It was -11° F when I got up at 4:30 Monday morning. I figured the men would not come in to work. It didn’t crack zero until 9 AM (their usual start time). However, they were there, bundled up and grinning good morning, their breath smoking in the air.
Most of Monday was spent with measuring tapes and chalk lines, snapping guidelines on the deck for the future walls. Watching men intently pulling tapes and strings while sitting on their haunches in the deep cold was not gripping and I spent most of the day at my desk, closing out my school obligations and working on finances.
However, when I returned at the end of the day for chores I found the south wall of the first floor had been erected!
My heart pounded. The men had come to a convenient stopping place and left early, so I was alone. I tiptoed to each window frame — the kitchen, the hallway, and the dining room — and looked out. So exciting!
And so terrifying. I was suddenly filled with anxiety that I had made mistakes, that the layout I’d sweated over alone for months was, in fact, stupid. I’m not an architect or a home designer. I have learned over the years that I have zero spatial sense. Maybe it would be terrible.
When I got home I told Lucy that I was having an attack of cold feet. Like her father, Lucy is outwardly imperturbable. She looked at me as if I were crazy. “It will be fine.”
The big thing was: it was happening. My house was going up! I couldn’t get over it.
Tuesday was the big day. The weather was cold and blue — but with no wind, it felt balmy.
Nick, Mike, and Jerry drilled a hole in each panel, fitted it with a giant screw-eye bolt, and used the Bobcat to lift it with a chain…
…and carry it around to the end of the house, where they nailed it in.
By lunchtime the west wall was up.
After lunch it was time for the north wall. The boom truck hasn’t wanted to start in the severe cold, but the men warmed it with a torpedo heater and it finally coughed into life. Again each panel was lifted…
… while Jerry guided it around obstacles with a rope leash.
Mike at the boom controls swung it into place…
… and let it down in position.
While the boom held it upright and Jerry steadied it…
… Nick nailed it in.
They proceeded down the wall in this manner. Once the panels were in place, Mike was in charge of final nailing…
… but before the nail gun fired, Nick made sure everything was tight and aligned to the sixteenth of an inch.
“He’s a cabinetmaker!” Mike told me, pretending to roll his eyes, but I knew he was as proud as I was impressed.
Before the last exterior wall panel went up, we carried in all the interior wall frames, including this last one that required the excavator to lift.
Then the last exterior wall was nailed in. Now the only way into the house was through the front door frame.
I took the photo below yesterday morning while walking Stash in the south pasture before chores.
I know this 28′ x 36′ house will be the same height and only 4 feet wider and 6 feet longer than the garage. I know it looks enormous because of the attached garage and the falling slope of the land. However, it does look enormous. To DH, who persists in the comforting illusion that he would be happy in a pup tent, it will look like the Hearst castle.
I think to myself that it’s probably a good thing that he may not go down to the farm and see it until the frame is finished.
Yesterday was forecasted to be another sunny day. Instead it was dark with a strong wind. I jumped to help Jerry secure flapping tarps over a load of lumber and in a rare utterance, he asked plaintively, cigarette glued to his lip, “Is it ever not windy here?”
After Tuesday’s great leap forward, Wednesday was another “invisible progress day,” lots of measuring with laser levels. However, by the end of the day all the rim joists for the second floor were up.
Again, the men came to a good stopping point and left early. I walked through after barn chores as dusk was falling.
The northwest corner of the living room. Doorway to the screen porch on the left, front doorway on the right.
Northeast corner. Front door and study.
East side. Study on the left, half bath and laundry in the middle, kitchen on the right.
Dining room (with stacked, waiting interior walls).
I can’t wait!