Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Near the end of December our neighbourhood was flooded with waxwings. Flocks upon flocks! As I couldn't get close enough to them, I could not distinguish whether they were Bohemian (which is my guess) or Cedars. Migrating waxwings in such multitudes are quite the site, it was absolutely amazing; the trees appeared to grow new leaves...lol, brown ones... and the skies heaved in dotted waves.

And, yes, there are tons of rowan/mountain ash trees in our neighbourhood with at least two in our own yard. It never occurred to me that birds might fly into our house windows as we never had that issue in our current home. We will try silhouettes and certainly shiny objects. We'll use printed out silhouettes unless/until we can find static clings (I'm just not fond of the idea of tape residue on the windows). And I'm thinking of reusing old cd/dvd discs for now and crystals when we move in and things are more settled.

I want the birds to enjoy the trees, but not be negatively affected by our home!

Can You Spot the 2 Disgruntled Magpies?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chimney installed!

The guys from Future Fireplaces installed the chimney to our future wood stove!  I had to shave the I-Joists myself, as they don't touch structure.  The trimmed I-joists will get some new plywood on either side to give it back some of it's strength. The chimney pipe will be enclosed and hidden on the roof deck level by the roof soffit that comes down to be a fascia.

Pipe penetrating the soffit.

The black drop box.

This is where they figured out the distance
the pipe should be from the interior stud wall.

Insulating Party!

Leendert scraping out the ice.

Sonny stuffs the cavities.

Eleanor cutting the Roxul.

We started insulating the outside wall cavities!  And when I say "we," it is due to the great help I received from Zoie, Doug, Sonny, Eleanor and Leendert!  We managed to scrap and chisel out the ice and snow from the loft and 2nd floor- and began stuffing the stud spaces will R12 Roxul insulation. Since I have help with the labour, it's better than the cost of blow-in cellulose.  Hopefully, Matt will be able to take over some of insulation work, as I have a business trip to Ottawa this week.

Night time insulatin'. 

Doug cuttin' er up!

Sad news. Our house killed three birds.

I was saddened to walk out of the house on Thursday and find a dead bird [waxwing, I believe] near our back door.  Then another around the corner.  And yet another.  I did notice a whole swarm of them flying around while I was on the roof deck, cutting a hole for the chimney for the wood stove. Three of them must of flown too low and struck the house, or more likely, flew into the windows.  Serena has sent me raptor silhouettes to print and stick up immediately on the windows. Do the fake owls work?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

OK- I feel better now. Stringer replaced! Stair treads all in!

Ground floor to 2nd floor!

2nd floor to loft level!
Well, today was good. I met with the framers this morning and after two separate trips to the hardware store, and hand selecting the 2x8 piece of wood myself, I have a new stringer!  It wasn't as brutal as I imagined to replace- but still it was a lot of work, nonetheless. It would be a lot less work to replace the stringer now than to try to "hide" or celebrate the crappy stringer. So, that was the direction we chose.

I like Tony from Calibrated Homes.  He doesn't whine and complain about having to re-do something I want changed. I think he sees my logic and we work through problems together.  Another example happened today when I was on site and because the entire stair shifted to the north, the wall that was to separate our suite from the basement suite now needed to be pushed into our stairwell, so it could rest on the floor. So, we talked through how best to connect the wood stud walls to the underside of the stairs and off I went to the hardware store to get materials.  The problem was, I didn't hear my cell phone while I was there and I didn't get Tony's message to get a larger piece of wood.  But when I came back, we again talked through how to use the material we had to get the results I wanted. Cool.

Anyway, here are some nice pictures of our not-so-invisible stairs!

The stringer is fixed!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Argh! Why aren't all exposed pieces of wood perfect?

Warning: I'm going to rant. Why can't all exposed pieces of wood be perfect? Why would you even think of using a slightly flawed piece of wood when it will be in full view?  I am speaking about the wood stringer for our main stair. I went to visit the work done today as the framers installed the supports and treads. I was quite disappointed to see a wood stringer that was less than perfect that will end up being exposed.  Argh. And to take it down now and replace it would be a tonne of work. So, now do I find a creative way to hide it? {My brain was spinning with lots of ideas on the way home, including using a piece of metal flashing to cover it}. Or do we "celebrate" the imperfection, and leave it as part of our "raw" staircase? Or do I insist it be re-done? And suffer to delay and extra cost? I am not too happy with some of the framing for the landings as well. I'll need to tweak that too. Not sure people understand the raising of the bar in quality when things are meant to be "exposed."

The first run of LVL stringers in place.

Almost made it to the top floor.
Just one run of stairs left.

Here's said crappy stringer up close.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More progress! Stair stringers and a power line!

Bright, shiny new power meter!
 I love it when people under promise and over deliver! Props to Epcor for getting a power line connected to our house in no less than -25 C weather and only a day after I called for a meter service connection! They told me to expect it install the week of Jan. 17th.

I saw a bright, shiny new power meter blinking 00:00 on our house! I tried to go flip the main breaker and connect a heater, but either I'm a bigger wimp than I thought or I need to know the trick to make this work.  Perhaps that metal tab in front of the breaker switch is in the way?  I couldn't tell in the dark. I only had my iPhone and a camera flash to light my way...

Stubborn main breaker switch!

Looking up at the stair well.

And in other brilliant, breaking news, we have our stair stringers in place!  Ready to be bolted together and lag screwed to the structure! It seems though the computer model and the reality are 1.5" off. I some how miscalculated the length of the short stringers so that it pushed the main stringer 1.5" closer to the outside wall. Oops.  I don't think it will be a big deal though. We still have a 3'-2" stair width. We designed the middle of the U-shaped stair to have an elevator/lift retrofitted into this space, if ever we are too frail or immobilized to use stairs. At the moment, I had the framer rig up a pulley so we can hoist up big, heavy things.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yay! Electrical service inspection was "acceptable!"

Yay for the small white sticker!

Tony getting the balcony door ready!

Roof deck door in place!

This time a small white sticker made my day.  We passed our electrical service installation inspection.  Phew!  Finally, we can call Epcor to get us hooked up to the grid. One small step away from power and heat! And with -20 C all week, power and heat are MUST haves for being able to work [putting in insulation] in the cold.

And today, our framer finally put in the 2 remaining exterior doors, started the front door roof canopy and did a bunch of structural reinforcing. I hope the stairs go in soon!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Basement almost completely framed!

I was happy to see the basement almost completely framed up when I dropped by the site today. Just a few more walls to go.  The darn 1-piece tub isn't on site yet, so it's best not to put up the bathroom wall just yet!

And I was rather choked to see the amount of snow on the roof deck!  Gasp~ must shovel snow off roof so the roofer can finish the tiny bit left.

And another gorgeous sunset!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shovelling sidewalk claims its first victim!

Why didn't we ask for a snowblower for Yule this year?

Shovelling our 54.1 metres [or 177.6 lineal feet] of sidewalk claims its first victim! The nice dump of 20 cm [or more?] gave us plenty of exercise.

So much for taking all of the snow out of the inside of the house this weekend [as I hoped], so we could start insulating in ernest!  We spent about 45 minutes shovelling.  And when I say we, I mean Serena mostly.

I can't wait to go back and see what the wind did for snow drifts!

Stair stringers on site! Now, did anybody see my framer lately?

Dan Hlus of River City Metalworks using the stringers as furniture.

Now, where's that framing crew to install these?

Nice and tidy welds!

I really hope I didn't make any mistakes in locating the pre-drilled holes!

Why don't we leave steel as is more often?

The stair stringers were completed by River City Metalworks and delivered to site!  I visited their workshop to check the stairs one last time. We have decided to leave the steel in its natural state- I hope it won't rust! I am rushing now to finish the railing details so Dan and Jeff can get busy! I am going to experiement with using a plastic snow fence/landscape fencing material for the infill of the railing panels! It should be fun.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!

The upper roof membrane covered in light snow/frost. 

Happy New Year!

We braved the -18 C weather to watch the fireworks from our roof deck! It was lovely, until the smoke from the pyrotechnics obscured the last few minutes!  And we were happy to see the upper roof membrane in place!  Yay!  Now, the roof deck remains and then insulating begins!