Shangri La

Shangri La

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Second Annual 'Big Push' Weekend!

Noting the slow progress of the remaining work, The Slave Drivers conspired to convene in Shangri-La to whip the effort into shape. Somehow they tricked me into joining them. The plan was to finish the drywall and ceilings so that the LSW and The Boy didn't have to feel that they were living in a construction zone each time they came to enjoy what is - overtly at least - a vacation home.

I forgot my camera, but my sister came prepared and documented the proceedings. The results, in no particular order...

There was a whole lot of cuttin' goin' on. 2,000 linear feet of tongue-and-groove pine bead board to cover the ceilings both downstairs and up. Doing the ceilings in wallboard is cheaper, but more intimidating to the do-it-yourselfer. Or at least to this one. And who wants to tape, mud, sand and paint overhead?

Installing the pine overhead was just a matter of logistics. The process we settled on involved 4 chairs topped with two-by-four supports and capped with 3 8-foot sections of pine to walk on, a ladder on the edge of the loft to sight the seams, two hammers and scrap pine to get everything tight, and a large trim nailer to lock them in place. Here I'm demonstrating my mastery of a critical piece of equipment: A broken piece of white pine ship lap used to jimmy the 'sproingitty' pieces in place for nailing. Note the metal joist strapping; I didn't know if it would cause the boards that crossed it to bend downward - it didn't.

Mmm...breakfast. The Slave Drivers kept us in food throughout the weekend. My father took care of two dinners out and grilled steaks one night and burgers another. My sister took care side dishes and breakfasts, which included...

Bacon in a cup!!

Once 'the system' was in place, the ceiling under the front loft took about 2 1/2 hours. Every board - although nominally the same length as the loft - had to be trimmed, and we had to work around one light and the entry closet. It was surprising how much the ceiling brightened the downstairs; paint on the walls should help further.

As we're currently sleeping in the living space, every day ended with about an hour of clean up. The cots, bed rolls and sleeping bags are seen here stacked in the corner; most days, they passed the day stacked on the [new!] back porch.

When we cleared the kitchen for ceiling work, I took the opportunity to lay the remaining tile backer board. We had just enough to complete the kitchen and extend the entry tile to the entry closet. My sister claims a hellish marathon backer board session at her house a couple of years ago, but I'm skeptical. The work is as easy as drywall: Score, break, lay and secure. We tried to show her, but she was so traumatized from her previous experience that she refused to look.

We spent the first evening relaxing on the front porch, but had to move to the back when the materials arrived. Afternoon storms were in the forecast, and so the porch became materials storage for most of the weekend.

The aforementioned 'system', and a clever way to to keep the trim nailer handy when not in hand.

While the living room ceiling was going up, I finished the framing and insulation of the gable ends so the wall board could be installed. I had devised a particular system for doing both gables with 4 sheets of dry wall, and we wasted considerable time while I described that system to my father, who - it turned out - had an even cleverer idea that eliminated two seams. My experience is that you're never quite as smart as you think.

Hmm...steak, potatoes, onions, garlic and beer (not pictured).

The Slave Drivers enjoying a libation on the back porch.

Yours truly setting the decking in place. Note the safety shoes we're always careful to wear on the work site. Fun fact: It was 95 degrees and humid as hell!

The slave drivers proudly display the 'architects model' for the cabin. Surprisingly, it was the perfect side to double as the gable-end dry wall...

If you don't have the materials (or energy) to light the fire pit, I'd suggest citronella candles. Bonus: As the evening goes on, they get creepy-looking, providing a perfect backdrop to ghost stories. Not pictured: The bats overhead early in the evening, and the fox that trotted jauntily across the back yard.

Rest for the weary? Actually, no: After this picture was taken, I was up most of the night because camping cots suck.

The insulation in the lofts has been half-finished for months, and this weekend we finally completed the work. Good riddance to bad work! I'm wearing gloves, but that's just psychological protection. You breath the stuff, it gets all over your skin and clothing, it itches and - coupled with the heat and humidity - makes you feel filthy and miserable. Next to roofing, hands-down the worst do-it-yourself job.

My father is the resident expert in taping and mudding, and he took care of rough-coating the downstairs dry-wall on the first day. The morning of the last day, he finished the final coat in the bath, so we should be able to lightly sand and then prime the bath on the next trip up.

One of the 'small' jobs of the weekend was removing the back door to figure out why it was leaking. The short answer: Installer error. No drip cap above, and no caulk under the exterior trim. Water was running down the sides, finding its way under the trim and settling on the sub floor. The door came out, the mold was killed with bleach, a drip-cap was installed, and the door went back in properly caulked. Hopefully, the problem is now solved. In celebration, I bought a screen door that will go up next time.

I hadn't thought about what we'd do with the underside of the bridge, so we went with my father's idea to use the ceiling material installed at a 90-degree angle. I think it works well.

Me and Sis.

The loft ceilings were more of the same, but a lot more awkward given the length - almost 28 feet - and the 45-degree angle. We built temporary bridges to span the cathedral, but were slowed by the fact that the rafter framing was not always exact on so the measurements of each piece needed to be verified. We had just started to get a system in place when we ran out of time (and energy!). 1/4 of the loft ceilings are complete.

Still, it looks finished if you stand in just the right place...

Dad and I on the back porch.

Great weekend, nice visit, and more work done than I would have accomplished alone all year! It takes a village. Or at least a family.

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