Thursday, April 25, 2013


The gentlemen from Ultimate Insulation have been great to work with thus far.  Professional and patient with the homeowner (that's us), and don't require that we interpret through our GC for every little thing.  I stopped in this afternoon after my conference and they were ahead of schedule on the insulation.  All the living areas, to include the basement are done, along with half the attic.  They figure on finishing up by lunch time tomorrow.  You can actually feel the difference in the house as soon as you walk inside.  I'll personally vouch for the sound proof abilities of Nu Wool.  It's difficult to explain, but the air seems so still, or the sounds so muted.  I can't really decide how to describe it other than you can really tell how the house seems to absorb sound.  We're very pleased with both the product and the applicators.
I had enough time to put up several sheets of drywall on the walls before I had to get home, so am feeling confident that the wall application is going to go much faster than the ceiling.

Blowing insulation into the attic

The basement walls have a protective mesh applied to hold the insulation in place till we get around to drywalling at a later date. 

The upper gable wall is insulated since it backs up to the attic, essentially making it an outside wall. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Well, they're about half done with insulating the house.  The basement is done, and tomorrow they will put the second layer on the main floor, and finish up in the attic on Friday.  They strongly suggested we insulate the chimney race behind and below where the fireplace will be to keep that spot from being a cold area.  I tried several quick work-around solutions, but to no avail.  I finally  wound up tearing apart the hearth structure and building an insulated floor below it, which we then filled up with Nu Wool before putting it back together.  There will be no chance of any drafts or cold air coming in from behind or below the fireplace now!

New insulated floor below the hearth and fireplace.  This was then sealed with foam and filled to the brim with Nu Wool before the top was put back on. 

Basement walls and rim joists now completely insulated. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Well, we have another block we can check off the build.  The insulators showed up this morning, and have been  hard at it all day.  We are using a product called Nu Wool Premium Cellulose Insulation.  Rather than trying to describe it here myself, I'll provide a link to check out the product:
It's applied within the walls with a pressure spray rig that mixes water with the cellulose to make it form and stick in every little crack and crevice.  The attic space will be blown in with the conventional dry method.  Because this is the first house they've done with full ten inch thick walls, they could not fill the cavity on the first pass.  They filled to about half today, will wait for the moisture level to decrease until Thursday, then fill the rest of the way.  The 2x6 wall between the house and garage was done in one pass.  Tomorrow they will do the basement walls and rim joists.  Thursday they will finish the main floor walls, and Friday they will blow the attic.
We've been using a 60,000btu multi-fuel shop heater to take the edge off when we've been working in the house on those cold days.  Even with the temperatures hovering in the 30's, the heater was only able to raise the temperature 10 or so degrees down at floor level.  Today, after only filling the exterior walls half way, that heater actually made it hot inside!  Combine that with the humidity from the wet blown insulation, and it actually got uncomfortably warm inside today.  When this place is done, we should be able to heat the house with little to no effort.

These are the folks making our house cozy.

This stuff is messy as all get-out to apply, but one sprays, and one vacuums it back into the hopper to recycle it back through the pumps.

Doing the basement stairwell 2x6 wall.  After it's pumped into the wall cavity, they have a special raking brush to shave it flush with the studs.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Screwed in the last few pieces of drywall on the ceiling today (yay!).  I'll go back tomorrow and place a few little corner pieces that have no effect on the insulation going in.  One of Debra's girlfriends, Diana came out to visit today and wound up rolling her sleeves up and helping out for the afternoon. 

Again with the snow storm this morning.  It snowed very hard for a couple of hours and put maybe 1-2 inches on the ground.  The good news was it stayed warm enough that by the end of the day it had all melted away again.

This has absolutely nothing to do with building our house, but thought I'd show what my view is like when I'm working at my job.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Almost done with drywalling the flat ceilings in the rest of the house today.  Just a few pieces plus the front portion of the garage to finish tomorrow, then the insulation folks can come in and seal it all up.  The new attic stairs came Friday.  We had to return the ones we purchased earlier because they were not "fire rated".  The firewall between the house and the garage is actually the 5/8 drywall garage ceiling, and a regular set of wooden steps would have compromised the firewall according to our building inspector.  No local big box store handles them, so had to go online to pick up a set. 

The crew was there Wednesday and Thursday finishing the siding and putting in the exterior doors.  The permanent front door has not arrived yet, so we have a "blank" in place temporarily so they could side around it and get the frame installed.

Here it is April 15th and there are snow flakes the size of chicken feathers pouring down!  We got about 3 inches in a couple of hours of very wet slushy snow.  Enough already!!

Almost finished with the flat ceilings.

We can finally visualize what the house will look like with all the siding on (minus the actual front door for now).  The basement level will be finished later with a trowel on stucco kind of finish, and Debra and I will put mortar and stone on the chimney.  Still waiting for the ground to dry more so we can get the pilings in the ground and finish the deck portion.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


No pictures today, just sore muscles.
Well, Mother Nature is not done with us yet.  Last night into today, we have had rain, snow, and freezing rain making conditions miserable, with more on the way.
Watersource was in yesterday and finished hooking up the in-floor heating system and the rest of the Geothermal heat pump.  Now all we need is the permanent electrical hookup to the house and we are in business.  While the HVAC work was going on, I was upstairs starting to drywall on the flat ceilings.  Because the builders went with 24 inches on center for ceiling supports, rather than 16 inches, I felt the additional strength of 5/8 sheetrock would be appropriate to prevent sagging.  Holy crud, I didn't realize what an 1/8th of an inch difference would make in how much this stuff weighs!  That plus, I used all 1/2"X4'X8' stuff for the sloped ceilings, and am using 5/8"X4'X10', and 4'X12' for the other areas to minimize seams.  Our drywall lift works great, but requires you lift each sheet up about chest high to get it on the cradle.  Eighty three pounds doesn't sound like much till you realize you are essentially lifting it about mid sternum level with one hand while steadying and balancing it with the other.  That's just the ten foot stuff.  The twelve foot sheets weigh about 112 pounds and I could not lift and balance one of those by myself without breaking either it or me or both.  Debra drove up after work to help me set the first twelve foot sheet, and even then it was quite a workout.  After a day of that my hands are so sore I could hardly close them this morning, and my shoulders ache like all get-out.  After this long stretch of such hard physical exertion, I decided one day off was needed for body recovery.  I'm afraid we'll have to put off the insulators for a little while longer till we finish the ceiling.  As soon as the weather cooperates a little better, the crew will come up, install the exterior doors, and finish most of the siding.  We are sooooo ready for warmer weather!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Rain, rain, go away.  We are shin deep in mud out at the site now, with no end in sight to the rain.  Well, it might stop raining for a little while, but only because it's going to change over to snow later tonight.  They're talking about a potential 12 inches of snow only a few miles to our north!  The exterior doors and the metal interior doors were delivered this morning, but no installation, and no more siding work until the weather clears a little. 
My geometry lessons are coming along nicely thanks to the templates Debra set up before she had to go back to work Monday.  It really helps make consistent cuts on all those individual angles.  Not every angle is perfect however so there are still plenty of "adjustments" that need to be made in order to get things aligned.  Debra had to attend a conference in the cities today, but I was still able to finish the vaulted ceiling in the south half of the house.  Tomorrow I'll begin work on the flat ceilings in the rest of the place.
Debra and I went out last night and put down what are called "straw blankets" on much of the hill in front in an attempt to stabilize it and minimize washout from all the rain.  Hopefully we can hold things in place till it warms up enough for the seed to take hold and put down roots on that bare slope.

The mud is making everything more difficult.
Straw blankets to stabilize the hillside.

Lots and lots of cutting and fitting.  We used both glue and screws.  we do NOT want popped screws or a cracked ceiling from movement later.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


For all those times I may have wondered out loud, "what on earth will I ever need to learn geometry for out in the real world?"  Well, lesson learned, and I'm ready to cry "uncle".  Drywalling the ceiling in a round house ranks right up there with the top reasons to pay attention in geometry class.  I'm sure if we had turned this job over to the professionals it would have been done in a day or two, but hey, where's the fun in that? It's turning out to be way more challenging than we thought it would be, but that has just made us all the more determined to stick with it to the finish.  Debra and I are going to sheet rock the whole house, but our imagined timeline is going to stay on that same fantasy list as our original building budget.  This is the sort of thing that will test your relationship with your spouse or partner when you tackle a job like this together.  I'm happy to report that we work well together and complement each others strengths and weaknesses.  We really love working together on projects like this, especially when the end result is going to be such a special dream home.  There will be an incalculable amount of sweat equity invested in this home that will truly make it our own.

 We're gradually building speed on this project as we "learn the angles", so to speak.

Friday, April 5, 2013

4/5/2013 Well, the north slope has claimed another victim.


Well, the north slope has claimed another victim.  This time it's the mud not ice.  Our first load of drywall for the ceiling arrived and the delivery truck got a little too far out in the area that is melting.  It took some digging and cribbing, but they finally got out without having to call a wrecker.  Before I knocked off to go to work tonight, I symbolically raised the first piece of drywall to the ceiling in preparation for hanging it tomorrow.  Debra and I will go to work and try to finish as much of the ceiling as possible this weekend (we're hoping all of it), so that we can stay on track to have the insulators in late next week.


Mud has replaced ice as our largest obstacle now.

All large tasks must start with one small step.  The first of many sheets of drywall going up.

Starting to get the rest of the siding on.  Still waiting for the front door to arrive though.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

4/3/2013 Final measurements for drywall


Had to run down to the farm last night after work to get final measurements for drywall so we could place the order today.  If the stars align we will be putting the sheetrock on the ceilings this weekend so we can get the insulators in next week.  When I got there I found they had gotten the basement windows and patio door installed, the electrician had finished wiring in the panels, and Watersource had been there to install our Geothermal furnace.  Today the crew are there finishing the soffit and putting on the siding.

The primary electrical panel fully installed.  We also had them install a sub panel so we can safely run an emergency generator in the event we have a lengthy power outage out here in the country.

Our new Geothermal heating/cooling system from WaterFurnace.

Windows and doors installed in the lower level walk-out.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

4/2/2013 Not much in the way of visual progress


Not much in the way of visual progress to show since the basement was framed and the stairs in stalled.  We have had electrical and plumbing doing a lot of work within the walls, but are now waiting for electrical and framing inspections so we can get in with insulation and drywall.  I wanted to ad this picture, which my builder labeled as "a masterpiece of trusses". :)

Artistry in wood.