Custom plans, drafting + Design

Island House

An a-door-able garage?

Island HouseShawn A. DehnerComment
Hand built carriage house doors with steel strap hinges.

Hand built carriage house doors with steel strap hinges.

First floor & garage siding - done!

Brightly painted cedar bevel siding.

This week we finished siding all the lower walls of the house, so that only the upper gable end walls are left to do. It looks wonderful! We got our corners perfectly lined up despite not using (or having) a transit for the work, something that makes us feel good. We also finished siding the garage gable ends. That job took a considerable amount of time to accomplish and wasn’t without frustration. But get it done we did, and it’s splendid to come up the driveway and see the work completed. We did some odd jobs around the house (caulking, touch up painting and installing door handles) on Friday while waiting for friends to arrive.

Site-built carriage house doors

Last summer we built these colorful carriage doors for our garage and this week we finally installed them!

We wound up the week with hanging the garage doors, at very long last. Some of you may remember that we built the doors in July. They are now hanging and looking splendid!  Still need to put another door handle on and add some barrel bolts to the inside (cane bolts secure the doors at the base) and do the trim caulk and painting, but they are installed and now the carriage house effect is complete.

Next week

For the coming week we hope to check some more things off our list…those things will hopefully include installing the side garage door, continuing with kitchen cabinet work and finishing the priming and painting of the last three bundles of siding. Perhaps we’ll even get to begin the upper gable ends of the house. Time will tell!

Siding in the sun!

Island HouseJamie4 Comments

Surprise - we had another week of warm weather and many sunny days! Trees are in bloom everywhere, a real brightener to the mental and the physical landscape. We’ve been working like the dickens to meet our self imposed goal of finishing the house by the end of May and we had good progress this week. Here's what we did:

Painting & siding, cont.

We started hanging our remaining primed and painted siding on Sunday and I finished painting up our last six 20 foot lengths of cedar siding the other day. We've now installed all that we had on the ground. The rest is on order, some of which will arrive on Monday. It’s time to get out the paint sprayer! Wow, suddenly we've got garage space and can now think about hanging the garage doors at last. 

3/4" x 8" cedar bevel siding, an easy & rewarding two person task.

Siding goes up fast!

Crowning achievements

Crown moulding on the first floor is installed in all rooms but the kitchen and the dining room lights are finally hanging! We also installed all of the upstairs bedroom and bathroom doors and have given them their painting. Today Shawn installed the moulding around the doors and I’ll be priming and painting them this week.

It’s a treat to see the siding going up and something to look forward to seeing when we come home from town!  The sunny yellow of the siding is especially cheerful when complemented by clear blue skies. Ahhh…perhaps there will be more in the week to come. More news next week!

Preparing for Siding

Island HouseJamieComment

This week the state of Washington rejoiced as sunny skies and temperatures in the 60’s made a long awaited appearance.

We took the week of sun and got outside…not only did we get to bask in the rays and savor several days in a row of perfect blue skies and afternoons warm enough for tank tops, but we made some wonderful progress preparing the house for the siding job…we may even start it next week.

For some reason I had it in my mind that we would just go out on the first sunny day and begin nailing up the primed and painted siding I have had waiting in the garage since my painting bonanza last fall. I had forgotten how much prep work is required before that can begin. So this week we got all of our prep work done.

Window & door casings

We started out by measuring all the doors and windows for trim/casing material and then beginning to prep the cedar and fir for the job. We ripped down rough cut island grown cedar to length and then pieced together all of the window frames. These we used pocket hole joinery to build the frames, tested for fit, and primed and painted. Friday we nailed the assembled window frames into place and today we worked on casing all the french doors. We finished the day up with installing the cor-a-vent bug screening at the base of the house and installing all the flashing over windows, doors and the pergola. 

The season of painting has begun!

While I was on painting duty this week, Shawn finished the outdoor wiring, including the flood lights, our entry lamps and the outdoor electrical boxes. We are now officially done with wiring, inside and out!

And we are ready to start siding! More photos soon...

Island House: Ceiling the Deal

Island House, Jamie's MusingsJamie1 Comment

It’s been too long between progress reports. We’ve made gratifying progress every day and have finally gotten our camera battery charger replaced so we have photos to share with you.

small island house living room with pine ceiling

Here’s what we’ve worked on…

We finished all the casings around the windows and doors and got them primed, caulked and painted. Shawn also built up the pass through between the dining room and living room in a way that reflects the sturdy pergola 8 x 8’s outside. We like seeing the outdoor posts while looking at the indoor ones, a reflection where one is wearing fancy clothes and the other is au natural - our own take on town mouse and country mouse.

We cased all the transitions between rooms (those without doors) and got those primed, caulked and painted. We received four of our seven doors on order (the others are dimensionally unusual and are still a couple of weeks from delivery) and got those doors hung, cased, primed, caulked and painted (are you seeing a pattern here?). Then doorknobs arrived via mail and now we have truly opening and closing doors.

The Pacific Pine tongue and groove that we are using for ceiling was delivered.

Yesterday we had our first sunny day in what seems a century but has really “only” been 5 or 6 weeks (a definite pattern there, more’s the pity) and took the opportunity to throw open the doors and let in the fresh air while we cut and fit the living room ceiling. We are insulating for sound, which turned out to be quite easy. We’ve also installed and finished the surfaces on the majority of the moulding throughout the house. We seem to be at the end of seeing raw drywall edges peeking out at us, a nice thing indeed!

And that’s about all for now.

Tonight we’re going to bring in the rest of the Pacific Pine to acclimate and getting ready for a weekend visit to friends on the mainland. Next week we’ll be back at work installing the rest of the ceilings and working toward finishing all the trim work. It’s nearly time for Shawn to transition into cabinetry work. With the warming weather it's also time to think about ordering the remaining cedar siding and getting ready for exterior finishing. Seems that we’re on track for a late May completion to the house, which is what we hoped to accomplish. Time will tell!

Island House Update: Casing the Joint

Island HouseJamieComment

We have achieved an aesthetic milestone this week! We have begun and largely finished casing the windows and doors throughout the house. We had a load of trim material delivered a week and a half ago and allowed it to acclimate while taking a couple of days to celebrate Shawn's birthday and catch up on drafting work. 

This past week we set to cutting all the components to trim the windows and doors - inner and outer casings, head casings, aprons and sills. Many components, all needing their cuts and some sanding, made for a good week of work and are now largely installed. The wood is raw at this point but this coming week will see the priming and painting be worked on. 

We also placed a large order for kitchen door hardware and hinges and drawer slides from Lee Valley (love those free shipping events!). Shawn is using a Blum jig for the hinge installation and is beginning to get excited to try it out. We are getting closer and closer to kitchen cabinet work, though there are still a few weeks to go and the first floor ceiling needs to be insulated for noise and the beautiful Pac Pine ceiling panels installed before we get there. 

Still and all, it's felt like a solid and sane week of good progress on the finishing work and we're looking forward to the weeks to come. Now things are really starting to come together, something, perhaps even more than birthdays, to celebrate!

Island House: stairs, built-ins, and more in progress

Island HouseJamie1 Comment

The last couple of weeks we’ve been busy on the house but also away a bit and working hard at drafting work. It feels at last as though there’s something to share…

We’ve continued to work on the stairs…the treads and risers are installed, sanded and varnished. Shawn built the two newel posts up and they came out very nicely. They will be painted, so there’s still some work to be done on them. We also began the process of installing the balusters in preparation for the handrails to go on, getting the two sets built and sanded and ready for primer and paint. We also installed a temporary handrail to meet basic life safety requirements, and it really is nice to have it there, especially now that the treads are varnished and slippery in socks.  We have a bit more to do, mostly priming and painting on my part, till Shawn can install the final handrails and we can call the stairs completed, but we should make good progress on that this next week.

We also installed the shelving for the built in bookcases, got the shelves varnished (really enjoying varnishing!) and brought home boxes and boxes of books (they are friends, really, and the house feels happier with them living here too) to brighten things up. The built ins will eventually have faceplates put on the outside to give a trim to them, but in the meantime, we like the way they have come out. It minimizes our need for furniture (we move a lot!) and keeps hallways open. The height of the shelving really emphasizes the high ceilings.

Lastly, Shawn completed the last kitchen cabinet unit, which is a wine rack. We had a tiny space left after the dishwasher on the north side of the kitchen and puzzled over how to complete it, the wine rack seemed to do the trick. We have not yet bought a bottle of wine to test its virtues, but perhaps that will be in the somewhat near future.

Next on the list, we’ll be diving into our next delivery of trim wood. Shelving for the kitchen cabinets in on tap (no doors yet…saving that) and moulding throughout the house. Also, window trim material is coming, so there may be a bit of that to show - there’s always big satisfaction in seeing the ragged edges of drywall covered up and window sills in place. Our last big interior projects, still waiting in the wings, are the installation of the first floor ceiling (a tongue in groove pine), trim priming/painting, and building the kitchen cabinet doors.

Island House: A "Counter Productive" Week

Island HouseShawn A. DehnerComment

Solid Wood Countertops

It was too good a pun to pass up…This week we installed our wood countertops. It went very smoothly. The cut outs for both the induction cooktop and the undermount sink went very well. We deliberated for some time as to how to cut out for the sink as the undermounting of it meant that any mistakes would be highly visible (read: unacceptable). We considered using a router but in the end used the Festool plunge cut track saw (an expensive but totally useful, incredible tool) for the long cuts on all four sides and then a Makita jigsaw to finish the rounded corners. The Festool orbital sander took care of anything that needed smoothing and overall, it was an easy process and looks lovely.

Zuhnë Kitchen Sink & Faucet

The undermount sink is made by Zuhnë, a company I recommend checking out if you are looking for high quality, stainless steel sinks. They offer undermount, traditional, and farmhouse sinks. They also offer faucets. All are beautifully made, come with lifetime warranties and are packed with incredible care. All needed parts are included for installation.  Customer service is amazing, any questions you might have and they will do their best to help almost immediately. 

German Zuhnë undermount stainless steel kitchen sink & Della faucet 

Installing Appliances

After the countertops and sink were installed, we connected the dishwasher and got the cooktop wired in. After that, it was merely to oil the countertops and enjoy cooking in a new space. No more dishes in the bathtub!  

Treads & Risers

From the kitchen we moved out to the stairwell and this week installed the treads and risers. I sanded them today and we finished installing the last bit of flooring in the house which was at the top landing of the stairs. 

Natural pine treads & risers, ready to be varnished. Newel posts & hand rails this week.

Odds & Ends (and mostly trash)

Our last major accomplishment for the week was to take the garage full of cardboard recycling and disturbing amount of styrofoam packing boards to the transfer station. While it sounds a small thing, it was actually a huge delight to see that the garage is now open again and a regained work space. 


The unfolding week will have us build newel posts for the stairs and then install the handrail. I plan to finish all the floor varnishing this week - the stairwell, master bedroom and second floor hallway are all that remain to be done. It’s possible that we’ll also get shelving installed in the built in bookcases this week, but the stairs remain primary. This week’s work has brought a lot of enjoyment and seemed to come together with great ease…an unlooked for treat!

Island House: kitchen cabinets & wheelbarrow work

Island HouseJamie2 Comments

Kitchen cabinets

This past week we’ve worked primarily in the kitchen, building the plywood substructure of the cabinetry. What a difference it makes to see an empty room, that could really be any room, develop a shape that is unmistakably "kitchen". It’s pleasing to see the skeleton of its future become apparent. Shawn used ¾” urea formaldehyde-free ACX plywood and together we cut the pieces down using both a track saw and a table saw and then used pocket hole joinery to put them together using a Kreg jig. Once in place, they could be affixed to the walls and floor. The lower cabinets went together easily and the upper cabinets were not difficult to install, as the plywood keeps things so square.  Yesterday’s coup was to install the oven in place, looks beautiful and works! The range hood is also installed. Now it’s time to put on the counter tops so that the sink can be placed (looking forward to this immensely as it means goodbye to dishes in the bathtub!) as well as the cooktop. So later this week we should be able to use a genuinely semi-finished kitchen. It will be fun after moving about the downstairs room with my portable kitchen (which actually works beautifully despite being an assortment of mini appliances sitting atop plywood over sawhorses).

Outside with my wheelbarrow

I took some of the good warm days this week to lay down a cover layer of ⅝” crushed rock from a nearby quarry on the backfill around the house. We used cleaned construction rubble as the fill for our stone retaining wall (a huge savings over gravel) which was highly effective but grating to look at after many months. The crushed rock is a beautiful blue black and settles to a smooth, packed but permeable surface that soothes the eye and is wonderfully free of little exposed chunks of brick and concrete and stones. I’ve a bit more work to do with the gravel, but 12 yards out of 15 are settled in their new homes. Somehow it’s a bit sad to be coming to the end of the enormous gravel pile (although our ancient wheelbarrow may disagree with my sentiments).



Coming soon: stairs & treads

Once the basics of the kitchen are up and running, it will be time for Shawn to shift gears and finish the stairs (we’ll be installing permanent stair treads and risers this week) and think about installing the main floor ceiling, which will be tongue in groove pine. Then will be casings for windows and doors (we are in the process of ordering doors) and trim moulding. Shawn decided that he wanted to focus all of his attentions on the cabinetry (which he enjoys building) without a lot of small projects knocking on his door.

Island House: Naturally Varnished Pine Flooring

Island HouseJamie2 Comments
Rendering of the San Juan Island house - under construction 2015-16

Rendering of the San Juan Island house - under construction 2015-16

What we've been doing since November

A working master bathroom - yay!

November was busy with Shawn completing inspections for electrical, plumbing, heating and mechanical and then the drywallers arriving to do the entire sheetrock job for us inside. It was our first time ever having professionals do the work. It was a liberating experience, to say the least. What would have taken us six months, they did in three weeks total. The hangers came and put up all the drywall in one day, then the taping and mudding person came and got all the seams covered and mudded. Lastly, the finishing mud was put on. We opted for a textured mud to go on the walls. It gives the suggestion of plaster and has a neat texture. The week before Thanksgiving, it was up to us to carry on with the project.

For a change, Shawn stayed at our rental and worked on his drafting work while I went to the house and got the priming done before a planned departure for most of the month of December (it was time for a break from the job site!). Before leaving, I wanted to get the entire upstairs primed and painted, so that Shawn could start work on the floor. I was able to do that before Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, it was time to prepare to move out of our rental (hooray!!) and then leave for a three week visit to see friends in Pt. Roberts.  I wasn’t able to prime the entire downstairs, but I did get some of it done including priming and painting the kitchen. We also brought our 1 x 6” unfinished pine flooring in to acclimate just before Thanksgiving. The plan was for it to have a week or so to come to temperature and then for Shawn to install the flooring while I was in Pt. Roberts, joining me there after a week for a break of his own. This worked out well. While I was away, he installed the flooring upstairs and down and got the upstairs bathroom in working order, with toilet, tub and shower.

Hand finishing pine floors with natural varnish

Me, hand sanding the kitchen floor.

While three weeks seems like a long time to be away, it flew past and before we knew it, it was after Christmas and we were back at the house. For me, it was the first time seeing the flooring installed and it was stunning to see in “real life” rather than just pictures. Now, a new set of projects came onto the boards. My primary focus was on completing priming and painting throughout the house, and then starting the finishing of the floors. The painting was a good way for me to get back into the swing of working on the house. We also found out that the couch and chairs we ordered (after 8 years without!!) are arriving on the 12th of January, so that was the deadline I needed to get going on the floor finishing. For the floors, we opted to use a natural clear coat varnish. We didn’t want to whitewash the floors again but wanted to use another natural, non VOC containing product. After a fair amount of research, we discovered a company called Ecos Paints that offers a product called Wood Shield. 

Rolling on the second coat of Woodshield Satin Varnish by Ecos Paints!

I am always nervous when using a new product in such a high visibility area but my concerns about this product were unfounded. I followed the simple label directions and sanded, vacuumed and then mopped the floor, allowed it to dry and then applied one coat of varnish using a roller. After 4 hours, I applied a second coat. Beautiful results. A nice hard surface, even coats, nice distribution and such a pretty shine. We both marveled at the new appearance of the pine. It looked nice unfinished, but the finish captures a wet look, deepening the color a bit and giving a pleasant shine to the floors. The surface feels well protected. Thus far I’ve done the second bedroom, the bathrooms and the main living room/foyer area. I also got half the kitchen done. Shawn will be starting kitchen cabinetry tomorrow and needed at least half the kitchen done. I can’t do the other half till we can move all the appliances into their places. The living room is now ready for its long awaited furniture to arrive next week. The cat has not appreciated being shunted into her carrier for a few hours at a time, but at least she has windows to look out of while incarcerated, and there are no curious cat prints tracking across our floors.

Preparing to start the kitchen

Shawn has been drafting both for clients and for our kitchen layout as well as installing switches, plugs, and lighting throughout the house. He installed the washer dryer unit and also installed sink cabinets in both bathrooms and the downstairs toilet. While there’s a way to go yet, we are really down to cabinetry and trim inside. Having the drywalling done for us by professionals was a real coup for us in terms of setting us ahead of the finishing process. We were so glad with the work they (Miller Drywall of Friday Harbor, WA) did and how well the tricky angles in the upstairs bathroom and second bedroom (where the clipped gables are) came out. It was well worth the cost.

A bit of time away from our project amongst truly missed friends and environs was a great way to end our 2015 and get us rolling on the completion of our island project this year. We are aiming to be completed by early May (on account of needing some warmer weather to finish the siding work remaining). We will now update our progress more regularly, and the updates should be more interesting as it’s back to finishing work; always gratifying and enjoyable to see finishing work take place.

Island House: Plumbing, Wiring, Insulation

Island HouseJamie4 Comments

The weather is outside now!

Lots of AFCI breaker required in the latest code update. Costs have jumped from about $8 per breaker to $50 or more, staggering.

A lot of time has passed since our last progress report and it’s time to update. I don’t know exactly how I got so out of date with my blog entries on the subject, since progress on the house is all I really think about!

Here’s what we’ve been doing. Plumbing rough in, wiring rough in, priming and painting siding, seeing the insulation installed, mostly siding the garage and having the propane tank installed, putting up the furring strips for the wiring chase inside and continuing with preparation for the all important electrical inspection.

The plumbing rough in is basically done. We are going to have it inspected shortly, along with the insulation. Just a little more abs pipe to hook upin the kitchen. We did an inside water test and all the Pex lines are holding their water!  No leaks, no problems. We bought a little thing called a “test ball” for our DWV (Drain, Waste and Vents) test and will be able to have that done shortly. We hooked up the septic system to the power source and were delighted to hear it humming along pumping - it has been in ground for 6 years so we were a little anxious about it even though people told us not to be. (Why do we tell each other not to worry about things that are nearly impossible not to worry about?).

We spent four days working outside while our insulation was being done. Our insulation consists of a “flash and batt” method where a few inches of spray foam are put in and then covered over with Knauf Eco-Batts, which we used on the Beekeeper’s and like very much. The house is warmer already, feels wonderful! The first two days we worked from home as the spray foam was going in and the roar of the generator was too loud (and we were in the way). We had to suddenly move out of our rental (story started badly but ended well) and thankfully the spray foaming coincided well with this inconvenience. When we got back on site, we worked outdoors for a few days hanging the siding I spent the previous week priming and painting with my new Wagner power paint sprayer. That was a fabulous tool. I am generally a hand painter, and still prefer trim painting by hand, but the siding is an enormous project and I was incredibly pleased with the way the simple little gadget worked. I’ll be reviewing it shortly and will leave further comments till then. We had the siding ready and painted and needed to side the garage so that the propane tank could be installed. The siding is 8 inch cedar bevel and looks gorgeous. The yellow is rich and sunny, a perfect antidote to a dark day. Today the skies grew heavy and gray, poured rain for a couple of hours. The brightness of the garage was a joy to see though the kitchen windows, it actually made me feel happy just seeing it out there. I heartily suggest painting your house yellow if you live in a northern clime. The siding is easy to work with, very light weight. When time and weather permit, we will hang the rest of what we have on the house and probably finish up in the Spring time as we don’t have enough siding on hand and the weather is slipping into non painting weather. Still and all, never in our builds have we managed to get to siding at all in the first year, so this feels like a great accomplishment!

We have now returned to wiring work. Shawn has almost all of the wire drawn through the house and taken to the panel. This week he will work on cleaning up and tying up the box. It’s somewhat difficult this time around as the electrical code has changed and now requires AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interruptors) on every 20 amp circuit that serves habitable space. Not only are these AFCI’s expensive, but sometimes they have to be combined with a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor). It’s different than our last wiring work and somewhat complicated by the fact that our island resources for these circuits don’t exist and so we have to order online. That’s not generally a problem, but sometimes during a project it takes getting into it to realize what you’ve forgotten to order. Plumbing jobs are famous for this Murphy’s Law related issue, and this electrical job should experience the effects of a heightened Murphy’s Law as island resources are limited. Tomorrow Shawn will assess his requirements to the best of his ability and see what else he needs. A fair amount he’s already ordered, so at least a solid start can be made. Today we had a short day and finished installing the wiring chase/furring strips for drywall installation and also installed the hangers for recessed lighting throughout most of the house. Tomorrow we are going to drop the ceiling slightly in the kitchen and install the remainder of them.

We’re also having someone come and give us a bid on helping us to install the siding on the dormers. We have tried getting up there to do the papering and the siding of them and it is nearly impossible for us as it involves constantly going up and down to do the cutting and with our limited tools for working at heights, this is a real nightmare. We’ll see what he thinks of the job (sounded enthusiastic when he heard it was a small job and he only works with cedar, so so far so good) and hopefully this can be done shortly. We felt a good sense of relief at the idea of just hiring this work out, it was one of the last areas where work at heights was going to pose some real problems for us and slow us down immensely. Some jobs are definitely worth hiring out to professionals. You simultaneously support the locally skilled economy and save yourself a ton of time and stress.

The next two weeks will include finishing electrical and calling for inspection (hopefully not this Wednesday but the following), having our final plumbing and mechanical inspection, and having our insulation inspection. Then we can move on to preparing for temporary occupancy, ordering/installing plumbing fixtures, drywall and finally flooring. We are aiming for a move in date of December 1st. Let’s see how we do. We’ve got about 50 days to go.

Thanks as always for reading along...

Island House: finished roof, windows and doors

Island HouseShawn A. Dehner9 Comments

This week we saw our roof assembly completed and not too soon as our seasonal rain pattern has started establishing itself. For now we're still enjoying some sunshine, if cooler, and this has allowed us to make progress on getting the cedar bevel siding painted so we'll be able to install it as the season gets colder; crisp, sunny days will be great weather for hanging siding.

In addition, this week we'll finish the rough-in plumbing and electrical.

With our roof shingling completed and Marvin Integrity black windows installed we're finally closed-in.

The clipped gables take on their own appeal now that the roofing assembly is finished.

Jamie has been enjoying the unexpected sunshine and cool temperatures. She's been busy priming and painting the cedar bevel siding and she's nearly done!

Plenty of southern exposure for our French doors.

The Asian influence on the Ladybug House. Looks like a Samurai's helmet!


How I did my own 200-AMP Service Connection, Part 1

Island HouseShawn A. Dehner2 Comments

Not all home electrical service entrance requirements are the same. In the past I've simply had electrical meters professionally installed directly to my houses. However, out here on the island, my meter sits over 150 feet away from my house, on a post, inside a meter box, with its own breakers and an emergency shut off, whew... . 

Truth be told, I wanted to have my service connection installed by a licensed electrician but when I got bids ranging from $1000-10,000 I thought the universe, and definitely my local economy, was telling me to visit the local library. With a couple of books, the internet, and some carefully queried advice from a local electrician from whom I bought some of my equipment, I was able to complete my service connection all by myself. It was my first one, had its physical trials and code-infused confusion, but I must have done a good job because I not only passed my initial inspection but had the local power company come out to photograph the work to share as an example for others.

As I mentioned, the work wasn't easy; there were plenty of irritating moments, muddy wet socks, sweat, mistakes, and a few choice words. But it wasn't so bad I'd never do it again (if my wife agrees, she did half the wire pulling!). Now that all's said and done I think the money saved was well worth the short bit of effort and time invested.

So what was needed?

  1. A permit from Labor & Industries.
  2. A backhoe, on site from my foundation work, and a shovel to dig the 18" deep trench.
  3. 2-1/2" schedule 40 grey PVC conduit, couplings, elbows, lock nuts, bushings, and PVC cement, installed underground between my service panel and interior breaker panel.
  4. 4/0-4/0-4/0 aluminum service entry (SE) wire fed thru the conduit connecting the two panels.
  5. 2/0 encased ground wire also fed thru the conduit grounding both panels together, to the ground rods (see below), and the UFER ground inside the house.
  6. 5/8" galvanized ground rods (2) driven into the ground and attached to my outdoor service panel with unsheathed copper grounding wire and acorn ground rod nuts.
  7. 200 AMP service panel with shut off.
  8. Unistruts
  9. Anything else I forgot to mention!

Stay with me. Next time I'll walk you through how I did it and how to make it a little easier for yourself than I did for myself and my wife. In the meantime, why not get reading!

Your library is your electrician

I utilized a couple of electrical books from the library, mostly Wiring a House by Rex Cauldwell, which was decent for this aspect of electrical work, and a surprisingly well illustrated edition of The Complete Guide to Home Wiring by Black & Decker. The best resource was straight from my local power co-op, OPALCO. Their Meter & Meterbase Specification Pamphlet was superb and I highly recommend anyone considering a similar undertaking inquire about any available literature from their local power company. 

You might also consider the latest pocket edition of the NEC as well as Code Check Electrical

The internet was mediocre at best as most of my searches yielded board conversations. But it offered some modest value.

Disclaimer: Although all of the electrical work performed was inspected by Labor & Industries for safety, I'm not a licensed electrician. Anyone considering doing any DIY electrical work should be well read on the subject and obtain the required permits and inspections.

Island House: Wrapping up for the first rains

Island HouseJamie2 Comments

The Seemingly Endless Drought

Our island land is dusty dry this summer, unlike any summer we've seen.

Our island land is dusty dry this summer, unlike any summer we've seen.

It’s been a long and droughty summer in the Pacific Northwest, almost eerily so. It’s a quirk of PNW weather that one despairs of the rain, but when it gets dry for very long, another distress sets in as forests become tinder dry and all the moisture is sucked from the ground.

Here on San Juan Island, fire danger was high throughout most of the summer and there were strict measures in place to restrict fires of all kinds, from back yard recreational fires to campfires in public parks and lands. We watched in surprise as the fields became parched and brittle and pond levels fell precipitously all around us…it became uncommonly common to hear people say they had never seen local ponds fall so low, regardless of the number of years they’d called the island home. 

When rain appeared in the forecast late last week, I originally thought showers, the sorts that have blustered through here and there the last few weeks but amounted to very little and were parched out of remembrance by soaring temps ensuing the very next day. This rain forecast, however, was different.

Rain, and I Mean, RAIN, At Last!

And we were without the most important parts of a roof, the paper membrane and the shingles themselves. Our roofer is busy right now and couldn’t make it out to us before the rain was forecast. We decided to paper the roof ourselves, despite disliking the heights. It seemed only sensible and given the amount of rain we received over the course of the next days and really the last week straight, this was a very good choice. We spent a six hour day, the last hot day of the summer perhaps, papering the entire roof. We used 30# felt and rather than take the huge rolls up with us, we cut off lengths to fit the areas we were working on and slowly rolled and stapled it into place. Because a huge wind storm was predicted for the Saturday after our papering work (which took place on a Thursday), we were concerned about the staples holding. We also used tabbed roofing nails to secure the edges and then hoped for the best as a truly Murphy’s Law inspired storm rolled through last Saturday. Winds were around 30-40 miles per hour and gusts were reported to 50 mph. I am not sure what the accurate wind levels were clocked at here, but it was plenty windy. The storm mellowed out around 2 pm and we headed out to the property to see if our paper had survived. And it had! Hooray!!

We have been delighted with how well our temporary roofing is keeping the rain out, very little coming through the staples. We have had a couple of inches of rain this past week at least, and all is well. Hopefully (such a huge emotion contained in the four little letters spelling hope) the roofing shingles will go on this week. It will certainly be a delight to be closed in this year. Summer seems to have roared in early and is departing early as well. Sigh. Always a lot of sadness for me associated with the end of summer, although fresh corn helps. 

I have spent the week resting my shoulder a bit from a trim paint a thon that left my rotator cuff a little irritable. Shawn has been roughing in the plumbing. It’s nearly done. We had to spend some time laying out the upstairs bathroom again and got a good design in place and all the venting and draining is installed. We also ran cold and hot water lines and got many of the stub ins in place ready for fixtures, essentially. 

We are now preparing for the roughing in of the electric. We won’t have wire until after next week, but have installed the panel box and have roughly mapped out switches and boxes throughout the house. 

The Chimney Chase

After chasing down a fireplace we like, we built a chimney chase for the Valor Senator propane stove. We have ordered and will pick up this weekend. It should look pretty neat!  It was something of a decoding project to figure out the framing requirements for it, but sort it out we did and now the chase is built. We also tied up some other loose ends this week around the house, putting in ceiling catches for drywall and building in the walls for the bathroom and framing a small door from our bedroom closet into the bathroom and building the half walls between the dining room and living room.

Coming up...

Tomorrow we will begin the week by working on some small projects as we prepare to get closed in. We will be building the rest of the chase for the chimney (second floor), putting in the sloped walls for the stairwell, hanging the garage doors and assembling all the materials we’ll need for the electrical work we’ll start the week of the 14th. Windows are also supposed to arrive the week of the 14th and hopefully insulation will be going in by then…since we’re on the subject of hope, we hope to show the shingled roof sometime in the very near future as well! I think that for me this is the most stressful part of the build. We are relying a lot on others to do certain important work (relying on others in comfort is not a strong area for me though I very much appreciate the work) and the weather is changing, closing up the house is such an exciting time, but till certain things get done, we are somewhat restricted in what we can do. Still and all, good progress is being made and it’s hard to be disappointed with how much we’ve accomplished so far!

Thanks for reading along...