Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Heavy Metal

I thought I would show this shot of the job I am on now since this is a more typical job for me instead of the Big House. Jobs like that house are few and far between. Anyway, I was brought over to this job to weld up that red steel you see towards the bottom of the photo. It is a support for a movable wall basically. This is in a huge multistory office building in Birmingham. Work like this can be a pain even though I love welding because you can get in some really tight places when you add to existing structure. You have to cram yourself up in all that pipe and concrete and over and under stuff and then strike this arc only a few inches away sometimes. You get burned a lot etc. It always cracks me up that the box of welding rods comes with these instructions that say "teach the welder to keep his head out of the fumes". I would like to send the manufacturers of the rods a letter saying " teach yourself to cram these rods up your #$%^%&". Well, I mean, we are not stupid; we know to try to avoid breathing that stuff but it's very hard not to breathe the fumes and now alot of older welders have Parkinson's. But I enjoy what I do and make a pretty good living. Oh, there are 2 other women construction workers on this job! I couldn't believe it. Also, this piddleling (sp.?) thing (the steel) had to be inspected and out of all the other big, structural stuff I've done in 13 years, this is only the second or third time I have had to be inspected and show my papers. That figures.
I'll try to have more about the house soon. More is happening. I am also trying to figure out how to list the blogs of other people that I read like everybody else does on their blogs. I'm a moron when it comes to stuff like that but I have noticed that I am listed on others blogrolls and want to do the same on mine.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cheeseburger In Paradise

OK, those of you who are pretty observant will notice that there is no cheese on this one but Allen always has cheese on his burgers. I cooked in the house for the first time this weekend!! Now, don't get too excited, it was just on a camp stove; nothing permanent in the kitchen yet but still.... We have officially started the water system now. We installed alot of the drain and vent lines and they came out today to start my perc test for the septic system. That is a whole post unto itself. There is alot about those things that I did not understand. I'll try to get something up about that soon. I know ya'll are just on the edge of your seat to hear about my crapper. The hamburgers were great by the way. One of the grocery stores around here has started carrying all natural beef. Not certified organic but certified not to contain hormones or steriods or antibiotics. I was ecstatic to find the stuff and it is very good and tender. I would like to maybe raise my own beef one day but that is a long way down the road. We raised our own beef and pork when I was a kid and there is just no comparision to the taste with store bought, especially with the pork.
Here I am cooking!! I do that sometimes. When my kitchen is functional I plan on cooking for days on end so ya'll make plans to come by 'cause I'm going to need somebody to eat all this food. Allen and I don't need to eat it all ourselves although he may disagree with that. I'll explain in a later post why being able to cook a decent meal is such a big deal to me. Our living arrangements now are somewhat limited. You may have noticed that Allen usually takes my photo from behind (not sure what he is trying to tell me) but didn't here for some reason.
I have been transferred to another job temporarily but it has given me another great opportunity to acquire more materials for the house for free. I hauled a big load of concrete block home today (that I mentioned the other day) and tomorrow I will get a load of electrical conduit and red iron. Not sure what I am going to do with the red iron (structural steel type stuff) but I never can pass that stuff up. Funny how I always get sent to another job right about the time I need some more material. If only I had gotten sent to a framing job back when I needed lumber. Well, I shouldn't be greedy. One drawback to this new job is that we start work at 6:00 a.m. so I have to get in bed pretty early. By the time I get home with my loot and unload etc. and shower, eat, whatever, it does not leave much time for blogging. This great weather has really got me reinspired about the house though. I had gotten kind of discouraged about progress and money but I am feeling better about things now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rock and Roll (Hootchie Coo)

Well, we rocked some; not near what I'd like but it's a start. When the entire house is built this will be the guest bedroom but it will be the main (only) one for now. The master bedroom and one more will be in the other section across the dogtrot. There is not alot of drywall in the house actually since the living room/kitchen ceilings don't hang and some of the living room walls get plywood. We could finish it ourselves but I am going to get a price from a buddy of ours for him to mud and finish it. It's worth paying a reasonable price to me just to get it done. Allen is good at sheetrock work but we are both slow at it and things are going slow enough as it is. We also ran some sheetrock in the bathroom but had to leave a bunch open for plumbing.
This is the first of the actual plumbing!! You have no idea how happy I will be to finally be able to......... not go somewhere else for things. I finally decided where to put the toilet too! That actually was one of my harder decisions to make. We will be working on plumbing this weekend because it looks like we are in for some more rain. Hopefully I will get my perk test done within a week to start the septic system. That's $500.00 for someone to come out and dig 4 or 5 holes in the ground and fill them with water! I know, there is more to it than that but I am down to counting pennies at this point. As soon as we get that done I can go buy my septic tank permit and start putting that in. This is the one thing that I have to have inspected and if you don't get it inspected and passed the power company will not put in your permanent power. They are in cahoots with the city and health department.
A note on the insulation and plumbing: that is R-11 unfaced fiberglass insulation in the walls. It is standard stuff they use in commercial applications. As I have stated before, I would have liked to have used some of the natural cellulose or cotton insulation they have but this stuff was free so... there you go. At least no energy will have to be used to make my insulation because I'm recycling and this stuff will not go into the landfills. We are using PVC on the drains and vents in the house but everything else will be copper. Copper is through the roof right now and has been for some time. Lots of copper thefts on construction sites too. We are also starting the plan for the solar hot water system. This will be the only active solar part of the house for right now. I did not realize that there are so many types of solar water systems: indirect, direct, roof top collectors, ground level collectors etc. etc. Do any of you have any experience with such things and/or have any advice?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Stuff Like That There

This weekend was spent stuffing stuff. It was too cold and windy for roof work so we bought some sheetrock and worked on the inside. If you remember, I already had this insulation from a demo job and it's lasting pretty good. I was afraid it wasn't going to go very far but I still have about 6 more bags after doing the bedroom and bath. We got all of the bedroom here done and completely sheetrocked and all of the bathroom insulated except for what we needed left out to do plumbing.
I love that foamy spray stuff! I sealed around all the windows and door and behind each plug and switch box. If you use it around windows and doors though, you need to make sure and get the type made for that application which does not expand so much. The regular type will bow your jambs and you don't want that! This was Allen's idea on the boxes actually. It's hard to get the roll insulation behind each box and you really don't want to tear your strips up so we thought this would work good. Some people use it to seal around plumbing penetrations in the floor too etc. but I prefer to Bondo stuff like that. I don't want foamy stuff in my floor. I know; I'm weird. I also got on Allen's nerves because I went around behind him making sure all the insulation strips in the walls were all turned the same way. He says there is no front or back but I say there is!

Now, I do like to use the foamy stuff to seal around the wiring penetrations in the walls. However, in my foaming fervor I forgot that the wire needed to actually be in the hole before you foam it shut. I had to dig this out for my phone lines to come in.

I also thought it would be great to use the foamy stuff in the T-posts. This is where the interior walls join the exterior walls at a right angle. These areas are basically hollow and I want them filled up! No hollow spaces for air to come in! Stupid, bad idea! It all falls to the bottom and then slowly oozes out the crack at the bottom for 24 hours. We worked until about 9:00 p.m. Sat. night which was great because I have heat and light!! It's temporary heat but it works.
I got another hit from Pella Corp. today....maybe they are not going to gang up on me. I don't care: put up your dukes Pella!! Heeyaa!! Fat, nasty corporation!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

For You

The BFA (big, fancy architect) has been complaining that I put too many pictures up of details and not enough shots of the whole house, so here it is! He has relented on the roof a little, but not much. This is as far as we got on the roof this past weekend; just lack that little bit on the far right end. Those few rafters you see extending on out from the roof are the beginnings of a covered walkway. It looks kind of funny now and will until the rest of the house is built. When I build the other half of the house, this walkway will extend another 12 feet and deadend into the side of the house. It will be supported by cedar posts also, not those little 2-bys you see there now. You might also notice in this photo that I am short one window there at the bathroom but it is just temporarily boarded up. That will be a stained or architectural glass window and will be installed much later. Time and the weather are postponing sitework on this area too. I mean to install a drain with gravel at the base of the concrete foundation wall but it is too wet now to bring in a big truck. After the drain is installed I will backfill against the wall, up to about 6" below the top of the wall and level it out as far as I can towards the woods. I want to have a big flagstone walk and patio here.
The roof from the other side of the house. I told Allen the other day that I believe I will be working on this house for the rest of my life. Sometimes, it seems like we have really made alot of progress but at other times it seems to just be dragging out eternally. I really need to start the wall under the house but I'm still trying to salvage enough block and avoid buying them. I may have scored a good load of CMU's this week but don't know for sure so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Ha! I had to get in one good detail shot but I thought the BFA would appreciate this. I love it that all the ribs on the roofing line up perfectly with the rafter tails! I would like to think this is due to somebody's good thinking but I think it is just plain dumb luck. This edge is finished (and I really like how it looks) but the east and west ends, as you might notice in the photos, still need an additional piece of trim and we still need to run a little bit of ridge cap.
On a side note, I have been looking at my site meter recently and noticed that I was up on daily visits just a little lately. As some of you know, with Site Meter you can see where the people are that visit your blog and if they came there from Google or another blog etc. I noticed that I have been getting quite a few hits from people searching Google for "Pella windows rotting" basically. I thought this was a hoot! And then today.... I got a hit directly from Pella Corp. themselves! Did you know there is a Pella, Iowa? I didn't. To be fair, I have also gotten several hits from people searching for "MW window complaints". Honestly though, out of all the windows and doors that I have either worked on myself or have been asked to work on because they were rotting, 80% have been Pellas. What really gets me is their customer service though or lack of it I should say. So! Buyer beware.
Well, I've got to go bring in the brass monkeys tonight 'cause its going to be another very cold one here. I'll be so happy when I'm in my nice, cozy house with a nice, cozy fire going in the wood-burning stove and something savory cooking in the full-size oven and maybe taking a long soak in a tub. None of this I have now and have not for over 2 years.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

How Long Has This Been Going On?

We have had a pretty fair run of cold weather down here for the past several weeks as you might see in this photo. This weekend was quite nice with temperatures in the 50's during the day but that has been the exception lately. This was taken at the Big House where we continue to slog on, trying to finish the restoration but it keeps dragging out. I don't think we will be out of there before summer now. Which is fine really, to me. Good job and actually good conditions for work despite the cold. I worked on a food distribution center in North Carolina once for about a year and that was really a miserable job. It was a 50 acre site and the building itself was an enormous tilt-up, which I normally enjoy. We got the panels set before the worst of the winter set in, which made that part fun, but when winter did come it was awful. It was mostly rainy and in the south when it rains alot in the winter, it just gets soupy with all the heavy equipment running back and forth through the mud etc. One of the foremen was walking across the site one day and he stepped off the normal path. This is a bad idea on a construction site; you stay on the paths because they are safest. Anyway, he stepped off a little ways and into what he thought was just a mud puddle but he fell in and kept going up to his waist! And the kicker is that he said he did not feel his feet ever touch the bottom! He caught hold of a piece of steel nearby and pulled himself out. I felt pretty bad for him; he was covered in cold, nasty mud. It was pretty funny too though and we ragged the crap out of him for some time.
Well, we are continuing to work on the roof at the house. We need to place about 6 more pieces of the sheet metal and we will have all of that on. Then we have to run some trim around the ends and we will be done. Maybe 2 more weekends on that. I will try to get some more photos soon. I am trying to get the water system started soon also. That is the next big item. I have to get a perk test done before I can get my septic tank put in and that is all expensive and a pain. Some people have asked me am I not going to go with one of those composting toilets and such but I am not so sure about those things. Anybody have any experiences with one of those? They say they work well. Hmmm?

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Hard Day's Night

Progress on the roof is coming along slowly but surely, I guess. We got all but one piece on the front half of the house this weekend. This is the worst side due to the fact that over half of the pieces are 27 feet long. We were afraid the weather was going to be too bad to do roofing but it turned out okay after all.
It has been fairly cold here (for us) lately as we have been averaging in the 40's during the day and the 20's at night. Usually we are in the 50's during this part of the year. Pablo had asked awhile back about how our winters are and sometimes they can be pretty cold. The past 3 years, I would say, have been very mild winters but this year has been making up for that. I remember my first winter as a little apprentice carpenter. I was working on a 6 story building, pouring concrete columns and floors. You just go straight up with that part and then much further below they start putting up walls, so if you are on the sixth floor, there is nothing between you and the wind but a barbed wire fence as the old guys used to say. Anyway, it gets cold up there and I remember one day I looked around and all the guys with mustaches had icicles hanging down out of them. I thought to myself', "what the hell am I doing out here?" But, the desire to eat and have a dry place to sleep will keep you going sometimes.
But back to the original story... we had a bit of a time getting these long pieces up on the roof. We finally devised a little ramp on the back of the house, where the ground is higher, and would walk the end of one up and prop it on the roof. I would push the piece up as far as it would go while Allen ran around to the front of the house and up the ladders etc. and then over the roof and grab the piece and pull it up. Then, I would run around and up the ladders etc. and get on the other side and we would carry it over to where it was to be installed.
Since we have lights and heat (YEA!!) we can work after dark so when the sun went down we insulated the attic. It's only about 300 sq. ft. but that took a little over 5 rolls of insulation. It went down pretty quick and easy. The boards you see laying around over the joists are all the patterns for rafter tails and such. We made sure to save anything like this so that when the other half of the house is built, everything will match. I was using them to kneel on while stuffing the insulation. I always have a fear of falling through the sheetrock in attics. I will probably put a little plywood down up here for a little storage space but not much. If you have space like this you will fill it up and usually with junk so I limit myself in some areas. FYI, this insulation is the standard R-25, 8" deep. Some green builders advocate the use of the foil lining on the rafters but I'm not really convinced that stuff works. Does anybody out there have any experience or proof that it helps?