Friday, November 29, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut Part 28: Insulation Finished, Drywall Arrives

Every time I sit down to write about the remodel, I type out the same boring title and 'Part Whatever', and then I have to go back to the chapter before to see what number I'm on.  I have a hard time believing it's up to twenty-eight already. 

Today is Thanksgiving, and I want to extend our thanks to everyone who has followed along with this incredibly slow process. Your words of encouragement have helped us as we slog through this re-muddle.   Let's hope the series doesn't go much higher, but we're still not done yet. 

Anyway, back to Monday, October 14, trailers and trucks and contractors galore. 
 First thing in the morning upon arrival to the hut, the cellulose insulation crew arrived at our house to begin their job.  We decided to go with a lot more insulation than our house had been endowed with previously.   This decision, in turn, brought the cost of the remodeling up accordingly, but hopefully we'll notice the difference this winter and the winters to come.  If not, it was just foolish, but we'll see.

 Every morning I would park on our field driveway to stay out of the contractor's way and plod down the road to our house, checking out each vehicle to see what the day ahead would be bringing.  

 Trucks, vans, trailers, yes, today looks like another round of insulation.  I sighed and decided to stay out of their way as much as I could and continue working on the masonry.  

Just as I set to work on laying out stones for the pillars again, an argument broke out in the house.  Three of the insulation guys were hollering and swearing at each other. 

"That's not going to f%*$ work!!  I am not going to do that!!  I can't work around him!!  What the #$@$ do you want me to do?!"

 What in the world was going on?  The hostility was escalating and  I didn't know if there was something in their way that needed moving or what the problem was, but right then and there, I changed my mind about staying out of their way.  

I don't know if it's because I'm older now or the fact that my back is aching every day or that Carl is exhausted, and we were sick of water dripping through the roof or what seems like endless days and nights of work getting us no closer to the end of all of this or what, but something about the three grown men carrying on like petulant sock puppets in my dining room set me off.  Oh, hell no, just do what you are hired to do, don't start with me today.

The front door knob hadn't been installed yet (and as of today, still hasn't) so in order to open the door I had to insert the lower blade of my Felco pruners into the hole of the plastic stop and push it backwards while putting weight on the door.  As soon as the catch  released, I more or less fell into the house, knocking over a sawhorse on the other side.   I arrived with a bang.

When I made my dramatic entrance, the three of them stopped their hollering and looked at me, startled.  

 I doubt any of them knew I was the homeowner, dressed as I am all the time in my knee pads, worn-out blue jeans, garden clogs and a coat two sizes too big, not to mention the head scarf I tie under my chin.  (Stylish?  No.  Warm? Oh, yes, nothing better, trust me.) I realize I look like an old derelict, but I'm there to work, not stride through the jobsite like a model on a catwalk.

Beyond my attire, however, it appeared I came armed for battle, brandishing a rock hammer in my left hand and Felco #8 pruners in my right. Xena: Warrior Princess had nothing on me that morning.  Bring it on, boys.


 I wasn't the only one that heard the ruckus; almost simultaneously, our contractor, Phil, walked in the back door. 

Once they got over the shock and awe of seeing me standing there like my Home's Dignity Avenger, they turned to see Phil standing in the other doorway and picked up their tools and sheepishly went back to work.  

The foreman of the crew made the excuse that the men were just having a little tiff, "One of them thinks he knows everything and the other two don't see eye to eye with him," he shrugged.  "You know how it is with egos."

Hmmm.  Do I? For what they were billing us, I'd expect less ego and more work.

 Phil told me later that he'd had a talk with the insulation crew about their workplace demeanor.  He told them if they can't be professionals on a jobsite, they should take their arguments out to their trucks on the road.

Though I hadn't really done anything, I went back to the front porch satisfied they now knew who I was and heard no more bickering for the rest of the morning. 


Carl arrived home from work just in time to remind the last guy about the need for insulation in the bay window bumpout in the breakfast nook, an area of about 1' x 2'.  He was met with a bit of an attitude when he explained what he wanted done, and since there was no other way to have them do it, Carl sawed a hole in the floor himself for the insulation to be applied.  

Carl, sawing a hole through the floor for insulation. 
While Carl was sawing, the insulation guy simply stood there waiting for a few minutes.  When Carl was done sawing, it took less than a minute to fill the cavity with foam and he was done for the day.  Subsequently, they were going to bill us an additional $1300 for the nook insulation but our contractor went to bat for us and the matter was dropped. 

After Carl got done replacing the floor in the nook, I took more pictures of the day's progress.

On the right side of the picture are the piles of plywood with our orange vinyl siding still attached.  (We ended up using the plywood on the lean-to for the garage later on.)
Holes in the ceiling in the living room yet. 

Phil had to leave early that day, so Carl and I lent Bob a hand putting on some more of the siding.
Later still that same day, the drywall was delivered.

Boom truck lowering the drywall to the front door.
The mudroom siding was about half-done by the end of the day.
Once every contractor left for the day, Carl and I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to working on the pillars in peace until dark.

 Another day of work done.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut Part 27: Masonry Continues, Insulation Arrives

After a Sunday of picking up insulation, tar paper and broken siding,  Monday morning arrived and with it, finally a day full of 'October's Bright Blue Weather'.   This year we were only treated to a few sunny days in October, but they didn't disappoint. 

When I arrived at our house around 8AM, I found Bob up on the porch roof beginning to install the round window in the peak of the new gable.

I was working on laying out the next course of stones for the pillars while Carl was at work.  Since I was so close by, if Bob needed something tossed up to him on the roof, I'd fetch it so he didn't need to come down off the ladder every time.  

Working with and around the two carpenters since July has been surprisingly easy once the initial  awkwardness wore off.  After the first week when we all got to know each other, we settled into a camaraderie of sorts.   There were days when only Phil was working or Bob, depending on their vacation schedules and other work projects.  My blood pressure didn't automatically spike when I saw their trucks in the driveway because I knew what to expect.  It would be another day of construction like usual.

I can't say the same for all the subcontractors, though.  Each new truck arriving would be another challenge; what questions would I have to answer (that I probably wouldn't know the answers to) what sort of attitude would the contractor have and what new problem would we have to throw more money at? 

We didn't remove everything from the basement, especially the stained glass stash which is extensive and heavy, and well, terribly fragile.  There wasn't too much to be done in the basement with the exception of heating and cooling and plumbing, but Carl handled what needed to be moved for the contractors.   

Carl has had the toughest job of all in the remodel, he is the rat who is trying his best to run the maze but everyone keeps changing the course.   He used up all of his vacation this summer and some of next year's too, in an attempt to be home to deal with everything from masonry to insulation.  

On the days he couldn't be here, I'd have to call him at work to answer questions.  Carl has been at his current job for over forty-two years, from age eighteen to sixty-one, which is a record for the company.  No one has worked there longer and probably never will.  In all of those years, he has only called in sick three times which has to be a record of some sort, I'd think.  He is a metal fabricator and runs an seven hundred fifty ton press day in, day out.  Strict company rules forbid employees from having cellphones in the shop, so when I need to reach him at work, I have to call the office.  

"Hello, Chris, it's Karen calling."

"Hello Karen, what's Carl got you doing now?"

"Well, I have two men standing here wanting to know where some plumbing should go and what do I want to do with the HVAC and I don't have a good answer for either one of them."

"Oh boy, let me get Carl for you."  

There are perks to being the longest-running employee, at least they don't begrudge him phone calls from his hysterical wife.

Not all of the contractors have been a joy to work with, though the vast majority of them have been courteous and polite.  On the days I knew the difficult ones were coming, I'd beg Carl to take off work early without pay just to be here so he could oversee what was going on.  Nothing would make my heart sink more than to have him come home and inspect the day's work and find things weren't done correctly.  

While Bob was working on the round window, I went upstairs to see what it looked like from the inside.

The insulation crew was going to be doing a spray foam application the next day.  I was kind of sad to see the space under the eaves (pictured below) be lost to insulation and ventilation.  I have to get over the temptation to keep things around that I don't use on a daily (ok, I admit it, sometimes never-basis) but storage opportunities don't come around every day.
Maybe we could put some drawers in there?  Ok, insulation it is.
Cody and Joel had removed the old west window in Joel's former bedroom the day before.  The window was replaced with a piece of plywood so the insulation could be applied to the outside of the house.

As the day progressed, Bob finished with the round window and started putting up the shake siding on the south gable.

I love the way the shake siding looks, but the builders told me it was no fun to work with.  It's quite thick and not easy to cut, especially when it came to trimming to fit around the circular window.

Bob kept at it and was done by the time they left for the day around 3:30PM.

I had kept busy all day with the stonework, but didn't have as much to show for my efforts as Bob did.

Finally, some other color on the house than the lumber company housewrap.

When Carl got home from work, we went back to mortaring the porch pillars until dark.  

The next day, Tuesday, October 8. the insulation crew arrived with questions that once again I had no answers for.  I called Carl and he came home from work before noon to keep things going.  The first thing the spray foam guy was upset about was the fact that the steel roof was on already, how was he going to keep the spray foam from getting on the roof? 
Spray foam done on west side

Since I didn't have an answer, the guy went back to his truck to pout and smoke.  (Ok, he probably didn't pout, but he wasn't happy.)

  When Carl arrived at home, he came up with the idea of using magnets to hold plastic down on the roof to protect it.  Makes sense, steel roof + magnets, right?  And, of course, only Carl would have about fifty high-powered magnets from years of taking things apart.  I had to admit, once again, the hoard came in handy and that step of the insulation was finished.

Since Carl was now home, we went right back to the stone work.  

My main job is to fill the voids between the courses with mortar, making sure there is contact on all sides.  After the mortar sets up a bit, I go back and rake out the joints to a depth that looks pleasing. 

Wednesday, October 9, our little two year old neighbor, Ivan, came to help us with the masonry.  His mom, Vanessa, lent us a helping hand, too.

There was a lot of activity going on above us, too.  Phil and Bob were working on getting the ridge cap on the gable.  Finally, the roof was almost done for the first time since July.  Maybe now it would stop dripping inside the house every time it rained.
Phil said his days of roof-wrangling are just about over.  The gable is very steep and he was glad to be done with it.  So were we.

Before the end of the day, they were able to put up the insulation on the west side and install the windows.

The weather took a turn back to cold and gloomy on Thursday, October 10.  The rest of the insulation was scheduled to be blown in and Carl and I had to get the rest of the siding off the north side of the house and fill in some of the gaps.

So many gaps.

Upstairs, the insulation crew was putting plastic up on the ceiling and wall studs for the blown-in cellulose.

 When we were done with the siding removal, we went back to the stonework.

After work, Joel came to our rescue with a new 2 x 10 for the kitchen so we could replace a broken floor joist.   We really appreciated all of the time he spent running errands for us, too.

 Days were getting shorter and shorter and we had to work faster and faster to get the pillars done.  The colder weather slowed down the mosquitoes a great deal, but our hands were aching with the cold most of the time.  Mortar needs to cure before it freezes, so time was of the essence.

I did a walk-through of the house to take pictures of where electrical lines were located for future reference which came in handy later on when some of them were buried in insulation. 

Breakfast nook


Hallway to mudroom

Dining room bay

The Korean maple was warning us that the warmer days were behind us.   Look out, winter is on the way.