This winter has been an interesting winter to be without heat. Like so many on the East Coast, we were caught in the “Polar Vortex” and figured out quickly that our pipes all freeze at 25 degrees or colder. As a reminder, we are currently living in the Big House while the construction on the Small House continues, and the Big House currently does not have operational central heat. Slippers, thermal underwear, and space heaters are key investments! We should buy stock in the electric mattress pad company. If anyone has any insight as to why our cold and hot taps suddenly switched when the pipes froze, we would be glad to learn about this plumbing miracle.
Not only does the water in our pipes freeze, but so does progress on outdoor construction projects…not surprising, but also not great for our very optimistic timeline. Back around Thanksgiving, we put in a lumber order for the white pine that would form our roof. Because our house is, well, atypical, we were not candidates for pre-made roof trusses. We also wanted our craftsman to use the original wooden peg construction, so we were in need of a custom job. Due to the long wait list, the freezing temperatures, snow, epic mud caused by the snow melt, and then more snow, the lumber order was two weeks late…and then another two weeks late…and then two more weeks late…well, you get the picture.
You can understand our sheer glee when these two deliveries showed up in our driveway:
Our craftsman, Colon, wasted no time in getting started on the project. Hallelujah. These gems were the preview of what was to come:
Just before our big snow day about ten days ago, Colon had enough of these bad boys to form the skeleton of the roof over the original structure.
Although our little snow storm wasn’t great for progress, the project did look beautiful in 15″ of snow.
These roof trusses then get covered with rows of 6″ roof boards. We were able to scheme with Colon about the roof boards to make a really exciting change to our planned aesthetic. Instead of insulating under the roof boards and then dry walling the ceilings of the bedrooms between each beam, leaving the beams exposed but the insulation covered, Colon will be able to insulate on the OUTSIDE of the roof boards (between the roof boards and the sheet metal that will form the exterior of the roof). That way, we can have a COMPLETELY exposed roofing structure on the inside. Minus some whitewash or paint, the ceilings of our bedrooms will look like this:
The change in roof design left us needing more lumber (of course). Fortunately, at this point, we knew exactly how many beams the project would take, and we had a few more than we needed on hand. However, we were short roofing boards. Luckily, we were able to find a local who owned just the right saw and he was able to convert our surplus beams into roofing boards. The project forged ahead. What a relief after so many other lumber setbacks in the last few months!
After the Great Thaw, Colon was able to finish nearly all of the trusses and (hopefully) will be able to finish putting on roof boards this week. Chad was able to climb Colon’s scaffolding for some pretty phenomenal shots that we likely will never have the opportunity to get again. The burgeoning roof and the winter view are gorgeous.
What you’re seeing is the convergence of the roof over the original structure, which runs east and west, meeting the roof over the addition, which runs north and south.
What you may also have noticed is a poorly placed power line running through the second floor of the addition. We promise that is NOT part of the final plan. This is the power line that runs electricity to the main house. Clearly, this needs to be moved. The idea was to bury the power line, splitting off one portion to the Big House, one portion to the smokehouse, and one portion to the Little House. Since we already have an idea of the Big House’s power needs, we are hoping to kill two birds with one stone – or one trench.
Unfortunately, this, too, became a little bit of an ordeal. Sadly, the first trench was dug in the wrong place and was too shallow. 0-1. Then, it was either frozen or muddy, making it difficult to re-dig. 0-2. Finally, with a little more digging (didn’t we say we were DONE WITH DIGGING???), we got a trench in the correct place. The conduit has been run, and as soon as the electric team can get back out, the line will get buried. We’d do it ourselves, but electrocution might not be worth saving a couple of extra days.
In addition to running the conduit, the electric team has already installed our panel box, which is located in our future utility room/pantry.
Lastly, we’ve brought new meaning to the phrase, “meanwhile, back on the ranch…” Just before the snowstorm, I went outside with the dogs and noticed an unusual rustling in our 15-foot boxwood. After a few moments, out popped a ROOSTER. Just to be clear, we do not own a rooster, nor have we ever seen one near our house. We don’t have particularly close neighbors, so it is a little bit of a mystery where the rooster wandered away from. The next day was the big snow, and we found the poor guy stranded in a snowbank:
Chad half carried, half herded him into our worse-for-wear screened-in porch. Currently, we are using the porch to store insulated concrete forms, or ICFs, that will one day form the foundation for our addition on the Big House. They are adult-sized, styrofoam legos into which you poor concrete, providing both stability and insulation. As it turns out, they also make a great playground for roosters.
The rooster, or Blizzard as he has become known more fondly, decided to stick around. Not only has he taken to a diet of corn from the grain bins and “layer” feed we purchased at the store, but after about a week, he enticed a lady friend to immigrate with him. They are a little shy and don’t like to pose for pictures, but here are the best shots we’ve been able to get:
Since they are now a struggling, young couple like ourselves, we decided to upgrade them from the ICF coop to something a little more comfortable. Today, we cleaned out the porch, threw away a bunch of stuff, and organized the ICF blocks. We had originally tried to craft a coop for Blizzard out of an old file cabinet that we found on the porch…
…and today, we turned it on its side to make it more accommodating for a companion.
I think this chicken coop is very symbolic of our current living situation. Not beautiful, but we’re working with what we’ve got. And, hopefully next week, “what we’ve got” will include a roof on the Little House! Hurray!