Building/moving to a new home – day 104

Building a house is a lot like making sausage

Unless you have a strong stomach, you are better off not knowing what goes into it. The final product can be amazing, but the the details of construction are better left to those with a spirit of adventure.

We are enjoying this house building project as it is much like the projects we did as high-tech marketing project managers without the complications of corporate life. There is some white-knuckle tension and gut-churning apprehension, but we have no layers of management to deal with. When a problem arises, we assess the risks and we fix it.

I am sharing this saga in the hopes that it might entertain you and save you from making the same mistakes as I have. If you have a spirit of adventure, you might entertain the idea of using some of this information.

We will overcome this…

This two-wheeled dolly was used to haul a water heater around the house and into the 6 foot crawlspace a few days ago. On the return trip, the wheels were so encrusted with mud and gravel that they locked up and refused to turn. I took this picture to show you some of the difficulties we and our contractors encounter every day.

When the clay hardens, I will clean the dolly by whacking the clay off with a hammer.

Matsa8_1_bMeanwhile, I have found some doormats like the one we bought last year. These work very well for scraping mud off the bottom of shoes. I don’t know why we didn’t think of them before. I have ordered a dozen of these from a dealer on ebay and will use four of them at each entrance, along with various bootscraper/brushes. Performance evaluations will follow.

We will overcome this also…

You are looking at a non-vertical stovepipe installed by Blue Ridge Heating and Air. You may think that the installer had a poor sense of balance and couldn’t tell what direction was straight up. That would be the charitable viewpoint and it gives this installer too much credit.

The stove installer from Blue Ridge Heating and Air had made a major goof and was trying to cover it up by installing the stovepipe at an angle so he wouldn’t have to fix the mistake he made on the roof.

Here is a closeup of the hot chimney vent where it penetrates the roof. The stove manufacturer makes it quite clear that the vent must be at least two inches from any flammable material. The Blue Ridge installer did not locate the hole properly and the hot vent pipe passes within 1/2 inch of the roof sheathing and shingles. If the stovepipe had been left vertical, the vent pipe would have been pressed against the roof sheathing, so the installer shifted the stove slightly.

This is contrary to the stove manufacturer’s instructions and is a violation of our local building code. We plan to have the Floyd Building Inspector look at this tomorrow and give us his recommendation.

Meanwhile, I am composing a letter to Vermont Castings, which manufactures the Dutchwest Stove, and will strongly suggest that they re-educate this dealer or get rid of him.

And now for some good news…

We purchased plug-in baseboard heaters made by Honeywell yesterday and they worked like a charm! They heated the house so well last night that the house was warm even with the stove off. This was a prerequisite for today’s installation of vinyl flooring.

We had a contractor install vinyl floors in three rooms today. The results were terrific! They will complete the installation of carpets in three more rooms tomorrow and the house will begin to resemble a home.

We have laid down rosin paper throughout the house and have constructed boardwalks around the house, out to the woodpile, and across to the workshop. As a result, it is now possible to do errands outside the house without bringing clay into the house.

We have also invested in many pairs of slippers for guests to wear inside the house. We will follow the example of many friends and family members who leave their shoes and boots outside in bad weather. For years, as a casual visitor, I have marvelled at the shoes stacked neatly outside homes in Hawaii and in California, but I never fully appreciated the need until I built a new home in wet weather. No amount of scrubbing will clean clay-covered shoes to the point where they can be worn into a clean house. The best approach is to put a bench at each entrance where one can sit and exchange the outside boots for inside shoes.

We still need the benches, but we are making progress. The interior of the house has stayed clean and comfortable all day today, even with contractors hard at work. Incidentally, these contractors brought clean shoes to wear inside the house while they installed the new floor coverings.

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