Construction Completed

Thursday, July 26th, 2012


Almost exactly 1 year after the start of construction, Sam the Builder has finished work on our cabin.  He’s backfilled behind the cement wall, leveling the ground in front of the main cabin door, and leaving enough space to turn around a car. While Elizabeth and I were in Japan, the insect netting went up on the porch.  The cabin has been screened, stained, caulked, chinked, and connected, and is essentially complete.

The heat and drought has ensured that Elizabeth’s new lawn hasn’t taken over the level patch in front of the cabin, although an inch and a quarter of rain last week seemed to help green things up a bit.  The shady location, deep basement, and log walls kept things cool, even during a heat wave in the mid-90s.  While the insect netting does slow down the breeze slightly, a pair of ceiling fans on the porch keeps everyone cool, and the porch is turning into a nice evening spot to listen to frogs and crickets without having to battle moths and beetles.  


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

Starting the Barn

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

When Elizabeth and I arrived at the Hollow this afternoon, our building crew had already installed the barn floor and was well along with the trusses.

The upper floor will have a door on the west end.  Sheldon graded a ramp along the northern face (left above) and bulldozed a flat area on the slope to the west of the barn, so it’ll be possible to drive up to the upper level door.

The barn will have a door on the south side of the lower level, and a pair of garage doors on the east side, facing the driveway.

The north face will have a pair of windows on the ground floor, and a pair of windows in a dormer on the second.  The east face, facing the drive, will also have a pair of windows.

Today was my first chance to inspect all the work that Sheldon did to finish the grading and install the septic system. The driveway looks great, with a big new culvert at the county road, a new culvert at the right angle bend, and most of the bigger holes filled in.  Elizabeth had also asked Diane to bring in a couple loads of gravel 2 weeks ago, and that made a big difference.  Everything was in surprisingly good shape, given the amount of rain that fell here recently.  Route 60 was closed, and we had to take the high water road on the other side of the Killbuck, which is currently 1 foot above flood stage.  We saw lots of flooding in fields and other low lying areas.

The pond was pouring out the overflow, fed by a babbling brook. The newly recaptured spring was gushing into the cress pool.  The springs along the eastern edge of the property were all flowing strongly.  Coshocton County took the lead in the number of deer shot during gun season. I found a lot of fresh prints today, so there should be plenty left for the final 2 days of the season, later this month.

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

Cold start last January

Saturday, November 5th, 2011
We put the first stake in the ground into the frozen ground on a cold Friday in January that dawned at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) and never managed to get above 22 (-5.5 C).

We climbed up a hill  overlooking the pond, pushed some brambles out of the way, and Sam the Builder pounded a pair of stakes into the ground, indicating the future front two corners of the  cabin.   A further stake or two suggested where the front of the porch would end up.

Then we chose approximate locations for the new driveway, up from the meadow to the new cabin, and the accompanying barn. At that point, we were still envisioning a 24×36 polebarn.

After that, we stood around stamping our feet waiting for Sheldon the Excavator and Glen the Septic Engineer, wondering if that truly was the optimal building spot, if it was too far from the pond, too far from the well, or too steep a hillside. We didn’t expect that it would be another 6 months before we saw Sheldon again and finally removed the stakes.

Once we were done with Sam and the Subs, we gratefully hopped back into the car and drove back to the Comfort Inn in Millersburg, stopping along the way to capture a couple of snow shots.

It turned out that this would be the first of two snowy visits stays in Millersburg.


[If you want to see all the entries for the cabin building project, they start here. The next Building the Cabin entry continues last winter’s preparation activities with Beating the Bounds.]

Winter arrives, the motorhome leaves

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Mere words cannot express my disappointment at not sharing in the digging of the septic system, which was delayed at least a week because of mud. Besides the excitement of watching Sheldon and his excavator, I really want to know how all the systems function. Given that I’ll be maintaining this place for the rest of my life, and assuming that will be long enough for things to break, I’m very curious about where everything is, and how it is constructed. I’m afraid that the underground utilities will be a mystery to me–at least until one of them fails some day.

After a week’s vacation on the building site, we returned to Virginia on the heels of last weekend’s unusually harsh and early winter snow. At least we had a chance to meet with Sheldon last week, and discuss where we wanted to put culverts under the drive, and how we wanted to leave the earth contoured around the cabin and barn.  We had a visit from the phone company. We had a long visit from the electrical coop, and agreed with Sam where we’d put the meter and how where we’d run the power. We had a very long visit with Conrad the tile guy. Elizabeth had a longer visit at Artfind Tile, a surprisingly sophisticated store located just off the town square in Wooster (no web site–how funny is that?). We also had a long and entertaining visit with Ed Erb at Erb’s Stove Center near Berlin (he’s Amish–they usually don’t have web sites).  He sold us a small Dutchwest Cast Iron Non-Catalytic Wood Stove for the office.  Sam will pick up the stove and ensure that it is installed.

We had frost several mornings, along with heavy fog.  The leaves aren’t completely down, but they are getting there.  There were still a few brave, or late, crickets chirping at the beginning of the week, but within a couple days, nights were silent, save for the occasional hoot of an owl. The last week of October was probably the last one that Elizabeth and I will spend in my folks’ motor home.  For weather and utility reasons, my parents drove it out of the Hollow on Sunday. Not only was the well head not configured to provide water in freezing temperature.  Even if it was above freezing, the motorhome wouldn’t have water, because the well head needs to come off.  A ditch will be dug between the cabin and well, and the Yoder brothers will install a pitless well adaptorto the well casing below the frost line.

The report from Sheldon and Sam today is that ditches have been dug, conduit with power lines have been run to the cabin, and a water line now connects the new cabin to our 30-year old well. Weather permitting, Sheldon should be able to finish the septic system, some driveway work, and hopefully, recapture the spring, by Friday. Sam expects that the electricians, plumbers, and HVAC subs will be working in the cabin this week, and as soon as Sheldon finishes, Yoder Geothermal (a Yoder with a website) will be able to drill in support of the geothermal heatpump. Hopefully, the cabin exterior will be stained within the next two weeks, but that may be delayed until spring. As soon as Sam can get him pinned down, the mason should arrive to do fireplace and chimney.


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

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.]