It's March 2008
We sure have enjoyed it when people stop by to chat and see our progress - John often stops by to inspect and came right over within 5 minutes when we called him on Sunday to see if he had a 15/16th socket wrench we could borrow to tighten the nuts on our hold downs (he's done a major reno on a house he and Judy had in Vancouver as well he is doing a major overhaul on his 36ft powerboat).  Judy and Cheryl cruise by on their outings... Carol & Ron from choir stopped by after an outreach sing... Liam, our young friend across the road checks in on us... Stephen and Marjorie from the squadron popped by (they've built a house before and just finished their own boat) and continually offer to help in any way they can... and of course Nancy and Larry next door are always giving us the thumbs up as they come and go (they took lots of pictures last year through their windows) - We appreciate everyone's encouragement and love that they share in our enthusiasm of this project!

                                      Click on (most) images for a larger view.


March 1st - 3rd  On Saturday we completed another section on the east wall which took us to the small wall that starts up the south cross-section which is a main shear wall of the house.  Saturday night we got together with Kathy for a beer and nibbles at the Blue Peter Pub.  It was great to catch up with her and spend some time out and away from the project a bit.  Then we spent the night on the boat as we had talked about spending more time on it this year, even if it was to sleep on it at the dock, so we did and had a very restful sleep.

Sunday - went for a good long walk in the morning and then went into town to met Mom for a coffee and visit and stroll through town.  After doing our grocery shopping we puttered around the site and tightened down all our anchor bolts and hold downs. Then we tackled the project of fixing the bike trailer and attaching it permanently to an abandoned bike Thomas found over on San Juan Isl.  This way we have a "pick-up-truck" separate from our own road bikes to get around on. We still have to set time aside for taking care of day to day things and or else they never get done!
Monday we awoke to a rainy day which was just fine as we had some calls to make about our phone system and connecting with another distributor of FSC lumber - we are on the hunt for our cedar siding.  We also went over to Slegg lumber to check out the "clearance" windows we had put "Hold" stickers on on Saturday.  After reviewing our dimensions it turns out we will be able to use three of them for a savings of about 60%.  These were brand new windows that went out to various job sites but were the wrong sizes so were returned.  We also talked to a sales fellow about the doors we are considering and will put together our list to get quotations from them and another company.
The day cleared due to a blustery west wind and although it was a mixture of sun and cloud it was still pretty nippy so we were bundled up working on the next section.  As we started to assemble it Thomas thought ahead to the next section it will be connected too via a Glulam beam so he decided to check the drawing and shipping receipt to verify the length of the beam.  I suggested he find the beam under cover and bring it out so we could check it.  Lucky we were both paying attention to detail because what originally was to be a 7' beam we changed to a 6'10" beam and we measured it to be a 6'9" beam - thus necessitating a change in the number of studs in this "small" section on a 26" bottom plate to have 9 not 8 studs!  Details, details...
Look what we have growing on the west side of the house where we hauled all the clay to!  This is one of two broccoli plants that just popped up (the other one came out under my kayak and is reaching for the sunlight)!  There is one flowering in the berm "garden" at the street along with parsley and now all the trees and bushes are in bud!

The crocuses are up... white, light yellow, bright yellow and these lovely purple one! Tulip and daffodil leaves are growing stronger and greener each day!  Spring is springing forth!

 March 4th and 5th - Two more sections go up to complete the east wall: this side of the house is the guest room.  The small wall that runs east-west is reinforced with the plywood because it is a shear wall.  For such a small section it was very heavy because it has 9 full studs in it!  We had quite a time getting it up but we are now using the same method of moving such weights like we did with the glulam beams - blocking as a fulcrum, teeter-tottering, and rolling.  That is how the Egyptians built the pyramids!  Thomas uses such common sense and I am learning all about this now.

careful calculations = minimal waste

plywood for lateral support

blocking for teeter-tottering

more blocking to get up over bolt


correcting cutout at bottom plate


counter-sinking the hold down bolts


chiseling the bolt plate


checking the joist hanger position

now the East wall is done!

Things are really taking shape now as we see two sides of the house completed now!  It is so awesome to see our design come to life as we build and lift each section into place - all the planning and calculations coming together and working!

Cali is staying put in the old house and enjoying the sun on her back perch.  She was quite injured in the Fall (either a serious run in with an animal or bad fall) so I am very hesitant to let her out again, although she would like to see what we are up to.


Cali sunning herself


March 6th - Today we started a little late because I had some chores to tend to at the boat this morning. After taking Montana for a walk, Laura prepared the site and by 10:30 we were reviewing the next section, cup of tea in hand. Another window, another lintel but we were prepared. We had spent extra time yesterday getting all the dimensions straight. A routine is developing. I prepare the P-2000 gasket and measure for the #1 bottom plate while Laura starts to cut kings and jacks. As soon as I have the dimensions worked out, Laura whips off the bottom plates for me draw the stud outlines and confirm that we have 16" center nailing studs.

It was while I measured for the bottom plates that we realized that this was our last chance to change the location of the patio door to the guest room. So we spent an hour or so mocking up walls and checking measurements carefully until we were happy with the use of space. We moved the door six inches west to limit the wasted space behind the door while still giving it good definition from the planned hanging closet. From there the process moved along rapidly and we got all the parts positioned and decided on an assembly sequence. The U box for the corner, king, jack and one cripple made up one assembly, King with L, jack and cripple made up the other. Once the lintel plate, window sill and bottom plate were attached the unit was stiff enough to stand up. Laura decided to leave the lintel itself for retrofit once the wall was up.

That turned out to be a good decision since with Laura's enthusiasm and a little heave how we were able to lift the unit onto the bolt. Ah the bolt. Turns out that this was our first hold down bolt that was misplaced. We are not sure why, all the others have been dead on as planned. This one was off enough that it interfered with one of the cripple studs. With the attachment of p2000 to the exterior of the studs, maintaining the 16" centers is critical to protect the envelope integrity. So we had to do a little chisel work as you can see.

fancy chisel work - wrench just fits
matching windows in guestroom

The wall fit perfectly. We were so excited and proud that we had done such a grand job we started to nail it to the previous section before confirming that the top plates were properly lined up. After carefully driving home about twenty nails we discovered our oversight. We should have cinched the new section down on the anchor bolt before swinging the nail gun. Chisel and vice grips to the rescue, we pulled a few of the nails just to make sure we could. By then it was dark and the re-alignment will have to wait until tomorrow.

taking good care of the miter saw

March 7th - Twenty nails, laboriously removed released the new wall from the old one. Tightening the anchor bolt, lined both walls up perfectly and with new nails and the come-along to squeeze them together we formed a perfect corner window. Lintel and top-plate and the job was complete.



job done...

lintel into place

The next small section went up in a flash, but then it was time to head back to the drawing boards. Where to go from here so we don't build ourselves into a corner?  After an hour or so of reviewing plans and figuring, we developed a sequence that made sense. We decided to leave the last 3 sections of the guest room sitting area for now because they could be attached to the major south cross section wall later...


So, it was time to tackle the south cross section...the main shear wall of the house.  We spent the rest of the day laying plates around the patio after carefully removing the protective boards we had around the aluminum flashing we installed before the slab was poured.  This flashing goes up the wall behind the siding to protect water from penetrating the wall.

March 8th - This section of wall was exciting to put up as it will be attached to the wall to the east (left) of it by a 6'9" glulam beam which will serve as a lintel as a component of the support structure of the whole 36' south cross section.  We were able to put the second and third coat of stain on it before the end of the day but brought it into the house overnight to let it dry completely.  When we install it we will cover it with plastic to protect it from the elements until we can put the floor on the second story to provide a roof for the first.

March 9th - We decided to take a day off and go into Victoria.  In the morning we went to the Home Show where we found an exciting solution for our flooring, balcony surface, and shower waterproofing! (will write about that when we confirm it) We also got another contact for our roofing and learned more about window issues.  In the evening we saw two movies at the IMAX!  It was a nice break but we are looking forward to getting back to work! 


March 11th - We had a challenging day on the site. After two days off (it rained all day yesterday so we stayed inside doing paperwork) we were all thumbs and had to take one wall section apart twice before we got it right. Still at the end of the day we were proud that we persevered and the final product meets our quality standard. Self respect is what you earn when you do the right thing even when you can get away with doing anything. Today we earned ourselves some self respect.

drilling for hold downs...

jig work

counter sinking hold down bolts

working on south X-section

You can download our framing plan by clicking on the image at right.

It will show you how we did it and hopefully save you some grief by encouraging you to be meticulous about your planning.   

mock-up assemblies

a view to the front door

March 12 - 13th - Got lots more work done on the south cross section... it is so neat to see the house taking shape as its dimensions change.  We're getting a good feel for the size of the guest room, the entry and inglenook... though we've been told that it will seem big, then small, then big - many times over.  So we shall see!

March 14th - 20th - After working since the 17th of February (with 2 days off - one for the Home Show and one rain day) we decided to take some time off to take note of two important dates this month.

We sailed over to the cottage on the 14th to love it up by playing in the garden, visiting with a good friend, doing chores around the house, giving each other reflexology treatments, and just "being" in the space. And of course reflecting on Oma's life and her time there; it was 2 years since her passing on March 15th.

feels good to be on the water!

a cold but sunny anchorage

relaxing at anchor

fixings for a yummy breakfast

still a child at heart

We then set sail Monday morn to Friday Harbor on the other side of the island; Thomas did some business there and then we met with friends for dinner. Tuesday morning we sailed to Stuart Island, one of our favourite anchorages. On Wednesday (the Spring Equinox) we had an exuberant hike to the lighthouse where we signed our agreement four years ago (we've been together for 8); we reflected on our relationship and the principles by which we strive to live by each day. We hung out and slept and relaxed and read and cooked! After being treated to a morning rainbow we then set sail for home arriving home at noon Thursday.

Thomas too!

celebrating our agreement

first time hauling anchor alone!

Turn Point Light Station

We had a wonderful time away; it felt so good to be out on the water as well as taking care of things at the cottage! We were keen to get back to building though ... we are having sooo much fun, learning lots, working very well together, and loving the house more and more!

March 21st - 22nd - It took a while to get back into the swing of things but once we did we were off!  We finished framing this window - we love paying attention to detail and carefully planned the height from the floor and thus the site lines from the front door to look through this window and out to the back yard! 

we love this window in the entrance

tricky slot to get at hold down

We spent a whole day putting in bridging for siding and drywall nailing surfaces in the west wall that we first built.  As well, we rechecked the squaring of all the walls - it is coming together so well!!  We are so proud of the care we are putting into this whole process!

From web site to construction site...
back to work!!...

installing lateral support plywood to the east wall of the guest room

checking level of walls before we measure for height of interior walls

pretty level, I'd say...
how exciting is that?!

 compensating for raised rough spot on foundation, chiseling bottom plate

last wall in guest room

 cleaning, prepping kitchen area

 the house is taking shape... our plans are coming alive!

water standing in bit of a low spot in SE corner of kitchen - where we wrote our names last summer ;-)

west wall of kitchen goes up...
I can see the refrigerator and stove and counter...!

stub wall, north side of kitchen (dutch) door leading out to patio

We decided to leave the rest of the kitchen framing for now, as two glulam extensions would be left exposed for quite some time before we can get the roof on.  Besides... the open space will be good for setting up the miter saw and saw horses to cut the floor joists and headers, etc.


 a tenacious little plant sprouting where the slab pourers missed

measuring for two interior walls, guest room bathroom

checking measurement for stairway opening on other side of wall

Done!  neat to see and feel more rooms & spaces taking shape

What a wonderful, productive month this has been!  The weather has been great - including the exciting few hail storms... which only lasted long enough for us to cover the electrical tools and dance about with excitement!  (it's been a long time since we saw hail!... we're amazed with nature's wonders!)

hail storm

plywood shims

prepping for top plates
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