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December 30, 2009
Stairs: third flight

Russell installs the third and final flight of permanent stairs

Our original plan was for the entire family to spend the week after Christmas at our mountain home property. Upon reflection, we decided it would be unfair to take our sons away from their friends (and the Internet) for an entire week. In addition, by Christmas all four of us were recovering from colds. We compromised on three days, December 28-30. As an added plus, Joss’ girlfriend was able to join us for the trip.

We arrived on Monday, December 28, shortly after lunch. The reason for our early arrival was that we had a 3:00 appointment. Yes, Amerigas was finally going to come out and make the last connection to enable our hot water! (Our plumber Curtis had already hooked up the shower head last week.) It took Scott from Amerigas less than 15 minutes to connect the pipe to the tank and check the house for leaks. Gail turned on the kitchen faucet. “We have hot water!” she beamed.

That evening, Russell took the first-ever hot shower on the mountain. Later, Gail took the first-ever hot bath. It would have been ideal, except that when the bath level reached the overflow drain, water started gushing out of the ceiling in the kitchen downstairs. Needless to say, we will be putting in another “Help!” call to Curtis the plumber.

We don’t have any photos of us using hot water. Instead, here are three deer (a doe and her two yearlings) hanging around the propane tank.

Hot water was only the first of many milestones this trip. On Tuesday morning, Gail and Russell took down the “temporary” work stairs (more than four and a half years after they were originally put up by Russell’s brother-in-law Matt). We had to take them down in order to make room for the third and final flight of permanent stairs.

During this “in between” phase of stair installation, we required some minor acrobatics to move between floors. On the lower floor, we had to use a ladder to reach the middle flight of stairs. On the upper floor, we had to step across a larger hole at the end of the upper flight.

With the temporary stairs removed, we dealt with a hole in the upstairs landing (upper left) and a ladder downstairs

Meanwhile, Russell spent the day installing the last rough treads and risers. Because this flight will require railings on both sides, Russell constructed them three inches wider. By Tuesday afternoon we were able to remove the ladder, and all five of us happily took turns walking up and down the permanent stairs.

The third, lowest and final flight of stairs. These are constructed three inches wider because they will require railings on both sides.

Russell spent the rest of his time installing joists and a subfloor on the upstairs landing. He was still working as everyone else packed to leave on Wednesday afternoon, but the landing is now finished and the upstairs sitting room is now four feet wider.


Constructing the upper landing

Meanwhile, Gail and Cameron spent Tuesday installing more drywall in Cameron’s bedroom. Gail had purchased a huge drywall lift from Craigslist and tried it out for the first time. Cameron made a huge contribution in helping to finish his bedroom interior.

Cameron and Gail confer on drywall installation;
Gail’s new drywall lift

With a shortage of ladders, Cameron got creative in drywalling his bedroom

Joss and Rachel were stuck with dish duty every day, but the availability of hot water helped immensely. The two also had plenty of time for reading, playing games, going for walks and just spending time together.

With Rachel using Cameron’s bedroom, both boys slept in Joss’ bedroom, which became “videogame central”

All in all, it was a work trip filled with milestones, and a great way to finish out the year. We continue to make slow and steady progress towards gaining our occupancy permit. Russell now needs to start on the finished stairs, while Gail still has several rooms to drywall. Next May will mark five years since we first purchased the property. If we can get our occupancy permit by the anniversary, that will be a cause for celebration.

The Lee family celebrates another milestone, and another New Year!


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