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October 29, 2006
Springtime in October

Joss and Cameron use a chop saw to construct a box for the step-up pump

One year ago, we rushed around in a panic trying to get our mountain-top house sealed up before the rains came. What followed was the worst winter in the last 50 years.

This year, we once again rushed around trying to get our house sealed up by mid-October – although the task list was much more relaxed and manageable. In the weeks since, the weather has continued to be sunny and warm. Go figure. It’s been like springtime in October.

Rain or shine, we plan to keep coming up here through the winter, as the house is now far enough along for us to do interior work, protected from the elements.

For the weekend of October 28, our Plan A was to install the front door and back door downstairs, as well as the four sliding glass doors upstairs. Of course, for this to happen, we would actually need to have those doors onsite.

Gail has spent the last several weeks communicating with Topsider about how to get the correct materials to replace the incorrect (and missing) ones that were originally sent to us. Rather than have new doors shipped all the way from North Carolina, Gail has been working with the local Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement Center to see what they have. By doing so, she has been able to save several thousand dollars from Topsider’s original bill of materials.

One of the biggest questions was whether our blueprints required new sliding glass doors or retro-fit doors. (The two are different sizes. Retro-fit doors are larger and do not have an outside “fin”). Gail liked Lowe’s price, but the retro-fit doors we would need were not in stock. They would take about ten days to backorder. So much for Plan A.

Plan B would be to install just the front and back door, which Lowe’s did have in stock. Gail ordered the sliding glass doors on backorder, and the front and back doors for immediate delivery. Unfortunately, somewhere between the time that Gail placed the order, Topsider provided the purchase order, and Lowe’s scheduled the order, the two shipments were combined into one. In other words, nothing would be delivered until everything was in stock, at least two weeks from now. Unfortunately, Gail did not find this out until the Friday before our work weekend. Needless to say, she was not pleased. So much for Plan B.

Undeterred, we decided on Plan C, in which we would begin to install the interior walls for the lower story. Gail did some research, checked with Dennis our building inspector, and came up with some simple instructions on how to construct an interior wall.

In the end, all of these plans were trumped by the warm and sunny weather that still lingered. We ultimately decided to take advantage of the sunshine and continue to do outside work for as long as possible. Therefore, Plan D would involve installing some of the fixed-pane exterior windows on the lower story.

In order to install any of the windows, we would first need to stain the trim. And in order to stain the trim, we would first need to remove the plastic wrapping that we had so carefully installed a year ago. Originally, we had planned to keep the lower story wrapped in plastic until next spring, so that we wouldn’t threaten the weather-proofing. But we decided that we could peel the plastic back one section at a time, then re-cover it as necessary.

With a final plan in hand, Russell went up to the mountain a day early on Friday, October 27. This enabled him to stain the trim on two window sections and give them a day to dry. In addition, he moved the temporary kitchen from downstairs to upstairs, in preparation for whenever we get around to building the interior walls downstairs.

Moving the downstairs kitchen: before and after

Gail, Cameron, and Joss arrived a day later on Saturday. We were also expecting Steve, but he would not arrive until later in the afternoon. In the meantime, we had another set of tasks to keep us busy. (Plan E, anyone?) The new water pumps next to the house and down the hill were already beginning to crack under the continued sunshine. We would need to construct boxes or sheds to cover them.

Gail set Cameron and Joss to work constructing a box for the step-up pump down the hill. Russell constructed a lean-to shed for the water tank next to the house. Conveniently, we were able to use the scrap wood from the shutter crate that we had just emptied a couple of weeks ago.

A box for the step-up pump down the hill

A lean-to shed for the water tank next to the house

In the meantime, Gail began to install the three corner windows that surrounded the downstairs window wall sections. When Steve arrived, the two of them began to install the fixed panes. By Saturday evening, all of the fixed glass for the two wall sections was in place.

Gail had to leave Sunday at midday for some commitments that the boys had back home. That morning, though (with the benefit of an extra hour due to daylight savings time), she added one additional item to the to-do list. Our neighbor had warned us about a bear roaming the area. Even though our replacement front door is on a two-week backorder, Gail had us install the wrong front door for the time being – as an extra security measure.

The front door -- it's the wrong door, but it will help keep any bears out

Before Gail departed on Sunday morning, she and Steve installed the quarter round trim on the first wall section. After Gail departed, Steve and Russell stayed to install the quarter round trim on the second wall section. They ended up working through the afternoon, finally leaving the mountain at almost dusk.

Nevertheless, we were impressed with our accomplishments for the weekend:

There are a total of five window walls on the lower story. Unfortunately, this will be Steve’s last available weekend for the rest of the year. Fortunately, we now have the process down so smoothly that we only need two people to install the remaining fixed-pane windows. Two walls down, three to go.

Nine new windows installed! (three corners and six fixed panes)


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