Catching Up On the Dream House


Wow! It has been six weeks since I updated with news on our house-building. Between teaching, our trip to New York City, moving out of our current lodgings, moving back, showing evening movies to my students, plus lambs arriving, the pace has been pell-mell.

Still, every day before or after work I would climb ladders and tiptoe around the work site, feasting my eyes. This post will be picture-heavy.

First, all the second-story interior wall frames were erected.


Once those were in place, the outside gable wall frames began to go up. There were a few days of strange-looking pieces jutting into empty air.


But soon the roofline began to take recognizable shape.


Next came the ceiling joists.


Followed by the ridge board.


Next came the rafters.


At this point a snowstorm was predicted. I drove down to the farm that Saturday to find Nick and Mike pulling giant tarps over the roof framing.


My contribution to this building project has been almost nil, beyond writing checks. However, that day I hung around to pass up furring strips, to be nailed down over the tarps to secure them.


It took them most of the day to tarp the entire house and cover the window openings.


But at last it was done. Let it snow!


It did…


… but the house stayed dry. Lucy was home that weekend for her races and kindly climbed ladders (now the ladders were inside, in the future stairwells — very comforting not to be scrambling up the outside walls) and walked through the house with me. It was fun to have someone share a bit of my excitement. Here is Lucy standing in her future bedroom, just before the window frame was covered with plastic.


Over the next week the tarp was peeled back and the front half of the roof was sheathed in OSB …


… which was in turn covered with ice and water shield. I had wondered how the men would manage scaffolding high over the icy, sloping ground. The answer: they built it, cantilevered from the window frames. I’m sure this is often done, but it struck me as ingenious.


Meanwhile, the electrician, Dan, was wiring the house. Here he is running lines in the future kitchen.


In the photo they have removed the old wall sheathing, preparatory to building a doorway, and you can see through the plastic to the mudroom. Currently the mudroom is filled with half our possessions (the other half is stacked in the garage). One of my jobs for this vacation will be to empty the mudroom into our new basement, so the mudroom can be wired, insulated, and finished.

Walls, wires, outlets, the beginnings of plumbing pipes — to me it is all exciting.


During the week we were living at the farm, DH climbed ladders to look at it with me. He is a good man with zero interest in houses or ability to imagine spaces, but he wanted to make me happy. “Nice, nice,” he murmured, looking around in obvious bewilderment.

“It will be nice,” I reassured him.

The windows and doors were delivered.


Mike and Nick hung OSB on the ceilings of the second floor, to be a strengthening layer beneath the future sheetrock. “That’s something we add extra,” said Mike cheerfully. “That’s the way we do things!” The photo below is looking through the wall of Lucy’s bedroom to Jon and Amanda’s room.


Mike’s boom truck (a retired town electric truck) has been invaluable to this project, and for months was parked permanently in front of the building. Here is Nick nailing up the eaves on the western face of the house.


Another “extra” Nick and Mike provided was supplementary wind bracing under the roof.


By now, they had an appreciation for the windiness at my farm. After all the nailed and taped Tyvek house wrap tore off for the second time, scattering green-capped nails like confetti, they let it go. They will replace it with fresh wrap just before they put up the permanent siding.


Finally there were two days without wind and the back roof sheathing could be installed and covered with ice and water shield.


Nick and Mike were still on the roof when I finished barn chores at dusk. I could see the glow of their propane torch as they carefully warmed the edges of the tarry material to tack down the seams.


They are meticulous craftsmen and I could not be happier with the quality of their work. Throughout my childhood, I heard my parents refer reverently to the contractor who built their house in 1954. Given my experience with builders, I thought the breed was extinct. However Nick and his father are in the same pantheon.

A few days later, temporary stairs replaced the ladder, and insulation was delivered. From now on, Jerry would be insulating the walls every day.


Insulation was also blown into the “tippy-top” (a name from my childhood), the inacessible space above the second floor.


Though I could potentially install a drop-down folding ladder and make this a useful crawl space for light storage, there is no need. There is the full basement plus a walk-in attic room over the mudroom.

Then — windows! If I told you how often I have had tears in my eyes, looking out window frames and now windows, you would know I was crazy.


Every day after work was like Christmas: what will be today’s gift? One day it was the windows and sliding glass doors in the southwest corner of the dining room.


Then — four more: the north windows of our bedroom, the office, and the living room.


With all the heavy pieces safely lifted to the second story, now Mike could move his boom truck, and the misplaced front door opening became more obvious. I discovered this mistake in a panic a few weeks ago. The house company checked its plans and discovered a typo in the computer code. They offered to send a man to fix it, but Nick is (if possible) even more territorial than I am. He will fix it himself. The opening will move 10″ to the west, to be centered on the wall.

Next our west bedroom windows were installed.


… and finally, Jon and Amanda’s bedroom window.


Now the house is almost closed in: just Lucy’s bedroom windows, the front door, the basement door, and the glass door to the future screen porch still to go.

Happy days!




8 Responses to Catching Up On the Dream House

  1. Elaine Murphy says:

    Your house is beautiful! Great job designing it…..

  2. Shawn says:

    Fabulous!! It’s going to be a gorgeous house in a lovely setting. I’ve been so excited, waiting to see the updated pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mac West says:

    Lovely Sel. Can’t wait to drop by!

  4. Jane Welker says:

    Wow!!! I am SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!! ❤

  5. Newly says:

    As perhaps the only person alive who remembers the building of our childhood home, I hereby award Nick and Mike with the Emil Troika Evergreen on the Roofbeam Award for Excellence in Construction! This is so exciting! I remember when Driftway looked like this. I can’t wait to come and see the finished house. xoxo

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      🙂 I was trying to remember his name. It seems to me that Mom and Dad always spoke of “Mr. Troika” in hushed tones. I am just as grateful.

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