You know it’s time to post on the blog again when people start asking. I guess we’re in the middle of a fairly interesting project, so it’s not that surprising that people want to see the house progress. But of course the house itself has distracted us from the blog these last three weeks. However, that time has been well spent. Very well spent, indeed. Here is the anticipated update …
In the last three weeks, we have: roofed the house, finished siding and trimming, built an exterior landing and stairs, stained the exterior, installed gutters, built a man-door to the downstairs garage area, moved a big pile of dirt leftover from excavating, cleaned up nails and scrap wood around the work site, and attended to other various details relating to the exterior. We also had some more esoteric accomplishments, such as getting comfortable working on 24 ft ladders and learning to roll with the punches every single day. It’s been quite a time.
As we’ve continued working on the exterior, we’ve continued to be blessed with perfect weather and help from friends and family. And between those two advantages (combined with the small size of the overall house project), we’ve been able to 99% complete the exterior work. We still have a few minor details left to finish before the rain comes and/or we head inside (which has been untouched since framing), but overall we feel quite confident that the house is weather tight and ready on the outside. And the ‘look’ of the exterior exceeds our expectations. We knew our little house would be rustic and quaint, but we think it’s actually quite handsomely so (rather than clumsily so).
Here are some more pictures of the work, including (at the very end) a recent shot of the pretty-much-almost-completely finished exterior:
Katie staining the exterior cedar siding (a higher-end version of T1-11). We decided to stain it before doing any trim or detail work so that we could insure every surface was well coated with the ‘Penetrating Oil Finish,’ thus giving it the best weather protection possible. We like the resulting warm cedar color.
Before he got on the very tall roof of our house, Casey practiced installing our metal roofing on our little shed. We decided to use plain galvanized metal roofing, because we wanted the ease of installation and maintenance that metal provides, and galvanized is the least expensive option. In our aesthetic choices, we have gravitated towards ‘real’ surfaces: wood that looks like wood, metal that looks like metal. We don’t have a lot of money to build this house with, so we can’t afford some of the more expensive fabricated/painted siding and roofing solutions. And, with our limitations, we figured that authentic surfaces would at least just look like what they are. So far, we like this choice quite a bit, even if the result is less conventional.
Getting the roofing sheets to the top of our building was a challenge, since they are heavy, sharp, and awkward on a ladder. The tractor, once again, saved the day: we used the forks on our front loader to lift two sheets at a time to the edge of the roof. From there, Casey and our friend Phillip were able to pull them safely onto the roof without repeatedly going up and down a ladder (something neither was inclined to do). With the help of the front-loader and Phillip, we were able to complete the roofing in one short (but intense) workday. That felt really good, since this was a part of the project that worried Casey ahead of time. Even though our roof pitch is relatively quite shallow, it is still tall. We are glad that most of the high work is complete now.
Another great weather shot. Our roofing day was perfect: sunny, warm, and calm. Hoorah!
Casey flashing and caulking a window, in preparation for installing trim. As we expected, staining and installing the trim on our building took us awhile compared to other projects. It is detail work, involving lots of measuring (and trips up and down the ladders). But it also gave our house a finished look. To match the cedar siding product, we used clear cedar trim—which is by far the most extravagant purchase of this entire project. But, once again, the size of our house (570 sq ft) allowed us to make that choice without breaking the budget. It’s amazing how much less significant each choice becomes when the scale is smaller.
Here Casey is installing the ‘batts’ that give our house a ‘board and batten’ look (and also seal the gaps between the sheets of siding). I think that batts are one of the more beautiful elements of our exterior. Each piece of cedar had a slightly different tone and grain pattern, giving the resulting combination the look of a cedar ‘rainbow.’ A few more things we love about cedar: we love that it is a local product and that it has natural weather resistant properties. Again, it’s not a product we would feel comfortable using in large quantities, due to financial constraints and concerns about forestry practices, but we really value the forgiveness and beauty of real wood.
A close-up of some finish details: the gutter board, gutters, downspouts, window trim, batts and ‘belly-board’ (trim around the ‘waist’ of our house—or as we like to call it, the house’s ‘belt’).
Katie cutting the treads for our exterior staircase (in my ‘Bono’-inspired sun/safety glasses). Building our landing and staircase took three entire days, because it required thought and precise measurements. Katie’s dad helped us plan and execute the landing; Shan Stassens of Winsome Homes came out again to help us cut the risers; and then Casey and I took it from there. Now that we have stairs, we can walk up and down without climbing a ladder! A great improvement! (We’re getting sick of ladders.)
The ‘finished’ product! Or, how the house looked today anyway.
We have handrails and an upstairs exterior door left to install, and then we’ll be moving inside to begin the next stage of work. We still have tons of work to do before we can move in, but we feel good about what we’ve accomplished so far. From our understanding, finishing the exterior completely before beginning the interior is an unconventional choice—but since we’re new to the house building business, it’s been helpful to NOT multi-task as many builders do. Instead, we’ve been able to focus on one task at a time and, in doing so, better understand how to accomplish each one without getting bogged down or over-whelmed. And, even with that approach, we find ourselves almost over-whelmed almost every day. We have had to make hundreds decisions this month—many of which are expensive. Even if everything is going well, just making another decision can feel daunting at times.
… And, in farm blog related news, we are still farmers. The ‘quiet’ of winter continues for us for another week or two, but we have begun preparing for the start of the season. We’re slowly but steadily receiving more CSA sign-ups (there’s still lots of room!), and we’re also talking with local restaurants about what we might provide them this year. Two weeks ago, with Casey’s parents help, we moved over some of our farm infrastructure from Seven Spoke Farm, including our hot house. We’ve yet to assemble it, but that should be soon, since we will begin sowing alliums (onions, leeks, shallots) later this month (YIKES!). And between now and then, we have a slew of farm-related conferences and gatherings we’ll be attending in the area. We’ll keep you posted on how those go—we expect to meet interesting people and learn fascinating new things about the industry we’re in.
Speaking of interesting things and people, this winter I (Katie) was asked to join the McMinnville Farmers’ Market steering committee, which was an honor and privilege. I attended my second meeting this morning and am excited about many of the decisions we’ve been making for the 2007 season. As our regular blog readers may remember, last year Casey and I had a great experience at market but also had a few disappointments related to our own idealistic expectations as vendors (reality can be hard sometimes, especially when you’re as young as we still are!). Anyhow, the market responded well to our criticism, and being more involved has definitely enlightened me further on what it takes to keep a market together and running well. I am feeling very optimistic about the 2007 season, based on the vendors and the projects the steering committee has planned. Only three and a half months until the first market (May 31)!
We have a bit to do before then, so I really can wait. But the winter sure is slipping away quickly now. Although I’d be willing to bet February will have some winter surprises up her sleeves. This time of year I always think ‘Spring is here!’ and then more snow or ice arrives. If it does, think of us, working away inside our little house, cozy and snug, putting up dry wall or painting. That sounds nice right now, although we’re looking forward to next winter, when we can sit inside, cozy and snug, reading and drinking coffee during these months. But then again, knowing us, we’ll probably have some other crazy project to work on. No rest for the energetic!