Archive for the ‘builders’ Category

Wow!  I did not realize how long it has been since posting. All the interior cabinetry  and floors are completed. The fire sprinkler system is completed and alarmed. The electrical and lighting is all completed. We also completed the steel framing and aluminum decking. The front entry is done, and the driveway and all the approaches are repaved. We had a pre-final inspection, and there are only a few things to complete before we can occupy the structure. So here are some pics of all the latest work.

The deck. This was a big thing. All the planning and calculations and hoping we had ordered a sufficient amount of material. We had attached the ledgers prior to stuccoing the exterior. It was like building a big erector set (I may be dating myself there).

steel joists and ledger for 2nd floor

The  framing:

completed deck framing

Once that was done it was off to LA to pick up the decking material. Our choice was called TB-940 safe-t-grid from McNichols Co.  We wanted to minimize maintenance and also needed a minimum weight bearing capacity of 200lbs. per square foot for the second floor deck. Using steel box beams for joists and the aluminum deck we have a capacity of around 1000 lbs. per square foot. The shipping was very expensive so we borrowed a trailer and picked up the decking ourselves.

Aluminum decking strapped down and ready for the long ride home.

All the decking is pre-cut to fit your square footage of deck so there is basically no cut off or waste.

first floor deck

and second floor deck with cross-bracing:

These are the stair treads.

You can now see the reason for the weight bearing capacity, we moved a hot tub onto the upper deck. Once the stairs and guardrails are installed we can get final inspection. Yay!

In the meantime we also completed some other items:

We finished the front entry area by adding a step and using the left over pavers from the patio.

Front steps and pavers and a curved planter in front of the house

We repaved the driveway approach and patched all the cut outs in the driveway.

Approach and curbing.

Don’t mess with a woman and her steamroller!

And here are the completed bamboo floors:

So we are still busy every day with the final steps. There are a million small details that need completing as we go along and we are just a few weeks away from occupancy!

Read Full Post »

Well, quite a bit has happened since the last posting. Having stripped the foundation, we spent some time shooting in the elevations and cleaning up the foundation walls. Simultaneously, we installed a new septic system and received the shipment of SIPS panels. Here is a picture of the tank installation and following will be some about the SIPS…. I have a bit to say about that……

Dropping the tank into the hole...

While this was going on, we spent time getting the foundation ready for the sill plates, shooting all the locations of the anchor bolts and determining high and low spots. Because the walls are already pre-cut we have to take extra time making sure things are dead on square and level, and time taken at this point getting it right will pay off big when we start standing and framing walls.

Are you sure that is where the wall is going to be?

With the walls located and the perimeter lines snapped on the foundation, we laid the sill plates. Then set the rim joists, again being very careful to make them square, level and to the exterior dimensions of the walls, using a sheet provided by the panel company (Pacific Post and Beam) that gave exact outside measurements.

Setting rim joists using timberstrand engineered lumber.

And then the panels arrived!….. oh boy, did they arrive! Two truck loads and a day full of frustration and danger.

First truck full of wall panels...8:10 in the a.m.

Once the panels are unstrapped, do not for any reason move the truck!…I can not emphasize this enough!  The panels are lightweight and very slippery as you will soon see……

This gives new meaning to having the panels "dropped off". I am sure my neighbor was pleased to have these lying in the driveway!

By the way, you would think that there would be a reasonable effort to loading the panels on the truck in sequential order….that would seem to make sense …. but who said things have to make sense?

W stands for wall, check out the numbering!....W8 on top of W38, oh yeah, slide in W73 between W45 and W33. If you ask yourself,"what were they thinking?" ...better to answer..."sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits..."

So we get that truck unloaded, and wait for the next load….and wait, and wait……. finally around 2 in afternoon it rolls in looking like this….

As you can plainly see, this load has shifted during transit and is dangerously listing to the right. This called for some very careful unloading.

We had to re-band the lower layers and remove the top layers by hand, coming down both sides evenly. Throw in a stiff afternoon wind, and it was a dicey couple of hours.

So now we have a giant game of 52 pickup in our yard, only the cards are much larger and there are at least two decks. This is something we are going to have to straighten out because you can’t just shuffle through the panels to find the wall panel you need. Either way, this cost money….

Hand me panel 23 will you?

So while all that remains to be done, we got after framing the first floor and we should be done with that this coming Monday.

You gotta love a girl who can drive a backhoe and swing a framing hammer!

Read Full Post »

With the ok of the pad for compaction and water density, it was finally time to start digging the footers.

Footer location laid out and ready to dig.

And the first bite!

Forming the stem walls.

The shape of the foundation is taking place with the completion of the perimeter walls.

View where the front entry will be, we had to over excavate in the corner where a post will be. That is the big hole in front

We “accidentally” found an abandoned tank in the back corner where the excavator is located and we have to remove part of that and fill the rest up….bummer.

A view of the site from high atop the Terry mansion!

Now if all goes well, we might be able to pour this by next Wednesday, which would be quite exciting! We are scheduled for the delivery of the SIPS  panels on July 29th, so once this is poured, we are going to have to get busy framing the floor. We are pretty much ready to be done with all the digging and excavating, and the constant dust settling on everything. When we get the floor framed and decked we are having a big old barn dance!





Read Full Post »

Yay! We got the solar array installed and just need the the inspector to ok the installation, then PG&E will change out the meter (no more “smart meter”) and we will have full solar power! We are pretty excited about that. As for the grading, we should have that completed today and can lay out and start digging the footers. It is sure nice to have those dirt piles disappear.

tomatoes, blackberries and electricity!

Solar array...a thing of beauty!

The site looks a lot  better without the piles to climb over. 

Read Full Post »

Continued filling and tamping to compact the hole, should be finished by tomorrow….









    almost there,  still have to get rid of that big pile of fill in the background. In the meantime, they began installing our solar array today! The system will be pretty trick and supply us with all the electricity we need. It includes what is called a Tigo system that allows you to monitor the output of each panel via your computer. So we will have a solar-powered hole in the ground, but in reality, we will  be supplying all our own building and housing electricity and should be able to sell the surplus back to the power co. Nice!….

that metal roof is pretty slick, so they roped off.

WTF? where is my house??






Read Full Post »

I had the pleasure of visiting with Colin Vance of Vance Banjos, last Tuesday when he played music at the Steynberg Gallery. Colin was backing up Mark Growden on the fiddle and is currently doing a tour with him. I had met Colin briefly at the Portland Old Time Music Gathering where he was displaying some of his fine banjos. I would rank Colin up in the top three of west coast builders, along with Jason Romero and Brooks Matsen. Colin does beautiful work with an artistic flair. These three set the standard mighty  high! Hopefully he can stop in for a visit if he gets this way again and sit in with us playing at the Kilt!

Read Full Post »

On a bit of vacation, so no posts. I have a couple of orders to fill when I get back and I stocked up on some great maple and I am looking forward to building the new banjos. Until then….. it is time to surf!

Read Full Post »

One of the best resources I have stumbled across is the website of Frank Ford of Gryphon Musical Instruments of Palo Alto. His website is a treasure trove of tips, info, how-to’s, tool ideas, the list goes on and on and I feel it is a must for luthiers, but also of great interest to anyone who likes to do things for his or herself, especially if you are a tool geek. Frank does incredible repairs and set ups on just about any stringed instrument, but he also makes some of the most interesting and clever tools to assist in making or repairing. Many of his techniques are adaptable to a multitude of jobs,  and if you are into toolmaking you can always seem to find something that is useful. I do not know how many times I have been stuck for a technique and found  something on his site that I have been able to apply in my shop!  go to…   www.frets.com

Read Full Post »

It turns out that just down the road is the workshop of Roger Siminoff, and when I needed some peghead veneers it was a good opportunity to go visit and get to know this man. Roger’s reputation as an instrument builder and inventor is well-known, as well his many publications and articles on luthiery and related subjects. I ended up getting some great veneers (and I didn’t have to wait for shipping), and a few other articles, but more importantly I got some great advice on building techniques and the various properties of glues available, all first-hand from the man himself. Check out his site at www.siminoff.net

Here are a couple of pictures from the visit.

Callie, Ken, Roger and Rosemary

this place was full of great machines

wall of necks and pegheads

Gibson collection

Roger's jig for heel cutting... awesome.

Read Full Post »