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Owner-Builder Journal Entries

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/20/2017

Plumbing is slowly coming along with all but two of the baths having the drain lines in. But still have to connect even those to the main line. In the meantime, Sandra has been cutting up leftover ICF forms and installing them high on the wall between the ends of the floor joists of the 2nd level where the interior foam was missing due to the nature of the build. Why waste the material and it adds another R10 to the space.  

And I'm getting quotes back from the contractors for stucco and sheetrock.  Definitely more for both of them than we had budgeted.  Waiting for one more from a company in Albuquerque. Supposed to have that Thursday.  I want to make a decision on at least the stucco on Friday so the winning contractor can begin running foam and lath in preparation.  I'm really hoping the guys in Albuquerque can come in significantly less than what I have received so far.


Probably hard to see, but Sandra's been installing blocks of foam between the floor joists to cover the interior of the concrete there. Unfortunately, we can't cover the concrete beam below that as it is flush with and part of the interior wall surface

Posted to The-Daniels-addition by Craig in Graham, WA on 3/18/2017 6:36:46 PM

It has been awhile from my last post. We have made some progress, not a lot, but some. Western Washington has been hit with just days and days of rain, I know that is not really news, but it is so wet and muddy nothing is getting done very quickly. The forms are all set, the local county has inspected and everything has passed, we should pour on Monday, March 20th, form striped the next day and then drainage and back fill. Framer is scheduled to start on the 27th.

We had a couple of problems, the first being incorrect grade for the wall. The foundation company placed the final grade too low, this would have not left enough room for the floor joists and a very tight, like no, craw space. I had asked my framer to check levels and grades and he caught it before the forms were set. But we had to excavate an additional 18" to make things work, that put us back about a week. It is so muddy the excavator operator was afraid of getting his track hoe stuck.

I still have to move the telephone and cable runs from the road to the house, last 10 feet or so, just a bunch of hand digging. The main electrical cables must be dug up and ready for the local power company to move to the new meter base location, that wont happen for a couple of months. Also, need to move the septic tank wiring and panel and a couple of conduits, one is for the generator and the other is the heat pump. Will be moving those wires inside and have already removed the sheet rock to make it happen. Most likely get to those smaller jobs done next weekend, I hear the rain is supposed to stop...



Almost formed up
Just about ready for mud

Posted to TheHoskensProject by Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 3/15/2017 1:33:29 PM

Found a great deal on some 16 foot, 8-12" wide pressure treated poles, so we got 4 of them.  One or two will be gate posts for a pair of swinging gates, and the others will be supports for outdoor lights, bat houses, and/or cameras to keep an eye on the property.


Thank goodness for UHaul rentals.
Poles ready for transport.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/14/2017 11:07:21 AM

Did I ever say that I hate running plumbing?  It just takes me forever to run the waste lines.  Like yesterday, it took me four hours, yes it seems impossible, but four hours to run drain line in the master bath.  Wouldn't have taken so long if I had given myself a bit more room to run the vent line off of it. But I didn't and it took many trips up a level to cut pipe, adjusting the 3" line it connected to, etc etc.  By contrast though, the shower line only took less than half that time as it was downslope further and had more room. But still, you can see that this is a slow, slow process. And while the truss joists allow plenty of openings to run plumbing, they also have lots of chords that get in the way, especially since waste connections are made through wyes, not tees. That 45 degree angle makes layout more difficult to not interfere with a chord somewhere along the run.

Timbers for the stairs were delivered yesterday.  I'll get them covered up today as it will be a while before they are built.  And an old friend from a previous life came by and took pics with his drone.  It gives a different view on the project from what we normally see.


The 4 x 12's and some of the 8x8's for constructing the stairs. The 4x12's will be used for the stringers and the steps. Should be a nice massive statement.
Areial shot of the project

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/9/2017

So the wood for the stairs comes next week, but after a discussion with Sandra, whose idea is to get the stairwell sheetrocked first, we decided to do just that.  Also changed is we're ditching the sconces and will go with chandeliers.  Now to figure out how to hang them and more importantly, how to place wiring before the drywall.

In the meantime, I've ordered the elevator which will take about 2 months to get.  Ran a 240V and a 120V over to the location.  Finished the last wall for the shaft, finally and fireblocked the last level.  I drilled holes the the concrete walls for 50amp lones for hot tubs and ran the cable.  Meanwhile Sandra finished stripping wiring, and has moved on to placing blocking for towel racks and paper holders in the bathrooms.  Also will set blocking for shelving and TV brackets.  
Another garage door got new springs this week and I got an opener working on it.  Now the double door and it should get working next week if the springs work for it.  We're still looking at two different sets sent by the manufacturer. We havent ordered ones through the local guy - yet. Fingers crossed.

Got two companies out this week to look at the stucco and drywall.  Just contacted another one today and they'll be out next week.  Should have some numbers to choose from in a couple weeks.  Weather is definitely changing and we want to move on it as soon as possible.  

Will get back on plumbing now that I took a break, taking care of lingering electrical and framing.  

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 3/4/2017

While I am slowly making progress, very slowly, on the plumbing, one can see that the weather is turning and Spring is not far away.  I've contacted four stucco contractors this last week and three appear interested in looking at the job.  Good as they are all about 2 hours away.  The local fellow I contacted replied initially, but has not at all since then.  He was the same fellow I tried to get a reply on the ICF concrete work last year.  I won't ever bother with him again.  Hoping to meet with at least two of the guys this coming week.  Stucco needs to get done before the metal roof goes on, which in hindsight was a good thing the roofer didn't finish last year.  While we got almost 2 feet of snow early this week, there is nothing in the forecast and temps are in the 50s and 60s coming up.  Snow will be disappearing fast, and the stucco should be able to be knocked out.  Also starting to look for drywall quotes even though I won't be ready for that for quite a while.  

Wood for the staircase will arrive on the 14th and the framer should start on those.  Meanwhile, I'll continue moving at a turtle's pace on the plumbing.


Way up there is some of the sewer lines
Looks like the other photo but is the first, harder bathroom.

Posted to The-Daniels-addition by Craig in Graham, WA on 3/2/2017 3:46:31 AM

We dug dirt! The excavator came out on Tuesday morning and got started. He first had to remove all the existing flower beds, lawn and raised garden area. Then start digging down to footing level. The foundation is stepped  down the hill. Think of really long and narrow stairs, with 2 to 3 feet between the steps. Framing is a lot less money than concrete so there is a big savings. You also end up with a nicer looking wall, siding and paint look better than gray concrete wall.

The foundation was out today, March 1st, got a the wall laid out, that is marks on the ground where the wall and footings will be built. We had a bit of confusion, there is a slight angle to the foundation on one of the walls, the foundation guy picked that up right away, the excavator not so much. But we got everything figured out and hope to pour on Friday, March 10.



West side of the existing house.

Posted to gypsyhillfarm by Michelle in East Petersburg , PA on 3/1/2017 9:37:17 AM

Yesterday, I finished reading the Owner-Builder book and I've been updating my notes and questions file with everything I can think of. Our floor plan is pretty set and I'd really like to have every detail planned so that the process of designing and getting an accurate price is as smooth as possible. 

With the little building knowledge I have, I must say, I am nervous at the prospect of undertaking a project of this size, however I have always wanted to build a house and I've been craving the knowledge and hands on experience prior to this opportunity to build fell into our lap.

A little background might be necessary here. We plan to buy into my husband's family farm. There is a structure on the farm that is now acting as a 2-unit apartment. It was built in the 70s and has quite a few issues (in my non-professional opinion). There are two options we are working with. 

1. Remodel the current structure. (This is not ideal in my opinion, I'd like to build a house that will stand the test of time and I really do not think the current structure would, not to mention, it would need copious amounts of money to rehab when starting fresh may cost the same amount.)

2. Complete demolition and rebuild with a new foundation, slab or crawl space, exterior walls, etc.

I just reached out to a friend who was a GC at one time and is now an engineer. I am chomping at the bit to hear back from him as he has loads of knowledge and knows me well enough to be realistic with me. 

I am trying to wait until I hear his insight before talking to designers, however I have started to research options in my area. A lot of them are designer/builders, but one is just a designer and works by the hour, they might just be the winner but I'm trying to find at least three that I can interview and get answers from.

I'm trying my best to be patient, as I know this process is going to be long (and grueling at times). I am hoping that my excitement and enthusiam continues throughout the process though. There is plenty of time, I think. It is now March 1, 2017 and we would like to be complete and ready to move in by the end of the August 2018. So we have about 1 year prior to the start of building. If it's possible to have it started in the fall and completed in March, that would be fine too. My daughter will start kindergarten in the fall of this year, so we want her to finish her school year prior to move in. Luckily, like I said, we have a flexible timeline we're working with and we won't need to rely on a bank for financing. I'm really hoping we can do our 2,275 sq ft build with a budget of $150,000. That's $65 per finished sq foot and seems doable since this isn't going to be a high-end home. I guess we'll see!


This is a photo of the current apartment that is standing where the house would be (either renovated or demo'd)

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/28/2017 10:00:07 PM

After an extra month on the electric, it's pretty much wrapped up. Still waiting on the stairs to be built so I can set boxes for the sconces and need to run a line outdoors for the septic tank pump station but winter has returned and I'd rather work indoors. So I finished off the attic vents, baffles, and insulation on the shed roof at the top of the stairwell ( so the framers can run drywall up there before the temporary floors are removed to allow for the stairs). Figured it might be tough for drywallers to put it up after the stairs are in. 

And then over the weekend, I finally started the plumbing - something I really don't enjoy, dread may be a better description. Not that I haven't done a lot in the past projects, but it's generally been a struggle to snake drain lines through the framing. And this is no different. So far, a fair amount of the last couple days has been in thought and reflection trying to figure some of it out, but I did finally start running the longest line which also has the most difficulty with getting the proper slope to exit the house. I'm having to use the minimum slope allowed and still just barely able to accomplish it without setting a sump tank and pump. It's slow going at the starting end because of the tight clearances. It should proceed quicker as I get further down slope as more room develops. I'm not going to give an estimated time like I did on the electric. I missed that pretty badly didn't I!  Won't make that mistake again. 

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/22/2017 10:37:24 PM

Ok, I needed another roll of 12 and 14 ga.  I think that brings me to about 6000'.  But that should about do it? Yeah, I know I said that before.  We took the last week off as family came to visit.  A lot of family.  It was a good respite from the work and the snow stayed pretty good so eveyome had a great time on the slopes.  But yesterday, I got back to the electric, which is finally in the finishing stages, setting all of the multi-ganged switch boxes into the ICFs at the entryways, running lines for the outdoor lights, and tomorrow, the exterior receptacles near the garage doors.  I need to set the outdoor boxes using diamond drills for the round, and a masonary blade on a 4" grinder for the receptacles.  Sandra will strip the outer sheath and tie grounds together over the next several days at least.  The framer said he is getting ready to begin the massive staircase that goes into the bumpout.  Once that is done, I need to run one last set of electric.  A big one-eight sconces that illuminate the stairs.  I'll be setting the system so you can access the sconces to each floor level from any level.  This'll mean a 4-gang box at each level, using 3 and 4 way switches.  And a lot of wire, maybe one more 250' roll of 14-2.

But before that happens, the stairs need to be built, so while that happens, I'll finish insulating the shed roof that I discussed last time, now that I restocked on materials. And then - finally plumbing! Yes I'm late.  But some things did get in the way besides the enormousness of it all.  

Posted to Cabin-Addition--Spray-Foam-Insulation-Austin-TX by Shawn in Austin, TX on 2/20/2017 1:02:32 PM

It has been a long process in getting this cabin Addition done. I feel like we made the most progress in this one afternoon of installing insulation. Doing the framing is relatively slow compared to what was accomplished on the day of insulation install.

Insulation Austin

The team came out and install closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation on the walls of the addition in this log cabin. 

As you can see in the photos, the existing logs are missing mortar, so we will have to replace that to get any air sealing. 

Also, Stellrr installed attic insulation on the rafters so that we can have a closed modern envelope. 

Below are some photos of the install process. 

Next is Drywall


Installing spray foam insulation in Austin log cabin
Installing spray foam insulation in Austin log cabin on scaffolding
Finished view of installing spray foam insulation in Austin log cabin. You can see the logs on the original structure.
The bathroom. The foam is really sealing it nicely.
Attic insulation in the Austin TX log cabin creating a closed envelope.

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/13/2017

Well, it's been a heck of a long time coming but I finally made the final installation this evening.  The last of the fluorescent bulbs in the house have been replaced with LEDs.

It's been a long time coming.  I started first with swapping out the chandelier bulbs in my master bedroom ceiling fan way back in 2011, but I didn't really start upgrading them much in earnest until mid 2015.  It took a long time for me to find a combination of bulb price, bulb performance (mostly brightness), and bulb availability.  I also discovered rather by accident that dimmable bulbs were not a good choice for Tanglewood, because of variations in voltage levels when the generator was running.  

Eventually I ran across two good sources:  Amazon had a fine brand of bulbs from AriusTek that I rather liked, and Wal Mart greatly expanded their selection of LED bulbs with both dimmable and non-dimmable options.  

There were stumbling blocks along the way of course.  AriusTek changed their technology just before I need one more set of 10 bulbs and once they did restart their production the new bulbs weren't as bright.  I had some trouble with finding the last set of bulbs--the fluorescent tube light replacements--but eventually found some nicely bright ones that involved only a little bit of re-wiring (I had to snip out the ballasts).  They were pricey though and of course I didn't have any to test cheaply--the smallest order was four bulbs--so that part was a bit of a shot in the dark.  I was very pleased with them though, so I quickly ordered four more sets (four sets in that garage plus another set for the apartment kitchen).

The last bulb was actually one I'd forgotten.  There was a heat lamp of all things that they had put into a fitting over the upstairs fireplace, using a slightly smaller can light.  Fortunately Wal Mart had exactly the right one to replace it with.

The fluorescent types of bulbs mostly went to the local county recycler.  A couple of boxes went to my sister back in Missouri to replace her standard incandescent bulbs (after all they're better energy wise), and one box was taken as a donation at a recycling building materials place (probably by accident in retrospect).  

But it's done.  All 255 bulbs (I counted) have been replaced.

So mote it be.

Steven in Colorado

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/12/2017 3:27:15 AM

While I did finish the garage lights, I haven't gotten to the outdoor receptacles and lights yet.  A few things have taken some time away.  One was to help with building a Mardi Gras float.  It actually came along pretty well.  The trailer that was used, barely, just barely fit into the working garage door by maybe three inches on either side.  And when we pulled it out with decorations, barely cleared the top of the door. It's now over at another garage that has a much higher and wider door for final fitment of decorations.

Then volunteer work at the resort for our annual military Winterfest.  A long weekend for current and past vets, with very discounted lodging, lift tickets and various events.  A major purpose is to raise money for the National Wellness and Healing Center here in Angle Fire.  The center is the only one of its kind, treating vets with PTSD using alternative therapies to the drugs commonly used by the VA and other institutions. Offering four retreats a year to a dozen couples at each, it has had significant success.  
So - some time off of the house to give back to those who have served our country.

I have started something that wasn't electrical.  I  needed to get off electrical for a bit.  Too long on one project for me.  So something that needs to get done in the near future was started.  A fairly quick project, the ceiling of the staircase needs to be closed in before the stairs are constructed.  In order to do that, I'm installing vents underneath the roof deck before insulation goes in.  Baffles need to be cut and installed at either end of each rafter bay, the plastic vents are sealed with super tape along the sides and joints, so that air can flow freely from the soffit into the main attic area to keep a cold roof and allow any moisture to move.  The sealing keeps air from flowing into or out of the rest of the rafter bay (and the house).  I've never seen anyone do this, but it's all an effort to tighten up the house as completely as I can.  If I haven't said it before, half of the energy loss of a typically constructed house is through air loss.  Reducing that by close attention to sealing, we should be able to very significantly reduce that loss.

I have been able to get up all the vents that I had,  I'm 8 short.  They have been taped, and  I've caulked and foamed the baffles at the soffit end.  I can begin to install insulation in the areas I've finished.  I'd really like to get that done tomorrow so I can see if we need to pick up another bundle or two when we head to Albuquerque on Tuesday.


Basic construction of the vents in the stairwell ceiling
Overview of the entire ceiling

Posted to The-Daniels-addition by Craig in Graham, WA on 2/12/2017

Well, we are making some progress...First of all we received just more the 18" of snow last Sunday, Feb 5th.  Not very common for Western Washington to get 6" of snow let alone 18". Schools were closed for 3 days, I couldn't get to work for 2 days and nothing got done on my project. By Friday, Feb 10 all the snow was just about gone and the surveyor's had been here and did there thing. Talking with the engineer he says I should have my road detail and cross sections finish by Wednesday this week. If that happens, a quick submittal to Pierce County Planning and my permit should be in hand.

I have the excavator setup for Feb. 21st, he is saying about 2 to 3 days to dig and prepare for the foundation. My foundation guy  can't start until March 10th. But I have lots to do. Including moving a water line from my well, septic pump electrical has to be moved, along with the cable/telephone lines plus moving an exterior electrical line to my heat pump and another for my emergency generator panel.  I think I will mount new the new 200 Amp panel and my new 320 Amp meter base, get the conduits installed and wire pulled to both panels. The framer is all set, I have him set up to start on March 20th. We shall see if this all comes together. 


Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/7/2017 9:44:14 AM

Sunday I ran the final junction boxes for the lighs in the great room, 18' up, working off of a skinny  scaffold plank.  While up that high, I finished taping the SIP seams. Between each box I left a pigtail loop of  wire so that if I need to add more lights, it'll be easy to do.  I had calculated the number of lumens for the space, based on numbers I found online, which were 5000 lumens for 250 sq.ft.  The great room is about 750 sq. ft.  The lights I'm planning on using are 1200 lumens each for a total of 14,400.  But they are up high and we have a huge amount of glass, so the end result of how it will look is a bit unknown.  Thus the option to add more.

Started to set lights for the garage yesterday.  I had bought a number of 8' T5 fixtures at HD back in December.  Now with one garage door working, I could get scaffolding in to work off of.  So much nicer especially went I have the entire width of three planks to stand upon. Each 8' fixture puts out 20,000 lumens, the equivalent of 25 can lights! And uses the equivalent electricity of 2 - 100 watt bulbs.  I'll try to get them finished today and then move on to the outside lights and receptacles.  Plumbing is calling me but I'm trying to focus and finish the wiring details.


Scaffolding in the great room. It was not fun up that high.
4" deep junction boxes attached to the ceiling. You can also see the taped seams. The tape is to eliminate humidity from passing through the joint and condensing under the outside panel which would lead to future rot. Most contractors don't realize this and the result has been big problems several years down the road.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/4/2017

the wolves are running round - as a Grateful Dead song starts.  Well, we knew we had elk, deer, coyote, bobcat, bear and mountain lion, but the other day we found what a friend who used ro run guided hunts says are wolf tracks.  Definitely not cat as the claws are visible, and too elongated for bear, much too large for coyote.  There are Mexican grey wolves in New Mexico, just didn't know they were this close.  Sandra spoke to a resort employee this week who said he recently saw a wolf crossing the main highway and where? Right by where we currently live! Holy crap! The wilderness is still alive and well here!


Here's a photo of the track
And another. These were within 30 feet of the house around the Skytrak.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 2/2/2017 10:03:01 PM

Sandra made a trip to the nearest Lowes today to pick up more wire.  This is finally the end. That and a few miscellaneous electrical things that we again ran out of, like Romex clamps and cable staples.  We've gone through 700 staples - crazy to think of and why I keep running out of things.  I just can't imagine how much it takes.  

Spent half a day on the slopes as the weather was good. But came back, set up another level of scaffolding on the 3rd level and started to set boxes for the great room lights.  While up there, I also taped the seams of the SIP panels.  I had held off waiting to see if that section of the roof was truly dried in.  It seems to be, so I can get them taped with some unbelievable stickly 6" wide tape.  The purpose is to prevent humidity from getting through the seams, condensing under the outer skin and rotting over time.  I should get the other eight boxes set up tomorow morning and with luck, get them wired together.  
Spent yesterday setting switch boxes.  Will get back to that this weekend, but it's all coming together

While at Lowe's, Sandra picked up a truck load of PVC fittings.  Toilet flanges, a ton of 4" wyes, elbows, etc.  Yes, I'm getting ready to run the waste lines.  Trying to snake that through the floor joists- I'm not looking forward to that, but it does mean we are moving forward.  I should be able to begin that sometime next week.


3rd floor panel. I've got two more single breakers and one double to add. That pretty much uses it up.
scaffolding to reach the roof. While I'm setting electrical now, I also need it to put the tongue and grooved ceiling up at some point. So it'll stay a while
A typical switch box installation. Not pretty, but solid once the foam sets. Once the inspector oks the depth of the wire, we'll fill the wire chases with foam and get flush with the ICF surface

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/31/2017

We've been making good progress on the electric.  All of the runs on the second level were finished today, and Sandra has cut on and foamed nearly all of the receptacle boxes into the ICFs on both the second and third floors. Only, a few short runs on the third floor to do, but I need to finally finish the elevator shaft on that floor in order to do that.  I spent yesterday working on that, but have a bit more to do.  And I need to set the boxes for the lights in the great room.  That's going to take setting up scaffolding to get up to the 20' height. That's going to be a bit of a pain and take some time.  Ugh.


Not pretty, but will trim the orange foam before sheetrock goes on. When working with ICFs, you have to cut out the foam to run the electric and set boxes. It's a royal pain. The biggest issue is the depth of the foam that most manufacturers use is 2 1/2" to 2 5/8". Most electric boxes are deeper than that. Close but deeper. Have to search for boxes that fit best and then sometimes still have to chisel out of concrete beyond to get the box to fit. The flap on the box is screwed to a plastic web that is inbedded in the foam. Wires are inserted, you spray foam box to the wall. Turns out rock solid in the end. But still a pain.
Close up of the box setting

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/28/2017 3:19:37 PM

Finally have a high pressure mass that has settled over the area.  No wind for once which made for a great day of skiing, but it also ushered in bitter cold temps.  -34F yesterday morning, -25F this morning.  Doesn't make one anxious to get up and out at the site.  It's 8:30 and still -13, so I'll wait another hour before heading up.  Wasting precious daylight, but I'll probably work faster if it's warmer. 

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/26/2017 10:11:24 PM

Went down to Albuquerque today to pick up our gate that we ordered before Christmas. It turned out great!  Ill talk to the local welder to see when he can come up and install it.  Although we won't get an automatic opener on it until spring, we can put a chain on it and at least lock the site up again.  Since rental season, we have had to leave the gate at the bottom of the common drive open as there can be renters at any time in the house next door.

There were a couple other errands we took care of while in town.  One was to drop off the hammer drill for repair.  For some time, it takes coaxing to get the thing to operate somewhat close to what it should.  Now I've probably drilled 1500 holes with the thing so it has had a lot of use, but it's still under warranty so get it fixed.  I've got a lot more work for it.

And we hit HD as I needed more arc-fault breakers, and wire.  Hopefully that gets us where we need to be.  Arc-failts are almost $40 each and this makes 26 of them we've bought.  That doesn't include the 6 combination arc/ground fault receptacles that run $30 each.  Do the math.  Ouch!

We're making it through the electric little by little.  Most of the second floor cicuits are run.  Just the dishwasher and the mechanical room left indoors.  Third floor needs small appliance cicuits, pendent boxes above the island, and great room lights (all 12 of them). Fourth floor is done.  And the 12 smoke alarm boxes are nearly all in and wired together.  So the immense thing is close to being finished.  That feels good.  


Shot of the new gate at the fabricator's.
A little closer shot of the center figures. Not sure if it's clear but three cowboys on horseback, obviously, but one carries a snowboard, the other two-skis.
All wrapped up and somewhere to go

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/23/2017 11:24:28 PM

Went back to get stitches out from last week's accident.  Everything looks pretty good it. It took forever to get them out as they were done tiny as it was face. But the best part was  - I got to shave! Man it was bugging me! I am not a beard man. Just itched constantly. 

Went back up to the house and Sandra and I went back to electric. She finished the cans in the kitchen, I got the 4th floor bath fans and last cans wired, and we started the fire alarms. Now there will be 10 in the house and I should probably put one in the garage as well. I can already see I'm short of three conductor wire. And I'm out of 14-2 as well. Let's do some math. I've used 2- 1000 ft rolls of 12-2; 3 - 250 ft rolls of 12-2; 2 - 250 ft rolls of 14-3; 1 - 1000 ft roll of 14-2; 1 - 250'roll of 14-2. That makes 4500 feet of wire so far not counting the miscellaneous 6-3 and 10-3 that have gone in as well. And I need more!!! I'm going to have over a mile of wire in a house that is 90 feet long! Well and 4 stories. ;-)


Sandra wiring the kitchen cans
Kitchen can set up
Switch box location in the ICF foam. The box will be screwed to a plastic tie buried in the foam. Can foam will be used to cement the box in once the wires are pulled through. A hot knife is used to cut channels in the foam

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/23/2017 2:51:13 AM

Surprisingly, the snow was pretty funky when I headed out on the slopes. Coupled with a bitter wind and too many people, I bailed on skiing after a few runs and went back to the house to work on the third floor panel. Got all the current home runs tied into it. But still have several more to bring over to it. Before I left, finally got the last cans placed on the fourth floor and wired as well as the bath fans. So -  after many false starts we can look at running the plastic on the ceilings where they are exposed to the roof trusses. If we can get that done we can trap some heat in on those floors.  Winter is finally setting in with temps beginning a long trend colder. It will be nice to warm things up a bit. 


Everyone has been saying there haven't been a lot of photos lately. But come on. Looking at wiring isn't that exciting. Third floor panel after today.
Close up of the panel. There are a number of additional circuits yet to go in
Winter up here can be just beautiful

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/22/2017 2:56:32 PM

Although I remember the hell that snow gave Tanglewood Steve on his build in Colorado, the life blood of a ski resort  is obviously snow.  And it's been a little hard to come by this year. Most everything seems to have been further north and pounding Colorado.  We haven't been totally without, but it certainly could be much better.  Finally we are in the midst of a series of storms tracking more southerly and so far have received 16" in the past two days with more to come tomorrow and Tuesday.  Time for some R&R today and enjoy the powder.  Hell with the electric! 

Posted to The-Daniels-addition by Craig in Graham, WA on 1/22/2017 12:31:06 AM

Well, here I sit...Still waiting for Pierce County to decide if they will issue my permit before the fire sprinkler permit or not. I received three quotes for the fire sprinklers including installation and a 300 gallon water storage tank, required because I am on a well. Fire sprinklers are not cheap, but it should push the appraised value up anther $15 or $20 thousand.
I am looking at two weeks before the drawing are ready plus a week for the permit, I was hoping to start before the end of the month, we will see.

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/22/2017

I dare say I am very pleased with these so far.

I'm just about done converting all of my fixtures over to CFLs, and the most tricky part remaining was the CFL tube lights.  Back when I built Tanglewood we put four of these, one over each garage bay.   These are all four-foot fixture so they require the larger T8 bulbs.   There's another fixture in the apartment kitchen (more on that in a minute), and folks might recall a smaller fixture using two-foot lights I replaced late in 2016.

I'd poked around at the various home builder supply stores and couldn't really find anything I liked.  Oh a couple seemed to have the right lumens needed, but they were marred by reviews--even had one light that argued back and forth whether or not the existing ballast could be left in place or if it had to be clipped out.  

I went to search on trusty Amazon and found a lot of options--too many really--but was able to winnow them down a bit with some research.  Eventually I narrowed it down to one that looked good--excellent lumen output (2100L), bright daylight output (I wanted the garage to have more light), and their price was pretty solid.  While the output was slightly less than the stock CFLs they were half the wattage, and all the reviews unanimously agreed that the reflector on the back of the tube would prevent "wasting" half the light from the full-circle output of the standard CFLs.  So I ordered four of them (the smallest order that I could make) and figured that if these worked I'd be happy and if  not I wasn't out all that much.

They arrived--and then we had 4 weeks of  unrelenting cold weather.  Things would be great during the middle of the week, but come the weekend (when I had a chance to work in the garage) it was cold and dark and nasty.  So they waited.

Finally got this first set of four in today and WOW I am impressed!  It was very simple to clip out the old ballast and there was a lot of extra wire in the existing fixture and  it was quite easy to re-engineer everything for the new lights.   (I even found myself rather ahead of schedule--a nice surprise usually when doing chores around here.)

These lights are very bright and clearly brighter than the CFLs (there's a couple of comparison shots below).  I am very impressed with how quickly I got them up and running (like I said, a lot of extra wire in there).  I will definitely be getting more.

With this work I've swapped out two fixture's worth of lights, so I'll order another 4-pack for the next pair of fixtures this week and then take a gander at the light in the apartment (it's a different type of fixture so I don't know if it's two lights or four--if it's four I think it's gonna blind her).  

Very pleased, and the LED Conversion is Nearly Complete!

Steven in Colorado


In this you can see three light fixtures. The nearest is without the reflector/cover, the one in the middle has the reflector on, and the far one has the older CFLs. As you can see the older fixture is DEFINITELY not as bright as the new LED ones.
Closeup of the middle and third (right hand) fixture. I took this right after I got the cover on this LED fixture and wanted a side-by-side comparison.
Straight shot of the LED tube lights, without their fixture.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/19/2017

My three week goal is almost up and guess what? I'm not going to make it.  Sandra and I are still at it.  There are so many runs to make, and with the lighting, much of it has multi-way switching (turn on/off from multiple locations). Nearly all of the can lights are in, but 40 of them need to be connected.  All of the wire chases that go into the ICF walls have been cut out, but wire and boxes need to be foamed into place.  

I've gotten much of the second floor panel wired up which cleaned up the rats nest of wires draped all over.  I'll tackle the main level panel soon and get that mess taken care of as well.  Slowly but surely everything is getting done, but man! Stuff  just seems to be rearing its head.  Ok, so maybe by the end of the month? ;-)

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/15/2017 12:29:37 PM

Never too old to learn new tricks. I had a learning experience yesterday that will not be forgotten.  I was finishing up for the day trying to get one one last electric line in before quitting. Down in the garage 12' up with the ladder against the wall. Was pulling wire through the trusses, not leaning sideways nor at the top of the ladder though I was at the ceiling height. All of a sudden the feet of the ladder slip outward and I found myself headed to the floor, ladder underneath me. Slowly got up. Leg banged hard in a couple places. Blood coming down my face from a couple gashes. But I could move. Climbed up a ladder to get out of the garage and drove home. Sandra appraised the situation and made the call to go to the ER in Taos. X-rays, CT scan and 25 stitches later we finally left for home. 

Daughter who is a safety engineer sent loads of stuff on ladder safety products. They look good and we'll order a couple. 

It was a lesson that ultimately was inexpensive from what I could have been. Between running umpteen wires and setting the garage door tracks, I've been up and down the ladder on that same floor a hundred times. All over a bare floor without a wall to slow the decent. Same slip could have happened and the result would have been far worse. Someone was watching over me but knew I needed some lesson to get through my hard head. So He gave me one with just enough hurt to get my attention. 

I'll make some changes to how I  work in the future including making sure the ladder is secure. My advice to everyone else is to pay attention to securing it as well even if you are on a level and what seems to be a safe surface. 

Posted to TheHoskensProject by Brian in Dome-ville, FL on 1/15/2017

We have been trying to find a roof leak for months.  It was just barely leaking, just enough to leave a stain on the ceiling and mess up some wall paint.  Since this is a dome, there's no shingles, just paint on the roof to waterproof it.  I finally decided to paint a heavy coat of elastomeric paint over the general area where it was leaking, and I think it's stopped.  Next time we clean and paint the dome, I think we're doing the entire thing in elastomeric roof paint, probably should have done that from the beginning.

I am going to wait a couple months or so to make sure the roof leak is stopped, then it's time to order and install cabinets and countertops!


Did some cleaning and set up a bed upstairs, now that the leak is likely stopped
Put some non-slip stickers in the bathtub
Laid out some rugs.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/13/2017 11:20:37 PM

Should be done with this level in a couple days.  The bedrooms and baths are done except for setting boxes in the ICF walls and securing the wire using scrap foam to temporarily hold it in the channels Sandra made, while dabs of spray foam sprayed in set up.  That should be an easy chore as everything is in place.  The ski/mud room needs its lights and receptacles wired.  Those items should be done tomorrow.  Need to run the kitchen stuff, and the great room lights, all 16 of them.  So maybe a total of 3 days?

Then back upstairs to the main level and 4th floor.  Just bath fans in the 4th floor, but kitchen and great room lights on the main.  The great room will be a challenge having to rip 2x4's to create a space along the interior sub ceiling and attachment point for electrical boxes that can be used for surface mounted LEDs  after the ceiling is installed some months down the road. 3 weeks huh? Hmmm. 

Had a look on Google maps yesterday.  Was surpsrised to see the satellite image had changed quite a bit from the last one.  What was a bare plot of ground now has a structure circa early October from the stage it is in.  I took a screen shot and attached it here.n


roof decking isn't on, but the decks are being installed. Two more glulams for the decks are visible as long white things in the lower left of the site.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/9/2017 10:27:58 PM

Sandra has been a life saver on the electric.  Many of the runs, especially the home runs back to the panels are long and run through floor trusses on a different level.  Without her, I'd have to keep running from one floor to the other, pushing and pulling wire.  We spent today running the second level.  Got a lot of the home runs taken care of and a fair amount of receptacles as well.  But none of the lighting or fans as they haven't been installed yet.  They are one of the many things that need to get done over the next 11 days if I am going to make my 3 week deadline.  Hmmm. 


Second floor panel. Much but not all of the wiring that will go into it is hanging alongside in that rats nest
Upstairs panel and much of its wiring. Didn't I say earlier that wiring is not very exciting?

Posted to The-Daniels-addition by Craig in Graham, WA on 1/6/2017

Hello, just starting this journal, should be interesting. We originally constructed a living area over a garage eight years ago, all that we could afford at the time, mostly with our own cash. Three years ago we had an architect design us a 1,868 sq. ft., over two stories addition, plus 1,076 sq. ft. of deck space. It will have two additional bedrooms, laundry room, 2.5 baths, a great room kitchen, dining/living area. To go with our existing bedroom, 3/4 bath and a living/dining/kitchen area that will be converted into an additional bedroom and a bonus room. We now have the funds and income to do the addition and are currently in the permitting process.

We stated permits with Pierce County, in Washington State in July, this being January, we have run into a few problems. Most of them the architect/engineer handled with no cost to me they just took time, we are building on the side of a hill and for some reason the county does not want the house to slide to the bottom of the hill...The first problem was an updated Geo-Teck report, this report is about the soils, if the hill will slide etc. It took four updates and two months for that approval. Then they didn't like the floor joist lay out and that took a bit of time and after all the we ran in to 17B lot access.

17B lot access is a code requirement that a private access road be 15' wide and have no more than a 12% grade. My access road is 10' wide and has a 20% plus grade, I said we are on the side of a hill and no way can you lower the grade. But they do have a way around the 17B requirement, that is a fire sprinkler system, so I am out for bid looking for such. I have three company working on a quote, hopefully good things will happen soon. Best guess is about $5000.00, but is should add $15,000 to $20,000 to the final value, plus a very good reduction in the homeowners insurance cost.

I have my excavator, foundation and framer on stand by, they can start with less than a weeks notice. I am acting as my own general contractor, I have over twenty years experience in lite general construction, mostly with convenience stores, underground fuel storage system, water and sewer projects and such. I plan on subbing out most of the house and have bids to do just that. I will personally be do the electrical, finish plumbing, hard wood floors and painting.

My timeline is about eight to ten months, once I get started that is...



This is where the addition will be added. And yes, we have snow on the ground in Western Washington. Graham, the area I live in is South Puyallup, WA.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/5/2017

So we are working on the electric, trying to get it done within the three week schedule I set for ourselves. I'm still optimistic that we can do it, but there so many things to run. And it's constantly up and down on the step ladder for all of the ceiling work. Sandra is working alongside me, so to speak, setting boxes, drilling holes through studs for wire runs, cutting ICF foam for boxes in those walls, cutting wire chases in the foam and feeding wire to me through a floor as I thread it through the floor trusses below.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was hoping to get plastic on the ceilings by now so we can begin putting some heat in there while we work, but I ran out of can lights, and I now realize I need to get bath fans and get them in place as well before the plastic. So this weekend we'll head down to Santa Fe and pick the fans up, along with a pile more electrical boxes. Already have gone through 100 single gangs. I need another dozen ceiling fan boxes for fans and chandeliers, another couple dozen round boxes for vanity lights and fire alarms etc. It's like plumbing fittings. You really never realize how many get used. Of course if I could really go a good job of looking over the plans that I drew up, I might have gotten a better count, but I'd still not get everything. As Sandra is setting the boxes, there are still questions. Now that we are standing in the areas, we are reassessing a few things, like how many places do you want to be able to turn a certain group of lights on from? How many lights to cover this area? It's bigger than I had imagined, etc.

On the light subject, we have already gone through five cases of cans. Another ten cases arrived today. I think that might get us there. That's 90 cans total. I hate to think of the cost of LED's for all of those. :-( But fortunately, the cost of them have come down drastically in the past couple years. Even in the year since we finished the Mutton Busting project, they have come down another 25%. So while I've already bought a dozen so we can get some light to work by, it'll be better to hold off buying the others until we get much further along. Prices may be cheaper still in six months.

I meant to get a couple pics taken but keep forgetting, although looking at wiring isn't the most interesting thing.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 1/1/2017

So we are eight months into the build, starting in May of 2016 with the excavation. We are looking at getting the top two floors finished by Christmas of this new year. I think it's doable. But it also means putting in a fair amount of infrastructure on the middle level as well. This is because I pulled trade permits for the entire house. Additionally plumbing and heating ducts are installed in the floor joists of the second floor (ceiling of the garage). One of the requirements of getting an occupancy permit is to have the garage ceiling covered with 5/8" sheetrock. This means the plumbing drains and duct work for the second level need to be installed. So - I really need to do quite a bit more than just finish off the top two levels. :-(

We started the electric just before the holidays. My goal is to have wiring run for all floors in the next three weeks. It's a lot to do, but I think we can get it done. We've gotten can lights installed and wired in the master, the closet and the ski room. We've gotten wiring run for receptacles in the same rooms. I'll run everything for the master bath and half bath tomorrow and start running cans in the fourth floor while Sandra sets receptacles. We should have that wired in a couple days. Then back to the main level to figure out switches for the kitchen and stairway lights, and for the lights in the great room (that won't get installed until spring when the roof is on and the T&G ceiling is installed). These are all three-way and four-way circuits and the stairs will be especially "interesting" as there are four levels. Just how many levels do you turn on with each switch? Maybe just one level at a time might way to do it. But then, do you have a four gang switch box at each level and have the ability to access all four levels from each floor? Things to think about.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 12/23/2016

OK - got all of my tidying up done, and as always it takes longer than you plan. But vent holes are plugged, the garage door tracks are all permanently set and ready for the new springs and cable drums that the supplier is sending. I have power run from the main disconnect panels in the garage to the subpanels so I can have power outlets on each floor.

So we can move forward! So today, before we break for Christmas and family coming in, we can finally set the can lights that will allow us to close off the house from the attic spaces with plastic so we can begin throwing heat in while we work. So far it hasn't been too much of an issue as the weather hasn't been that bad, outside of a couple cold nights. But January should bring much colder temps and being ready for that is good.

Merry Christmas to all!

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/21/2016

Loving the solstice... darkest day of the year, but every day from here on out for the next six months means more sunlight!

Happy Solstice, everyone!

Steven in Colorado

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 12/19/2016

I pulled the service entry cable through the two levels of floor joists on Saturday. Went from each subpanel to it's respective main disconnect. Was not very easy, being that everything was cold and stiff and it was just me pushing on one end and then going to pull on the other, trying to wind it through the joists on a diagonal to save wire. In the end, I had ZERO wire left over. That's cutting it way too close. If I had been short, I would have had to re-buy that run as it would be more expensive to try to splice a section in. Now I need to connect the runs at either end, but I'm missing a couple connectors, and while they are available in Santa Fe, nothing locally. I'll probably head there sometime this week to pick up a door that is supposed to arrive at HD, and will try to get the parts then.

But no problem, always plenty of things to do and this is forcing me to finish the numerous things I had started and in my A.D.D. way, had moved on to something else. So today I finished the doors, putting on the handles and locksets, making some minor adjustments along the way, and adding all of the necessary screws to finalize the attachment to the door frames. Foamed the joints between the curved roof beam and the 4th floor wall where there was about a 3/4" gap to the outside. Went down to the garage and finished insulating the storeroom wall which I had started two weeks ago. My idea was to get that all closed in before cold weather came and froze the water line. Well, I didn't finish it, and it froze and cracked the main valve. Fortunately on the downstream side so it only sprayed when I was using water. I had the village shut off the line at the meter last Friday after finishing the scratch coat work. I'll have them turn it back on in Spring. But there is still a section protruding from the wall, and as the storeroom still isn't closed completely, I spent some time today attaching insulation batts around the remaining line in hopes it'll make it through the -15°F temps tonight. Get the door in (that is on it's way to HD) and close off the ceiling with plastic and I can throw a small heater in there if I have to.

And then tomorrow, I'll finally go back to finishing the tracks on the two remaining garage doors - yes, they are still uncompleted. We did set the 16' panels a couple weeks ago the day we lifted the French doors up stairs, but they have sat since. Tracks need to installed. And hopefully this week the door guy will be back with the new hardware for the one door we are trying it on. The company I bought the doors from has not been very helpful yet and I need to sit on them this week to get some answers.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 12/16/2016

OK, right on schedule, according to the forecasts, winter, sort of, came back. Several inches of snow, but also a half inch of rain which we wish was snow. Christmas is next week and we need skiing!

But Sandra and I took advantage of the several days of good weather while it was around. She finished the staining yesterday of all the outdoor beams, joists and posts! One thing on the house that is finished!

I was able to finish scratch coat on the stairwell and part of the wainscot of the third level to nearly finish that. Starting to break the stark whiteness of the building.

I was starting to put the door hardware on the doors yesterday, but got sidetracked, and I wasn't going to try today with winter blowing through. Instead I plowed the driveway and then began to look at running the service entry cable. It runs from the main breaker panels in the garage to the subpanels of the second and third levels. Once that is in, I can set a few outlets on each floor and quit running extension cords from the garage. Yeah, I know I was happy to quit running them from the meter and switch to the garage, but getting power to each floor is even better!

Just looking at the weather, 10" by the morning! Yeah! Maybe a short day and make a few runs down the mountain? ;-)


All of the staining done! Yeah!
Roll of service entry cable I need to pull from each subpanel to the main breaker panels
Kerosene heater I'll use once I get the ceilings that are open to the trusses, closed with plastic sheeting. Fired it up today to make sure it works and it did.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 12/13/2016

It's allowing me to work on the scratch coat and I'll finish the staircase section tomorrow. It's really great to see the great white monolith slowly become devoured by gray cement. in the process, reducing the starkness of the total structure. I'm tempted to run stone afterwards, but with the forecast changing in two days, and PLENTY of other things I need to finish and begin, I'll fight the urge.

We reset two French doors today, swapping their positions for a better entry into the their respective spaces. While all of them are set and most shimmed, there are a few other things to do to finish their installation, including putting on the handle and lock sets.

I finally got the electrician to energize the line to the house and we now have power in the garage. Waiting for service entry cable to take the power up to the sub-panels. But this weekend I'll begin wiring the house!

Sandra continues to stain, moving over the the right side of the house today. She might just be able to finish before the weather changes. She also designed a gate for the drive. I think it is going to look fantastic. Will go out for pricing this week. Called one place online who does really nice work, and they are a year wait! Yeah I guess they do nice work! But there are several places in Albuquerque that we'll check out.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 12/11/2016

After so much cold the past couple weeks, which allowed the resort to make some decent snow, we have a warm spell starting yesterday and lasting through next week. Temps in the 40s and nighttime temps in the upper 20s to low 30s. This is not good for skiing, and now that I'm dried in, we certainly want the resort to do well for the ski season, and the kids are coming for Christmas.

On the other hand, given this warm weather, I'll take advantage of it and go back to either running stone or running more scratch coat. I'd prefer to do the latter, but need to attach more lath and my staple gun is in the shop as it has been for three weeks. Will try to borrow the framer's.

I got the driveway gate posts set in concrete yesterday. We now have to decide on a gate, what style, whether it'll be a single or double, whether we have it made locally or buy online.

Sandra went back to staining the decks yesterday. Man! There is a lot to stain!

Need to finish shimming the doors we put in the past week, so we can foam-seal them, getting closer to getting the place ready for a heater.


Door sills had to chiseled to get to proper height. Once there, we powder-nail a piece of composite deck board to the concrete for the door to sit on.
Side entry door. As you can see, using ICFs for construction presents challenges for door setting, and later, trimming out as the door has to set to the inside in order to swing open.


Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 12/7/2016

We're making progress on getting the French doors in. With ICF construction, setting doors and windows is generally different than on a framed structure. Also add in that the dimensions of the openings during the concrete phase were sometimes off a bit, and setting the frames, getting the concrete sill chiseled to the correct height has taken a fair amount of time this week. But today we got the main level French doors, four of them to be exact, set in place! I still have to finish shimming and have some fine tuning of the hinges, but they are in, they operate very well considering they haven't been tuned yet.

Taking tomorrow off as it is opening day of skiing, but Friday, we'll set the two second floor French doors and the side door. Get hardware on and the house will be pretty secure. We still have to get the garage doors working to be able to fully lock the house, but at least it'll keep the skiers from using it as a warming hut. ;-)

The excavator backfilled the electric trench and cleaned up the area. Also had him dig two holes so we can put in posts for a driveway gate. I set form tubes, picked up some square steel channel and will try to mix concrete this weekend and set the posts. It's actually going to warm up a bit this weekend and it will be a good chance to get that done.


Great room door to the side deck. Both doors operate.
Kitchen door. This also has both doors operable for the future patio. Snow on the slope in the background.
Door leading to the deck that wraps around to the side deck

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/6/2016

Well now, we pretty much got nothing but sucky weather for the last couple of weeks. Oh, there were bouts of (nice) warmth in which I could get a bit done, but with rapidly diminishing amount of sunlight my window of ability to get work done was getting smaller and smaller.

At least I've got the wall around the door is good enough for the winter. I decided to various strips of wood and such to hammer out some temporary coverings for the exterior, with the ultimate aim towards creating a temporary "wall" that would allow me to pack in insulation. The exterior wall is not done correctly by any means whatsoever--I used Velcro for some of the pieces to attach them up--but the idea wasn't to make it pretty, just allow me to install insulation a bit.

Once that was all done (took a day) then I spent the next quality day packing in insulation around the door. Since the door's exterior is so relatively irregular (compared to a square door) I put on my latex gloves and kinda packed it in a chunk at a time. I backslid a couple of times when I accidentally pushed off one of the boards I'd attached (Velcro), so I had to clean up the mess and put it all back. But after pretty much all of the "warm window" available to me, it is done.

Now as a reminder this is NOT DONE YET. This is just a way to get things closed up a bit for the winter and stop the colder weather from blowing through those big openings. Come the spring I'll have to tear this all out and do it right, spending much quality time carefully cutting the concrete board, then repeating the process on the interior. I might decide to put up some temporary drywall on the interior since even a temporary wall will cut down infiltration a bit, but we'll see... It will in part depend on how well it's doing the insulation just with just the insulation.

So I lost the race with the winter weather but that's okay... It was necessary (new truck) and I've got all kinds of flexibility. The final piece I want to get done before I call it "done" right now is to get the locksets installed--I've got a fancy keypad lockset (so I don't lose keys any more) and (for the winter months, like now) a nice long deadbolt. That means a bit more drilling out of the holes for the bolts (the doors are bored for the two locksets but oddly enough there's nothing to receive the bolts, which I think is weird) but I can get that.

Good progress at least. Once the door is "good enough" the next project is probably either the big curtains over the big room windows or possibly getting the chandelier up; depends on when that scaffolding gets here.

Steven in Colorado


The door from the outside--not a great pic, more shade than I'd wanted, but you can see the temporary blocking to help seal it up for the winter.
The door from the inside--nicely packed in everywhere, there is NO infiltration or wind coming through that puppy (it's about 10" thick throughout that area).

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/5/2016

This was somewhat unexpected.

Since I've started my vacation last week (I'm a workaholic so I never take a regular vacation - as a result I have to use it all at once in one lump sum at the end of the year) I haven't been out much - just hasn't been a need. My last trip into town was on Saturday, December third.

So imagine my surprise when I decided to run down into town to get a few things to find that our canyon's exterior gate was completely broken!

From my examination of it I think the wood of the 8x8 post that the gate was attached to just split - probably got hit with several freezing/thawing cycles over the last year or so. There was a larger crack on the northern side of the post and I'd guess that all of the rain and snow and stuff blew into that crack, and over time that just gave out. The gate clearly broke and fell when it was opened and there was an approximate 60 second delay to opening/closing. My guess is that the gate was opened, the driver went through, and behind him/her it shattered after they'd been able to see it - the most weight would have been "hanging" during that time frame and the split is perfectly consistent with the crack.

Basically, it just broke.

So it's taking folks a bit to figure out what they want to do next, but I suspect it'll get replaced in a couple of weeks.

It's usually very dull and quiet up here, but every so often...

Steven in Colorado


That post just split clean as a whistle.
Longer shot showing the entire gate.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 12/3/2016

I should have electric inside the garage on Monday if the electrician can come back and energize the lines. I finished splicing the lines inside the junction box on Thursday, and today I finished running the lines to the breaker boxes inside the garage. Need to set some outlets and run wire to them. Also have maybe an hour inside the junction box to set some clamps and secure the wire bundles to it. Overall, I'm pleased with how it all turned out. From the main breakers, I need to run cables to the large sub-panels on levels two and three. It's from these two panels that the main sections of the house will be powered.

The garage door guy showed up yesterday to look at the one door that I've had put together, to see what is going on. He thinks that the wrong springs and cable drums were sent. He got on the phone with a supplier and based on size, weight and lift height, new parts were sized and ordered. It'll take a few weeks to get them in. Once that happens, they'll be installed and we'll see if that's the solution. If so, I'll get hold of the door company and see about them supplying the parts for the other two doors as well as giving me a refund on the new set. I'm not hopeful as they really didn't have any installation experience to give. They supply custom doors, ask someone else to supply the hardware. Argh!


Junction box with conduits finished.
Cables all connected together. Neutrals, grounds, and two phases. Two of each coming in, two of each going out.
Main cables connected to main breaker panels.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 11/30/2016

The six exterior French doors arrived today. Unfortunately, due to the snow, the truck couldn't make it up the drive, so we had it park about a half mile down the road and we shuttled the doors up two at a time on the trailer. The driver graciously offered to help and without that help they would not have gotten unloaded. The suckers are heavy! Easily as much as the large windows. I tried to help lift the first one, and there was no way. You would think, that after two previous house projects in the past three years and now this one, that I would have built a few more muscles, but it ain't to be, I guess. So Victor, one of the previous framers, and the driver did the honors. We put them in the garage, and I hope that we can get them up to their respective floors next Monday. The weather is supposed to break a bit over the weekend and I'm hoping the decks will be free of snow and ice to facilitate.

Meanwhile, I was back on the electric. I tried to work the 4/0 (thickness of your index finger at its base) wire through a hard right angle box to get it through the wall. There was no way it was going to be easy, and there were at least one more for each service. I gave up and went back to the previous design where the four sets of wires are joined on the outside of the house. This way the wires penetrating the wall are 2/0 (thickness of your pinky) and are easier, not easy, to make tight bends. Just getting the 4/0 wires into the junction box was hell enough! But overall a better way.

Will continue to work on it as materials permit. Some of the things necessary are not readily available in our small town. We'll be heading to Santa Fe on Friday and I'll get things then.


Don't let this fool you. Getting those wires into the box wasn't easy when they are constrained below by the conduit. One more set goes in through the unfinished conduit run and then its time to connect them together in four bundles.
The hammer drill, core bit and pointed chisel used to cut holes for the electric line through the 12" concrete wall.
Holes done

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 11/29/2016

We got back from the holiday yesterday in the middle of a snow storm which lasted into today. While the total was only about five inches, the wind that accompanied it was fierce.

Fortunately, I was in the garage most of the day once I got the drive plowed. I was starting to set up for running the electric. The large junction box where the two main lines coming to the house join before going out again to separate main breakers, arrived while we were gone. I have to cut four 2" holes in it to run the conduit. I got one done before the hole saw crapped out. Went and got a new one, but it didn't even get a hole cut before it was dull! The picture on the package shows it cutting a steel I-beam, and it can't cut through a thin junction box?! Took it back. I'll try using a jigsaw on it instead.

The core drill and long chisel arrived late morning. Fantastic! Went back up and went to work hammer drilling two 2 5/8" holes through the 12" of concrete and the stone that we had already run on the outside. Took about a half-hour per hole, drilling for an inch or two, and then using the pointed chisel to break off the core, clean it out and start all over. Drilled a few small holes across the area first to reduce the chances of hitting rebar with the core drill. All went well. Set the two breaker panels before calling it quits. Need to get those holes put in the junction box, and try to see how best to set that. Was going to place it on the outside, but am now thinking of the inside if I can make it fit. Less stuff on the front of the house.

French doors are supposed to be delivered on Wednesday. With all the snow, I'm afraid we are going to have to shuttle them up on the trailer. I'm sure he won't have four-wheel drive. And I don't expect the roofer for a few days at least!

Posted to Tanglewood by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/28/2016

About. Damn. Time.

I've been wrestling with this for the last couple of weeks. It really bothered me that the speakeasy was a bit crooked and I couldn't see why that would be so. I've been working on it as much as I could which hasn't been much - our spate of 50+ degree weather was been degrading steadily and so I've had less and less good weather - and only a few hours of that - to work on things. Gets slow to warm up and cools down quickly in the mid-afternoon.

I had decided just prior to Thanksgiving that I the door frame might be a bit crooked. I'd taken a bunch of level measurements all over and consistently got one measurement showing a slight angle with each "leg" of the arch. I decided to take out all of the blocking and set screws and basically everything I could remove so that there would basically only be the glued on base (the threshold) to hold it all into place. I wasn't worried about wind or anything as it's set well back inside the porch, and I'd already verified that all of my measurements along the threshold itself were true and level.

So after carefully blocking the doors I began removing all of the blocks I'd built up along each side of the frame. Most of this was hammered in bits of wood to adjust spacing as I'd worked with the doors, but a couple of the were set screws I'd attached over the course of the last couple of weeks. I also decided to remove the two larger pieces of pine board that were still on the frame itself....I'd left them on since I didn't think they would interfere at all. My thinking now was to restart everything with simplicity, and for that it meant everything came out except the doors themselves.

So I hammered out the hunks of wood and started to remove the set screws. Danged as the last set screw cleared the 2x8 framing there wasn't a "POP!" and the whole frame shifted! I went ahead completed backing it out and then began checking levels and fit and it was all MUCH MUCH better! The left-hand door was practically perfect as was, and the right-hand door clearly needed some adjustment but it was pretty close. A couple of hours later of installing set screws and basically "pinning" the upper parts of the arch so they wouldn't move and it was DONE.

I'm guessing that I just got it all wonky from all the things I'd been trying. When I was first setting the arch and the doors I "went as I went", making adjustments as I did each side rather than putting the whole thing together and then seeing what needed doing. Basically was grossly over-engineering the whole thing.

So now what I've left is the drilling of the locking holes and getting the locksets themselves installed. I didn't have nearly enough time to do that today as I had thought - about 15 minutes after I removed all of the blankets and such we got a bad blustery bout of cold and a bit of snow. Then the sun came back out and I was able to measure and get it all ready.

It's definitely going to be a heck of a race to seal up the wall though. I think what I'll have to do is to carefully plan and cut the pieces and then wait for decent weather (or possibly I'll be able to tack it up in some fashion temporarily). The weather doesn't look good for the next several days so the best I'll be able to do is just add more blankets/bedding and get the pieces as ready as I can be.

That's Colorado weather, and frankly we've been lucky so far. I can't complain too much if it gets all cold and nasty now.

Getting there though!

Steven in Colorado

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 11/19/2016

With the framer done, the roofer not around, the electrician not there and the stone guys gone, it's extremely peaceful at the site. The only real noise is the diesel engine of the SkyTrak when cranked up to move or lift. Sandra was periodically taking off from her deck staining to lift me into position while I was attaching lath and scratch coat to the front of the stairwell. What about the framer turned stone mason? Well funny thing after one day, he didn't bother to show up or call. So another bites the dust. It's not my management. I am a very hands-off fellow. Probably too hands-off on jobs like this. It's the type of people that basically work day-to-day. Or should I say sometimes they work. No ambition. I just don't understand that mentality. So - while there are a ton of other things I should be doing, I'm trying to knock as much of this out while we have a few more days of decent temps. I got lath run up through the second floor on the front and sides and scratch coat on about 3/4 of it. I'm going to finish that off tomorrow and try to get the front of the third floor lathed and scratched.

We actually took the day off yesterday as it was cold, and went to Santa Fe. Hit Trader Joe's and Home Depot while there. Picked up a bunch of electrical boxes as we should be able to start that sometime in December - if we get the other things caught up, doors, garage doors, service feed into the house, etc.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 11/17/2016

So the framer is essentially finished. He still has a couple things, the major one being the stairs, but as said earlier, we've agreed to let him move on to his next project for a few weeks as we have plenty on our plate for ourselves. The roofer got 99% of the dry-in done, but ran out of material on the last row of synthetic roofing paper. He'll be back on Monday to finish. I offered to get more locally for him, but the winds were already getting pretty strong from a storm coming through. Throughout the day they became horrendous with unbelievable gusts battering the house.

I decided to release the two guys doing stone. The progress had become far too slow. Watching them had become painful to look at and painful on the wallet. One of the framers happened to quit yesterday, thankfully after they had gotten finished, and I picked him up. He too was having issues with speed on his first day, so I decided the only way to get this moving was to work alongside him. One thing all of them seem to think is that every stone has to fit like a puzzle piece, every on has to be perfectly level. They seem to obsess over that. In reality, since every stone is a bit different in size, you run a lot of them and periodically look at the overall trend of levelness and make slight adjustments if necessary. We set up where I was buttering the stone and he was setting. In an hour and a half, we did more than he had done all day before. We had to stop as the tile saw froze, literally! The tray was frozen over, but more importantly the water line froze up and we couldn't get water to the blade. So we packed it in, covered the work with plastic, as it'll get close to 0° F tonight, cleaned up and left. Going to be just as cold tomorrow, but the weekend is supposed to be warmer and we'll hopefully work on it again. I'd like to get the central stairwell done before winter sets in hard, probably can't, but I'd like to try.

Meanwhile, called Santa Fe today to get an inspection on the electric line in the trench, so we can get that covered. Couldn't get anyone, left a message with the chief inspector and haven't heard back. Will try again tomorrow, but word is they are overloaded and take forever. We'll see.

I ordered and received new long bars for tightening the torsion springs on the garage doors. Played a bit with the one door, and the length helps a LOT, but the wires were a bit unbalanced, so I released all tension and will try again tomorrow.

The snowplow I ordered arrived today. Took a brief look at how it'll attach to the Jeep and it looks pretty simple. Since it'll be cold tomorrow but dry, I think I'll get that chore taken care of. Don't know just how soon I'll need it and I'd rather not be laying in the snow trying to hook it up. Did I ever say that this is the perfect life for someone with a bit of ADD? ;-)


All the windows in
Dual 150-amp lines lying in the trench. When can I get it inspected?

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 11/15/2016

Setting the rest of the windows went without a hitch today. The ten largest we have. One step closer to getting closed in. Still need the French doors to arrive and get set.

One of the framers will help me get the wall built between the end wall and the curved roof which will be another step. The other framers will spend the day cleaning up everything as they pull out this week to start another project and get it under roof. Framing contractor has asked if he can put off building the stairway until then. I've agreed as I know our project has taken more time than he had planned. We can get by without stairs for a while.

The roofer showed up this afternoon and got the curved roof dried in. They'll try to get the rest dried in tomorrow. Thursday a storm is coming in with a chance of snow, but with the certainty of high winds, so it's got to get done before then. Still wondering whether we'll actually get steel up before weather gets really bad.

I'll get back to the garage doors later this week. I ordered a set of proper rods to tighten the torsion springs, and also read up a bit on how high lift doors are supposed to work. I'll start over and see if I can get these working.

Posted to The-Last-Rodeo by Larry in Angel Fire, NM on 11/14/2016

Framers used the SkyTrak to transport the rest of the windows up to the third floor today and began to set them. Transporting was not an easy task. Although there were a few smaller ones, most were large - as big as 6'x8'. Weighing in at a few hundred pounds as well. I ran the SkyTrak while the two main framers loaded and unloaded them.

They got all of the smaller ones set and set a 6'x7' at the end of the day. I figure they should have all the others set by end of day tomorrow. That's 10 large ones. A half-hour for each - yeah, they should make it. And it's good we are at this point as we have a storm coming in Thursday with possible snow.

The roofer said he'll be here tomorrow afternoon and will begin the dry-in. I'm crossing my fingers on getting the steel on before winter socks us in. We're on borrowed time.


Lifting a 6'x8' window off the SkyTrak
Carrying the sucker in. I know I could not have done that.
Upper left window is the 6'x7' that was set at the end of the day.

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