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May 24, 2008
The upstairs framing is finished

Russell installs top plates on a particularly difficult part of the upstairs walls – above the master bedroom, where angled walls meet an angled ceiling

There are two major inspection milestones approaching as we continue to build our mountain home: the framing and the electrical wiring. The framing is the higher priority; you can’t install wires until there is something to install them in. Russell has the lead in framing, while Gail has the lead in electrical wiring (with her step-brother Jim).

Russell has been working on the framing, mostly single-handedly, for almost a year since July 2007. Most of the downstairs is one large room with no interior walls, so the bulk of work has been upstairs. It is normally a straightforward process to frame walls, but we have had to deal with ambiguous blueprints, warped wood, strange angles and vaulted ceilings. Russell finished the main walls in October 2007, only to turn around and begin working on the walls that extend higher up to the vaulted ceilings (i.e., most of them).

The vaulted ceiling walls have provided more challenges and frustrations. There is the physical work of lugging larger pieces of wood eight feet up into the air. There is the balancing problem of making the upper studs plumb with the lower studs while having nowhere to stand. And there is the logistical nightmare of cutting studs and top plates so that they match the ridiculous angles of the slanted and pie-wedged octagonal ceiling.

Our schedule has been confounded by our son Joss’ recent surgery for scoliosis. Joss has reached the point where he is sleeping through the night in his own bed, so Russell has felt comfortable leaving Gail at home as a single parent so he can get more work done.

Last weekend, Russell came up in the hottest weather so far this year – it was 100º F outside and 90º F inside the house. Fortunately, Gail had gotten a small window air conditioner on www.freecycle.org which provided Russell with some relief. Unfortunately, Russell installed it using a plastic sheet and some painter’s tape to secure the window. When Russell saw Gail’s reaction to his photo, he realized he would have to come back up again to make the arrangement more secure before a wind blew a hole in the set-up.

Russell's first attempt at installing a window air conditioner included plastic sheeting and painter's tape
He had to come back and strengthen the arrangement with plywood

So on Friday, May 23, Russell drove up once more. Gail had originally planned to join him – leaving Joss in the care of his brother Cameron – but Cameron ended up having a scheduling conflict. Fortunately, Russell’s friend Steve became available at the last minute, so he joined Russell up on the mountain.

Russell had wanted a co-worker because he thought he had reached a point where he couldn’t continue the vaulted walls without help. As it turned out, he was able to continue framing alone, while Steve worked on cleaning and painting the walls downstairs.

The last vaulted walls to be framed were above the master bedroom: this sequence shows the space, the top plates, and the final studs

A week ago it had been 100º. A week later, it started raining on Friday evening and continued all day Saturday. (This was probably our last rain of the season, and unfortunately Gail missed it. As it turned out, Cameron could have watched Joss after all, but we didn’t find that out until it was too late.)

At mid-day on Saturday, Russell called Gail with the good news: “The upstairs framing is finished!”

Of course, the next task is to finish the downstairs framing…

Another montage of photos: this one shows some of the upstairs framing (viewed from the northwest looking towards the southeast)
Cameron's bedroom (currently being used as the kitchen) is on the left
The hallway is center
The upstairs sitting room is on the right


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