Build: Days 17 and 18

The order of the day was W A L L S ! There are (some) interior walls now, you guys! This thing is starting to look like a house and less like a build site.

1) Insulation, insulation everywhere. Jeff didn’t love working with the denim: he says it’s really hard to cut and very dusty (“I had to blow my nose for two days to get all the blue stuff!”) So, Jeff, here is where I say in print that I am very sorry. I am still in love with it, though. It is soft, it stays between the studs just with friction (you don’t have to glue it on or anything), it really really really warms the house up, it really deadens sound (the house is set up about 50 feet from a major highway, and you can no longer hear that at all if you’re in the house. But, you know, just fyi if you’re ever working with the stuff.Everything is insulated though now: walls, ceiling, pipes, everything. Yay!
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2) Then we put a vapor barrier up on the outside of the insulation: a vapor barrier is just semi-permeable plastic (or something like that) that keeps any sneaky moisture that gets in from settling on your wallboards, and thus, it helps prevent mold. There are lots of really fancy vapor barriers out there, and they’re generally in the $60/ 9×12 section price range. However, a) they are all some variant of plastic sheeting, b) there isn’t anything commercially I can find that doesn’t off-gas, and c) they’re all about 2 mils., so we skipped all of that completely and bought six heavy duty 2 mil clear plastic drop cloths. $2.98 each, for a total savings of $342.12. That would be slightly more than half of cost of the fancy fridge I splashed out on. Yay!

Installation was easy as pie: I just staple-gunned the plastic right onto the studs all over the whole house (ceiling, too) and then cut out spaces for the electrical sockets and windows. If you’ve ever seen Dexter, my house looked unsettlingly like one of his kill rooms after I was done (it’s half done in the picture: I finished it up today.)

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3) And then the wallboards started going up! Based on your suggestions, I went with ply instead of beadboard, and that was SUCH a good call, I think. The ply is lovely. I really, really like it. My plan has been to paint it white, but I have to say, I actually kind of love the look of the ply and am toying with the idea of just doing a coat of clear poly and leaving it as-is. The color is really warm and nice, and the surface texture almost looks like linen (the boards themselves are perfectly smooth.)

The boards aren’t caulked yet, so there are some gaps, and there’s no molding, obviously, but this will give you a picture of what it looks like. If anything, it is a little rosier in person, kind of a soft pinky-brown. It looks kind of….sophisticated, which is such a weird thing to say about unfinished plywood.
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I’m a little squirrely about leaving it as-is: with all the love and respect in the world for cabins (my favorite house in the past ten years was a cabin!), I don’t want it to feel cabin-y, and with the bamboo floors, it might feel like a surfeit of wood. It sure is pretty, though. Options right now are 1) paint everything white, 2) paint most of it white and leave a wood accent wall up in the loft (and maybe keep the bathroom natural) or 3) leave it all natural.

I brought a scrap piece of wallboard home and am going to try out some samples of white on it tonight (plus the clear poly), just to see how it looks. If any of you have the kind of Serious! Opinions! about white paint that the entire internet apparently has, I will tell you that the colors I got are Benjamin Moore White Dove, B.M. Decorator’s White, B.M. Atrium White (the color the White House is painted, apparently!) and Behr Bridal Veil (Behr paint just came in first in Consumer Report’s test of low/no-VOC paints, and it’s like half the price of Benjamin Moore). If you don’t have Serious! Opinions! about white paint, join the club, but it’s one of the internet’s favorite topics, apparently.


Other things that happened, in brief:

-2/3rds of the shower is up!
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-Front door light switch box installed
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-Hole drilled through the front wall and wires pulled through for Future! Front! Light!
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-Mom came over today and put another coat of that pretty blue on the front door plus started painting the same color under the eaves. No pictures of that, because I forgot my camera and in any case was inside stapling plastic to my kill room sleeping loft ceiling, but it looks awesome.

-I bought some flooring for the bathroom floor. Did I mention that we discovered that we couldn’t tile after all, based on the position of the bathroom vis a vis the trailer? Truth. And that is kind of sad, because wood’s tricky in a frequently-wet space, especially given things like the bathing of dogs in the bathroom, and if tile is out, that leaves [duh-duh-duh] vinyl. Sheet vinyl, to be precise, since tiles tend to come up in humid situations. So I wasn’t loving that, as you might imagine. However, I found this stuff called Fiber Floor, which is a vinyl composite, but has really limited off-gassing, is 80% recycled and fully recyclable, and is not all that hideous looking. Also: I found a warehouse that specialized in remnants and stocked Fiber Floor, and they had a piece that was just the size I needed (I only need 86 sq.ft for the bathroom: this was about 100) and cost thirty-six dollars. That is maybe a fifth of what I thought I was going to pay, so I am pretty pleased about it. The stuff I got looks like this: it’s got a little bit of texture, doesn’t look hugely fakey, and I think it’ll blend nicely with the bamboo (it’s about the same color).

I am sort of stoked about how scroungy I’ve been with the floors: I’ve got 2/3rds of the flooring already, and the total cost right now is $176, which is less than a buck a sq. ft. Just need to square away some flooring for the loft and then I’ll be set! The guy at the warehouse is checking into some inexpensive bamboo for me (leftover from new bamboo floors some church is putting in); if that doesn’t come through, they happened to have a laminate that looks like whitewashed barn boards in exactly the right amount I need for the loft at sixty cents a sq. ft. That is kind of an amazing deal, but I swore I’d avoid laminate of any sort with the dogs, since they are really tough on floors and I’m certain the laminate will get ripped up. That said, SIXTY CENTS A FOOT, and also, it’s not like the loft is going to be all that highly trafficked. So if I can’t get the bamboo:

A couple of big purchases coming up: I’m ordering my tankless hot water heater Monday (my mom is getting one too, after not having hot water in like two years!) Also, I’ve got to get my countertops (I’m going to do the dark gray Paperstone, which you guys liked when I polled you about it). Based on what Green Countertops Direct (the place that does Paperstone remnants) has in right now, I think I’ll be able to get 12 ft of countertop for about $100, which is pretty stupendous, since new this stuff costs about $60 PER FOOT (no way in hell I’d be able to just up and buy it from the factory, which is yet another reason I am very happy to be building small: remnants!) Tragically, shipping the counters is going to double the price: the factory is in Hoquiam, Washington, and for about ten insane seconds, I was like, “Well, what if I just drove up there and got them myself?”, though I realized quickly that that was a dumb idea. Toying with the idea of finding somebody on craigslist who can pick them up and put them on a bus for me, though.
Anyway, I love, love, love the house. I am so happy, you guys.

Build: Day Fourteen

I got to the build site at about noon today because I spent the morning trying to track down more flooring and denim insulation that will fit my weird 24″ wall spacing (more on that insulation thing in a sec.) Jeff had been there since 9, and when I got there, I found that he had

1) Built a bathroom wall, including space for the bathroom pocket door, and put in the shower pan for my new shower enclosure (which I hate, but was one of the Compromises of Yesterday: there just isn’t anything else that is going to fit the space without being too heavy/too expensive. But I am already planning how I am going to rip it all out someday soon and put in something a little more custom.) Tiny bathroom is tiiiiiiiiny, and minimizing claustrophobia is going to be my great decorating challenge in there: wee baby pit bull is in there for scale.
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2) Drilled out the hole for the drain (which is no minor thing, as it involves drilling through the subfloor and trailer decking).
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3) Finished a whole lot of the electrical work. Here is the home of my future badass chandelier (I am considering making this and/or a teeny tiny non-obtrusive ceiling fan).

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[I feel like Jeff has to be a) Amish, b) on speed all the time or c) employing a secret band of minions he dismisses the minute he senses I’m going to show up, because otherwise I cannot fathom how he gets things done as quickly and as well as he does.]

Anyway, I had plans to paint more, but instead I spent an hour watching Jeff finish the electrical work: electricity is something where I have ZERO practical knowledge, outside the realm of like, a potato clock, and I really wanted to get a sense of how it all fit together. It turns out it’s not that terrible! The outlets are placed every six feet, and you run regular plastic-coated wire (the kind you see in spools at the hardware store) through the top and out the bottom. Then you just connect it through to the next outlet. If you’ve ever connected a stereo to speakers using speaker wire, it is weirdly quite a lot like that. Much more mundane, much less FLOWING RIVERS OF CURRENT-BASED DEATH.

This wire, PS, is going to be on the outside of the shower enclosure. Just so you know.
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You do the same thing for the light switches and for the dedicated fridge outlet, and then all the coils of wire end up balled up together at the future site of a junction box/circuit breaker. They’ll all be connected in, and then voici: power! Also, here is a thing I didn’t know: you drill holes in your framing studs and run the wire through those holes so your wire isn’t randomly floating around in your walls and you’re not accidentally pounding nails into your electrical system when you hang up pictures. Fascinating! Sorry, people who are more seasoned with electrical work than I am (which is to say, at all). I know this is really elementary stuff: I just found it all totally weird and interesting.
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Then I went out and painted for a while. Bearing in mind that 1. this is not done yet and primed sections always look terrible on their own, 2. this is only a first coat in any case, 3. there is no trim on yet, which will make it look a lot more finished (all of the trim is sitting on the sawhorses in the front of the house, waiting to be painted high gloss white [which I also did today]) and 4. the color is actually a little darker than it shows up in the photos, here are some pictures of the houselet clad in Benjamin Moore Pewter

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I have been painting for like half my life and it still looks awful, but I think tomorrow’s going to be the day it comes together.

More pictures!
Here’s what it looks like when I climb up the ladder, raise the camera over my head, point it at the roof and click the button. The whiteish stuff is the roof composite. See, I told you it was not fascinating!
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What you see in this picture by the fauxlarium is a bale of fiberglass insulation, which is going back tomorrow (miscommunication!). I am feeling very intense about using denim, to the point where I am just past listening to other opinions, and I want it to the point where I am considering driving 300 miles round trip to source it tomorrow. Today made me have a weird amount of sympathy for the people who show up on “Bridezillas”: if you’re in the midst of a big project (especially if you’re not used to doing big projects), and the project feels momentous and like a one-time thing, and you’ve got a picture in your head of what you want and are finding out that reality sometimes requires things to be a little different, a point comes where you find yourself screaming at the camera that “THERE ARE GOING TO BE FREAKING DOVES AT THIS WEDDING IF IT KILLS ME!” and not even caring that America is laughing at you. And that was me with the insulation today.
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But fiberglass insulation can go to hell, honestly. That stuff is the worst.

For everyone who was concerned Nell would have trouble with the loft stairs, she says no worries.
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Tripod pittie is all over this
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From the living room
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My ceiling, let me show you it. [I am going to stain the rafters something dark, I think: you guys like that idea? Sort of mini-Hearst Castle-y?]
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Quick poll: that’s the ceiling looking back at the loft. If you’re in the house, the stairs are on your right. You see that little open space that allows you to look into the loft? [you can see it in the living room shot too] Jeff wants to enclose that: I want to leave it open.

Jeff’s argument: if it’s enclosed, it’ll be private space and there will be good separation from the rest of the house.

My argument: if it’s enclosed, it’ll suddenly go from feeling light and airy to feeling like a coffin. Plus, in my theoretical plannings, I am going to mount a projection screen over the fauxlarium (it’ll be able to roll up and down, obviously) so I can watch movies and Netflix and such on a big screen, and this way I’ll be able to watch it from bed (this is in lieu of having an actual TV box, which I do not have now [note: not for “oh, I don’t watch TV” reasons, just because I currently stream everything]). Also, privacy from who, precisely? Am I really going to be having an army of people over in my living room while I am sleeping? And if so, wouldn’t a roll up shade do the trick? Also, if it’s closed, where will the cats do their acrobatics?

Second question! Interior walls are going to be painted white for sure (maybe with natural cedar in the bathroom). Should they be made of:

Smooth plywood, to approximate kind of a drywall look without the drywall/moving issues

Beadboard siding, like so but all over

Tomorrow: plumbing! And more bathroom installation! And then maybe some hot denim action, depending on if I can get it in. Also, second coat of paint, installation of wall trim, painting the top section of the house, mom painting the door.