It has been another long time since the last post because most of what we have been doing is drudgery. We installed all the interior sheetrock, and taped and mudded it before the plasterers could come in. We figured it was a lot less expensive to fill gaps with tape and mud than with plaster…. it took about 15 boxes of mud. We then restained the floor with some more black, and last week we sealed and lacquered the floor.

kitchen wall mudded and ready for plaster

kitchen wall with floating shelves

wall for stove, with floating bamboo shelves

I also got to turn to some finish work. We found some cool looking vent covers for the dryer and the ceiling fan in the laundry room and I installed those.

dryer vent on the left. the cat door needed a cover so I made some out of aluminum sheet and installed them on the cat doors.

Laundry room vent cover

While I have been doing this, Ariane has been oiling the cabinet doors with tung oil. We took some of the doors to the glass company for inserting glass and they should be back this week.

We did not like the look of the vents for the central vac system and I was able to adapt a diffuser from Seiho Co. to cover the exhaust vents instead and keep up the semi-industrial look of the structure.

Diffusers mounted over the exhaust for the vacuum.

Most of the exterior lights have been installed so the outside is getting finished. The plasterers have started on the inside and the plaster is looking good!

Office ceiling plastered and drying...muy liso!

Felipe and Luis plastering the office!

Filipe plastering the office wall

Felipe plastering the office wall

Luis plastering

Felipe did not have experience working with Biolime, but he was able to get familiar with the product very quickly. He has done a terrific job on the stucco and now on the plaster as well.

We will soon be setting the cabinets and installing the fixtures.  yeah!

Color Coat Completed !

Well, all completed with the exception of the front door entry as we are STILL waiting for the arrival of the front door!  But the stucco crew really got after it and got the rest of the house done in about 3 days! Here is the finished product.

Applying the color coat

Once they finished, they removed all the scaffolding and it looks nice and clean around the house for the first time in a long time!

Steps to nowhere. This is where the deck is going to go.

the guest bathroom in front!

We are going to put a glass awning over the door, that is what the hardware is for. We liked all the glass awnings we saw in Europe.

So we have the sheetrock mostly completed and we will be ready to plaster the inside very soon. We spent the day laying out the kitchen cabinets for installation soon. There is a little bit of light showing at the end of the tunnel. I can’t wait to get back to the banjo workshop! I have tons of new ideas based on some things I learned during this project.

We have been working 7 days a week for several weeks now, and have literally had no extra time to post any updates until now. We are taking Sat. and Sun. off  this weekend, so I can post up progress. First of all, the house is all dried-in will all the doors installed except  the front door which is now long overdue. The two base stucco coats are completed on the outside, with the exception of two places where we needed to put doors. The electrical, and low-voltage is installed and completed. Plumbing is done and everything has passed inspection. We installed the sheetrock everywhere except the master bedroom and closet, because the tile setter is working in there. The stove chimney is installed and when it recently rained…..no leaks anywhere! So here are the updated pictures.

Looks more like a house now.....

They did a real good job around the windows and doors…

All the edges are rounded to run water away from the window

Same for the doors.

All exterior doors are steel, the hole to the left is a cat door....

We were able to use 3 doors that were seconds on the outside, two silver powder-coated  and they happened to have a blue powder-coated one that was an odd size. Luckily for us it fit the back entrance, so we had to have it!

Fortunately we share the same eclectic taste.

So with three silver doors and one blue door….when it came time for a steel utility room door, naturally we needed to powder-coat it as well. Ariane wanted a red door, and boy did we get a red door. We had it powder-coated candy apple red! It was a bear to install but it came out pretty nice!

Sorry the plank is in the way, but I was too lazy to move it for the picture.

With the house closed in, we started sheet rocking it to get it ready for plastering. I am not a big fan of sheet rocking it is dirty, dusty and a ton of overhead work…. but we did get it mostly done and it really makes the house look good inside.

Green boarding the guest bath....

Entry with art piece

still waiting for that front door….. to the left of this photo.

Living room


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we installed the solar hot water collectors and ran all the feeds down to the utility room, installed a central vac system, acid stained the concrete floors and  insulated all the interior walls for sound before we sheet rocked.

My friend Kelly Cannon is a master tile setter and he is doing the bathrooms!  They are coming out beautiful!

master bathroom

The large tiles are really difficult to install correctly, not a job I would want to tackle.

Lastly, we added a patio area right off the decks, when we discovered the deck area was not large enough. Andy DeVillers and his crew did a fantastic job as always.

The pavers will allow water to drain through and water the trees.

We are going to use steel for the deck framing and aluminum planking.  Clay Newman, of Alaska Welding, is fabricating the steel posts and beams to support the decks. He fabricated the front entry steel. They will be powder-coated the same at the front entry. His work is outstanding and his vast experience really shows with the practical suggestions he makes as well as the meticulous preparation he does before fabricating.

So that is it for now.



Things are starting to speed up now!  The plumbing is all done and the electricity will be done soon. This involves about a million decisions on lights, plugs, switches, and generally trying to figure out all the potential future needs and installations…..yikes. Ariane has been up to the task on the lighting and is handling that crucial aspect. Meanwhile, we set the ledgers for the upper and lower decks and started running the metal roofing panels. The plasterer Felipe is barreling through and has the first story wrapped in paper and wire for stucco. He will be back Monday with a crew to set all the scaffolding for getting the whole thing wrapped… a huge undertaking. I have a crew coming on Monday to help us with the roofing and we should have that done next week, then the whole thing will be completely waterproof….yeah!

So here are some updated pictures:

East side wrapping

South side , with first roof panels installed!

The roofing should go fast, each panel is 38″ wide and after overlapping, you cover a 3′ by whatever length the roof is with one piece…sweet!  Metal roofs are great, they do not have the thermal mass of shingles or tiles which radiate  heat back into the structure, so you stay cooler in summer, warmer in winter. Plus with baked on finish the metal roof lasts 40 yrs. The underlayment is special too as it is also rated for 40 yrs, unlike felt paper which is about 15. So you end up with a pretty maintenance free roof for a  long time.

You lay the roof panels on so the overlap faces away from the main direction of rain and bad weather. In our case that is from the northwest, so all the overlaps face east.

The installation of electricity and plumbing is unique for these structures as well, here are some details.

You have to block out areas where plumbing goes like this. The red spray paint marks the electrical chases. To pull wire or move it through the chases, you can make a 4" hole and then feed wire.

Fire sprinkler riser.....

Here you can see a switch box and the circle cut for feeding wire to a light outlet..

Here are some random photos of the interior space:

Ariane, James and I built the stairs!...no more ladders!

Office with clerestory windows.

Upstairs bedroom.

Hallway, and light cans

Much has happened since the last postings. Roof on, facia on, front porch roof and metal work. The windows are in. The fire sprinklers are in and passed the test. The plumbing is essentially finished and most of the electrical. Still a bunch to go but there has been a lot of progress.

Setting the porch roof on the steel frame work.

We fabricated a steel post and beam to support the front porch roof. Then we had it powder coated…… we are in to low maintenance and it has that industrial look we like.

post and beam detail

So the house is pretty well closed in and dry. We have been busy assisting the plumber and electrician and working on  details, routing pipes, electricity, building the stairs, lots of things that take time. The metal roof panels have arrived and we will be laying them next week.

there will be a two-story deck under the picture windows

and here is the rear of the structure.

Putting in the utilities poses some unique problems with this construction and I will post details soon. I am going to run the piping for the solar hot water collectors soon and tie it in to the hot water tank, details to follow. Hopefully this cold weather will break soon! There has been hard freezes and too much ice on the roof to get up there before 10:00a.m. !  Got to love trailer living in these conditions…….

Well, back with a catch-up post again. We needed to get the roof on and “dried in” before the rain arrived this weekend. We set the roof panels with a crane and it went very smoothly. Well….. as smoothly as possible. I set up an order for setting the panels on the roof and that helped with the rigging.

Setting up the crane for lifting the panels

With the panels stacked on order for lifting, we broke the crew into the “rigging crew” on the ground, and “roofing crew” on the building. The first panels were on the farthest roof and the operator could not see where they were going, so he had to rely on hand signals from the roofing crew. To minimize confusion, only one person on the rigging crew would communicate with the crane operator, and only one person on the roof would signal the operator. Once we were all in place, up they went!

Attaching the lifting plates on the ground.

With different size panels and splines of differing weights, the rigging crew was busy getting the panels to come up at an angle near to the roof pitch.

Up she goes! We installed "beater blocks" on the panel to beat them into place with our sledge hammers.

As always, there are some “field adjustments” necessary to get them to fit together tightly. We chamfered the edges of the splines to make it easier to slide the panels together. Some we had to jack up with a high-lift jack to take some bow out of them, the usual bag of tricks.

The last panels were always the trickiest! Plus you are out there hanging over the wall to beat them in!

But at last, the final panel!

Yes! the last one!

After we got them all set, we screwed them all down to the plates and then set about getting all the 2×8 material into the eaves. These will carry the fascia boards. They are glued with mastic and nailed in all around the perimeter. Then we humped all week getting it ready and got the crickets built and flashed and the roof underlayment paper in place yesterday afternoon right before the rain came. This morning when I checked, the whole place was dry! That is a nice feeling.

Apparently some of the neighbors were pretty interested in what was going on and came by to check out the progress!

Nosy neighbors!

"what a revolting development this is!"

Ready for the roof!

Well, all the second floor walls are framed and we are ready to start setting the roof panels! Tomorrow is the big day with a crane scheduled to arrive around 12:00. There is a lot of prep time to get the panels ready, which caused us to cancel the crane for this morning. The roof panels are 48″ wide, and up to 20′ in length, they also have 8″ of foam, so they are pretty hefty. The plans also call for full 4 x 8″ douglas fir splines, so that adds another couple of hundred pounds!  Needless to say, any preparation that you can do on the ground is going to save a lot of time and money when the crane is on site. Here are some pictures of the work

Some of these walls were massive and required chains, slings and come-a-longs to get them lifted into place

Along with mechanical advantage, sometime there is no substitution for good old muscle power!

Now just hold it there while I get a nail in!

And while that was going on, we ran ledgers to attach the roof panels to the exterior walls, and just to try it, I slid one panel into place……

I fashioned a ramp and we hauled the roof panel into place....seeing that I am not a Pharoah and do not have a lot of Egyptians at my disposal, we are going to have to opt for a crane from now on....

Now the roof panels are supposed to have splines connecting them and the splines are plated to the ledger that runs across the building. We tried putting a spline in and it required a lot of horsing around to get it into place, certainly nothing you would want to attempt 20′ in the air along with gooping in mastic and getting everything to lined up and so we made all the connections and corrections on the ground.

Bob and James inserting a spline in the roof panel. That is one big piece of wood. Heavy too.

With any natural material, the 4 x8’s can be twisted and crowned and we used pipe clamps to pull them into place and take all the twist out of them. There was a bit too much foam to get the spline in and only have 1 1/2″ of spline sticking out…. so what to do?  Use the foam cutter and melt out 1/4″ of foam for 18 feet???  How about going back to the old surfboard shaping days?  I pulled out my trusty Skil 100 planer that I used for shaping and was able to quickly remove most of the foam necessary for a good fit, then it was only necessary to use the cutter on about 1″ of foam, much easier and faster too! Here is how we did it.

Ah yes, full depth passes! The planer is attached to the shop vac so there is no foam mess.

There are about 5 more panels to spline in the morning and then the crane arrives. We also had lifting plates fabricated (per the manufacturers recommendation) that attach to the panels for lifting. We put some into place and tested them by lifting the panel with a chain-fall and then having three people stand on top and bounce up an down. The plates look like this:

So tomorrow’s operation is going to require everyone to have their job and to all work together to get it done efficiently and safely. We really have to be on our toes and watch out for each other during this lift.

So you may be wondering…what are those fashion mavens, Jerry and Ariane wearing on the jobsite these days??

Fashion is my life!

Canvas pants, t-shirts and glue, foam and dirt accents!

All Stood Up!

We got the second floor all stood up and locked together. Lots of splices, lots of angles. You have to be prepared to make slight “field adjustments” here and there, but for the most part it goes pretty well. A nice thing is when the wall is stood and nailed off, you don’t need to put a lot of braces on to keep them from falling over. At the corners and where framed walls intersect, we are using 9″ screws to cinch it all together and plenty of steel ties where necessary.

We stood the first walls on both the west and east, and then tied them together with a conventionally framed 2 x6 wall.

Having a framed wall between the SIPS gave us all the bracing we needed to run the walls down the sides.

Walls down both sides to the back wall.

The Back wall is SIPS and all the remaining interior walls will be conventional framing. Getting all the walls up included setting in some pretty massive beams along the back wall for picture and clerestory windows. You have to really plan it out to get it done safely and they are too heavy to horse around after you get them set, not to mention all slathered up with green mastic! We also built the wall from the corners into the center, which allowed us to get all the metal ties in place on the beams before setting the center panels under and over the windows.

We're up around 14' with this top plate.

The interesting thing, if I haven’t already mentioned it, is you put trimmers under the beams, but the SIPS act as the king studs!  That takes getting used to. In the case of the back wall, there are 6×6 splines on both sides of the clerestory, a 6×8 header over the picture window, and a flat 4×6 top plate all across the top and tied together with Simpson A35 ties. It will also get metal straps all across the outside and along the window header….massive!

Making one of those "field adjustments".

Wall panel #79! the last one, going straight up into that hole in the background.

Heave away!

All screwed together, now we are ready to frame the interior walls.

In the pictures, you may notice where we marked the electrical and low-voltage chases with red and blue paint. Next to the windows the yellow marked chase is 2″ chase for fire sprinklers.

So this week we will split the crew and have one crew frame the interior walls of the second floor and the other setting ledgers and installing the roof panels over the living room and kitchen. Then hopefully, we can set the second story panels and close it in before it rains again!

After getting all the walls stood for the first floor perimeter, we framed in the partition and bearing walls in the conventional manner, 2×4 non-bearing, 2×6 and 2×8 bearing walls that will extend up and carry the second floor roofs.

Doesn't that say "not a step" on the top of the ladder??

You can see the strong wall in the back of the picture above.

Me and Bob after framing in the 100 degree heat.

Of course it was 100 degrees most of the week and with the walls stood there was no air circulation inside the structure, needless to say we consumed mass quantities of water! With all the interior walls framed, it was time to run the second story rim joists and then roll out the floor joists! This is definitely not like framing in the “old days” with all engineered wood, check out the length of some of these joists…..

25' and 29' lengths on some of these!

We had to make a quick trip to LA to get the exterior doors ordered and Darryl our neighbor kept everyone hopping  until we got back. We got all the joists run on Friday and will start sheeting the second floor this Monday.

Darryl "gettin' her done!".... it's good to have a neighbor who is an excellent contractor as well.

And now, the whole thing looks like this, ready for sheeting….

Simultaneously, Andy and his crew poured the walkway and back courtyard area this week as well.

Walkway, landing, drainage....what a great job they did!

So it is starting to move quickly and we gotta hustle and beat the rain if we can, so this next week is going to be all out!

Moving On Up

We have been too busy to post any information up until now, so there is a whole lot of progress. Once the plates had been SDS screwed to the floor Andy and his crew came in and poured the concrete floor over the whole first floor. The weather was in the 100’s so we postponed the pour for a few days until it cooled off a bit and then set up lights and started pouring at 6:00 a.m. We made sure to tell all the neighbors in advance…..

pouring the floor and using the vibra-scree on the 3" plates.

This pour was a lot of concrete and a very exotic mix. Originally we were going to color the concrete, but Andy was concerned with efflorescence because of the mix so we decided to stain it later instead. Besides, the adding color to the mix would have added $1000 to the price of concrete.

Having a good concrete pumper is essential

All finished......

It might seem counter-intuitive to pour the finished floor before standing walls, but it was so much easier to pour and finish without the walls and we can try and protect the concrete with plywood. After a couple of days curing, we shot down 2×6 plates around the perimeter to set the SIPS panels on, and then stood the first panel.

Setting the first panel.

Make sure you mark the location and number of each panel on the bottom plate, along with locations of doors, windows etc. We also drilled each electrical chase down through the subfloor in case the electrician needs to route wire up from the sub floor.

First wall stacked and connected. Making the corner first braced the wall in two directions

We laid OSB down over the floor to protect the concrete from getting damaged.

We took marking paint and marked all the chases, red for electrical, and yellow for low voltage.

I thought that was a clever idea, except the electrician is red/green color blind!.. He said “why did you only mark one chase?” But after telling him they were all marked he could make them out. Next time use blue and  black I guess. I punched a cat door into through the wall by the doorway. So now it’s a matter of glueing in splines between the panels, setting them up and fitting and adjusting them as necessary, but it fits together pretty well.

The Queen of Green! All joints get 3/8" beads of special non-VOC mastic.

All the seams are shot in with 8d nails where there is a spline between panels. The top, sides, and bottom are recessed to receive, splines, headers or top plates, binding it all together.

Ariane shooting in the panel.

Don't piss this woman off!