Sunday, January 28, 2007

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

With the miraculously warm weather of late December and early January we made such quick progress - far more than we had imagined we would. Now the weather is more...*seasonal*...but that's not what has brought progress to a stand-still. No, Bud and his crew are tearing their hair out to get started. The problem right now is......the BANK!#@^%#&^ We closed on our construction loan TWO weeks ago - OVER two weeks ago! And still no money. Apparently the severe weather of last week virtually closed down the bank's processing offices in the central states. Still, this is crazy. I am HOPING that Monday or Tuesday we will have a check.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Roof structure in final stages of repair and replacement

What you are seeing here is the roof structure of our barn erected in the parking lot of Early New England Restorations down in N. Stongington, CT.

Why do they do this? After a number of weeks or months working on a frame, they put parts of it back together to insure that all the joints fit perfetctly, each timber is the correct size, and nothing has escaped notice while the frame was in pieces. In the case of the roof system, the best way to do this is to set it up as a unit. Looks pretty cool, no?

In our case, one of the last stages was fitting in the new set of purlins that we had to purchase to replace those we bought with the barn since these didn't pass the engineer's inspection. The purlins are the horizontal beams which run between the roof rafters and lend structural stability to the roof system. (Click here to see a diagram showing the names of the different timbers in a barn.)

The backstory here is that when we purchased the barn, Scot Hanning pointed out to us that the existing purlins were shot and would need to be replaced. You can see a picture of the original purlins here . If you look closely enough you can see that each purlin is quite thin and actually has had "splints" nailed to each side in an effort to lend structural integrity to the rotten beams.

Scot graciously ageed to cut replacements for us out of vintage stock (see pictures here) at no extra cost. Unfortunately, when the engineer reviewed the frame he determined that these were too small to bear the wind and snow loads, and we had to send the replacements back to Scot, who sold us re-replacements. We are still hoping that he will be able to sell the first set of replacements since he's promised to send us a check for the sale.

Visually, it's a thrill to see these images because they give a nice foretaste of what we will be looking at from the *inside* of our home.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Images of frame repair

These images detail the extensive repairs that have been made to our barn's frame.

After the frame's arrival at Early New England Restorations in Connecticut, the initial inspection revealed a number of places where rot was extensive enough to require repairing or replacement. This we expected. Any building of this age is going to require such repair. The tricky part is that you never really know HOW much repair will be required until you get the building apart. By that time you are "committed" to the project, as they say, and there aren't too many options.

I recall visiting ENER soon after the arrival of the frame and seeing some of the damage expressed my shock to one of the workers. He replied with something along the lines of, "Actually, this barn's in pretty darn good shape."

Anyhow, the folks at ENER are brilliant repairmen. I remember with my parent's house seeing the patches they created to fit perfectly into sections of beams that they had simply cut out. You can see them today in parts of the house and they look pretty similar to those in the images above and below.

It looks like they have done a similarly nice job here. Can't wait to see it in person!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Getting bored...

More messing around with SketchUp. See the previous post.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bare Hill Barn SketchUp

This is a rough 3-D rendering of the house made with Google's free software program called SketchUp. If you download the program send me an email and I will send you the file so that you can use the (very cool) zoom and pan features which allow you to "fly" around and even INSIDE the structure. Right now it is pretty rough, but I wanted to share it with you because, aside from a foundation, this is all there is to see of this project. While we wait for the bank people to process our construction loan (a SLOW process due to, I am told, the fact that the offices are burried under snow and ice in the central US...) making this model has been a nice distraction. What am I going to do when this project is OVER?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More furniture I like (and MIGHT be able to afford)

Some of you were surprised by my recent posts illustrating the kind of chairs I fantasize about. OK, so now that I'm out of the closet about my modernist design leanings (passion? obsession?), I figured I might make another offering of furniture we are considering for our "modern barn-house". (Does that sound oxymoronic? More later on that one.)

Crate & Barrel has an online store (somewhat unfortunately) called "CB2" which targets the "cool, hip, urban/modern" crowd - aren't we cool? Anyway, I like the lines of this sofa. Not sure where we would place it - probably nowhere. Didn't I say that we were going with two lounge chairs vs. the whole sofa thing?

Above is Walmart's (YES! Walmart's!) "Bentwood Egg Chair" and it costs a mere $34.72. End of story. Great modern look. Below is a similar, slightly more expensive (and probably better quality) chair, this time from White on White ($175.00):

This has to be one of the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in: IKEA's Lunna (below). The price makes a believer out of me - $149.00.

Since we are back onto chairs (I really DO have a thing for chairs...), try on IKEA's Patrik ($129.00) for size:

Since we are talking affordable for the average guy, why NOT check out (Heck, we've already sold our souls and looked at Walmart!). I liked the "Milano Combo" (sounds like a sandwich, tho') for $254.00. Does that sound pricey for Target? Hmmm...

OK, I'm not sure this belongs in the "might be able to afford" category, but I just love BluDot's Modulicious storage systems. Just the 4x4 unit costs $779-899 from 2Modern. I love the whole "design for the masses" B.S. that these sites tout!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Foundation complete

We are starting to get a good feel for what the site will look like when all is said and done. With the back filling completed, you can walk all the way around the foundation and better imagine the completed structure. One serious benefit of having sited the foundation further up hill is that we will have a much more substantial back yard. The final grading won't be done until the Spring, but you can get a sense of the space right now. Next step is the building of the wooden "deck" upon which the frame will be erected. If all continues to go smoothly we will be raising that frame the week of the 22nd! We hope those who are near-by will be able to drop by and watch the show.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Can you beat this?

Saturday January 6, 2007.
70 degrees.
Hard to believe this weather.
Pretty cool, though.

More foundation pics

The kids and I drove over to the site this evening on our way home from a beautiful spring-like afternoon at the park. The forms had been removed and the foundation was standing there in the waning light - virtually complete. All that remains is to pour the cellar floor, which I hope will be done Monday or Tuesday.

That's our basement! Hard to believe. Looks like we made it (with a little help from the big Weatherman in the Sky)!

Pouring the foundation

On Friday temps were in the low 60s...on January 5th! Bud has been moving very quickly to take advantage of the miraculous break in the weather and get the foundation poured. Once it really gets cold the ground freezes and it gets a lot more complicated to pour concrete.

The foundation crew showed up in the morning and began building the forms for the foundation walls on top of the footings which had been poured Weds. They went up very fast. They hauled in the forms on this massive old rig you see in the picture. I was amazed to see that them maneuver this thing onto our tiny lot. The ground isn't exactly hard either. But they managed. Our maple tree on the street side of the property is taking a beating on the lowert branches...

When the cement trucks showed up the fun began. There were at least three of them total - I had to leave before they were done. I think the police have been showing up pretty frequently and bugging the crews about blocking the street, which is pretty narrow. When the second cement truck was on the site and pouring and the first was parked along the road, half on and half off the property, a school bus came down the street; I thought for sure it wouldn't get by. But after a few tries it did.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Chairs I like AND can afford (sort of).


One glance reveals this chair's debt to Pierre Paulin's 1960 "Orange Slice Chair" (see the previous post). No matter. Similar styling - very different price. This one can be yours (or mine!) for a mere $500 from White on White. It's called the "Nico Chair" and comes also in black.

This is IKEA's "Patrik Chair" and it sells for $129.00. Perhaps an even more distant relative of the "Orange Slide Chair" and probably not as comfortable, but still a great looking modern chair, suitable for most any room in the house. Probably not for "lounge seating" where comfort will be a more significant factor.

This is White on White's "C-44" leather chair. It looks to me like a kinder, gentler Barcelona Chair. The price is kinder and gentler, too, at $550.00. I haven't sat in it yet, but it looks comfortable not to mention very mod.

IKEA's "Arild" armchair has a nice modern look. Leather is not my favorite choice of seat covering, though. This chair sells for $559.00.

So, what is the difference between a $699.00 Barcelona Chair and a $3499.00 Barcelona Chair? Answer: an ego as big as one's budget. OR, precisely $2800.00. Well, I have neither the ego nor the budget, so the Alphaville Design reroduction from Sleek Spaces will have to do!

Chairs I Like (but can't afford).

This chair and ottoman set is called "Pop" and is from Ligne Roset. While in NYC visiting my brother before Christmas we dropped into the Ligne Roset showroom and I got to try this one out in person. The continuous curve of the seat cushion envelops your body and, well, makes it real hard to get back up. I also like this picture because this is how we are planning on arranging our living area: two comfortable lounge chairs (as opposed to a couch) in front of the fireplace.

This chiar is Ligne Roset's "Flexus" and I have to say it was even more comfortable than "Pop"...and harder to extract oneself from. I like the sleek, elegant simplicity - the shout out to 50s modern style. Very cool...and very expensive!

From the Design Within Reach website: "When Florence Knoll challenged Finnish-born architect and designer Eero Saarinen in 1948 to create a chair that she could curl up in, she had found an apt candidate for the task. The Womb Chair’s enveloping, lap-like form continues to be one of the most iconic and recognized representations of mid-century Scandinavian organic modernism. In fact, ask most designers and architects what lounge chair design they covet and they’ll promptly tell you it’s the Womb Chair." That's good enough for me! Except for the price tag: $2380.00!

Talk about iconic. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's famous "Barcelona Chair" is one of the most ubiquitous fixtures in high end modern design. Flip through the pages of any book on modern architecture you grab off the shelf at Barnes & Noble and you are bound to see this design. Elegant, simple, sleek, and comfortable. A good reproduction will cost you over $3000.

This is Pierre Paulin's 1960 "Orange Slice Chair and Ottoman" produced by Hive. Paulin once said, "A chair should be more than simply functional. It should be friendly, fun and colorful." Each of the chairs on this page are a work of design genius - call it art - and worthy of being enjoyed not simply for the way they fit one's bottom but for their aesthetic value. A fitting centerpiece for any room.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tips on selling a house in this market?!

So, we have to sell our house. Which house, you say? Ah yes, we do own TWO homes...sort of. Well, the second one is not quite here yet - it's in pieces in a box trailer in Connecticut - but we OWN it! Anyway, the Spring real estate market "opens" in February (kind of sounds like the hunting season opening...and I kind of feel like I'm the one in the cross-hairs at this time!) Everyone's heard the stories about the real estate market - pretty bleak for sellers like us - but we really don't have any choice. We have to sell this house. So, I wanted to toss the question out there to you all:

Any tips on how to sell a house in this market?

I am hoping the collective wisdom of our friends and family (and anyone else out there in the blogosphere who happens to be reading this!) will produce some nuggets of advice that will help us to move this house for the right price. Post a comment or send me an email if you have any thoughts. Thanks!

Same blog - new look

I hope the new look isn't too disorienting! I get bored easily...
...I guess that's why I need projects like earning a masters degree, having lots of kids, building a new home...


The foundation hole was inspected by the town Tuesday morning (passed) and today the footings were poured. The foundation's footings consist of a two foot wide by one foot high concrete "base" ontop of which rests the walls of the foundation. In the detail below (taken from our construction plans) you can see the footing resting underneath the vertical wall of the foundation.

After the footings are inspected (tomorrow?) then the contractor will begin building the wooden forms for the foundation walls. This will take a few days at least. If the weather holds up I imagine they will be pouring sometime next week. So far, we have really been blessed - can you believe the temps?