Shangri La

Shangri La

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Slow but Steady Progress

Interior, looking toward the bathroom and kitchen area
The cabin already lives in my mind as something we've been doing forever, so I was surprised to be reminded a few  days ago that we only started the work last May. Amazing.

My confusion probably stems from the fact that we were working almost every weekend last year, whereas this year we've only been up a handful of times. Last year we had a lockable shell to create before winter, and the process of framing a house yields dramatic results rather quickly. This year, the focus has been on the well, siding, and electrical, and the work is decidedly less glamorous.

The siding especially is monotonous work, made worse by the fact that my trim work is flush and needs to be cut around. I only have about 4 boards left to go (if you don't include the front, which I can't side until the porch is on), so we should be able to finish it next time around. Here's what I'd do differently next time:

  • First and foremost, I'd make sure that the trim and siding is not flush. This would allow me to rabbet the trim so the siding can tuck under it, eliminating the need to try and get every cut 'just right'.
  • I'd have gone with my first plan for window trim: Create a 'ladder' of trim that includes the window in the middle with sections of singles above and below it. The trim boards on each side would go from the bottom to the top of the wall. This would prevent me from having to cut around the windows at all, and would have tied the sides into the front (which I've now decided is going to be all shingle).
  • I'd have gone with my original plan to do the rear gable in shingles. Trying to work with 16' boards that have to be trimmed to the angle of the roof, cut to fit around windows and held in place vertically while trying to get the spacing right is a real pain in the @ss.
  • I would have sealed the back as well as the sides and face of each board. With the gaps I've got around the trimwork - small though they may be - I can't help but fear that they're going to rot before their time.
Almost done with the west side!

There's been two trips up since I last wrote: The first was a 2-night trip with the LSW and The Boy. Our primary goal was to flush out the well and test the water (everything checked out perfectly), and while this was happening we worked on the siding. By 2 PM on Saturday, we were exhausted and closed up shop when friends came to visit.

The second was a day trip with a friend. After a few beers the night before, he volunteered to accompany me the next day, and I'm guessing he was wondering what the hell he had been thinking when I pulled up at 6 am the next morning. I appreciated the help and the company, though I feel bad that I set him to work staining siding. We hung some additional siding and framed two knee walls for the front loft before packing up, hitting the Top of  the Hill BBQ joint in Brattleboro and heading for home. Thanks, Nick!

I should note that we had a little excitement during the day when the nail gun 'hopped' during firing and took a small chunk out of my right thumb. There was a lot of blood, but it turned out to be little more than a flesh wound. I can't really blame this on the gun - I was holding the boards together at an odd angle and without good bracing. While my thumb pulsed and ached the rest of the day, I realized that it was one of the very few accidents we have had so far in the building process - knock on wood.

The next trip up will be next weekend; my father is looking to lend a hand this year, and he's arranged to drive up on Thursday. We'll all head up to Shangri-La Friday morning, and Mr Big (my brother-in-law) will meet us there for 2 nights and 2 1/2 days of porch framing, front siding, and finishing what is left of the side/back siding.

Somehow I've got to fit a porch roof between the top of the door and the bottom of the gable window...

We've also decided to move forward on the septic system. Estimates on the system came in at right around $6,500, and once again we've decided to use Taylor Excavating. The work will include clearing the remaining trees, excavating, all materials, topsoil and seeding. I've asked Dan to estimate an additional load of topsoil and seeding for the rest of the property, and he noted that he would give us a credit for the pile of topsoil he saved during the initial land clearing. The work may begin as early as next weekend.

I hadn't expected to be able to do more than the well, electrical and siding this year, but it turns out we've run into a small annual inheritance in memory of my father's late wife. While this means the funding for the rest of the work is assured, the circumstance by which we receive it are sad. We'll think of her as the work completes, and she'll be a presence each time we use it. Rest in peace, Judy - you put up one hell of a fight.

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