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April 21, 2012
“The upstairs has been transformed”

Russell installs an OSB subfloor (on top of acoustical padding) in Joss’ bedroom

On Tuesday, April 10, Gail got a phone call from Joe Novasel, our contractor. They had finished their work; the entire upstairs ceiling of our mountain home was now drywalled. Gail was eager to drive up and take a look, but Russell would not be able to get away for another week. Gail decided to wait so we could have our first look together.

It wasn’t until next Wednesday evening, April 18, that we were able to drive up. We didn’t arrive until almost 10:00 pm, and it was too dark to see much (we had removed all of the upstairs ceiling lights). Given that our bed was dismantled and downstairs, we slept on the upstairs sofa bed. It wasn’t until Thursday morning that we could fully appreciate all of the work that had been done.

The upstairs sitting room ceiling: before and after

The master bedroom ceiling: before and after

Cameron’s bedroom ceiling: before and after

Joss’ bedroom ceiling (the loft): before and after

As we found out later from Joe, the work had not been easy. There were several places where there was no stud backing at the corners. (The drywall needs something to attach to, especially at the edges.) Eric Linneman, who had done all of the work, had to reverse-engineer backing in a lot of places.


One of the most troublesome places was the vaulted ceiling in the upstairs sitting room, where there there were no ceiling studs at the upper edges of the walls. The contractors had to reverse-engineer backing boards to anchor the drywall.

The octagonal shape of the house was also challenging. It took Eric an entire day just to drywall the ceiling of the laundry room, where the eight beams come together at an apex.

The laundry room ceiling – where the eight support beams come together – took one entire day to drywall

Joe told us that when he normally bids a drywall job, he estimates 6-7 percent material waste. Given our octagonal house, he estimated 20 percent waste. The actual outcome was 40 percent waste. All told, he underestimated materials by $200 and labor by even more. He was willing to honor his bid and absorb the labor loss, but Gail insisted that we make it fair. We covered the material overage and half of the labor overage.

In addition, Eric had spotted our woodstove and said he needed one, so we gave it to him (along with all of the double-lined ductwork). It had actually been sitting here for the past five years – we couldn’t figure out where to put it, with all of the window walls. Eric was thrilled.

We had contracted drywall and taping, but no texturing. First, texturing was not required for inspection, and it would save us both money and time. Second, Gail had not decided what she wanted for the final texturing. Our inspector Dennis came out, approved the work, and signed us off for another progress report good for six more months.

We would spend the next few days restoring the upstairs fans and furniture to their previous states. Both Gail and Russell currently have physical limitations that prevent them from lifting anything heavy. Fortunately, Russell’s friend Steve was available, and he met us late Thursday morning.

Before we would move any furniture, though, Gail decided that we should put OSB subflooring in all of the bedrooms. Steve was just as happy for the delay, as it gave him an opportunity to work outside with burn piles.

Russell scheduled Steve’s help, then unscheduled it. Instead, he ended up taking all of Thursday just to reinstall the four ceiling fans. (It was more time consuming as a solo job.) Meanwhile, Gail took the odious task of cleaning all of the drywall dust that covered everything upstairs.

Russell rescheduled Steve’s help for Friday morning, then unscheduled that as well. Gail decided that before we installed the OSB subflooring, we should put down acoustical padding to cut down on foot traffic noise. And before we did that, she needed to plane and level the uneven sections of the floor. We ended up taking all of Friday just to install subflooring in Cameron’s and Joss’ bedrooms. (We decided not to subfloor the master bedroom yet, until Gail is sure the south wall is weathertight.)

Laying the subfloor in Cameron’s bedroom. First, Gail planed and shimmed the edges of the floor sections until they were level.

Next, we put down acoustical padding to dampen foot traffic noises. (For Cameron’s bedroom we used cork tiles. For Joss’ we used fiber padding. Both are normally used under laminate flooring.)

Finally, Russell cut and installed 1/2” OSB for the subfloor.

Gail was thrilled to see the visible progress all around, between the newly drywalled ceilings and the newly subfloored floors. “The upstairs has been transformed,” she declared.

It was finally on Saturday morning that Russell and Steve moved the furniture from downstairs back upstairs. The entire process took less than two hours. This left us enough time to go out for lunch to our favorite all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant in town.

We are now down to one major task before our final inspection sign-off: the railings for the stairs and upper landings. Dennis says that in order to pass inspection, all we really need is the posts installed with chicken wire strung across them. Given our increasing physical limitations, we may consider it. In the meantime, Gail is already scheduling to return by herself next week to install some more floorboards.

A finishing touch: Gail puts up a butterfly cloth that she purchased on our recent vacation in Costa Rica.


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