A little breather

We’ve had a break in construction thanks to the snow. The boys are waiting for a dry spell to measure for the roof metal and then install it. We’re not in any hurry for the banging to resume, so we’re enjoying the cozy house and our new skylights. We have had a bit of an issue with our new stamped concrete, though. We sprayed some ice melting liquid on it and it has subsequently started to breakdown the top creamy layer of concrete. Live and learn, I guess. We should have tested it on a small patch first and let it sit for a month or so. At first it didn’t seem to do anything but after about a month we started to notice the top color layer flaking off. Now there are actually spots where you can see the rough concrete underneath. We used a product called Bare Ground, which always worked great on our plain, old gray concrete, but I don’t recommend using it on stamped concrete.

We’ll have a challenge in a few months getting our decorative plant beds and lawns back in order. Everything was pretty much torn up during the construction so around April I’ll probably start trying to put it all back together. They still have to build our portico outside Steve’s office and the porch along the back of the office, but they’re working on some other projects at the moment. Like I said, we’re in no hurry. :-)



Construction Tales – Things are looking up

The mold problem notwithstanding, things are definitely improving here in the country. Although it was 16 degrees this morning, they went ahead and spray-foamed the other half of our roof. We will no longer have to sleep with just the tops of our heads poking out from under the covers, like you do when you’re camping and it gets cold at night.

Our builders found another interesting aspect to our house as they built up the structure of our south-facing roof – sagging floors! Apparently, the hallway wall on the first floor of our house, which is a load-bearing wall for the roof line, was only supported by a couple of 2×4’s. Is it just me or is this nuts?

Ugga-ugga…me caveman….build house….ugga!

The picture to the right is a drawing they found on one of the studs when they ripped the sheetrock off the hallway wall in order to improve the support by adding a bunch of 2×4’s. We had been joking a few days before that the original builder probably wrote the building plans on a napkin, and we weren’t far off! This caveman drawing probably represents the entire scope of thinking about how to build the main support of the house. It was almost too funny to believe. It’s like being in a museum and trying to figure out what primitive man was thinking.

So, the boys jacked up the floor from underneath the house, adding 6×6 beams under there to support the area that was sagging. Lo and behold – the two doors in our downstairs bathroom now close properly! Our future guests will enjoy that feature. The main benefit was that the roof line is now only about an inch off from one end to the other instead of almost three inches. The floor on the second story that was also sagging is now level. Luckily, this only set them back two days so they were still able to finish the new roof structure for spray-foamers.

Who knows what else the boys will find as they go through the house? We’re certainly glad they are looking at everything with a critical eye, though. We had a small leak in the bedroom ceiling during an all-night rainstorm, and when they opened the wall to check for damage and pooling water they found….you guessed it – mold! The mold was only on the fiberglass insulation, though, so they just pulled it out all around the loft and spray-foamed.  When they’re done with the spray foam we’ll be able to light a match to get the house warm! We’ll eventually have them check all the walls for mold and then spray-foam them.

For now, we’re looking forward to a Christmas with a cozy, watertight roof, no mold and no banging noises!



Oh The Mold!

Our latest construction adventure is that the south half of our roof has been taken off and a whole new world of mold has been discovered. Black mold, red mold, white mold, we got it all! Thanks to our Bitterroot Builder (translation=cheap idiot) our non-ventilated roof has been condensing moisture for the past 18 years. We also uncovered the ant condo that our insect friends built a couple of years ago. All the tenants were dead, thankfully. The upshot is that all of the tongue-and-groove ceiling above our loft is being replaced. And we’re supposed to get 3-9 inches of snow in a few days. It just doesn’t get any more exciting than this! (I hope)

We’ve been sleeping with black mold a few feet above our heads for about 13 years. I wonder how much of our family health problems have been due to that fact. I guess as we get older we’re just gonna get healthier! Luckily, we have our two great builders who are fixing everything. They’ve got eyes on every part of the house and they’ve found several problems that we didn’t even know were there.

It’s been gratifying to take loads of moldy foam board to the dump and get rid of it. I wish there was some way to zap it out of existence altogether!



Construction Tales

The big thing in our lives right now is a partial remodel of our house. Mainly, it’s the roof that needs replacing. We’ve had several small leaks that we don’t want to let develop into large leaks. In the process of having the roof replaced, we’ve come across other problems and challenges that has extended a two-month project into a six-month project. Luckily, we have two wonderful builders who are guiding us every step along the way and doing a fantastic job of fixing our house.

“Bitterroot Building”

One of the things we found out after moving to the country is that things work a little differently in the Bitterroot. Things are sometimes built in a more casual manner than one would have hoped. For instance, our roof consisted of tongue-and-groove boards laid over big log purlions (spelling?) with some foam board and tar paper over the T&G, and then a metal roof screwed into some flimsy 1×4’s and into the T&G. That’s it! It’s no wonder we go through 4 cords of firewood a year. When they removed all the insulation, we could see daylight through much of the T&G, which had not been nailed together properly. The board were also pulling up off the big logs, sometimes an inch or more. Yikes!

“Holy Fertilizer, Batgirl!”

This was my dad’s hilarious comment on Facebook after I posted about a big problem that resulted from the roof problems noted above. For eighteen years, bats have been crawling inside the substandard roof construction, having babies and pooping in our roof. The builders found a bat poop superhighway on the ridge line of our roof, 4 inches wide and 5 inches deep. Yuck! I actually had them vacuum it up into a clean bag with the shop-vac, thinking I’d use it as fertilizer for my flower garden, but after some consideration I decided I just didn’t want that poop anywhere near me ever again. As they work on the roof and walk around, little bat turds are raining down in the house. Needless to say, my vacuum is my new best friend….

Murphy’s Law of Construction

Is it really a law or more of a statute? We had the experience of having the builders tear into one part of the project and then finding problems that had to be fixed, and in the process of fixing those problems, they found more problems. For instance, they were going to tear up a small piece of concrete near our front porch to build the new front porch and roof. They asked us if we wanted them to go ahead and do the rest of the front concrete sidewalk, which was buckled (Bitterroot Builder didn’t use rebar in the concrete). We said “Sure!” and then decided to have them tear up the back sidewalk, which was wood, and have them re-do it in concrete. Well….while tearing up the back they found that our propane line into the house was not buried properly, and the tank was leaning, and the line was slowly stretching. Turns out our Bitterroot Builder who built this house set the tank on pieces of T&G! Of course, the wood was rotting after all these years and the tank was slowly falling over. So that necessitated a visit by the propane company, who reset the tank, installed a new line and new regulators and tested the whole thing. In the process of digging the trench for the new line, the builders happened upon our main power line, which was buried without conduit! Worse than that, it was not a grade of wire that was meant to be buried. So, they eventually re-ran our main power line into the crawl space under our house. All this had to happen before they could pour the concrete for the new back sidwalk. And of course, since the front and back were being done, we might as well do the driveway pad, too….

See what I mean?  :-)