drywall lift doesn't really reach 12'.)
He is trying to finish some drywall on the east wall as well, and I don't know what all else. But that is where we are at...
Friday, December 05, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Most residential structures are built using wooden framing. A few use steel studs. Neither one like moisture inside the wall cavity and both can be totally ruined due to moisture problems. Here's how to avoid that.
In the old days, they just built houses that were really leaky to air infiltration. In an old farm house on a windy cold winter day, it is entirely possible to replace all the air in the house ten times an hour. These houses are about impossible to heat in any affordable fashion, but they were very resistant to moisture damage. Any moisture that got inside the wall got dried out by the huge volumes of air passing through.
These days, for energy and comfort reasons, most houses are considerably tighter than the drafty old farm house. The good news is that they use far less energy and are more comfortable and far more affordable. The bad news is that if moisture does get inside the wall, it will takes weeks or months to dry out. This can cause the wooden framing to rot in a year or two, or cause scary amounts of mold to grow, which can make a house unlivable and is very expensive to fix. The moisture also usually damages the insulation so it never works right again, raising energy use and cost forever. So, what to do?
In new construction, we use two different sheet plastic products. On the inside (warm side in winter) we install 6 mil (that's 0.006", or six thousands of an inch thick) polyethylene plastic sheeting. It's installed on the studs right before you do the drywall, and right after you do the wiring and plumbing inside the wall. Polyethylene is, for all practical purposes, impermeable to moisture, either liquid water or gaseous water vapor. It is commonly called a vapor barrier for just that reason. It prevents warm moist air from inside your house from migrating out through the nooks and cranies in your wall. If we do not prevent that moist air from getting inside the wall, the warm moist air eventually gets cooled off as it gets closer to the outside cold part of the wall.
When it cools off sufficiently, it suddenly can't hold all that moisture and water will change from a gas or vapor into a liquid. Now we have cold liquid water inside our wall where it can do its damage. A good vapor barrier prevents it from ever getting inside the wall in the first place.
A good installation will have every seam/overlap sealed with caulk and stapled. Every penetration (electrical wires, plumbing) sealed with caulk, or mastic or something. This is where good workmanship really pays off.
But, in this world, hardly anything is perfect. There are always little holes and tears and gaps, and perforations from the staples. So we must assume that small amounts of moisture can still get in the wall. That brings us to Tyvek or house wrap. That's the plastic sheet material on the outside, installed on top of the plywood or osb, just before the siding or bricks go on. House wrap is a peculiar polymer. They have discovered ways of manufacturing it so it has pores. The pores are generally big enough for gaseous water molecules (water vapor) to go right through it. Like heat, water vapor tends to go from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. In the winter time, the area of high concentration would be the errant water vapor inside your wall and the area of low concentration would be the great dry cold outdoors.
Tyvek allows any trapped water vapor to escape to the out doors. But the really neat trick is that the pores are generally too small for liquid water drops to penetrate much. So, liquid water can't get it, but water vapor CAN get out. Tyvek also serves as an air intrusion barrier, to prevent cold air from entering the wall, and discouraging warm conditioned air from leaving the house.
So, Polyethylene on the inside (which is what we are doing now, in prep. for drywall) and Tyvek goes on the outside, which we will do right after we get the big garage door installed.
If you have an old house, there is no good way to fix this without tearing into the walls. You can vent moisture pro-actively from the kitchen and the bathrooms. You can buy special "vapor barrier" paint. You can caulk every crack and hole you can find, inside and out. That will all help, but will not be a guarantee. You could also do an air-to-air heat exchanger in either the old remodeled house or the new-construction house. Both help control humidity levels to (help) prevent moisture damage.
I am very happy to have the roof done and hope to never do another in my life. We'll see, I am generally cautious about using the "never" word, as you never know what God will send your way. I'm totally convinced He has a sense of humor.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
You really do have to make a mess to get things more organized. Three of these thick black cables were pulled through the conduit to the shop way back last summer. The other end has sat wound around the spool waiting all this time. And now finally its time has come. The other night we strung the loose ends along the ceiling ready to be hooked into the new electric box. That's Troy's next project: getting power to the shop. Somehow this is all for the larger goal of getting things ready for the garage door installation. It also happens to be able to be done inside; just a coincidence I'm sure as the weather is so cold and wet.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Furthermore, I would like to publicly thank my wife for helping out so much with the very time/weather sensitive shingling. Not many wives would be up there slogging away with tar paper and shingles in cold wet inclement weather. She did. Even when things did not cooperate. There are very few things she would not attempt if she thought it necessary. She is a jewel and I try to remind myself periodically how special she really is. Remodeling a house while you live in it, as a couple, is famously stressful. Christina makes it look almost easy. Maybe I can get her to blush.
Doing things that are difficult and/or unpleasant can have an "up side". Here's a quote that summarizes my feelings on this matter.
"Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content, and a hundred other virtues which the idle never know." - Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)
Monday, November 17, 2008
I gave Troy the priveledge of finishing it up, especially as it included cutting shingles for a whole row and that is a pain in the keister. Plus I had other things to do. The "just in time" is because we woke up to a good 4-5 inches of snow that had fallen overnight. And although I have talked about shingling in the snow, it has never been anything that added up.
There is still an opening at the very peak of a couple inches, but the roof vent is on order to finish it up.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Nobody really likes working out in weather like that. I don't either, but it had to be done. So there I was, slowing grinding it out. It was miserable.
However, before I went out, I made a nice cheerful fire in the wood stove. Our woodstove needs care and feeding about every 45 minutes to an hour. So once I got the fire going, out I went into the cold wet gloomy weather to do battle. But while I'm out there freezing my fingers off, and feeling the rain soak through my pants, I know the fire is blazing away in the living room. In a little while, I will go feed the stove, swap my wet gloves for dry ones and soak up the heat for a few minutes. The knowledge of the existence of a hot woodstove makes my present experience up on the roof far more tolerable. That radiant heat soaks right into your marrow in a way that nothing else can. The cold and the wet have no real chance when faced directly with the power of fire.
This makes for an excellent analogy for a Christian's current experience in life, and the expectation of things soon to come. The world is broken and sinful. Anybody with eyes to see knows that things are not "right" with the world. There is injustice, pain, starvation, war, cruelty, random violence, hurricanes and earthquakes. It's a long list of problems. Without an accurate view of the redeemed and perfected world at the end of time, it could make for a pretty miserable experience in the midst of so much suffering and unfairness. But Christians know better. Things will get better. My current plight is temporary.
In my view, there is no long term injustice. When God fixes things, He does a good job of it. There will be no halfway measures in the end. When the paralyzed man is made to walk again, I feel confident that he will not walk with a limp. Whatever wrongs we suffer in this life will be made right. Whatever wrongs we commit in this life, we will have the opportunity to make amends with God's help. Of course, this gives excellent reason to live an obedient and holy life, to the extent we are able. Less stuff to fix later on.
This all assumes you are a Christian. If you are not a Christian, I am merely throwing gasoline onto your personal fire. By definition, you do not have access to the One who makes everything right. For some reason, obvious or obscure, you have chosen not to trust the Master of the Universe who will right all wrongs. You could trust Him, for He is the most trustworthy thing in or out of the universe. You should trust Him, for you will be relieved of the burden of living in a broken world with no apparent solution. And I pray that you would trust Him. Why would you not? There is no down side.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Then the south face as the shingles are about half done. The last two rows were put in by yours truly, aka Rosie the Riveter.
And finally, the north face, all swept off. But I will say I swept it in the dark, so I'm really not going to guarantee the quality. Of course, if we don't get the tar paper down quickly, we'll just have to sweep again anyway.
Monday, November 03, 2008
We have finished about 20% of the shingles. Each row of shingles goes on in about 15 minutes (pneumatic coil guns ROCK!), but each row only marches up the roof 5 inches. So, fast yet slow. So, we keep plugging along and will eventually overcome the roof and the rain and the snow. Somehow I had it in my mind that each bundle of shingles weighed 60 pounds. After I hefted the first batch from the pickup truck onto the roof, I decided I was either really getting old or they weigh more than that. So of course, I weighed one. 80 pounds. Well, that was a relief. I'm not quite ready for "old" status.
I used to fly airplanes with a guy who ran a construction company. Even back then, he was older than dirt. At least that's what it seemed like to me, a 16 year old at the time. I suppose he was 60. He was a pretty astute business guy, and more than anything else, he outworked the competition. When he carried shingles up the ladder, he carried two bundles. Holy CRAP batman, that guy was tough. I think he did it to make sure the young guys stayed motivated. Jeez, if the old geezer boss can run up that ladder with two bundles, I guess I better do it too. He eventually gave that up after his second hernia surgery.
Since I have no employees to impress or motivate, I'll stick with one bundle at a time. Steady pace wins the race, and no hernias. We only have 85 bundles to heave up there. To save you the math, that's 6,800 pounds of shingles, not counting tar paper and moisture barrier stuff, nails, etc.
It's a good thing I'm doing this for fun, because you could never pay me enough to do it for a living.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So Tuesday morning Troy calls BS to remind him of the inspection they had arranged yesterday and BS says, oh yes I came by yesterday and snooped around while you weren't home. (Ok, ok, so Inspector BS probably didn't use the word snoop.) He made no comment on the framing except to say that Troy had to have the roof done (sheathed and shingled) before he could do the framing inspection. So all this time we had been waiting to start the shingling, we could have actually been shingling. (You know, me shingling while Troy was finishing up the framing piddling things.)
AND Inspector BS verifies with Troy that he's going to also add a moisture barrier* over the part of the roof that overhangs the eaves. Troy replies, you know I am going to be adding R-50 insulation and there will be no need for that, right? BS says, oh yes that is true but the code says it needs to be there. Besides I couldn't get a variance when I built my own house so I am not going to give you a variance. [I will insert here, na-na-na-na-boo-boo, but I'm sure BS didn't really say that either.]
So we will commence with roofing including the moisture barrier with two thoughts in our minds:
1. We are basically approved because if Inspector BS had seen something wrong when he was around Monday he would have said something; and
2. Inspector BS saw that the roof was not done and stopped the inspection there only to wait til the roof is done to tell us what else we need to fix.
(Ok, really there is one more option: 3. Inspector BS basically approved it but when he comes back to see the roof he will decide he doesn't like something that he thought was ok the previous time.)
Wish us luck and just a touch warmer weather!
*Moisture barrier, you ask? This is for houses with insufficient insulation in the attic. This causes the attic to heat which causes the snow on the roof to melt. The melted snow runs down the roof and reaches the part of the roof over the eaves which is not heated and then freezes into ice and oh-so-picturesque-on-someone-else's-house icicles. This can cause an ice dam and then the melted snow can back up under the shingles and ruin your roof. The moisture barrier is used to try and protect the plywood from the damaging moisture. Of course, if your house is insulated, your attic is cold and then you have no need for this barrier, thank you very much, Inspector BS.
Monday, October 27, 2008
What do you think? Are they doing any good now? Ho hum...
The title about sums up Troy and my thoughts on his home grown popcorn.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I told her it was so broken so we could fix it. Which leads me to wonder, which came first: the desire to fix or the brokenness?
ETA: When I relayed this story to Troy he said, "It's not broken; it's just showing its parts." Clever boy, my Troy.
The next step (assuming a passing building inspection, and not a trivial assumption I might add) is to roll out roofing felt (aka tar paper) and then shingles. So, three bundles of shingles should cover 100 square feet, so now we "just" need to nail on 81x32 = 2592 square feet of shingles, or 26 squares, or 78 bundles of shingles, give or take.
I was feeling a little bad that my plywood is getting rained on and starting to look a bit weathered. Eventually, that would damage the structural integrity of the plywood. Yesterday, I realized that short term exposure to a little rain can be a good thing. There were 4 sheets of plywood that had internal defects (glue voids I would guess, or just crappy wood) and they got some major warps and sags. Only 4 spots. If I had done the roof with a big fast crew, the plywood would never have gotten wet and those 4 defective spots would never have been revealed. Now they have been chopped out and replaced with sound plywood.
I still have a few more details to tidy up to get my proverbial ducks all lined up in a neat row, then I call the inspector. Proverbs 19 says, " In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." This suggests that wise Christians should use their God given intellect to plan ahead. We should anticipate problems, issues, and needs so that we can live in the future in ways that give glory to God. This verse and the underlying principle have vast and far reaching implications. The immediate application for me is to make sure there are no loose ends that muck up the inspection.
We'll see how that goes.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
For example, when we hung the fascia boards on the tails of the trusses, Christina and I worked together because that's a four handed game. To maximize the utility of my trusted helper, we would clip right along, just putting one nail in each truss. They really want two nails per truss, so I went around and got everything nicely tidied up. There was one last piece of trim/fascia that needed installing on the west gable, so I got that taken care of as well. As an aside, I used sort of an unconventional material for the fascia boards. Traditionally, you used a 1x6 piece of pine. A hundred years ago, when it was good old growth pine, the boards were really an inch thick, and we still used the evil oil based paint, fascia boards could last 80-100 years with modest care.
These days, about the only old growth pine out there is in places where logging is not allowed. I once saw a house over by Detroit that still had the original 2x20 pine flooring. And they were actually 2 1/2" thick. Trees like that are just gone.
Since the big old giants are unavailable for lumber use, we use the quicky designer Spruce/Pine/Fir trees from the managed renewable forests. These mature in about 1/4 of the time of the old species. The down side is that some of today's SPF lumber is, in some cases, slightly stronger and more durable than styrofoam. So, renewable is good, but there is a down side. A 2x4 from a mature old growth hemlock tree could easily be twice as strong as the modern SPF wondertree equivalent. The immediate consequence for me is that using cheapo SPF 1x6 pine for the fascia board might produce rotten no-good worn out wood in 10-15 years, no matter what you paint it with.
Since I am lazy, AND a good steward, I chose instead to use pressure treated deck boards. In theory, these are 2x6's doped up with either CCA (copper-chromate-arsenic) or the newer friendlier borate/borax treated stuff. The great irony here is that these special "deck" 2x6's are almost exactly the same size as the traditional 1x6 from 100 years ago. They are thinner than the normal 2x6, which itself is only 1 1/2" thick. Please please Lord may we switch to metric now??? Anyway, the additional thickness and preservative pretty much assure that I will never have to replace these in my lifetime. I may also oil them with used soybean oil as additional treatment rather than latex paint. Much less expensive and probably more durable, along with being far more water repellent.
Thus, pretty much all the insignificant yet necessary details are behind us. Plywood dead ahead! I got a couple sheets put up before work this morning and should be able to get ALL of the roof sheathing done by next sunday, PM. I know it's dangerous to set goals like this, but oh well. Perhaps Christina will start an official plywood count. The total number of sheets for the roof will be 81 and we are presently at 40. I can do slightly better than 2 sheets an hour.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Troy did cut off the plywood on the west side over the eave so that side is looking very finished now.
Monday, September 22, 2008
We North Americans are a spoiled lot as a whole. Most work cushy 40 hour per week jobs. We have decent houses, cheap food, plenty of entertainment (to the point of distraction), etc.
It’s killing us.
We need something to scare us or shake us up bad enough that we all become willing to work hard like it mattered. Alternatively, if we could all figure out what work really gives us joy, it would not be a burden to “work” hard and long. We as individuals and we as a country could do so much better. Work is presently viewed as a necessary evil. We try to minimize it and get out it at every opportunity. Many studies have shown that the average worker wastes 5-12 hours per week while “on the job”. This attitude about work is a lie. In reality, work is a blessing in the very real and literal sense of the word.
For a long time, I was always a bit worried about the 4th commandment. Paraphrased, it says that for six days of the week, we should labor, but on the seventh day, we should rest. My difficulty is that I was always worried about breaking the “rest” half of the equation. My day job is totally desk bound. So “rest” for me might mean nailing 2x4’s together so I can get off my butt, get some exercise and a little fresh air outside. Some branches of Christianity have very prescriptive and legalistic ideas about the observance of the Sabbath. I am sure they will frown on my view of restful Sunday activities. Oh well, I am not answerable to them, but only to my master.
Eventually, I realized that it’s a very individual thing. Think about the golf pro. He plays golf for a living. Do you think he wants to play golf on his Sabbath? Is that relaxing for him? What about the literature critic or the editor? Do you really think it is restful for them to read another book on Sunday? Maybe they want to get out and wash and wax their car and give their critical neural faculties the day off. But for the person who works at a detail shop who washes and waxes cars professionally, this would be the last thing they would want to do on their day off. I could give many other examples that illustrate that what is restful and even worshipful for me, might be work in the worst sense of the word for you.
The idea that recently got my attention, and the real focus of today’s post, is the fact that I had been ignoring half of the commandment for decades. Rest and worship are good and needful and commanded, but don’t forget that the first half of the command says, get off your ass and go do something useful and productive and WORK six days a week. Not 4.5 days, not 5 days, but six days you shall labor. There are numerous other references in scripture that say various un-pc things like, If you are able bodied, and you’re not working, you shouldn’t eat and, by implication, we should not and will not feed you either. Wow, when’s the last time you heard a sermon on that?
I’m totally convinced I could cure 2/3 of everything that’s wrong with North American culture if I could just get people to turn the TV off and work steadily, at something they love, six days a week. We wouldn’t be polluting our minds with a lot of the unhealthy garbage that one finds on the TV programming and the blasted ads. That’s big win number one.
Consider the current Wall Street financial meltdown as an example. It’s big, it’s bad, it’s ugly, it’s stupid, it was totally avoidable and it’s wrong on 10 different levels I’m sure. But how big is it, really? The level of hysteria and media screeching puts this at the same level as the Great Depression. PLEASE!!
The current number being thrown around is 700 billion dollars the taxpayers might lose. Together with the 300 billion they have already thrown down the rat hole, that makes a trillion dollars of your money and mine. They might get some of it back. They might even make a profit in the long run. All irrelevant to our discussion. For illustrative purposes, let’s suppose the government completely fritters away a trillion dollars of our tax money. What does that work out to per person?
That’s $1,000,000,000,000/300,000,000 people. Are you ready? That works out to $3,333.33 per person. Right, approximately 3,500 bucks for every man, woman and child in the United States. We will let the kiddies off and not force them to get paying jobs right now. But suppose all the rest of us, say, 200,000,000 (200 million) able bodies adults got part time jobs to pay this off immediately to prevent our economy from quitting in its tracks. Let’s see, that makes it an even five grand per able bodied adult. Let’s say we could all scratch up a part time job for ten hours a week and seven bucks an hour. $5,000/$7 = 714.3 hours. This entire, world economy stopping, great depression could be totally paid off and gone in 714/10hrs per week = 71 weeks. In 1.36 years, the whole thing would be a bad memory.
But no, that would be unpopular to take your medicine now and get it over with. We’re going to let the Federal Government administrate this to death for a decade or two and allow it to screw things up until our grandchildren have to deal with it. And really, it’s just an illustration of how powerful this concept is.
In conclusion, let me say that my day job takes up 50 hrs/wk, not counting transportation, etc. My biodiesel hobby takes another 5-6 hours per week. I heat my house with wood, so that sucks up another couple of hours per week all year long. I don’t have much spare time. But I do feel like I am obeying that fourth commandment, both the second half and the first half. I really feel that God is blessing my efforts.
I anticipate that the shop will be done in one year. So somehow, I have managed to build a structure the size of the average house, in my very limited “spare” time. It will add tens of thousands of dollars to the value of my property. It will give me decades of pleasure in the pursuit of my hobbies. It is a physical testament of what we could accomplish if we were motivated.
Collectively, we in North America could work veritable miracles if we just got off our duffs and did useful stuff, like we meant it, six days a week. Incomes would go up. Tax revenue would go up. The deficit (which threatens to kill this country and many others) would magically melt away. We would suddenly all have plenty of money to retire with dignity and without the need for government hand outs. We would have piles of cash to provide record breaking levels of charity. People would stare in open-mouthed wonder at the success of our nation.
All from simple obedience to the fourth commandment.
Of course, I am not endorsing work-a-holics, or people who worship their job more than their creator, or people who are obsessed with money, or people who neglect their family because they work too much. It’s all about balance.
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