Dorothy may have been taken by “lions and tigers and bears – oh my!” as she traveled the yellow brick road toward Oz, but we’re not building on the yellow brick road and this isn’t Kansas. Nonetheless, I had one of those moments Wednesday that had me feeling like Dorothy must have felt, twisting my head from side to side, looking in every direction at once, trying to take it all in…windows being installed, roofing being added, pavers being delivered, framing being created and painted, and more!
We arrived at the site midmorning with roofers well on their way to completing the north side of the roof…our lead contractor and crew were finishing up making framing for the porch…and then just as they all were heading for lunch, our truckload of pavers arrived. Within minutes of his arrival, driver Steve had his flatbed—fully loaded with 11 pallets of pavers—positioned at the far end of our property, ready for off-loading. [Click on the photos for a larger view.]
Our newest ‘neighborhood’ friend, Lynn Mattson, had also just arrived, ready at the wheel to unload. All told, at 760 pavers per pallet, he moved just over 8000 pavers destined for a patio, walkways, driveway, and, most importantly, the breezeway (it’s the breezeway we’re working to get done before it gets too cold—the rest will be in the spring). [The story of how we came into the pavers is a story all its own; you can read about it at the end of this entry.]
We’re working with Lynn because he was recommended to us as someone who could supply wood for our entry-porch posts. Little did we know he’s a professional “done-it-all” kind of guy. A lifelong resident of southeast Minnesota, Lynn grew up around logging, so it was natural for him to find his way into working with wood all his life.
Finding him was almost by accident—one of those guy-refers-guy-refers-guy-refers-guy, and the ‘guy’ just happens to be a neighbor who’s place we’ve driven by hundreds of times with no idea of just ‘what’ or ‘who’ was there. He doesn’t advertise, doesn’t even have a sign at his place, but mills wood, has a wood-fired kiln for drying green lumber, a huge warehouse to work in, and, as demonstrated by his help Wednesday, has a varied collection of machinery and vehicles to meet just about every need.
Lynn’s porch posts, by the way, were beautifully crafted; Nancy went to work painting them yesterday, along with other porch materials that Jeff, JR and Troy have been cutting, sanding and preparing. Lynn was kind enough to offer his warehouse for painting, keeping materials out of the elements and Nancy in a cozy 50º+ warehouse (on a day that started at 40º and dropped into the mid-30s with rain, snow and sleet by late afternoon!).
Meanwhile, “back at the ranch” Jeff, Troy and JR moved forward this week with installation of the window canopy on the house (visible in pictures below). And yesterday they installed the first of the Zola windows delivered on November 16th (see previous blog entry).
Lynn’s visit to the site was more timely than any of us had first imagined, as all but the largest window had been moved to the second floor of the house and that last one would have been particularly challenging for four of us to lift to that level. So….
Lynn to the rescue! Even with his help there was a lot of maneuvering, but we successfully moved the last window in.
Our architectural designs were carefully planned to ensure not just proper structural mounting of the windows, but mounting that eliminates air seepage around the frames—part of meeting Passive House standards. [Christi Weber, our architect, will have more on this in a future blog posting.]
Bringing the two-dimensional drawings to life demands an ability to interpret architectural design, visualize the design in 3-D, and give a lot of attention to detail. We’ve commented regularly on Jeff’s leadership as our lead contractor; this work exemplifies his craftsmanship and understanding of construction and carpentry.
The three windows installed Wednesday slipped into place as designed, were leveled and sealed meticulously, and tested perfectly for both tilt and turn openings. Only coincidentally was it that the first windows installed were in what will be Nancy’s studio—but clearly she was thrilled to be ‘the first’! Others of us stepped out to size up the work on canopies and new windows.
As the day wore on, the skies threatened to give way to more rain/snow/sleet, but the worst held off until the roofers were able to secure the final sheet metal panel on the north side roof. There’s still more to do, but it’s good to see progress made this week. And seeing one entire side done helps us appreciate the choices we’ve made for these materials and color.
Pavers galore—patience pays off!
Acquiring the pavers is a story that deserves telling, because it’s proof that watching for off-season and/or discontinued products can be worth the wait.
We’d originally thought this is what we wanted to do, but after searching and watching sales over the summer we decided it would be far too costly for our budget. We also priced options for exposed aggregate concrete, assuming it would be quicker and less expensive to just get it all done at once; but that also was pushing the budget (and colder temperatures were making it increasingly difficult to get the job done this season anyway). That’s about the same time this unexpected deal popped up on Craig’s List—huge inventories of discontinued pavers with the manufacturer eager to move them out before a new season’s supply was underway…both discontinued and off-season!
While we’ve found Craig’s List to generally be a source of promising materials, we weren’t about to buy 8000 pavers without being certain. The first call was to Nebraska, of all places…hmmm. But that put us in touch with a concrete plant that manufactures pavers for the Wisconsin-based materials-supplier Menards—a plant located just 100 miles from Lanesboro in Shell Rock, Iowa. And when it comes to paver manufacturers, a hundred miles is as local as you can get—another goal we’ve tried to keep in mind as we search out materials.
Coincidentally we were already headed to Des Moines that weekend for a family gathering, so arranged to visit the plant and see the pavers on our return trip. And like clockwork, we stopped at the plant, walked through hundreds of pallets of pavers, selected what we wanted, confirmed shipping options, and closed the deal. That was last week. They arrived yesterday. Total cost, including shipping, was under $900—considerably below the $3-5000 figures we’d been staring at for earlier options. Yes, we’ll have some labor expense getting it installed, but we’ll also do much of the work ourselves, giving us more flexibility in designing and shaping the walks and patio that will buffer us from the native prairie plants going in this next year.
So…moral of the story: keep your eyes on the prize—and be patient!