Friday, October 19, 2007

Progress: slow and painful, but progress

The past few weeks I have been taking advantage of the only time during the day when I can get work done at the site: between the kids' bedtime (8:00 pm) and whenever the operation of power tools becomes dangerous (around midnight). Now that the electrical outlets are all roughed in and we have passed the electrical inspection I am free to continue cutting and fitting the old barn boards over the interior of the SIPs. This is proving to be a very time consuming and slow process - even with the gradual improvement of my technique. One of the fun aspects has been using all of the great new tools (toys?) that I have had to buy to do the work the right way. In the image above I am using my new finish nail gun to tack up the barn boards I have just cut.

A lot of the time I am over I have been in a kind of frenzy to get as much done as is humanly possible so that I can get that feeling of having accomplished something - SOMETHING - significant. There is so much to do that it never seems like I really accomplish anything. Well, the last time I was over there I decided to try a different mental approach. I forced the looming specter of timelines and workloads out of my mind and tried to practice what I think I'll call my Zen carpentry technique. Focusing only on the immediate moment, I tried to think only about each individual cut, each individual board, and make each one methodically, slowly, carefully meditatively and most importantly, to make them well. I cleaned up my workspace, arranged my tools, and began. Three hours later I had successfully mounted five or six boards in a particularly difficult place and managed to do it well. I was proud of my work and surprisingly relaxed. Of course, at this rate it will be October of NEXT year that I get all this barn board installed...

Once the electrical and plumbing were in, it was time to insulate around the kids' bedrooms. This is not "necessary" but it seemed to make sense acoustically. Kids' sleep is sacred. It needs to be protected at ALL COSTS. Peacefully sleeping kids = happy kids = happy parents. So, I took the time - and it turned out to be about 12 hours' worth - to do the insulation.

Here again my new air compressor and guns came in handy. In the kit I purchased I also got a stapler. I loaded up the 1/2" staples and off I went. I think I probably ended up putting in two or three times more staples than I needed, but it was so freekin' fun! Anyone need anything stapled? I'm contemplating bringing it to school and offering to staple all my students' papers as well as all those posters that are falling off my classroom's walls...

Once the insulation and framing inspections were passed the blueboard showed up and it looked as if we were poised to begin one of the last big projects of the job: walls and ceilings. However, I have learned that NOTHING happens as I am told it will, so predictably, there have been hang-ups that have cost us time. Precious time. All along I have been promised that the blueboard would go up fast - a couple of days max - and same with the plaster. Everyone spoke of how FAST these guys work: in and out, a whole SWAT team of hangers and plasterers. BANG, it's done. Yeah, right. So the plumber disappeared from the job for a week or two (turns out he had bronchitis for some of the time I guess) and the hangers, who had been poised to strike, had to quit because the plumbers were in the way. One thing I have learned is that contractors NEVER take time off during the work week. They don't say, "Oh, you're not ready for me today? Well, I'll go play a few rounds of golf and check bac in with you in a couple of days. No. They are IMMEDIATELY off to another job and you've lost your "slot" and have to wait until they are free again. Needless to say, I was ASSURED the walls and ceilings would be hung and plastered in the space of four to five days and, well, it's been a week and we have as many hung sheets of blueboard as you can see in this image and the following. C'est la vie.

Notice the baseboard heat? ALL of these were supposed to be in weeks ago...

I think the contrast between the plastered walls and the rough barn board walls is going to be stunning. Can't wait to see it.

This image above shows one of our toekick heating units that will someday be covered by our cabinets.

Deck going up. It won't be supported by these vertical supports. Instead the architect has designed diagonal supports that tie into the foundation. The entire deck will have the feel of a great tree house platform. I think it's going to be fantastic. I just wish (WISH!) we had the $$ to be able to do it out of the materials we want and not PT lumber.

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