Monday, March 23, 2009

Exterior Wall Insulation

So, under the subfloor (which itself will be a form of insulation) we're going to run some 1 inch styrofoam insulation at the edges of the house. The radiant floor school of thought is have a total of 20 inches of insulation (combining the horizontal and vertical runs) so in the middle level of the house, we're going to do 4 up and 16 out. We still have about 3 full sheets (8'x4') of this foam board from over-estimating the yurt floor insulation, so we're using that.
Melissa does a good job fitting this stuff using a kitchen serated knife.
Interior Wall foundations

Because I want to lay the subfloor before we do the walls, Melissa wanted to build the foundations for the interior walls first. I worry about this because it commits us to these shapes before we've had a chance to feel what it's like inside the main (exterior) walls. Still, we agreed on the basic shape of the rooms long ago, so really, I just continue to have commitment issues.

Here's Melissa getting going on the first layer of the living room north wall:
We're keeping these foundations thin, as the walls will only be about 6 inches thick, and they're also 'craggy' so as to give the cob something to grab onto when we build them. (and probably be great things to trip over until we do.)

Here's Melissa modeling the future toilet room, with it's strong curve around what will be a bench with two buckets in it. Jack is not amused.

Notice that this foundation is taller, as it is on the lowest level of the house, and will be one wall of the shower, so just in case of flooding (?), there won't be cob(mud) walls low to the ground where they could fail by water damage.

This picture was taken a day or two after the above. We've added another layer or so to the living room wall (the curve in front of Melissa) and some 'teeth' to the wall between the two bedrooms (to the left of the photo):

You can see how I've laid out the future 'scree' boards for the subfloor in the left corner.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flattened the French door Threshold

After finally getting to the hardware store for more masonery mortar, we managed to get the french doorway up to level. First we had to finish mortaring in rocks to get it close, and then we put a layer of the gray goop on the top to bring it to final level. By pounding in stakes on either side and screwing a horizontal level board on each side (I took it apart before taking the picture) we were able to just take an old 2x4 and 'scree' across the threshold to easily find level.
In the photo you can see the two posts on the inside, and the level board there as well. I took down the outside half. Those metal flanges will bolt into the door buck - the rough door frame.

Here we go again!

I went after this madrone log again to get the outside bark and mold off it (Melissa had taken the initial stuff off last summer) and since it's got a real twist in it, it takes quite a while to scrape all that gunk off.

I'm planning on using this log as the support post for the loft over the kitchen. I hope it doesn't look too crazy or out of place in the house.
Stress Tests

Well, after only (I think) 3 days of drying, we tested the floor-mix bricks to see how they hold up to some wear and tear. Actually, all 5 mixes worked pretty well, considering all that is going to be happening to this batch is compression under the finished floor.

Still, it was fun to see how they held up. Melissa stood and rocked on each one:

we threw them around a bit, dropped them from shoulder height, and finally gave them the bridge test:

Actually only the one with the most clay survived this one. It was one part clay, one part sand (road base) and one part perlite.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Starting to think mud!

With the roof on, we're back to thinking about floors. We're going to do an earthen floor, with a total of about 6 inches of mix on top of the drain rock that's already there. Melissa has started planning out the foundations of the interior walls (I'd prefer to wait to get a feel for the space, but) as we intend to do the subfloor-base layer before we start on the walls.
We'll start with this floor first since for one thing, it's mixing mud that will never be seen, so we'll get good at it before it'll be in a place that will show. For another, without the walls up this layer will dry faster, which means when we're doing the rest of the floor after the walls, those layers will dry faster (with one dry side already). Further, it will give us a nice flat surface that can still get beat up and dirty to work on while we do the walls.
So, I got back into it by making some test bricks that included Perlite, a local (!) thing that's some sort of lava from the desert. It's very similar to styrafoam... you've seen it- it's the little white dots in potting soil. It's supposed to add an insulative quality.
Here's me getting dirty:

and more dirty:

I ended up with 5 test bricks, all different recipes. It was quite surprising to see the different volumes created when not changing the total parts added. (it was always 3 parts: variations on sand, perlite and clay. And of course straw was added to all.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Decking is on the Roof!
We finished putting on the plywood yesterday. It actually wasn't that hard, but it certainly feels like a big hurdle. Melissa of course, did all the hard measuring and figuring, and I did the cutting and hammering. Here's Melissa on the NE corner:

Some of the details we had to work out were how to get around the posts:

Melissa decided she liked the idea of having some extra detail on the top overhanging rafters, so we trimmed those to a bit of a point, and then put a pine trim on there for the overhanging metal to attach to:

We also planned for airflow/venting in the roof, which will help with cooling. In this picture, you can see the vent slot as well as some of the more difficult 'puzzle pieces' Melissa had to work out to get everything to fit together and on rafters.

That's me on the center West high side.

Monday, March 09, 2009

New Desk Lamp

When I was powering the batteries with the diesel engine, I messed up the hertz (long story). I was also trying to run appliances in the yurt at the time, and blew up my cool LED desk lamp.
So, while I've now learned to type without light, I realized I could use an extra flashlight I had around (it's LED also) if I made a nice stand for it. So, with a couple of scraps of madrone from another project, and a thin piece of oak I was going to use someday, I put this together in about an hour.
Cranking along on the decking

The plywood is going down easily enough. It's great to feel that we're getting something done.

We did the south side first, and we're leaving the last course because we have to decide on the verticle (north facing) trim before putting it down. We're waiting to hear from the roof guys about some specific measurements for that piece.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Working on the ROOF!

we actually got started putting plywood on today, finally! It was actually a really nice day, and it looks like it's going to be clear all week.

It goes pretty fast too, and feels like we're getting something done.
Some detail: on the short sides, nails go in every 6 inches, and we're using these little clips that are designed to hold the plywood together as well as keep a little space in there for expansion in heat.

You can sort of see on my framing hammer (that was a gift from neighbor Barry) that there's a drop of white paint on the handle. That's a perfect 6 inch mark, so I can speed along putting in nails easily.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Fixing the Flue

We were noticing more and more trouble getting the fires going in the woodstove, and Melissa kept blaming my chopped wood, and I kept blaming her wet kindling, until we noticed one day that the chimney had come loose from the connection right outside.

it was difficult to get back together, but once we did, the flue did a fine job of pulling a draft again, and no more smoky starts.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wet Wet Wet

Still raining. We had a couple of days where it didn't rain during the day last week (of course, I was sick and in bed during that potentially productive time) but now it's been raining since Friday night, and it seems pretty darn wet out there.

That's not stopping my plum tree from trying to bring spring into the air. I hope the flowers don't get pounded off and we lose the potential for fruit.

The house just sits there waiting for the rain to stop... at least we can see that the draining system works well.

looks pretty, but not productive.

I don't know what these mushrooms are, but they're coming up right in the path above the house.

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...