Archive for October, 2011

Porch Railings

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Today dawned wet and cold. Although sunrise was at 7:51, the builders arrived at 7, while it was still dark. They immediately started in on the small porch that will be at the main entrance in the back corner of the cabin, putting a pair of pressure treated 6×6 posts on top of the concrete pads poured yesterday. Then they built a platform attached beneath the back door, and attached a pair of 6×6 posts at the front corners.


Then they used the chainsaw to cut mortise slots, and cleaned out the mortise with a chisel. After cutting another mortise slot on the other side, they cut a pair of 6x6s and installed them between the mortice’s and the tops of the posts.


The porch still needs a roof, railings, and steps. Meanwhile, Daniel was bringing a pallet full of spindles for the front porch.


After cutting the cedar rails to length, Aaron fits together a set of spindles and rails, which were then pounded tight, and screwed into place, top and bottom.


The porch is really starting to take on some personality with the rustic railings in place.


The porch will be screened, with a door on right (above), with stairs down to ground level, that will also use the cedar rails and spindles. The carpentry crew built a door frame for the screen door, and put a series of cedar boards between the 6x6s holding up the roof, and the tongue and groove above it, and also built triangular walls at each end of the porch. After the cabin has been stained, they’ll install rectangular panels with insect screens on the sides and behind the railings.


They also installed cedar trim on several windows, sealing the interface between log wall and window frame with a metallic gummed tape.


Elizabeth spent the afternoon making detailed graph paper drawings of the details in the bathrooms, and we drove up to Millersburg to copy them, and then we continued to Winesburg to meet with Conrad the tiler. It seemed like we were there for hours, but he had a lot of practical ideas on shower configuration, and at this point, Elizabeth is happy. We came back through Berlin, and decided to stop at the Farmstead for dinner, where we’d eaten earlier in the summer with John and Buffy.

[If you want to see all the entries for the cabin building project, they start here. The next Building the Cabin entry is Winter arrives, the motorhome leaves.]

7 Truck Day

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Although we had even more trucks, today felt quieter than yesterday. Like so many other days this year, it started with rain, a late season thunderstorm that woke us up several hours before the carpenters arrived.

After finishing the frames for the interior walls in the basement, the carpenters started putting cedar trim around the outside windows.  They also poured footers to support the small porch that will be at the entrance way. 


It turned into a gorgeous afternoon, with blue sky, and temperature in the upper 60s, so I went for a several hour walk in the woods with my camera.

After dinner, Sam’s brother Ray stopped by with his tape measure, and he and Elizabeth finished planning the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Now its raining again.

[If you want to see all the entries for the cabin building project, they start here. The next Building the Cabin entry is Porch Railings.]

5 Truck Day

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

We’ve had two busy days at the cabin site this week.

Yesterday, our crew installed all but 2 of the windows, and all the outside doors (3 standard doors from local maker Provia, and 1 sliding door).  They also built the stairway from the basement to the ground floor, so there is no longer a stepladder leaning against the outside of the building towards the first floor door hole.  


We had a visit from Mike, a county engineer. Given that the original driveway to the township road has been there for over a century, all drainage issues seem to have been dealt with, but he spent a long hour discussing ditches and collecting a permit that we didn’t know that we needed.  

Today turned out to be even busier.  Our carpenter crew started in on the ground floor interior wall studding, while Sam and his driver installed gutter drainage around the base of the foundation, and started filling it with the 2 dump truck loads of river gravel that arrived first thing this morning.

 Elizabeth went into town for pizza for everyone, and fortunately, she ordered extra. There were two more pickups by the time she got back with lunch.  The first to arrive was Owen, who’ll be staining the exterior, and then Sheldon, who, weather permitting, will install the septic system and back fill this week.  Elizabeth talked about different exterior finish options, and Sheldon and I walked around the 2 building sites, talked to Sam about optimal position for the septic risers, and then went down to look at the driveway.

After lunch, the carpentry crew started in on the second floor, which was trickier to stud, because the ceilings are higher, and are peaked.  Yesterday, Elizabeth had made her last minute changes to a couple of the upstairs walls, and at this point, all of the studs seem to be in place for the ground and upper floor. 

Sam and his driver started in on the gutter drains for the barn.  Sam and his crew also cleaned up a lot of the discarded building material around the outside, neatly piling it out of the way of the bulldozer.  At this point, we’re ready for Sheldon to back fill the earth around the foundation, recontour the land around the cabin and barn, and install the septic. Its already so muddy that Elizabeth and I have defaulted to boots, and it is supposed to rain 2 out of the next 3 days. 

 The 5th pickup truck today was one of the neighbors, who stopped by to visit and compare notes on a similarly-configured cabin that he’s building. We gave 2 tours of the unfinished cabin to neighbors today.

[If you want to see all the entries for the cabin building project, they start here. The next Building the Cabin entry is 7 Truck Day.]

Pouring basement floor

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Other than 3 and a half inches of rain and the uncomfortably nearby escape of dozens of hungry lions, tigers, and bears, up until Friday, my parents evidently had a very quiet week at the Hollow. As my mom reports Yesterday we awoke to the sound of a  truck coming up the lane.  We  weren’t expecting anyone as rain was forecast as usual.  But here came a crew of cement guys  despite misty rain, towing a bobcat, to begin laying cement in the lower level  of the cabin.  The bobcat guy  scraped some of the muck off the top of the driveway at the site.  Next came a big gravel truck.  Gravel was spread at the top of the  driveway where the cement trucks would park.  The bobcat guy took loads of gravel down  the slope to the basement level, dumped it into two wheelbarrows over and over  to be carted inside.  After the  first truck left, another came with the same big load to be wheelbarrowed  in. 

He left and a cement truck  arrived but instead of cement it also carried gravel that whooshed down the  chute into the wheelbarrows.  I  watched all this activity from the dry and warm motorhome.  When the first load of cement arrived,  the truck couldn’t be placed close enough to Jay’s office entrance on the lower  level to send the cement down the chute and into the building, so the two  youngest guys carted it in by the wheelbarrow load.  They worked with furious speed — one  full barrow in while the second barrow came out empty and was loaded — just as  fast as one went in and was dumped the other came out — round and round and on  and on they went. The rest of the crew was inside spreading the concrete.  Arlan says there was a chalk line drawn  on the inside wall for the floor level.  The empty cement truck came down the driveway to the turnaround where he  washed the slides used to unload the cement and the revolving drum.  He left, another cement truck arrived,  and the whole procedure repeated.  The trucks carried 6 yards — 2 tons to a yard. Those two young men  wielding the wheelbarrows must have had muscles of steel and they must have been  mighty tired. 

The misty rain  stopped around noon and I put on my wellies to go up the muddy drive to watch  some of the proceedings.  I couldn’t  see into the basement to see how it looked.  The last of the gravel was dumped in  front of the barn/garage which will be done (and I assume the “patio” outside  Jay’s office and Kirk’s bedroom also) when a drain is put in the barn. Janice Heiser

[If you want to see all the entries for the cabin building project, they start here. The next Building the Cabin entry is 5 Pickup Truck Day.]

Fall Down at the Hollow

Monday, October 17th, 2011

I literally cannot remember the last time I visited Heiser Hollow in the Fall. I know I was there in 1983, but I don’t remember when I was last in our woods during when the leaves were in color.

I spent a day in Cinncinnati for business last week, so instead of flying back to Virginia, I rented a car and drove to the Hollow to meet up with Elizabeth. It was a beautiful trip across Knox and Coshocton counties, with a bright blue sky and late afternoon sun lighting up the leaves.

It was amazingly hot, and rainy, when we started this cabin project in July.  3 months later, it is starting to get chilly (and it is still rainy). The days are getting shorter, but at least the mosquitoes are mostly gone.  Flocks of starlings blow through periodically, buzzards and hawks are still hunting, the bluejays are screaming, and sometimes you can hear the pileated woodpeckers.  The owl is still hooting at night.

One night after work, I gathered walnuts in the valley.  The walnut crop varies from year to year, and in spite of an appalling population of bag worms, this year was a bumper crop for walnuts.  I collected two buckets full, hauled them up to the motor home, ground the husks off with my boot, and put them into a mouse free area to dry.  If I have the patience  to crack them open this winter, and pick the nuts out, then maybe we can bake my grandmother’s ice box cookies in the cabin.  Its a bland kind of butter cookie, but they taste great with the strong flavor of American walnut.

[If you want to see all the entries for the cabin, they start here. The next Building the Cabin entry is Pouring the basement floor.]

Great Room

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

A nice sturdy pine stairway now provides easy access to the upper floor. Since my previous visit, tongue and groove had been laid on top of the heavy pine joists, the dormers were framed, and insulated ceiling panels were installed.  It is feeling more and more like a real house.

Its funny, but both Elizabeth and I were struck by the relative spaciousness of the unfinished upstairs, and had second thoughts about splitting it up with walls that will develop this piece of property into bed and sitting rooms, closets and a master bath.  Right now, there is plenty of room for a pool table and ping pong table, and it almost feels a shame to ruin that by making it livable.

Other than the stairway, exterior walls and the posts supporting the ridgepole, everything else is pretty flexible.  Walls can go just about anywhere, and Elizabeth has spent countless hours working on the original design, modifying it, and then rethinking it.  She spent an afternoon last week using blue tape to mark out some of the walls so she could better visualize the eventual room layout. The photo above shows the door and outside walls of the master bath, along with the toilet, shower stall, and sinks along the left.

Two other things limit our flexibility.  Running wiring in a log building takes some planning, and the builders have pretty much fixed the location of all roof fixtures. The hallway lights, bedroom ceiling fans, and wiring for ceiling lights and fans that will run down to switches in interior walls, was put into place before the roof panels went up, so the wiring could go across the top. Something else fixed even more firmly in stone, so to speak, is the heavy pine tongue & groove flooring over the living room. This is the only downstairs room with visible pine beams, and the top floor flooring serves as the main floor ceiling. The rest of the ceilings above the first floor are done in dimensional lumber, so we can put some sound insulating in. They will be drywalled below, and we’ll have to choose a flooring for the parts of the top floor that are done in subfloor right now.

Just before first grade, my family moved to a new neighborhood, and I have fond memories of wandering around inside unfinished houses with my parents and grandparents before the doors and windows went up.  Our cabin feels a lot like that right now, a solid yet unfinished atmosphere that comes from completed roofs and walls, but no fixtures, utilities, or windows.  Its a child of a house, and it reminds me of the newly hatched houses in my childhood neighborhood.

Just before Elizabeth and I left on Thursday, the builders had started trimming out the window, door, and fireplace openings, using a chainsaw and chalk lines.  As shown in a picture my father took on Friday, the window openings have all been trimmed to size and rough framed so the windows and doors can be installed.  I don’t know if that will be done before we return at the end of the month, but once the holes are plugged, the cabin’s character will change again. I’m glad I had a chance to visit last week.

[The first entry in the Building the Cabin Series is Starting The Cabin.  The next entry in this series is Fall Down at the Hollow.]