THE small HOUSE CATALOG

Plans, Drafting & Design

stairs

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.

San Juan Island Small House Update

Shawn A. Dehner

It seems like I was just writing up last week’s progress report!  We started the week with cooler, cloudy temps and even got some rain on Monday, much needed. It also gave us a chance to take a day off, also much needed.

This week we finished all of the joists for the second floor and completed all of the interior walls, including those that helped frame up the stairwell and the cabinets and closets beneath it. The stairs were the final big project of the week. Shawn cut all the stringers yesterday and we were reminded of Roy Smith, a retired builder in Belfast, ME who answered questions for us along the way as we built our first house there about a decade ago; we raised our hammers in toast to him and appreciated once again his tips on stepping out stairs many years ago that helped us cut our first stringers. 

By Saturday we'd completed the main straight run, installed temporary treads and also the second floor landing. We also got our risers spot on at 7 ¾ all the way up - an important calculation for us and pleasant to achieve without trouble. 

While Shawn stepped out and cut the stringers, I spent a good amount of time carefully air sealing the interior walls by running a bead of caulk along any place where studs, trimmers, sills or headers met each other. We have also air sealed the exterior in a similar way. A blower door test is now required to pass the final building inspection and this extra bit of work will help us pass and make the house more energy efficient by preventing air leakage.

This coming week we will be laying out plywood on the second floor and will be feeling very grateful as we hustle it up comfortable stairs rather than hoisting it through the stairwell, one of us up and one of us down. After that’s installed and square, it will be on to framing up the second floor dormers. It is hard to believe that the roof assembly is in close sight. This is the earliest start we have ever gotten on a building project and quite possibly the finest weather we have ever had for one. Please check in again next week for some additional photos and another progress report.