25 November 2005

All wrapped up

The house is Tyveked, and the windows are all in!
The guys worked hard today, I'm told that it's tough to decide if this was harder than putting in that ridge pole in the dark or not (see the Dancing in the Dark post if you don't know what I mean). Union Guy thinks this was tougher - the windows were very heavy and they had only one super duper suction cup thing to hold them with.
They made a sled to slide the windows from where they were stored in a big crate ... notice the gray cat sitting on Contractor Man's feet. That's Shadowcat - he'd just been told that there were no free rides, as he'd been sitting on the sled riding along!

Sure looks good. Roof comes next week, we're almost to lockup!

23 November 2005

And for this week...

We have natural gas hooked up to the pipeline. All three cats survived the procedure. Yay! Plumber Man can now come and hook up things indoors so we have HEAT!

It has been over ten degrees daily for the past few days. Wow.

The roofing materials will be onsite on Monday. Contractor Man will go pick them up and deliver them himself.

Windows and solar system support pillars will be put in starting tomorrow.

Bought all the light fixtures and two smoke detectors on the weekend. Whew.

Union Guy is out at Apple Jack Creek today: he built my bathroom sink cabinet from Ikea this morning (always a much bigger job than anyone anticipates, which is why I asked him to do it, instead of fooling myself into thinking I could just "get that done some evening") and says that he's had to take the cats out of his toolbox three times already, and that all the pawprints inside the bathroom cabinet are my problem.

And, since Union Guy is working tomorrow as well, I get to have a shower tonight and sleep in town. :)

17 November 2005

Roof Update

Sounds like Contractor Man has a solution for the roof ... this is good news! More details as they arrive, but we do have a solution. Might even have a roof by next week!

16 November 2005

A roof over our heads ... soon

Soon, but not today.

There was a mixup: the roofing instructions we were sent said put strapping up (not sheathing) on the roof. We did that.

The roofer arrived, and looked at the instructions that came with the roof, and said, wait, it says right here that this particular kind of roof has to go over sheathing, not strapping.


So, Contractor Man, being the wonderful man that he is, is in the process of solving this problem for me. He and the package company guys (who are also really good - they admitted straight up that this was their mistake, and will cover the costs of fixing the problem) have some alternatives and he'll have more info for me soon. Basically, the preferred solution is to get the *right* kind of metal from somewhere local (it exists, we know this) as that's faster and easier in the long run than getting sheathing, installing it (a 2 day job) and doing all that work.

So, yet another delay, but hey, nobody's sick, nobody's dying, the weather is warming up for the weekend, we are comfortable and well housed in our tiny cabin, and really, it's just one more small glitch in the grand scheme of things.

It's disappointing, to be sure, but hey, things happen.

Curiosity and the Cat

Well, we all know what curiosity did to the cat.

Mikan has, apparently, suffered that fate.

The crew was out doing backfill around the house this week, and the cats seemed fine all day. When The Boy went to let them in, though, only Diesel returned. There was no sign anywhere of Mikan. We suspect that he was checking out the trench and got backfilled in place. :(

So, we were left with one lonely and cold Diesel, who had nobody to help keep her warm at night and keep her company during the day. We went back to the place we got Diesel and Mikan, and there were 2 more kittens (from a different litter, so slightly older) who were still waiting for homes ... and we brought them home. At least now we are "resourced in anticipation of possible attrition": if we lose one more (heavens preserve us), the one who is left will at least have a buddy to keep him or her warm.

So, I now introduce to you our next two members of the acreage crew: Moke and Shadowcat.

Moke is the way that The Boy pronounced "smoke" when he was very small - there was a huge forest fire around the time he was 2, and the smoke drifted through the streets. "Moke, Mommy!" he would announce. So, the light gray and white cat is named Moke cause that's what she looks like. We struggled with finding a name for the lovely dark gray cat, and settled on Shadowcat because his stripes and dark coat would colour him perfectly for hiding in the shadows.

So, that's our animal situation for this week.

The house progress ... well, we have the roof going on today, and oi! I just remembered I have to call the Natural Gas people so they can fax me a work order. I'll go do that. More later on this same station....

13 November 2005

Snowing in my Living Room

Yesterday it snowed in the living room. It looked kind of neat, a few flakes drifting down through the latticework that is currently the roof. Here's an action shot of yesterday's adventures: The Boy standing in his loft (wearing his bike helmet as he had been out riding earlier), and Contractor Man climbing the stringers on the roof, carrying insulation up to the peak. He is utterly fearless up there, even with a 20 foot drop below him, it doesn't seem to affect him at all.He doesn't normally work weekends, but he came on Saturday so that we'd be ready for Roofing Guy who is scheduled to arrive Monday.
He's a very good man, Contractor Man.

Today began with the usual greeting from the kittens - they were sitting in the bedroom window when we arrived, and promptly raced over to say hello. While we got the fire going (keeps The Boy occupied, and burns up our scrap, and keeps us all warm, so it is a multi-purpose sort of fire) Diesel and Mikan were busy climbing all over us.

We worked on wiring this weekend ... Here is an action shot of Solar Neighbour pulling wire up through one of the the holes drilled in the floor. Plumber Dude was there today as well, working on the air exchange system and the in floor heating. He let me use his super duper big drill with the auger bit to drill the holes for the wires ... wow, does that thing ever eat through the wood fast! Of course, it also weighs an awful lot, and I really felt like a wimpy girl any number of times today. Still, we got all the holes drilled, all the outlet boxes mounted, and the wire pulled for all of the outlets at the front half of the house. Next weekend, we should be able to finish up .. and Solar Dude plans to come out and hook up the panels, so we may even have live power in a week. Cool!

This week should see a number of big events: the roof should go on, the backfill should be done (so we don't have a moat around the building anymore), the windows go in (and then we're pretty well sealed up!), the natural gas hookup should happen, and the septic system should be complete. It's very exciting. It sure is a lot of work - I hauled the lumber out of the way today and stacked it all up so that it'll be clear for the backfill equipment, and I'm worn right out. It's painfully obvious that I spend most of my days sitting behind a computer keyboard, not lifting anything heavier than a coffee mug. :S

11 November 2005

Fitting Dresses and Pulling Nails

It was a reasonably warm day, all things considered, and that's a good thing - the crew were up on the roof most of the day getting the "peak" at the front to sit exactly right. It was a lot like the final fitting of a body-hugging dress ... try it out, adjust a little, try it again, adjust it some more. By the end of the day it was there, and with just a little more tweaking we'll be ready for roofing.
This picture shows a good shot of that interior beam that we had to put up (see the "Dancing in the Dark" post) - it sure does look pretty. The spaciousness of the loft continues to surprise me ... no wonder The Boy is so excited about having all that space to himself! Even with the roof on, there's still a lot of headroom and floor space in general.
I spent the day pulling nails out of boards. I cleared up a lot of the lumber around the house, since we'll be getting backfill in early next week and that all has to be out of the way. I also pulled out the interior braces, knocked the nails out of those boards, and piled the lumber up for reuse on another project or somewhere else in the house. The inside looks a lot bigger now that the indoor obstacle course has been removed! The Boy spent much of the day feeding wood scraps to a fire. :) Oh yes, Solar Dude (that's what The Boy calls him) came out and confirmed that we've got a good location scoped out for our solar panels, they won't be shaded by the trees or the house. Tomorrow, Solar Neighbour and I are going to start wiring ... it's getting closer and closer to being a house we can live in!

10 November 2005

Cabin Living

Contractor Man suggested that we post some pictures of the inside of our little temporary housing, so here they are. :)

As you can see we have made extensive use of the "stick a nail in the wall and hang something on it" style of interior decorating. The walls are panelled with paintable wainscot paneling (from Home Depot) and painted to match the exterior (simply because I had extra paint left over). There happened to be enough wide blue rubber baseboard available at the Habitat Restore to go all the way around, so we have that at the bottom of the walls (the panels were short by a few inches, and this solved the problem nicely). The silver stuff on the ceiling is insulation - keeps the heat in to some degree, although I would also have insulated the walls if I'd known we'd be in there quite this late in the year. The kitchen sink unit came from Canadian Tire - it's a demo model that was missing it's front doors so I got it for $99. It can be connected to a garden hose and used outdoors to rinse your garden veggies and so on, they call it a "patio sink". We run the waste water hose to a bucket hidden under the bookcase, and just have to remember to dump it periodically. We keep water in the blue water container on the shelf above the sink, and that gives us our "gravity fed water system". There's also a jug of water which normally has a pump in it and we use that for various purposes as well. In the very front you can see the top of the kerosene heater - our life line now that winter is nipping at our heels.

At the other end of the shed we have the two beds, with a curtain between them so that the light isn't in The Boy's eyes when I'm reading after he's gone to sleep. The large blue thing on the wall is his Halloween costume - he was a jellyfish (it's a sunhat covered in silver tissue and then blue plastic, with lots of dangly blue plastic strips that hang from the brim). For those of you who've been to our house (or Mom and Dad's house) you may see the edge of a clock hanging on the wall ... my great uncle made it, and my aunt from Texas did the needlework that fills the little window at the bottom. It's nice to have pieces of 'home' around!

My clothes are hung on a piece of conduit hung from the ceiling, and you can see the fluorescent trouble light that we use for indoor lighting. That is powered by a large battery thing on wheels, which gets charged up on weekends and will easily power the lights all week (Union Guy dubbed this wonderful gadget the "juice box").

So this is where we live, it's really not so bad!

Barn Cats

When we went trick-or-treating at Halloween, one of the houses we stopped at had several new barn kittens that were in search of new homes. Well, we have plenty of mice (leave a pile of lumber out for a day and it's got mouse turds on it, ick) but no barn. So, we said we'd be back and set about preparations. At Habitat for Humanity I found a cube that must have once been part of some office furniture - it's laminated with that typical office fake wood stuff - and last weekend The Boy and I cut a door in it, then insulated it with styrofoam insulation and a mylar emergency blanket (to reflect the heat back in). Tuesday night we went back to the house that had the kittens and picked out two from the four that remained. Here they are! Their names are Diesel and Mikan ... Diesel is the calico, and she's called what she is because when she purrs she rattles almost as loud as my truck! Mikan is the Japanese word for Christmas oranges (if you get the actual Japanese ones, you can read it written on the side of the box ... well, if you can read Japanese, anyway). So, the orange one is called Mikan (it's pronounced meeee-khan).
They are absolutely adorable when they chase and attack one another, and they seem to have figured out that we are the Providers of Food Water and Warmth, and we're hoping they soon decide to decimate our mouse population.

07 November 2005


The snow stayed on the ground today, and the thermometer outside Union Guy's kitchen window says it is minus four. There were four people out at the land today working, and the roof is well on it's way to being ready for the roofer to put the metal on. We may be delayed some by the snow, I'm not sure yet, but Solar Power Neighbour and I hope to do some work on the house wiring on the weekend so I'm really hopeful we have some degree of cover up there (even if it is only roofing felt, that'll keep the snow out).

Fortunately we are in town again tonight, and it is supposed to warm up a little in the next couple of days. The Boy says that the cabin doesn't get completely warm, but it's not too bad as long as you have something on your feet.

More updates later in the week, we'll be out at Apple Jack Creek tomorrow night with our hot water bottle (purchased to prewarm the beds and keep us toasty at night!) and our warm layers of blankets.

06 November 2005


Yes, we have snow.

The Boy and I are in town tonight, as Union Guy is working out there tomorrow, and can take The Boy to school in the morning, so we are enjoying the luxuries of central heat, running water, and electricity.

Tomorrow may be a bit cooler, but you know, snow's a great insulator too, so maybe if we get a layer of it on the roof it'll hold the heat in. :)

Here's the current plan: the guys are going to work on getting the roof ready for Roofing Guy, who is coming on Wednesday and Thursday. Digger Man is coming to do backfill around the middle of the week as well, and so that means that Natural Gas People can come and hook us up to the gas line shortly after that. After the roof is on the guys can put the windows in, and we'll be closed in hopefully by the end of the week or early next. If I can arrange it with my neighbour, we'll work on running power this weekend.

With any luck, we'll be indoors, with power and plumbing in a few more weeks. :)

Anyway, I thought in case you'd checked the weather and were worrying about us, I'd let you know we're warm.

03 November 2005


My neighbour has started a blog of his house too ... he's got a full solar system up and running already and is going to help get mine set up too, being the really nice guy that he is.

Have a look!

Last Load

The last load of material arrived yesterday, so we now have roofing, rafters, siding, insulation (yay, warmth!) and windows.

Today was spent squaring the house - Contractor Man had to climb up on the ridge beam on Tuesday and use a chainsaw to trim that long centre beam, as it was a bit too long ... that had to have been interesting! No pictures of that, sadly. Anyway, with comealongs, tow straps and chains and lots of checking with the level, they got everything squared back up again and started putting up roof rafters. Photos of that tomorrow!

The loft is finished and looks really neat. I had thought it had an open front with railings, but apparently the pony wall goes all the way across. That'll work out fine. It's nice and spacious ... The Boy continues to be impressed. We'll see if he's still impressed when the roof rafters are in place and he sees that his ceiling doesn't go all the way up except in the centre ... but then again, he hasn't had his big growth spurt yet so for a few years it'll still seem big.

Contractor Man has taken to calling That Really Nice Guy (who has taken time off his software development job to help with construction) "Union Guy", after hearing him comment one day (when lunch break was called at 2 pm) that he was going to have to speak with the union rep. Since then, lunch tends to be called a little earlier, and Contractor Man just asks me "Is that Union Guy available to work on Friday?" So, I think from now on we'll call him Union Guy. I think he likes the change of pace from building stuff nobody can see to actually hammering a building into place. Works for me, we can use the extra hands!

So our other really good news is that we have a roofing contractor. The metal roof needs to be installed by professionals, as it can be a bit dicey. Of course, I didn't discover this until last week ... so I sent out a few emails, and actually got a reply from someone who is - get this - available next week to do the work! Yay! That is exactly when we need them. They happen to be between two larger jobs, and I should get the contract faxed to me tomorrow. Yay! A roof!