Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I want to explain to some of you, some of these posts are way out of order. I originally planned to track the building progress as it happened, but life got real busy tring to get the house ready to be lived in. I did not blog for about a year. I still was taking pictures for most of it, but was not blogging it. Now, I am trying to do catch up and yet I still want to post current events in our lives. So, sorry if there is any confusion. Let me know if there is any questions you have, and I will answer them the best I can. I also want to asure you that I will fill in the blanks of the build process as I can.

Filling in potholes

In an effort to save money, we have never developed a driveway. We simply have driven on the field and made it work. Recently it has become VERY rough, and needs some attention. I still do not have the money to build the driveway to the condition that it needs to be, but I do have a dirt pile a shovel and Mountian Dew (for energy).

I am just filling in the low spots.

Building the front door

One of the many things I did not get to before we moved in was build the doors. So, since March of last year (2012) we have had a sheet of 1/2" OSB as a door. With the weather getting colder now we have decided that a door would be nice to have (less drafty). I considered buying a door, but I really wanted to build one.

The house is sided with rough sawn cedar and the inside will be pine, and I would like the door to match both. 

Another plus to building a door is that if something goes wrong with it, I can fix it.

I had to start by finishing the rough opening. Agian, I wanted cedar on the outside and pine on the inside. 

I had a problem with nails backing out of the cedar siding, so now I use stainless steel trim screws to hold the siding on.
I used these screws to build the door as well.

This is the finished opening. It is hard to tell but the inside is pine and from the door stop out is rough sawn cedar.

I hung plastic over the door to try and keep some heat in. I could have done this in the summer, but the would have made to much sence.

Prepairing the windows for stain and varnish.

I applied the stain with a cloth. I go over all the surfaces twice. Then leave the stain set for a few minutes. Next, I whipe off any extra stain. Once the stain has dried I apply a coat of varnish, then let it dry. I then sand the first coat and apply a final coat of varnish.

The core for the door is a piece of 1/2" plywood.

I then added rough sawn tongue and groove cedar to the outside of the door.

The cedar is glued and screwed to the plywood core. The glue is weather proof.

On the inside I used tongue and groove pine. Agian, I glued them.

This is the outside of the door. I wanted to use galvanized pipe for door handles, but I could not make it work how I wanted.

This is the inside.

The door is hung.

This is how you would see it when comming to visit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Early morning sunrise

Turkey on the Grill

Since we don't have an oven, and Thanksgiving requires a turkey. I again turned to the Weber. We have cooked whole chickens in the grill before but never a turkey.
We got a 16 lb. turkey with my coupon from work.

I use this method (indirect) when cooking chickens and it works great, so I wanted to try a turkey the same way.

Indirect simply means that the coals are placed to the sides of the grill (in the trays that you see hear). The heat then rises up and rolls over the top of the bird to cook it evenly on all sides. Since the coals are not simply below the bird, it does not burn on the bottom, even though the bird is never turned.

About 30 min. into the cooking. I expected it to take about 3 hours to cook to 180 deg.

I used Mesquite chunks to add flavor.

Well, its not pretty but it was good.

The outside looks burnt, but it's not. It is smoked, that is why it is black.

I had read online to cook the turkey to 180 deg.. However, I made two mistakes. I cook all other poltry to 165 deg. and it has always been fine. I think looking back that 180 was to high. I also forgot that a bird of this size cooks after it is removed from the heat.

I should have cooked it to about 160 - 165 and then removed it.

It was delicious and juicy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Laid Off!

I got told on Wendsday (the day before Thanksgiving) that I was getting laid off immediatly. I have been machining since 1994 and have been burned out on it for about the last 12 years. I was laid off once before but was able to start a new job the following Monday. This time I am not sure what I want to do. I want to find a job close to home (I have been driving between 30 and 60 miles one way). I want to find something new. Machining has always paid the bills, but bores me to death. It's esenctualy the same thing every day. I have though about going back to school for something different, but that money thing always gets in the way. I would like to work from home. Let me know if any of you have any ideas.

To much wind

After we finished backfilling the front wall, I finished stacking the side walls and got set up to start core filling.


I got a call at work from Vern (who had come over to pick up his backhoe).  He said, "I have some bad news. Last night in the storm the whole back wall blew down." I had seen the reports of high wind and wondered if it had stayed standing, so this was bad news but almost expected. I firmly believe that God has had his hand on this project from the time we found the land. I replied to him, "Well, if God took it down there must have been something wrong with it." Vern chuckled and said, "I guess that is one way to look at it."

I had stacked the back wall and then had to redirect my attention to backfilling (Vern had called and said that he had an opening in his schedual and had time to backfill). Unfortunatly, I did not have time to core fill or surface bond the wall before the next big storm came through.

The strom that came packing up to 80 mph wind gust and the 48' unsecured wall just could not stand aginst that kind of pressure.

The scafolding was in just the right spot to protect the cement mixer.

Luckily there was only 13 blocks that were to badly damaged to use again. My stack of foam, seen in this photo took a real beating, but was still usable. The wheelbarrow suffered a few new dents, but managed to protect the water pump under it.

The only cost of the wall falling was the loss of 13 cement blocks and time. Grand total = $12.50

We started restacking the wall that night and it was going better than it did the first time.

All in all it was a win that the wall came down. It had not turned out well the first time. It had about an inch of bow in it and the bow was in (making the wall weaker when backfilled). The second time I knew what I had done wrong the first time, and corrected it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Backfilling the frost footings

With the front wall surface bonded, core filled and insulated we were ready to backfill.

Here you get a good view of the two layers of 2" extruded foam that was used to insulate the front wall. You also can see the sill plate anchors sticking out of the blocks. The anchors are tied to rebar that go all the way down into the footing.

We wanted to backfill the inside and the outside of the foundation equally to avoid excess pressure on the wall. You can see here the taller rebar that will continue to the top of the 8' walls. I wanted to protect the foam from sun and damage, so I attempted to stick ice and water shield to it. The theroy was good but it ended up being a waste of money and time (boondogle).

Here you can see the 8" blocks stacked on top of the 12" blocks. This creates a 4" ledge the concrete slab will rest on.

I had some problem with the outer layer of foam wanting to get pulled down with the weight of the dirt.

We did not fill the inside to final grade because this dirt was mostly clay. Once the clay is packed it is very hard and the floor will need to be leveled for the slab. So later we will haul in some sand to finishg filling the inside to 2" below the ledge that you see. It is filled 2" low to allow for a layer of 2" high density (250) foam insulation.

I did not take any pictures of me stacking the back wall. As you can see here I had to leave the side walls unstacked to allow room for vern to backfill.

About to fill in the pumping pits.

Gradeing the South. If you look between the two layers of foam you can see some blue foam glue that I used to hold the sheets of foam together. This glue did not hold at all, allowing the sheets to sag when we back filled.