Mother Nature Hates Me

We’ve gotten a lot of snow this winter. In between snow storms we’ve gotten some days above freezing as well. The combination makes for perfect snow man making weather. It also has meant a lot of snow and ice has accumulated on the roof of our house and garage.

Last night I came home late, and found that the snow guard on the garage failed. The guard hung half off the roof, and managed to mangle our screened gutter as well.

Meanwhile on the other roof areas, warmer temperatures today mean that the snow continues to melt. The melting snow falls off the roof, even in areas with the guards, in large piles of wet snow and ice, often with a loud audible “poof”.

This is destroying all of our plants that we’ve planted around the perimeter of the house. The greatest disappointment was the burying of a witch hazel plant. These are Christine’s favorites so she was very sad to see one basically destroyed by the falling snow piles off of the porch roof (which is so flat we didn’t think it needed a snow guard). The witch hazel’s are also special because we drove all the way to Illinois to buy them. So replacing one isn’t as easy as just driving up to some store in the spring. I took the time to unbury the witch hazel and used string to prop up its broken branches. Maybe they’ll mend in the spring. Hopefully the plant will survive.

I devised a way to lessen the blow of the snow on the bushes, by placing three metal garden stakes to form a sort of tee-pee over the plant. This worked fairly well protecting a chokeberry this morning as probably 400 lbs. of snow cascaded down 30′ from atop the studio dormer. The Japanese maple, we rescued two years ago, didn’t fare as well. It lost quite a few branches.

I’m not sure there is much we can do to prevent this in the future. Some bushes will hopefully grow large enough that they can survive the snow dumps. Others may just be destined to succumb to it.

I took a walk yesterday and checked on the bees. I removed all the snow from atop the hives. I actually saw hive No. 3 bees flying. And unfortunately a few of them drop into the snow and die. Hive No. 2 had some dead bees in front of it. Unfortunately there were no sign of bees in front of hive No. 1, so I’m expecting the worst for that hive.

I’m ready for winter to be over. February is the worst month around here. It has zero redeeming value, and can not be over soon enough.


Mother Nature Hates Me…Winter Edition

Alright, things are starting to melt around here, or at least not snow that much anymore. My biggest, unforeseen gripe of late winter turns out to be the large amount of snow that we’ve gotten. I love snow. I love to walk in it, play in it. Even used to ski in the stuff. But in one singular regard, the snow has been a nasty enemy to our little piece of paradise out here in the backwoods of Ohio. And I kick myself for not thinking about it before. In my defense though, we didn’t have this much snow and ice last year, our first winter here.

See the problem is all the snow builds up on our truly phenomenally kick ass steel roof. Then the sun comes out and melts it. And it all slides down. Luckily we have snow rails up there to keep the snow and ice from constantly raining down on unsuspecting civilians below. But the reality is the snow builds up on the rails and then it does come down in huge avalanches of snow and ice at times. So you learn to keep an eye and ear open when going out to the car. It’s not an issue at all if you’re a person.

But if you’re a plant, you’ve got nowhere to run to.

Sadly Mother Nature, by way of roof snow and ice has had a field day massacring our poor little plants that we’ve spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours planting and taking care of. And what the snow isn’t pummeling, I fear the rodents are nibbling on during our super cold winter. The tea plants look like they’re taking the brunt of winter nibbling by rabbits or mice. As for snow, I watched first hand as a pile of snowy ice made a direct hit on an oak leaf hydrangea outside the dining room. There were branches everywhere. Fortunately the wife said she thinks hydrangea grow back from the bottom up every year anyway. What doesn’t grow back from the ground up is the choke berry bush outside my studio window. I was in my office and heard that avalanche land square on top of the poor bush, severing several branches at their base.

here you can see the snow rails on the garage

here you can see the snow rails on the garage

This hydrangea sort of exploded when ice and snow fell on it. Other plants were more lucky. We saw one that missed a fatal ice ball by about six inches.

This hydrangea sort of exploded when ice and snow fell on it. Other plants were more lucky. We saw one that missed a fatal ice ball by about six inches.

Our poor choke berry bush just got hammered by an avalanche of snow. I'll have to do some drastic cutting back this spring.

Our poor choke berry bush just got hammered by an avalanche of snow. I’ll have to do some drastic cutting back this spring.

It's depressing looking out at the orchard in late February. Just a bland mess. I hope Spring comes and our little trees blossom. I'm not sure how optimistic I am anymore.

It’s depressing looking out at the orchard in late February. Just a bland mess. I hope Spring comes and our little trees blossom. I’m not sure how optimistic I am anymore.

It’s so sad to watch. Maybe next year I can invent some sort of devise to protect these bushes. Had I know I would have planted them in slightly different locations; many I planted right at the drip edge of the roof, perfectly lined up for consistent mass destruction from January through February.

Now though, like waiting to see if the bees are alive, all I can do is wait and see what Mother Nature does in the spring. Like anything I suppose, only the strong survive. If our little bush friends were meant to be, then I suppose they’ll have little leaves on them come April or May. If not then we’ll learn from it I guess.

Speaking of bees, Christine ordered two more packages of Italian bees for this Spring. Our philosophy is that our bees probably didn’t make it and we’ve got the equipment for two hives. If our bees did survive it’s not a huge deal to make another stand, and another set of boxes doesn’t cost that much. What does cost more are the bees themselves. I think she said they are now up over $100 a package, vs. like $80 -$90 last year. We placed our order early because we’re hearing there is a shortage of bees this year. As an aside, unless we as a society can start figuring out how to save honey bees, I suspect it’s only going to get worse. I suppose the average Joe will get worried when there are no bees and food prices sky-rocket. Between that and the various droughts this country is experiencing, mundane set backs like snow falling off the roof will be the least worry any of us will have.

How has your winter been going? Are you hopeful for Spring? Do you think your plants and animals fared well? 

Snow Rails and Fireplace Review

We had an art show this weekend so not much has been getting done around the house.  Outside the snow rails were installed and they look fantastic.  Just as I’d imagined, these little horizontal pieces of metal add a nice subtle design element to the outside, encouraging the eye to move horizontally across the roof.  They add a small degree of welcomed industrial-ness to the look of the structure.  Functionally speaking they’re meant to keep snow on the roof until it melts, preventing from big piles of the stuff from falling on you or me or anyone else.

here you can see the snow rails on the garage

here you can see the snow rails on the garage

Primarily this is to show you the snow rails but I just noticed in this photo... I want to say there is a thermal issue with the roof...on this frosty day it seems like I can see the interior partitions telecasting themselves to the surface of the roof.  I'll have to look into it.

Primarily this is to show you the snow rails but I just noticed in this photo… I want to say there is a thermal issue with the roof…on this frosty day it seems like I can see the interior partitions telecasting themselves to the surface of the roof. I’ll have to look into it.

I’m looking at the photographs I took with my iphone on a frosty morning last week.  I was capturing pictures of the roof snow rails for the blog but it looks like I caught something else in my picture.  No, not bigfoot, but something just as disturbing.  As far as I can tell I can see the ghostly image of my interior wall positions being transmitted visually into the roof.  Basically the wall sections are or aren’t holding the roof frost as well as the non-wall sections.  You can see this in just about every normal cookie cutter house built across America.  The hot air inside warms up the roof and escapes out instead of being held inside the house.  Next time it snows, watch the snow melt on your roof, if it’s poorly insulated you can see the rafters.

Now I don’t know if this is actually what I’m seeing. Just like bigfoot, I don’t have any proof but it’s piqued my interest enough that I need to analyse it this winter.  At some point I’ll get a heat gun out and meter the roof to see what’s going on.  If need be I’ll get the insulation guy back out and see if something needs to be fixed.  Stay tuned.

I had a some questions come into the blog regarding our Quadrafire EDGE 60 fireplace.  We chose this unit because Christine wanted a fireplace look instead of a wood burning stove aesthetic for the family room.  This EDGE 60 is the only pellet burning appliance that  is built into the wall like a fireplace that I know of.  The unit is about 30″ deep, and we mounted ours about a foot into the room.  The remainder lives inside our 10″ thick walls and about a foot sticks out into the screen porch.  We build a framed “box” floor to ceiling and mounted the fireplace on an internal platform about ten inches off the floor.  The part inside the family room is finished in cultured stone.  The part outside is covered in regular house trim.  The chimney is built to manufacturer specs and housed in a wooden framed chase that routes out the top of the house.  None of the chimney is outside except the metal bits up top on the exterior.

our EDGE 60

our EDGE 60

How do we like it?  We love it.  I don’t know if Quadrafire makes them still, their website didn’t list it the last time I looked.  And it’s a pricey unit but we really are happy with ours.  We used it this Fall and it puts out a lot of heat, evenly and effectively.  I was worried it’d dry out the dining room table ’cause it’s so close but the blower shoots the heat out of the top of the unit.  So if you need a quick fix of heat, stand in front of it otherwise sit back and enjoy the even heat distribution.

It’s easy to fill up the hopper on top of the unit with hardwood pellets and looks like the hopper will hold two bags if you wanted to. The front door opens easily with a simple latch.  It’s matte black finish stays relatively clean and can be wiped down with a damp cloth if need be. Clean up is easy, there’s an ash tray below to empty out.  Inside the components are easy to remove and sweep out.  An attachment set for my shop vac is on my xmas list, that would make the job easier, but for now we’re okay with regular shop vac nossle cleaning.

The thermostat is simple to use and controls everything.  Ours is mounted across the room from the unit.  The family room tends to be the warmest room in the house.  The fireplace requires setting the thermostat 2-3 degrees more than the current temp.  It’ll then shut itself off after it reaches the set temperature. I’m sure there’s a manual mode but we use it this way.  The ambiance isn’t over the top like a real fireplace, more appliance like than anything, but you do see flame and it’s a welcome member of the family.  I don’t think you can go wrong with an EDGE 60 in your home.


There’s an acute sense of urgency resounding in my bones.  The new reality of global warming means we went straight from 90 degree days to 30 degree nights in just a matter of about four weeks.  What this means for me, besides the fact that we are pretty much screwed in the long-term, is that I need to wrap up whatever needs to be done outside.  This morning I awoke to a hard frost, so our growing season here in the valley is officially over in my book. Less daylight after five means I don’t have much time during the week to get anything done after work.  Tonight I planted all the mums that were in pots.  I just randomly selected a few spots in the yard near wild trees and a couple random bushes by the driveway.  I’m not a big mum fan but they were free.  I think the deer eat them but I’m hoping they will be fine where I put them.

We’re still waiting on our bushes from Tennessee.  The should have arrived by now but today was a holiday so no mail service. Hopefully tomorrow so I can get them in the ground.  After I plant those, I just have a few random plants that mom gave us and then that’s it for planting this year.  This weekend will be for bringing in porch cushions and cleaning out the garage to fit another car.

Outside the painters are finishing the clear coat on the cedar.  It darkened it up a bit but it still looks amazing and if anything the white trim pops more now.  I’m in the process of getting quotes for the Sno-Gem snow guards on the roof.  We’re not sure if we want the bar or the little glue on tab style.  This will keep snow off the gutters and should run about $4,000.  I’m on the fence as to which style I, we, prefer.  I’ll look at the cost and go from there.

Fall really is my favorite time of year.  I really like driving, even if it’s to run an errand, during sun set time.  I think what makes Fall unique is that it is the one time of year where to really enjoy a sunset one shouldn’t necessarily look at the sun.  Rather one should turn themselves around 180 degrees and look at the eye-popping canvas that has been bestowed upon us on a daily basis.  I think the low angle this time of year makes sun sets last a lot longer and the way the light reflects around opaque slate clouds, filters through thinning tree canopies and saturates across dried out corn rows is just breathtaking.  It’s amazing that nature spends all spring and summer sequestering all that carbon and creating all that life, only to have it undone in the turning of a calendar page.  By time the sewn Halloween costumes are tucked away in a memory bin, the show will be over for all intents and purposes.  The greens, oranges, browns and reds are well adapted to reminding one of the sense of place and mortality that runs through all of our veins on an innate plane.  For the sake of my sanity, or insanity as it may well be, I certainly could never imagine living in a place that didn’t go through such a reflective process every year.  I suppose each place is unique but I’ll take a midwest autumn any day of the week.

Back inside we’re starting to use the fireplace more regularly.  My competitive streak now has a new contest which is see how long we can go without a furnace.  We’ve made it about four weeks so far without A/C or the furnace on.  I think the filter and air exchanger run and that’s about it.  We’d been oscillating between 68 and 70 degrees daily, but after a weekend away and thirty degree nights the temp dropped down to 67 yesterday, inside the house.  The fireplace heats up the family room to a balmy 75 degrees at will with little fanfare.  Once marvelous discovery tonight was we noticed Joe’s design for the staircase works exquisitely.  The open tread, open staircase funnels warm air upstairs.  You literally can feel a temperature change when you get on the staircase.  Places like my studio are a little chilly but not anything that would warrant the furnace.  And the warm air lazily cyclone-ing up the staircase is just fantastic.

Once in hibernation mode my attention can shift to finishing indoor projects and working on art.  My goal is to sell about hundred grand in art in the foreseeable so we’ve got our work cut out for us.  It’s doable, just takes some time, effort and of course people who want to buy art. If you know anyone….

I’ll try to get some nice fall pics for you soon.  I plan on doing a Fall “photo walk” so maybe then I’ll have something to share.  In the meantime get out there and enjoy the best season of the year.

Autumn Road

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the new house is the drive up the driveway to the site in Autumn.  That alone is worth the price of admission. In just a few hundred feet the beauty of the valley encloses into a leaf lined country “road”, ultimately leading to our home, perfectly bookended by two stands of trees.  A day’s trials and tribulations give up their last gasp, having been worn down by a spirited charge down the valley’s wall and winding roads.  Leaves gently flutter earthbound through the glint of a lazy late season sun.  The crunch of gravel under tire is tempered by a week’s worth of leafy carpet laid down fresh.  Regardless of the temperature outside, one is virtually guilted into rolling down the window to catch the scent of Fall in the air.  Carbon cycling back to where it came from.

View of house with most of the metal roof in place. The charcoal grey color is great this time of year because it holds its own against the steely Autumn Ohio sky

Most of the standing seam metal roof is now in place.  It has unified and slimmed the house considerably.  It does not look as expansive as anticipated.  The metal roof should last upwards of 40+ years and is fully recyclable when it does need to be replaced.  The gentle ripples between seams allow the metal to expand and contract, avoid oil canning and provide a gentle visual detail to add interest.  We’ve got nothing but compliments on the style and color. (pat on back, and a “thank you”, for the wife).
With the sun setting so early it’s impossible to get pictures of the inside.  Suffice to say, all the trades have roughed in the mechanical systems so we’ll be ready for insulation relatively soon.  The exterior insulation is being wrapped up as well.  After that we start finishing the exterior and interior with siding and drywall respectively.
Waste wise, we’ve employed our second waste container from Kurtz Brothers.  This time it’s a smaller one to handle the intermediate was being generated.  We should have one more container for end of project.  Maybe two.  Waste is something I wish I’d done a better job with but at least by using Kurtz Brothers, i’m assured that a lot of my waste is being recycled and made into other products.  This is better than randomly picking some everyday waste hauler; who knows where their waste ends up.
The interior framing is complete.  We’re making the kneewall areas our “line of defense” against air transmission, so we increased the roof thickness to 16″ by installing 2×4’s to match the interior ceiling plane.  This will give the roof an R-60 value throughout, saving a lot of energy and resources that can be used for something better than heating and cooling our house.  We also framed in transoms above the interior doors to allow for evening privacy AND air flow between rooms.
Fortunately the weather has been pretty good lately.  This is an encouraging change as we finish closing in the house.
Pretty soon I’ll have to go outside, or open a window, to get in the Autumn mood.  Maybe go for a walk down the drive.

Not So Heavy Metal

I don’t know what’s going on or who we pissed off but virtually nothing is happening at the house. In all fairness I’ve only mustered enough energy and time to wrap and finish off four more windows.  Beyond that not much is happening.  The blue rigid insulation continues to be put on, along with the firring strips for the siding.  Most of the dormers are done and the west gable is complete.  The porch roof also now has underlayment.  Our roofer recommended, and installed, ice guard over the entire roof due to the shallow 2.5/12 pitch of the roof.  The screen porch roof is a lot easier to walk on than the 12/12 pitch of the main house.  Almost like walking on the ground.  All this work is in preparation for the other roofer who will install the metal roof.

recycled blue Dow 4″ rigid insulation on exterior of house, with firring strips on top for siding and sealing of joints.

Which leads us to today.  They started installing the standing seam metal roof today!  Rejoice!

Standing seam metal roof on garage.

In case you were dying with anticipation, we went with Sheffield’s COOLR Energy Efficient Metal Roofing Material in a Pre-Weathered Galvalume color.  Thickness is 24 gauge (as opposed to a typical 26 gauge material.)  This metallic color is a Kynar 500 finish and looks like a charcoal grey in regular light.  Today it looked light grey due to the overcast rainy skies.  This color, like most COOLR colors is EnergyStar and LEED 2009 compliant.  It has an ISR (initial solar reflectance) of 0.30 and an EMI (emissivity) of 0.79, and finally an SRI (solar reflectance index) of 27.  These numbers are fairly respectable and should help keep the house cool in the summer.  The durable metal finish will outlast me, even if I stopped drinking and started exercising.  We’ll never have to replace our roof unless, god forbid, we get hit by a massive hail storm or tornado.  Only worry might be a scratch or rust but the Kynar finish is pretty durable.  I’m not worried.

The finish will be good to for collecting rain water as our primary water supply.  I did some research and decided that a metal roof was the best finish for collecting rain water for my family.  You can use pretty much anything other than cedar shakes.  The cedar will leach stuff into the water that’ll make you sick.  Asphalt shingles don’t sound like an appealing surface to drink from so that, in conjunction with having to replace them every 10-20 years, nixed that option.  Copper, Aluminum, and slate all would have been viable options as well I suppose.  Plastic roofing was a possible option too.


















Additionally I stopped out early this morning to post up notes for the AWOL electricians and noticed our excavator (the guy) out working in the dark, the lights on the excavator (the big yellow machine) illuminating the back yard.  Today was a double-header of success in that in addition to the roof, the septic tank was installed.  Not sure if it was inspected but at some point they’ll truck in 1,800 gallons of water to test the system and get the inspector to sign off on it.  The septic system won’t actually be hooked up to the house until virtually when we move in to assure it stays “clean” and free of debris that might compromise the system.  We’ll also get a list of stuff we shouldn’t throw down the drain.  If we throw bacteria killing agents or chemicals down the drain it will negate the bacteria in the system rendering the system useless.  I think we should be fine, but will be interesting to see the list.

I of course was so engrossed by our new roof, I forgot to take pictures of the septic tank for you to enjoy today.  If it’s still uncovered tomorrow I’ll take  a pic.  It’s actually pretty cool looking.  I think it’s plastic and it’s finished in a racy green color.  The location is half way between the house and septic field.  Waste will be pumped up from the house to the tank, then up to the field.  The actual location may wreak havoc with our landscape plan but at this point I don’t even care anymore. Just get it in there and we’ll deal with the impact to the master plan later.  As noted early on, the house is shifted about 20-60 feet west so our landscape plan would need adjustment anyway.

Goodbye sewer bills! (of course we’ll have septic maintenance bills, but I suspect those will be less or at the very least fairly constant……we’ll see.)

Hopefully someone starts working again on the HVAC and electric.  We also have some framing to finish too before insulation can start going in.  Exterior doors were slated to show up today too, but didn’t.

But I can’t complain too much because I’m just as guilty.  We have a laundry list of things to design and detail and select.  I thought at some point it’d be easy or more enjoyable.  Enjoyable at times, easy never.  There’s also some labor I can do out at the site as well so maybe a few days off work are in order.

Stay tuned.



Here I’m putting on a strip of 4″ Vycor Plus over the head and jamb nailing flanges on the windows. Another option would have been to install the windows when framing the wall and encase the flange, buck and onto the wall with 12″ rolls of Vycor. 12″ would be a special order. The 4″, 6″ and 9″ we’re using are readily available at Lowes.


















We really like our house.  Like I think I have a crush on it.  It’s not the most beautiful house in the world on the outside; at least not yet.  But inside, especially upstairs, I really really like it.  And it’s big, a lot bigger than we imagined.  As I’ve said, this is not good but it is what it is, no changing it now.  We’re growing accustomed to all of the house’s quirks and faults.  We’re growing to accustomed to calling it our house now instead of just a pile of cement, wood and PVC pipe.  It’s our house.  It’s no longer this task or that task.  No longer this guy’s coming this week or that guy screwed me over on timing or I hate Mother Nature.  It’s our house.  We’re going to get it done and no one will stand in our way.  Lead, follow or get out-of-the-way.  We’re past the point of no return.  Come hell or high water (god, I hope that high water part is just figurative) we’re finishing this house and moving into it.  I have a good picture in my mind of what everything will look like.

It’s our house.

I think I’ve imprinted on it like a baby goose to his mother.

Of course nothing’s drywalled yet so it looks really open.  But I think it’ll remain open even after drywall.  Long term there are things we can do if it gets too dark and claustrophobic.  For now though it’s great.  Upstairs is my favorite.  The loft is going to be such an odd open room on top of the house that I’m smitten by it.  Who the hell knows what we’ll do up there but we’ve got a loft.  It’s like someone leaving a roadster behind in my driveway; I don’t know what we’ll do with it, it’s not very practical, but it may just be what  a weak soul needs in the thick of it all. 

The upstairs hallway is a room in itself and will prove to be a great gallery for showcasing art for ourselves or potential clients.  I’m looking forward to the alcove I carved out of the bathroom to showcase some found treasures and / or art.  The bathroom bumpout adds some interest as well and will prove perfect for the “Mexican” hutch currently in our dining room.  Christine’s studio is going to prove to be out of this world phenomenal.  With ample cabinet space, stain glass interior windows and vaulted ceiling, I’m honestly jealous.  Oh well she’ll have to walk stairs to get to the kitchen downstairs.  Although, there is a perfect spot for a fireman’s pole…..

Downstairs, the hallway by the bath and laundry will prove to be another perfect gallery wall that clients can glance at as they ascend the staircase for meetings with the Mrs. in her studio.  The crossing axis created across the house and into the Master suite is fantastic.  I can see about 30′-40′ in either direction.  Even though the house is open, the position of where the windows will go created a breeze if you stand in the right spot.  Our architect’s planning is already reaping rewards.  The plan is that through passive solar planning and strategic window placement, we’ll have enough natural breezes in the house to negate the need to run the air conditioner unless absolutely necessary. I can’t wait to try it out once the windows are in and everything’s sealed up tight.

This weekend we did the electrical walk through.  We decided where all the lights would go as well as outlets, switches, cable outlets, and phone jacks.  We’ll actually have a lot more lighting fixtures than most houses, even though we’ll take advantage of day lighting as best we can.  Most of the fixtures will be recessed into the ceiling and will be on clusters of individual circuits to afford us some flexibility.  I’ll be putting LED bulbs in every fixture I can generally speaking.  There will be some CFL’s and regular fluorescents here and there.  No incandescents as far as I’m concerned.  We’ll see how it pans out.  As for fancy fixtures, we’re predominantly looking at sconces, a few ceiling fixtures, exterior fixtures and finally, a set of pendants over the dining room table.  Nothing to fancy, but not necessarily cheap either.  Seems retro barn look still costs money.  We’ll set up a separate panel in the garage to hook up duel 240V charging stations for electric cars.  The panel will also help us manage a full array of photovoltaic solar panels.  The garage is tall enough too that I could build a battery loft and even install a back up generator if need be down the road.

Most of the PVC plumbing pipes are in and the tub units are getting ready to be installed.  We have full shower in the basement that we’re not going to install right away, but best to get it down there now.  After everything’s done, it will be impossible to get a shower unit down into the basement.  We have plans to add some dummy walls and conduits from the basement to the attic for future expansion of electrical or other utilities such as a solar hot water heater.

Mother Nature has made this the rainiest few months I can think of.  Suffice to say if it’s sunny no one’s working, if it’s raining no one’s working.  One roofer should be out there this week putting down the underlayment and ice guard which should all but eliminate rain inside the house.  We have the challenge of building up our REMOTE wall system before the metal roof contractor starts later this week.  The loft and dormers need to be prepped with underlayment, blue rigid insulation (Dow brand from Insulation Depot), and firring strips for the siding.  I also need to start caulking the Raindrop housewrap where it overlaps.  The window bucks need to be cleaned up and the first installment of the Grace Vycor needs to go on, under the Raindrop around the window except below the window where it goes on top of the Raindrop housewrap.  The rigid insulation will need to be caulked too.  Because it’s recycled I don’t think tape will stick to it, it’s filthy.  So we’ll caulk the joints before we put the firring strips on.  The blue board is tacked in place with screws then we fasten it by passing an 8″ screw thru the fir strip and then the insulation into the studs.  All along the bottom we’ll have our first roofer bend up aluminum termite shields and tack those along the perimeter.  These will keep ants our of our rigid insulation.

Busy week this week.  Here are some cross sections and pics (cross sections courtesy of REMOTE wall article and Classic Metals out of Holmes County Ohio).

This REMOTE wall section comes from a builder in Alaska. Generally speaking it's our bible for our walls. execution on our end has not been stellar but doing the best we can.


I was told we can put half round gutters on a metal roof because a flange has to go into the gutter. I don't buy it, but alas I'll go with cookie cutter gutters to save cost. I little piece of my soul will kill itself every time I look at my lame gutters.


detail of metal roof at gables.


cleaning up phase one.


we have to wrap everything in raindrop housewrap. then wrap the window openings in flashing. the windows are late so we have to do it piecemeal.


I have to leave reminders on how to do everything related to insulation and air tightness. no one working on the job's ever done this before so it's a crap shoot everyday.



I think we’re almost halfway through the project in many regards.  In about 2-3 weeks we’ll pass into the back half of the project once the roof is on and the windows are set.  The house will be fairly well weathered in and work will be divided between inside and out.  Framing is about done except for the screen porch.  We’re discovering a lot of nooks that we’ll turn into storage.  You can never have too much storage.  For each nook though we have to add subflooring and work up solutions for the areas where we forgot to make the exterior walls air tight with the Grace Vycor.

This week we got our first waste container, a 20 yard container which is 22′ x 8′ x 4.5′ tall.  We got it from a local vendor who specializes in recycling construction waste.  Unfortunately our project generated a lot of waste.  By stick framing the roof, the result is a lot of little cut offs which take time to dispose of.  Every piece of something we throw out is something I paid for that isn’t going into the house.  Waste is one area where I let myself down.  Realistically unless the builder understands the concept of waste and works to eliminate it, building a house in the cookie cutter fashion, like we are in many regards, generates a lot of waste in material and money.

One of two piles of waste we’ve generated so far.
 Roofing plans are coming together.  We’ll have one roofer install the underlayment and ice guard.  For ice guard we’re using two brands; it really doesn’t matter, they’re all about the same if you get a good quality brand.  We’ll have it installed in all the valleys, where projections like the loft, gables and dormers intersect the roof and along the eaves or gutterboards.  At the gutterboard it’ll be wrapped to the bottom of the board and then up the roof about 6′.  We’re going 6′ because our overhangs are so large.  We want to make sure the ice guard terminates over the wall plane.  For underlayment, because our roof is 12/12, traction is the name of the game.  We’re using Grip Rite underlayment. 
One detail our roofer provided us with is how to finish off the exterior loft wall where it meets the roof.  Remember we’ll have 4″ of rigid insulation blanketing the house.
Additional work this week involves cleaning up the Raindrop housewrap.  The framers blanketed it into the house cavity so we’ll cut it back to the sheathing line on top of the roof so air doesn’t travel down the Raindrop channels into the house.

house wrap needs to be removed from interior of house to prevent air from getting in.

The framers installed window bucks as well.  These 2×8 projections around the window rough openings will be what we mount the windows to.  The exterior insulation will butt up to the bucks.  We’ll wrap the bucks in Grace Vycor Plus membrane flashing, underlapping it under the house wrap around the sides and top of the bucks.  On the bottom the Vycor goes on top of the house wrap to shed any water.

2x8 window bucks in loft

Minor anomalies arose with framing such as the boys’ closets, the door opening have to revert to regular doors due to the shape.  Take a look at the pic to see what I’m talking about:

we'll frame in the door openings more to eliminate the angle in the top left corner of the closet door opening.

Plumbing fixtures have been selected and the rough plumbing is going in.  We selected 1.23 gallon flush toilets to conserve water, as well as low flow shower heads.  The water supply plan is just beginning. We’ll be going with a 10,000 gallon cistern with an integrated filtering system to provide ALL of our fresh water needs.  The cistern will have a light indicator to let us know when it’s low. We anticipate not having to truck in any water except maybe in the dead of winter when everything’s frozen, or in late summer when it doesn’t rain as much.  A year like this year will have the cistern overflowing.
HVAC work should be starting soon as well.  We’ll be going with a 95% efficient gas furnace with a geothermal add-on.  More about that later.