After the rush of getting the frame up and the roof on the cabin, the construction pace tapered off. The interior of the cabin didn’t seem as critical, so things progressed slowly. I worked on tacking up insulation while Chandler and Tayler focused on the stove. The difference in an insulated cabin and an uninsulated one is amazing. With each panel I tacked up, the inside temperature raised a degree. Soon enough, I was toasty warm.
The stove was another project and not quite as quick. The little Jotul 602 stove was a hand-me-down of a couple generations, in really nice condition, but missing the sacrificial burn plates inside. We weren’t planning on sacrificing anyone, but we did need the burn plates protect the exterior stove metal from warping or cracking. Replacement plates were a little out of our price range, so Chandler and his uncle designed and cut some out of sheets of 1/4 inch steel. Chandler’s uncle Bill is a wood stove engineer, so it was great to have him check out the design and the overall integrity of the stove.
Before the stove could be moved into the cabin, we set up a hearth. We laid down a 1/2 inch sheet of Durock over the wood floor and also arranged two panels of 1/4 inch, behind the stove to protect the wall from stove heat. We offset the wall panels one inch using old porcelain knob and tube insulators salvaged from a building downtown. We used pink solid stone bricks, which came from the old talc mill in Johnson, for the hearth and we were ready to go. We moved the stove in and rearranged a few bricks so the stove wouldn’t wobble.
Now, we could officially move in. We hauled our sleeping bags, sleeping pads and a bed for lucy out to the cabin. Slowly, chairs, a fold up table and everything needed for coffee made its way out to the cabin.
There are a few decent sized maples that were taken down in the vicinity of the cabin which we blocked up (until the chainsaw broke) and split to use for firewood. It isn’t the driest stuff in the world, but it keeps us warm.
Chan chopping wood
All that was missing was a little cabin artwork, so Chan found an old poster in his closet that needed a home.
Perfect cabin decor
With snow in the forecast, Tayler, Chandler and I worked at a fevered pace. Our goal was to get the roof on before the weather got too bad. The third and fourth walls went up quickly and soon we found ourselves working on the rafters. Everything was moving surprisingly smoothly, cuts were done right the first time and piece after piece fell right into place.
Tayler nailing in a rafter
While, I enjoyed working on the cabin, I was not looking forward to having to actually work on the roof. I am not exactly afraid of heights but prefer to have my feet closer to the Earth. Lucky for me, I had a job interview the day the boys and their uncle planned on doing the majority of the the work. The day after they put the metal sheets down, we got a few inches of snow, which would have shut things down pretty quick.
I began work as a ski instructor and my hours on the cabin and taking pictures came to a halt.
The weather started to get really cold, but we had a small kerosene heater in the cabin to keep things a bit warmer than outside. The walls were totally closed in, but we only had three windows in the front from Chan’s uncle. The boys found some salvage windows at a recycled materials store and framed the openings from inside the cabin, out of the weather. They cut the sheathing out with a saws-all and quickly put the new-to-us windows in before the wind cooled things off too much. The exterior of the cabin was done before I knew it.
Next on the agenda is putting in insulation, building a ladder to the second floor and installing the wood stove. Then maybe we can hang out inside without down jackets on…
November 20, 2013
Our return to the US from Colombia went pretty smoothly. Our plane was greeted in Atlanta by two German Shepherds and their Homeland Security handlers in the jet-way. After passing though that gauntlet we went through immigration. We sent up a small red flag because we had been out of the country for so long, and weren’t working overseas, so we got to go through the “special” line. All our boxes were x-rayed, but the only thing they seemed interested in was the several pounds of roasted coffee we had in our carry-ons.
We arrived back in Vermont to a warm welcome from Chandler’s family and our dog, Lucy! My biggest worry was that Lucy wouldn’t recognize us, but my fears were unfounded.
Our original idea was to spend the whole day relaxing, but with the sun shining, we headed out to the cabin. We started on the structure almost exactly a year ago, but couldn’t finish as winter arrived in force. We had a lot of work ahead of us and were eager to get started.
The boys brought out the lumber out of storage and immediately started working.
Making a few measurements
Tayler at work
The first order of business was getting the rest of the wall framing done. The work was relatively easy. We framed in two walls and nailed them to the floor of the second story.
Two walls up
November 23, 2012
The goal of the day was to get the floor of the cabin done. Chandler, Tayler and their dad, Steve got started on framing it. Jeanne, Chan’s Aunt Beth and I did some black Friday shopping at the local bookstore. I won the award for most money spent with a whopping $10 on new wallet for Jeanne and myself.
Taking a break
After lunch, it was time to put the insulation into the floor. This went quickly with Chandler, Tayler, Jeanne and I all working. By the time that was done, the floodlights were on a it was starting to sprinkle. Next step was placing plastic down on top of the insulation and stapling it to the frame.
November 24, 2012
The guys worked alone today. They finish screwing the plywood down for the floor, than began on the walls.
First wall goes up
Only 2 more walls to go
Things seemed to go pretty smoothly for the guys considering it was snowing. They were able to get three walls up!
I stayed inside and began packing for the bike trip. It is a little tricky fitting everything into boxes that fit airline requirements.
November 25, 2012
Another busy day. The guys finished framing and sheathing the last wall. They were also able to start framing the loft floor. It probably helped that it was a sunny and slightly warmer day.
Sheathing the last wall
Sunset from the loft
Jeanne and I stayed inside again and made the last box for the trip. I ran a few errands for the trip, contacted the hotel in Bangkok and made a list of last minute items. At this rate packing will be done tomorrow and the first floor of the cabin could be done by Wednesday.
November 17, 2012
Another busy day. With the foundation holes dug, we were ready to drill holes into the rock for the rebar. The rebar is to reinforce the concrete and to anchor the piers into the rock so they don’t slide.
Once the holes were all drilled, Tayler and I measured and cut rebar to the correct length while Chandler got the rock grout ready.
Thankfully, that was a quick and painless process. Our next step was digging holes for the sonotubes. It was starting the get dark at this point, so everyone was helping to fill in the holes and pack in the dirt. Chandler’s uncle came over for dinner and showed up in time to help also. We ended having to get the flood lights out so we could finish the work in the dark.
November 18, 2012
Except we had a few minor adjustments to make first. Because we had finished setting the last two tubes in the dark, we discovered one was way out of place. So Jeanne and I spent about half an hour digging the tube out, expanding the hole and resetting the sonotube. The guys got the concrete mixer and the threaded anchor bars ready.
Finally ready to pour cement
Before anything could be done, we had to settle a question that everyone but Tayler and I were concerned about: was everything level? The site is on a slope and the front row of piers appeared to be higher than the back row to the naked eye. Chandler’s uncle had brought over a surveyor’s optical level which I used to do a basic survey of the area. I used that info to do some calcs on the heights of the tubes and rebar. Everyone was still not convinced, so, they checked several different ways, but every time, the tubes turned out level. Good thing there was a professional to do the work.
Is it level?
Finally time to pour the concrete.
Chandler hard at work
I actually left after the first pier was poured to have lunch with my step sister. It was nice to take a break and catch up with her. When I came back, all the work was done. Lucky me!
November 15, 2012
Before the road trip even began, we had discussed building a cabin on Chandler’s parents’ land. This would be a place for visitors and maybe a temporary place for us to live in when we get back from our bike trip. We don’t know where we will end up but we assume we’ll need a month or two before we get readjusted.
The first day was spent clearing the area, deciding the orientation of the cabin and staking it out.
November 16, 2012
We decided to put in a sonotube foundation with 6 piers. The next day we made a few adjustments to our staked points and went to rent a gas powered auger. The auger was used to dig out the holes for the cement piers.
Our goal was to go down 4 feet or get to ledge. We hit ledge on all holes except one, which we got down to 4 feet.