Wednesday, September 05, 2007

September 5th - We Have Moved In!

We arrived back in Rico sometime in mid-July. Our hopes were to move into the 3rd level of the house but not much progress was made while I was back in Iowa. We temporarily moved into the Kreutzer house that we purchased upon our return. The accomodations were quite nice but we were anxious to get moved in to our new space.

About 6 weeks of hard work paid off & on August 29th we spent our first night in our new digs. The place is absolutely beautiful. A few pictures posted here can't really do it justice but we can try.
At the beginning of August, our friend, Gary Rich, arrived from Iowa to join the crew. We are excited to have him here as he is very skilled and a hard worker to boot. We also recently had Matt drop in looking for work and he has proved to be a very hard working addition to the crew as well. The current daily crew is Matt, Gary and myself. And sometimes Lynn will lend a hand with unskilled stuff.
Our primary focus lately has been to complete the exterior and Gary started right in. Within a day or so of his arrival we had already gotten a good start on the front porch and now, several weeks later, the front of the house is completely sided and a good portion of the north side also completed. He is working on the rear deck off the master suite (our current living room) and we will be soon enjoying the morning sun with coffee on the deck.
Hopefully now we will be making more regular postings to the blog. Thanks for the many requests to get it updated!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

March 29th - Back in Rico

I have been trying to get back into the swing of things as I returned about 2 weeks ago; just a little too busy with lots going on. I spent several more days than I expected at my sisters in Denver and was quite ill with the respiratory thing that most everyone has had.

Before I left Iowa, I managed to fill a 40' ocean container with enough material to finish the house. It included polished granite slabs, 2,000 feet of strip yellow pine flooring, heart pine lumber, and a ton of interior trim and old doors that were all stripped sanded and finished in oil before I left. My friend, Frank, spent over a month just sanding and applying finish. I had quite a bill with the local paint stripper before I left but I am satisfied I have enough material to complete the finish work on the house... that is when we are ready. Over 1,000 pieces of trim had to be finished! Lots of other misc stuff in the container, including 2,000 feet of barnwood for Cody and Anika's house up the street and some chimney pipe to finish out their chimney.

The container was modified in Iowa by cutting two 17' x7' openings in each side at opposite ends and welding rectangular tubing back in around the cut opening. We then attached sliding barn door track and some wood frame doors covered in metal and soon we had a portable storage building that you could load and unload lumber in and out of easily with a fork lift. Four large steel baskets of polished granite added some extra weight to the container and it weighed out at 34,900 lbs! We had an 35 ton crane lift and load it on to a flatbed in Iowa. Once it reached here, I had difficulty finding a crane large enough, as all larger cranes were out working. I had the container moved to Dolores and last friday morning I showed up in Dolores, (38 miles down the canyon), and with a 25 ton crane, a 17 ton crane and a 20,000 lb forklift we were able to lift the container off and set it onto a lot next to the highway. I was lucky to be led to a nice lady who knew my family and was willing to rent me a spot to park my container for an indefinite amount of time. To boot, the large forklift is nearby and will really come in handy for loading granite and bunks of flooring. Since then I have pulled numerous items out of the container.

Just yesterday I hauled 3 old Victorian doors into the glass company to have new glass installed. They will go into the old cabin. I removed the other doors from the container as well as the jambs for the doors and moved them all to Rico and inside the house. Greenbay will start the job of prehanging 27 of the old interior 4 and 5 panel doors. They arrived safely and in good condition.

Today we loaded up anything we weren't using in Rico, such as old furniture and stuff from the cabin. Cody and I will return on Saturday morning to unload his barnwood and since an empty spot will be created in the container, I now have some room to remove items from the cabin. The container will be a huge help in storing material while we continue working on the house.

To bring you up to speed on the progress of the cabin:

Boiler and heating system are now installed. We have only the tubing to install in the warmboard flooring and the electrical connections to complete for the boiler. We will then be ready to fire up the boiler. Only 2,000 feet of tubing to install!

All interior framing is completed now. Pat has helped me finish stringing all the wire for the electrical except for the smoke alarms. Over 4,000' of wire in the place and still not done! I have learned a lot from local retired electrician Bob Akey, who helped supervise me in the installation. I think it will all work. Extra hard was the wiring in the 3 cabin walls, an immense amount of drilling and feeding wire as well as great care in cutting holes for electrical boxes, but it looks great and is satisfying to have it done.

All of the exterior doors are now in except for the front cabin door which is at the glass shop. Greenbay has built the exterior jamb for this door from some weathered 2 x12 and it looks great. I will pick up the doors on Saturday. I have ordered door bottom weatherstrip, deadbolts, door hinges, mechanical door bells to replace the broken ones on the Victorian doors and some brass strike plates to complete the installation of all the door hardware.

I met with Matt, a local cabinet maker, about making a few cabinets for me to be used in the master bedroom. It's my hope to have the 3rd floor ready to move in by May 15th. Refinished clawfoot tubs will be delivered on Saturday and Direct TV and the phone lines will be installed next week.

Insulation and drywall will come soon, right after the electrical rough in inspection is completed which will hopefully be next week. We have warmboard to install in the old cabin. Upon my return, I was amazed at how different the old cabin looked after it had been cleaned out and the old insulation board removed from the logs and now the bare logs showing. Once the electrical inspection is complete, we will be able schedule the chinking for completing the log siding and interior logs.

It's been snowing off and on for the last few days, but not much accumulation. Two weeks before it was in the 60's nearly every day. It's turned cold again and there is not much snow in the high country like there should be. I have a feeling old man winter isn't done yet. Down at the lower elevations the grass is green and trees are in bloom. Rico is usually more than a month behind, being more than 2,000 feet higher in elevation.

Pat has moved the 2nd floor barnwood siding around to the back and hopefully next week we will begin installing the siding....

More to come...I will post some update pictures soon...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Jan 29th - News from the Boys

It's good having some guys you can trust and Pat and Greenbay have been doing a great job keeping progress moving as well as keeping me posted with pictures on the progress. All 3 posts I made today will have photos of the progress.

Thanks to our dear friends Cody and Anica who have been such a big help in seeing that my financial obligations move along by seeing that my checks are received by the proper folks. Between them , they have found and secured a great place for me to live when I return. An old restored hotel on main street with a 2nd story window overlooking the street will be my new home when I return in a month.

Here's what the boys have to say:
Hey Dave,

It is Sunday evening and we have not heard back from
you yet. Did you get photos? Hope they are what you want.

Bob came by on Saturday afternoon.

I tryed to get ahold of Mike from media ranch. Left
a note on his door in Silverglance. I think he must be
on vacation...or working in Aspen.

Pat and I think it is possible to have master suite
very close for your return. Actually think we have a
plan! Will talk with you this week and see how
realistic. Toilet, tub, shower on your part. We very
close for a partial electrical inspection. That whole
floor with loft. We need to run phone and cable tv.
Not necessarily to a panel. Just out to open space so
we can insulate and rock. Pat worked Saturday on
blocking between rafters. (with ice etc.) It is almost
If this sounds good let us know so we can get
insulation and sheetrock on site.

That's it for now.
Talk soon.

Hey Dave,
Here are some pics so you can see what i have got going out
I'm not use to the whole e-mail thing especialy pics so hopefully this
I've determined the distance from top of deck to threshhold by matching
the back door after the stone is installed. (approx. 2") this leaves approx 2 more inches between top of deck and bottom of
posts on kitchen wall. Do you want the siding to start bottom of post or top of
metal? How about the inside corner between kitchen window and original cabin
trim board or just siding with a vertical chink joint? I think it would look best to kinda match the corner post.
Will try again in the or e-mail me so i know what you want
on the siding questions. Hope all is well and I will talk to you soon.
(that phone doesn't always ring)


Jan 29th - Moving Material

I am residing in Florida currently and have really been enjoying the warm weather although it is cold by Florida standards, down in the low 40's at night...not bad with below zero in other places.

Right before I left Iowa, I had spoken to a retired woman that I hadn't seen in several years. I remember she had an a lot of granite sitting in a field near her house and now it was time for me to go pick some out that I could use in my house. Nothing exceptionally big but most averaging 2-6 square feet. I figured it would make nice countertops and would work well for other projects, such as patio pavers, walks, shower walls etc. It was a cold day when I arrived and much of it was frozen together and still piled on old pallets. There appeared to be several different colors and the majority was polished and quite nice. She explained that she would be listing her small farm in the spring and would be moving. Once I picked what granite I wanted, I was shocked by the unbelievable price she quoted me and I told her I would return in several weeks to pick it up. Once out of her driveway, I rang her on my cell phone and asked her if she wanted to sell the whole lot. She gave me an exceptionally good price and now I have 34 pallets of nicely quarried and polished granite... at least 2 truckloads! There is much more than I can ever use, and hopefully I can give other folks a great deal. I will keep the majority of it in Iowa but will haul several good size pallet loads to Rico.

Just what I need is another project. We will try and move much of what is there sometime in the spring during some dry weather. It will have to be sorted and restacked on its edges for anything I move long distances to prevent breakage. Oh, how I love a good deal!

Now, how to move all that I have gathered in Iowa all the way to Rico. After some research, I've decided that the best way to move all this stuff is with an ocean container. I own nearly 30 of these 40 footers that I have on my company's property in southeast Iowa. Right now I happen to have an empty one and Mike, one of my employees, has pulled it out onto the lot with a forklift so it can be loaded with a landoll trailer. The landoll flatbed trailer has the ability to pick up a container using a tilt bed flat bed equipped with a winch cable. By tilting the trailer bed, the rear edge of the trailer can be extended to the ground, cable attached and then the entire empty container can be loaded in minutes. I've decided to send the container to a metal fabrication shop we use for fabricating parts for my business in Iowa. I have decided that I will cut two large openings in opposite sides near opposing ends of the container. Barn door overhead track will then be installed and new sliding barn doors installed. Using snugger latches and over headtrack the doors can be secured and the entire container easily loaded with material using a forklift.

While containers are equipped with end doors and easily loaded with palletized material, long lengths of lumber are nearly impossible to load and unload, unless it's done by hand. Containers are an interesting commodity and I have spent several weeks researching how doors are cut in them without weakening them too much. They are an amazing structure and can hold up to 450,000 lbs on top of them! I have even supplied some boxed channel that will be used for reinforcing the openings where the doorways are cut.

I've met a man who has lived in the Dolores area all his life and runs a sawmill just outside of town. Turns out he was good friends with two of my uncles who are now gone. I have visited him on several occasions, purchasing weathered lumber scraps that have laid on the ground near his mill. He has treated me fairly and honestly...these days you can't ask for more. I have approached him with the possibility of me renting ground space for a container in his yard and within a week I have received his answer. He has agreed to give me a 2 year lease. Nice thing about this location is I have to drive by once a week to shop in Cortez, there is much less snow than Rico and he has a forklift that I can hire to unload any and all material I store or move up to Rico. I will have extra tie downs welded to the floor to secure my loads of materials and keep them from shifting in transit.

I will use the same shipping company I used before and I found that the cost of the container fully loaded is no more than just loading a truck...except for the cranes required. Next comes locating a crane that can unload the container full of building materials. A crane will have to be hired in Iowa once the container is ready to be loaded and then another nearby crane company in Dolores will unload the 30,000 lb container. Both cranes are 30 ton cranes and should easily handle the job. This location will help me establish a storage facility for possible future architectural salvage sales in the southwest Colorado area. It will also give me a place to store material for the house out of the weather until we are ready for installation. The logistics are challenging, but now it's all coming together. Enjoy the photos.

Jan 29th - Checking In

It's been over a month since I've made a posting and I wanted to give an update on our progress.

Pat and Greenbay continue to make headway on the various projects on the house. Greenbay has completed the installation of the entire stairway and landings and has now begun the process of framing the walls in and around the stair wells. The stairs look great as you will be able to see by the photos he has forwarded.

Pat continues with the installation of the hand hewn siding on the first floor and finishing various bits of framing required inside the house. The siding he has installed looks just like the balance of the logs on the entire ground floor of the house. I hope to have enough to complete in the interior of the kitchen and dining area. He has also completed much of the lower steel that is protecting and insulating the foundation. Pat has also installed several of the exterior Victorian doors that were prehung in Iowa including one very unique arched 4 panel door that includes ruby red etched glass. They all look great. The electrical is close to having a rough in inspection.

Today the hydronics installer, Christian, begins the installation of the radiant floor heating, boiler and hot water heater as well as installation of the various gas lines in the house. Right now Pat has hooked up gas fired top hat heaters and the fireplace and wood stoves continue to burn every day they work. It will be good to have some heat that stays in the house. Once we get the electrical inspection, insulation can be installed and we can actually turn the heat on. Pat will play a big part of installing the tubing into the warmboard flooring, which is a tedious and time consuming job.

Back in Iowa, the next phase of construction is beginning with all of the trim, baseboard, door jambs and interior jambs just being returned from the paint stripper. Much of the trim I had, including wide casing, plinths, rosettes, baseboard and jambs were full of nails and Nick, one of my employees in Iowa, spent several days, pulling nails. The trick to removing nails in old trim is pulling the nail through the back side of the trim, which avoids splintering around the nail hole on the finished surface of the casing.

I've been able to purchase various lots of interior trim from several locations throughout Iowa. I love the way the old trim looks and once through the stripping process, there is still much more work to do. Dip stripping all of the trim usually raises the grain on most of this old yellow pine wood. It creates a bit of a fuzz on the wood which requires sanding of every piece of trim and every door. Dipping the door, which does an amazing job of removing the paint, also removes the glue in the joints on the stiles of the doors. Once stripped, the doors then have to be drilled and pinned through the vertical stiles of the door and into the horizontal portions of the doors. Once drilled, screwed and glued, the holes are then doweled and then will be ready for sanding. Because the doors are old and have generally been planed at some point in their 100 year + lifetime, each door will most likely require one or more edges to be straightline cut so the door stiles are parallel.

I've chosen to use several old Victorian exterior doors on the interior. Installing certain types of glass such as cross reeded glass in these openings helps get light into various rooms while still providing privacy. If the doors have been cut off, they may even require additional wood being glued and screwed onto the bottom and top of the doors. The doors I ended up with have come from numerous locations across the midwest and surprisingly are nearly the same in many instances. Narrower doors such as 24" are difficult and nearly impossible to find in a full 80" height, as most were used for closet doors and only made at a 72" height. Most interior doors I have are the standard recessed 4 vertical panel doors, but I have managed to find a few horizontal 5 panels doors which were used mostly after the turn of the century. The dip stripper, located in Batavia Iowa , as well as a local antique dealer in Ottumwa, Iowa supplied me with several odd size doors I was needing. Once the doors are completed, my friend Frank Ramsey, an experienced painter begins the tedious process of sanding and applying the AMF natural finish oil to all the surfaces of the trim and doors. This will take several weeks, but in the long run will save many hours and lots of space in Rico. Once the finish is applied and wiped down, the beautiful grains of the old growth timber used in making the doors and trim will be revealed. No matter how well new trim can be made using molding cutters, newer wood just doesn't hold the charm that the old wood does. My heated garage in Iowa is being used as a work place to perform all the necessary steps in preserving these artifacts.

If the wood could only speak, it would be able to tell us so many stories about those who lived, worked, played and died in these old houses. Now with a new lease on life in a new old style home, hopefully the wood will last for 100's more years.

I've also been able to purchase a large lot of old used strip flooring, yellow pine to be exact, to install in the house. I have about equal quantities of both 3 1/4" and 2 1/4" long lengths of flooring which originated from the old Richland Iowa Opera House, torn down and removed by the Amish several years ago. My friend Paul is Amish and has a barn full of old lumber of all different kinds that he would like to sell. Perhaps I can reach an agreement and purchase the entire lot...another project for another day. Nick and I have restacked and stickered all the flooring which is now in 4 stacks 4' high, 4' wide and 16' long. It's important to sticker the flooring as the moisture content in the wood will have to adjust to its new climate before installation takes place. Generally, the wood must sit inside the house for two weeks and adjust to the air temperature before it is installed.