Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Steep roof is felted!

Well, Adam and Andy managed to get the felt on the steep roof before the back-to-back storms predicted over the holiday weekend coming up. Yahoo!

Therese spent some time over the past two days moving the stack of bales that we had dug into for our first walls (upstairs, see the post from 11/9)

Notice in this new picture, no bales in front of the sliding glass doors anymore!

Unfortunately, this stack of bales had no pallets underneath them so the biggest challenge was in moving the bottom layer and scraping the bugs and mold off the bottom, then finding a place to store them under the roof where the wet surface could be exposed and dry out. To her great surprise, under the last bale she discovered a nest of cute little mice. Boy, did they scatter quickly (in all directions, while Therese screamed) when that last bale was upturned.

Stay tuned for pictures of the house in the snow if this storm produces what it's forecast to do!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More roof metal

Yesterday Adam, Andy and Therese managed to move the rest of the 31 foot metal roofing panels from the ground to the flat roof; and Adam and Andy put them in place. It was a little breezy, causing some anxious moments as we moved the long panels, but the move was done with only one slight crinkle.

With that roof done, the next move is to get the roofing felt applied to the steep roof before an expected storm hits later this week. Adam and Andy made good progress toward that end today, getting about half the roof felted. This is the most difficult surface to work on due to the steep pitch. Getting the long pieces of metal on that roof will also be quite interesting when it comes time.

We'll also be trying to get some of the bales from the partially used stacks moved inside the building to protect them from the weather, and the bales that have been placed in the walls covered so they don't get too wet either.

With winter well on its way, it will now be a constant struggle to continue forward and prevent the weather from impeding our progress.

Friday, November 21, 2008


We had the third grade out to help with our very first mudding experience today.

We were a little worried because we aren't really ready for putting mud on the few bales we have in place, but Adam rose to the occasion and got the outside of one corner of Aiken's room ready.

They had a ball!

The clay is made up of powdered clay (Amador brand) that we are getting in bags from Home Depot, native sand sifted from shovelfuls of dirt on our property, water and loose straw. The recipe Adam used today was 6 parts sand, 3 parts clay, 2 parts water and 20 handfuls of straw. It will no doubt be slowly refined as we go. A lot of it ended up on the ground today because it was not adhering well to the straw. Still, a lot of it stuck as well!

Aiken's room as seen from the inside.

The kids also enjoyed climbing on the fallen tree in the front yard.

To mix the mud, we are using a mortar mixer we picked up with the help of Adam's friend, Ben, who lives in Tucson, in spring of 2006. It's nice to finally put it to some use!

Backing up a bit, last weekend Adam and Andy (yes, Andy's been back in the picture for about nine or ten days now, thankfully!) spent most of the time building interior walls. Almost all of them are now complete. (The thinking was that the interior walls had to be up before the straw placement can begin in earnest.)

The master bedroom and part of the closet, as seen from the living room.

The kitchen (eating area), as seen from the living room.

The pantry closet (as seen from the living room side).

The girls' rooms (as seen through Aurelia's closet and the shared bath).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

First Bale is Stacked!

I see it's been two weeks since my last post. We hoped to be a little further along by now but we have made some progress.

Last weekend, November 1 & 2, Adam's friend, Tobin, came out to help. Their main project was the second story roof metal. There was a lot of finesse work to be done in cutting the metal pieces and getting them in place, then screwing them down.

Getting the metal on the roof is definitely a two person job at a minimum, and Adam's former helper, Andy, seems to have moved on to other pursuits as he is never available to come out and help anymore. Adam misses his expertise but is resigned to continuing without his help. We were very appreciative of Tobin's help last weekend.

Tobin was out of town this weekend, November 8 & 9, however, so the job of Adam's main helper fell to Therese. We managed to almost finish the second story roof on Saturday before Therese had to run off to a previous commitment in the afternoon. Fortunately, Aiken stepped in and provided the extra set of hands (high in the air) to get that part of the roof finished. (That's Aiken's shadow in the accompanying pic.)

In the second picture, Aiken is standing on the second story roof he helped finish, peeking over the clerestory roof to the flat roof where I am standing below. You can click on any of these pictures to enlarge them in your browser.

Today, Adam had planned to put metal on the flat section of the first story roof, but the wind had different ideas. After we had finished prepping the roof with the black felt, and got just one piece of metal in place (each piece is 30+ feet in this section, just 38 inches wide), again with Aiken's help, the wind picked up to the point where Adam felt we would risk bending the metal while trying to get it in place.

So instead we braced the felt that was in place so it wouldn't blow away, and concentrated on moving some of the straw bales under roof to keep them out of the weather (rain and snow) that was predicted this evening.

We managed to get the first few bales in place on the second story (guest bedroom) and move a bunch more bales under roof before the rain and snow started to come down around 5 pm. We had to quickly move the bales that were exposed, and re-cover those that we didn't have time to move.


Here the kids are sitting on the "first bale" to be placed. Aurelia's face is in shadow but if you click for the enlargement, you can still see her beautiful smile!

There's a shot of the first bale by itself.

Placing the bales turns out to be pretty user-friendly and fun. Adam has a small electric chain saw that he uses to cut out notches in the bales where they have to fit around the posts and other parts of the frame that are "in the way". We will use loose straw to pack in to any voids created by imperfections in the bales or places where the notches are a little roomy.

It was exciting to see the first few bales lined up and in place!

We're hoping the roof isn't leaking where it just has the felt on it, as it's been snowing outside for the past several hours now! There isn't supposed to be any accumulation on this first snowfall, but we'll have to see what it looks like in the morning!