Island House: Wrapping up for the first rains

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...