Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chimney Creation Completed

It's the end of the day on Saturday, and also the last day of January, and as the sun goes down out west behind the house, I now have a completed chimney and fireplace, with the exception of the hearth and a bit of clean-up of the mortar. Since it's likely to be raining Tuesday, Casey James will probably be back out to wrap up the fireplace project. The crew made a day of it but they got a great result. Here are more pictures from mid-afternoon through completion of the top of the chimney...these two show more of the work on erecting the chimney above the roof line, taken from the rear attic gable window:

Robert took a moment from helping Pete with the siding on the rear of the addition to cut the top inner tile down to the right size:

And before the day was out, we had a finished chimney with a very nice bit of detailing in the top portion. I wish my pictures could do it a bit more justice, but maybe you can get the idea from these shots:

If you're dealing with James Masonry out of Mocksville, you'd best be prepared to be impressed. Four generations of masons and the current company with a 36-year track record, and you don't mind them signing their work at the top of the chimney:

[Click the picture for a larger view.]

Were You Planning to Sleep In?

Projects like these need all the parts and pieces to come together at certain times and in certain ways. And when the forecast says rainy weather is going to monkey around with the order in which some things need to be done, it brings out the work teams bright and early on a pretty but chilly Saturday morning. The fireplace and chimney need to be done before the framing inspection can be completed, so the excellent start that the masons got yesterday is being built upon today. Pete and Robert are (at this very moment) marking off to cut the hole through the roof so that the masons can build the chimney up through it. (The fireplace chimney is completed right up to the ceiling beams, and I think they may go ahead and take an early lunch break while the cut-away is created.)

After Lunch Update:
Pete and Robert made a very smart hole in the roof and Ronnie and Casey and the James Masonry crew are building up above the roof line now, as I write a 1:15 pm update. I'm going a bit crazy with fireplace construction pictures, but you don't really mind all that much, do you?

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Didn't Start the Fire(place)

Our expert masons have returned and have spent this morning getting a good start on the fireplace, which is located between the kitchen proper and the eating nook bay. The extra block and a load of sand were already on hand, along with the order of brick that came at the end of last week, and they jumped right on it.

I'm pretty pleased with the choice of brick for this. I think it's going to be a good look, with enough color to be interesting but not so much that it screams for attention. It should be functional, more so than fabulous. But definitely fine.

Three O'Clock Lunchbreak Update
They are booking right along. The James (Masonry) Gang got the fireplace finished up to the installation of the flue, just in time for the City Inspector to come by, and it turned out he was someone who appreciates good work and had no trouble passing them at this point. A few more shots of the fireplace construction in progress:

Siding with Me

Yesterday gave Pete and the guys a chance to start putting up the siding, beginning with the south side of the new addition. The first photo below captures the very first strip of fiber cement cladding that we're using, which will never rot and which ties in very nicely with the clapboard siding on the original house.

By this morning, they'd almost finished this exterior wall, and it is looking good to my eye.

Before they started on this, they also got most of the soffit installed under the eaves for this portion of the addition. It is the same Hardie board material, and much of it is pre-drilled venting soffit. I think the light didn't play out right for you to really see it under the roofline here, but maybe I'll catch something better when the sun is different.

Mid-Afternoon Update
It's a pretty small gable to work all the shake siding into, but Pete and the guys were pretty intent (and intense) in making it be right and look right. Here are three more shots of the progress on the south/parking lot side of the addition.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Thoughts from the Road

While I'm traveling this week in Virginia, working in a couple of different school districts and enjoying/hating the winter weather here in the Shenandoah Valley, I thought it might be good to tie up a few loose ends in the updates on the renovations and addition. For instance, it was pretty darned cool last week to come home from Harris-Teeter and bring my groceries in through the back door, just like I'll be doing on a regular basis before much longer. OK, that's a little goofy, but to me it was awesome even though I'm just walking through framed walls and roughed-in plumbing and electrical.

Hey, look: the foundation's been sealed. And that big white PVC pipe sticking out the side there will be what carries away every bit of discharge from the plumbing in the house. Soon, Pete and his crew will also be setting up the foundation drain required by the city, but we're still trying to figure out exactly how that needs to run. No need to go tearing up sidewalks or parking lot if we can avoid it...

As people have driven by and seen the scale and scope of the addition, they've begun to rib me about adding a second house onto my currently sizable house. Perhaps it IS a bit much, and every once in a while I get a bit nervous that I really did get completely carried away. But come the first gathering, when a bunch of you are standing around enjoying a casual atmosphere where we have plenty of room to visit and snack and drink and carry on, and I bet it will seem just right.

The Guided Tours (thus far)
It's been fun to have good friends stop by and indulge me in giving a tour of the new space. Best as I can remember, these distinguished visitors have included the following:

  • Amanda Houver
  • Brad Phillis
  • Jen Watson & Jen Martin
  • Linda Dunlap
  • Stephen Wiseman
  • Lindsay Meacham
  • Danny McGuinn
  • Jay & Jeff Brown
  • Ken Watson
  • Brian Hill
  • Trevor LaFauci

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Courtyard Door and Rear Gable Window

By the time the week finished out, Pete and his crew got the courtyard door next to the fireplace installed, and they also have now set the rear gable attic window in place. It lacks for a bit of trim, but it's really a very nice window. Sam had a smart design, and Pete selected well, in getting this look. Some pics so you can see for yourself...

From Dining Room to General Store

It seems that the transition of the dining room from a more formal place to eat into a temporary kitchen has caused more than a few chuckles. Apparently, my open shelves of canned goods and foodstuffs has been compared to what one might encounter upon entering Ike Godsey's General Merchandise store on Walton's Mountain. I'm not too proud to let you see it here.

First shots: the dining room back in July 2008, before this project began:

As I described in a much earlier post, my GC Pete LaRoque very thoughtfully set me up a temporary kitchen in the dining room, including running electrical service for my stove and plumbing a utility sink in through the closed-up doorway between the current house and the addition.

Well, once one's cabinets are all gone, the food has to be stored somewhere, right?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If You Can't Run with the Big Dogs...

For most people approaching the house for the first time, the wrap-around porch is a distinctive feature. It really is pretty great space, for a variety of purposes: morning coffee on the south side, watching the birds feed in the mini-grove; grilling out and (once a year) eating filet mignon with old friends while watching the Winston-Salem Criterium bike race zoom by; dancing at great parties when the weather is warm enough to throw open the double front doors; beers on the front steps on pleasant evenings. The picture here, taken from the back of the property, shows the side porch one ascends when approaching from the parking area.

A closer shot should begin to acquaint you with the problem with the uncovered bit of porch between those parking area steps and the corner, which is under roof: the wood that was used was never intended to stand up to the elements. Pete will be replacing it with a concrete slab more suited to the lack of cover here. So, with the four pictures that follow, here's what you get: one picture of this side porch before we began, and three with the rotted flooring and bad railing removed. The last shot is looking down from above.

Great though the wrap-around porch is, even better is the upstairs porch located above the front door. It is from here that you get those awesome views of the downtown skyline, and especially those nice sunrises. I moved into the house on November 8th, 2003, and got to step out there and watch a lunar eclipse rise above downtown. Full moons are always out in front of the house over the skyline, and you can also see some beautiful golden coloring on the buildings as the sun goes down behind the house in the west. But that upstairs porch is also uncovered and open to the ravages of weather, so replacing its flooring and returning the railing to the original look of the house are also part of the renovations.

Once I bought a pick-up truck, in the summer of 2008, I could finally do things like bring home some patio furniture. Makes for some mighty nice sitting in good weather, day or night.

And it's proven to be a very cool place for party gatherings on nice evenings, especially impromptu parties that just suddenly occur. It's a pretty roomy porch, and there have been a lot of great times out there.

That's why it's got to be put in good shape. Here's its current state, with the railing removed and the floor waiting to be taken up.

UPDATE Jan. 30:
While I was in Virginia this past week, the guys removed the decking and now we have the flooring supports and the rubber roof exposed. As Pete keeps asking with incredulity: "Why would you put down a rubber roof and then drive hundreds of nails into it?" It didn't help that the way it had been constructed ran the water behind the front fascia board, instead of into the gutter.