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October 29, 2009
Gailís fits and starts

Gail installs a vapor barrier on Cameronís exterior bedroom wall

For the second time in two weeks, Gail made a solo drive up to our mountain house during the week. This time, she left on Monday, October 26 with an open-ended return. Her goal Ė like last week Ė was to continue prepping and drywalling the exterior-facing walls.

The moment she arrived, Gail had her first hint that this week would not go as smoothly. There was no electricity in the house. (Keep in mind that we had just passed our electrical inspection!) The first thought that ran through Gailís mind was that without electricity, she would have no house heat and no way of refrigerating several daysí worth of food.

We panic every time thereís a power outage, because our utility company (Pacific Gas & Electric) only has responsibility as far as the meter. We brought power from the meter to the house with an independent contractor, so any problems there are our responsibility. Fortunately, Gail ascertained that the problem was on PG&Eís end.

After a couple of phone calls, PG&E showed up in less than an hour. The problem was that PG&E had recently upgraded our meter, and a worker had inadvertently left some breakers switched off. Gail was soon back in business, although her first afternoon was pretty much shot.

When she doesn't have a crew of men to cook dinner for, Gail is able to work well into the night Ė and often does

Tuesday, Gailís first full day of work, didnít go much better. Her task was to finish drywalling the lower floor. Unfortunately, she had completed all of the easy parts last week. What were left were various odd-shaped nooks and crannies, as well as intersections where the walls come together with particular warping.

For this upper corner, Gail had to drywall around a shutter switch, a shutter crank, a glu-lam beam and a dropped ceiling. Note that on either side of the window, she used a single strip of drywall to straddle the wall intersection.

For this corner, Gail had to layer two strips of drywall due to a non-uniform wall intersection

Every step seemed to be an exercise in frustration. Working downstairs, Gail had to deal constantly with the piles of things that we are currently storing on the floor. Extension cords were constantly getting stuck, and there was no place to put the ladder. Gail spent half of her time working, and the other half moving things around or cleaning things up to get a decent workspace.

Gail did what she could, but she couldnít do it all. The most severe problems were the two corners on either side of the stairwell. These were the wall units that Russell and his friend Steve had dragged across the yard four years ago after a season of sitting in the rain. One side wall warps to the left, while the other warps to the right. It worked out at the time because the back wall had similar warping. Unfortunately, it also meant that the side walls do not align with the corner units that are adjacent. In the end, Gail punted on this one, saving the problem for a later day when she and Russell can figure out what to do.

The southern corner of the stairwell alcove. Due to severe warping, the bottom of the wall intersection is several inches wider than the top! Gail was not able to drywall either corner of the alcove.

Wednesday was more productive. With her arms needing a break from drywalling, Gail concentrated on prepping the walls upstairs. She filled in gaps with caulking, removed slag from sprayed-in foam, stapled mesh into all the joints (an extra barrier against vermin), and put up a vapor barrier. By the end of the day, she had finished the upstairs living room, Cameronís bedroom (our temporary kitchen), Jossí bedroom and the master bedroom.

Gailís accomplishments: the lower floor, almost completely drywalled (Note the center chase, also drywalled. Pay no attention to that stairwell on the right!)

The upstairs living room: prepped and ready for drywalling

Cameronís bedroom (aka the temporary kitchen): prepped and ready for drywalling

Jossí bedroom: prepped and ready for drywalling

The master bedroom: prepped and ready for drywalling

Gail was too exhausted to drive, so she spent one more night. After cleaning up Thursday morning, she drove home Thursday afternoon. Gail has yet one more task waiting for her at home in the Bay Area: the extensive Halloween decorations she had put up the previous weekend have all blown down in a severe windstorm. Gail has a couple of days to put them all back up again.

Gailís tools of the trade


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