Wednesday, August 5, 2015

1,250,334 lb door

It turned out amazing but phew does it weigh a ton.

Apparently we aren't shy around here and doors for privacy are optional. We did get a door on the guest bathroom though prior to its installation it didn't seem to deter visitors (shows what kind of company we keep).

Anyhooo, after a few guests and a few issues we decided it was time to get a door on the spare bedroom. We are talking some petty crime of dog treat stealing, some early morning wake up calls up close and personal and secret bed sleepers that would sneak in there and help themselves to any and all spare pillow real estate. This is not the place to name names but in the spirit of Cottonwood Meadow MOST WANTED we are looking at you Wolf (rest in peace beautiful boy) and Ziggy!

So back to the door. Kyle has been dying to build a door out of the wood we salvaged out of the old hay barn. Great idea, with big metal hardware it will really be an amazing creation. 

And it is, but it weighs 1,250,334 really does. Good thing our walls are a foot thick with 6 inches of that is all concrete baby. Anything less and I am not sure it would hang. Heck I am not sure how we picked it up and got it hung.

This thing is a beast. Made from four planks from the old hay barn floor and is an inch and a half thick. It really is a thing of beauty and most importantly serves as a stunning entrance to our visitors oasis.

We planed the boards, cleaned up the edges and then burnt them Shou-sugi-ban style and then waxed the door. The metal straps and hinge supports were made by Kyle from recycled metal.

The best part is the door handle that Kyle made - this was made from a salvaged valve he found. The door threshold on the side is made from angle iron and keeps the door from swinging back and forth.

All the door needs now is a door lock which is in the works and will be AWESOME! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Kyle told me to name this post 'Uplifting' - I apologize in advance for the bad pun.

So you may remember many moons ago when we installed the center structural beam for the ICF portion of the house Kyle very smartly had the foresight to add two metal straps for anchors for lifting. He figured that in the future we may have the need to haul some big pieces up to the second floor and this would provide a lifting point. Details of this install are here.

Well low and behold we just had our newly refinished salvaged claw foot tub and a storage armoire that we needed to get to the second floor. Take my word for it - picking up a large cast iron tub that has been newly enameled, read slippery, is not easy nor light and that dang armoire weighs a ton. So those straps to the rescue!!

So the straps are permanently attached around the main house beam and have anchors attached to them. We used an electric winch to attach to them and then Kyle rigged the tub to attach to the winch so it would safely haul the tub and armoire up and keep it balanced and even on the ride.

It worked perfectly, the tub went up in mere minutes and the armoire took a little fiddling with the rigging but then we got it over the railing and it is in place. It was so easy and saved years on our backs from having to carry them up the flight of stairs.

Next post will be all about the bathtub - bet you can't WAIT!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Put a Hat on it

We all know how key hats are to keep warm in winter or keep the sun off us in the summer. Or if you are lady on Derby Day you KNOW how key a fabulous hat is.

Well it is the same with our house, the hat is key to both look and performance. We knew pretty early on in the planning process that we wanted to go with a standing metal seam roof. This was for a few reasons, the first and most important was solar reflective index (SRI) which is a measure of a surface’s ability to reflect solar heat. I wrote more about this here.

Not having air conditioning in the house, we needed to jump through hoops to make sure we minimized as much heat entering the house as possible. A lighter colored roof was key to reflect as much sun in the summer as possible and this could be best accomplished with a standing metal seam roof.

They also have great longevity, it should last over 30 years, it has a minimum of 25% recycled metal content and is 100% recyclable at the end of its life, has little to no maintenance and looks great. We went with a galvanized metal roof that has a light silver look and high SRI. White would only have been better.


We are really happy so far with the roof, a few angles made installation tricky on the spare bedroom roofline but we worked with a local roofing contractor and got 'er done.

Roofs are one of those house parts that  you don't want to think about much after installation but investing in a good roof is key to that being possible. As with many of the other parts of the house we chose to invest the bulk of our money in pieces that won't be replaced in our lifetime. We will remodel kitchens and bathrooms and redecorate but getting great windows, roof, insulation was vital and hence took the majority of our budget.

One of the important pieces to a good roof is sealing all the protrusions through the roof like vents and the chimney. Though the chimney rises on the outside of the house we still worked hard to seal the area where it penetrated the roof as the roof structure is wood and we didn't want water seeping and compromising the framework.

And so far this spring/summer we have had some quite warm days and that house is cool as a cucumber!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Latest and Greatest

Even though I have a few more posts to get you to where we are now there are many, many requests to see pics of what the house looks like now, so here are a few latest and greatest shots.

Master Bath Shower and vanity- still awaiting a soaking tub but it is pretty nice with a great view.

Master bedroom - yeh, we need a bed and the temporary railing will go out to the deck eventually.

Loft area overlooking the living room

Kitchen where you can see the container walls

Rear view of the house and back patio. The metal posts are going to hold the deck off the master bedroom.

Side back view of the house with the second bedroom off to the right

Look through the front door across the entryway and living room out the back french doors.

Front view of the house

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What the .........

Type L copper pipe versus Type M, is pipe measurements for electrical pipe is OD but yet for plumbing it is ID, the fact that 6" lumber is actually 5.5" if you are lucky, probably more like 5 and 3/8" but all plywood is measured in 32nds, arc faults, thermal bridging, % fly ash content of concrete, multiple contradicting charts indicating distance of sprinkler heads in relation to surrounding obstruction.....and the list goes on of things I never thought I would be uttering in life and now my world revolves around these bizarre issues. You go into building a home mostly concentrating on layout and fireplace design. You dream of wall colors and a kick ass kitchen faucet BUT in reality 99% of your time is spent researching, worrying about and stressing over sheer walls (picture really ugly, ridiculously heavy metal panels that make screwing anything into them near impossible), the height of steps out of each door and not picking out cool looking electrical receptacles but making sure they are GFI and tamper resistant (because of all the babies we have crawling around sticking pennies into outlets) and pondering over why we need an outlet every 12'.....who plugs that much stuff in?

Source - Yes, would LOVE this staircase.
You can see the dream isn't quite the reality and if you are brave enough to crack open the International Building Code to look for some clarity on some of these bizarre code requirements - good luck. It is pretty much written in Na'vi (that language from Avatar) and if you are REALLY brave and start to look at the Electrical Code or god forbid, the Plumbing Code, your head will just spin off and fly across the room. You wonder who writes this gobbledygook because it isn't decipherable to the average human. 

Source - always a way around

They say each code requirement is a result of some idiot doing something stupid and filing a lawsuit to someone over it - you know, the American way. So as we come across each code limitation requirement you sit quietly to ponder the event that resulted in that code addition. Of course most of them are not PC enough to repeat so I will leave it with your imagination.

I do get frustrated at these glorious pictures of beautiful homes in magazines and online only to realize they must be built in southern Zimbabwe because there is no developed or half-developed country that would allow half these blatant code violations to fly. And then you see homes in our area that have so many dangerous issues but have been grandfathered in and are just a heartbeat from a 911 call. But we are required to jump through more hoops, spend more money and lock down more stuff, add more precautions and I am sure the ones that come after us in years to come will have to do even more to make sure they, their neighbors and visitors don't EVER get hurt hurling themselves through a 4.01" gap in the stair railing.

Source - as long as you aren't a sleep walker
And all those beautiful restored timbers that we love to reuse out of old barns and factories - just for show. Don't even think of using them structurally, that won't pass code.

Yeh, not be Debbie Downer here, but keep dreaming, this bedroom ain't never passing code. Of course many of the code requirements do in fact exist to save lives and have made our houses so much safer over the years.

And yet there are still building approaches out there that won't stand the test of time as seen in Charlotte, NC the other month. If you are condo shopping in the southern NC area, steer clear of this builder.

Source - just not acceptable
So it is a balancing act, the building code works so well in so many ways and has made us safer. It is a tad slow to adopt new building technologies but the entire building industry is sloth like in adopting anything new and is way behind the times and many other developed countries in adapting to new building techniques. But there are some codes that just make you chuckle, scratch your head and shrug your shoulders and surrender to it.

As we get close to our Certificate of Occupancy - I have to laugh that our county is concerned with how shy we are - requiring bathroom doors before signing off. Go figure.