we’ve crashed.


Well, after days of going non-stop, we crashed yesterday (friday) afternoon. Curt was ready to go home (he had been camping at the jobsite), and we were ready for a mega-nap. Curt cleaned up his stuff and left, we tried to secure the premises, and then we left. Today, we’re taking the day “off”– that is, trying to catch up on business stuff, trying to get in a little blog writing, plus all those other pesky things like laundry, dishes, etc. etc. Mostly, I fear the day will consist of a long series of naps & attempts to decompress.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and we’ve been to preoccupied to remember our mothers with any sort of shower of gifts & cards. So, Mom, hope you enjoy these pictures– I’ve posted them for you because I know that you’ll enjoy looking at them.

We started out this project-within-a-project by saw cutting out a piece of the basement floor in order to pour a new footer under the northern structural wall in the kitchen. In reality, the concrete was so strong, that it would probably have never gone anywhere– or even cracked. But by code we needed a proper footer, and we needed to get it inspected. So we busted out the old concrete slab, dug out the dirt beneath, and poured a new footer. This was really tiring work, and luckily it also involved hauling a bunch of broken concrete & dirt up the stairs, and then hauling buckets of wet concrete down the stairs. It would be a real shame if anything about this project proved to be easy.

We had planned to have the old kitchen completely (or mostly) demolished before Curt showed up to help with the framing, but despite our best efforts, it just didn’t happen. We spent a day ripping off old asphalt shingles, and pulling zillions nails out of the old T&G roofing. We ran out of time & energy before he showed up last Saturday, and it was a blessing in disguise because it turned out that we really needed the old building to serve as scaffolding to put up the new roof. Without it, we would have been on 3 (or more) stages of scaffolding, and it all would have taken three times longer. So, we ended up slowly eviscerating the old kitchen over the course of the week, ripping out bits & pieces wherever necessary while leaving other parts of the corpse intact. This has created a rather bizarre scene– as the new kitchen rises out of the husk of the old.

The new kitchen is really tall. Too tall, to be exact. But I hated the old dump on the back of the original house– and the way the previous owners had done the typical thing with the original addition– a low-slope roof that came just to the bottom of the upstairs windows. Poorly considered, poorly constructed, poorly finished. We didn’t really plan to just wholesale replace that kitchen addition, but somehow the inevitable scope-creep led to a design that required the complete demolition of that old kitchen. (Except for the basement, which mercifully hides its un-straight concrete block-ness under ground.) The new kitchen matches the 12/12 pitch of the original roof because it allowed us to have a double-height space in the kitchen that will open up the plan of the old house. But getting that framing right was really fussy, and complicated, and difficult. Thank goodness we had Curt to help us out, or we would have spent forever ( & a day) getting it right. As it was, it took a lot of careful figuring and special carpenter-math and lots of trips up to the ridge we were matching to get it right. It turns out that the south rafters were about 46 degrees, and the North pitch about 44 degrees, probably due to settling of the old house– or maybe they just didn’t get it right in the first place. Luke & Curt made mock-ups of the rafters & ridge beam to try to get everything right. Still, the new ridge isn’t exactly parallel to the old ridge, perhaps because the old ridge isn’t exactly parallel to the old walls… anyway, in my book it’s a miracle that it is close as it is– and only birds and Luke & Curt will ever be annoyed by it. (I’ll be content to be annoyed by the rake & eave conditions). It’s probably much more exacting than your average contractor-built addition. (And certainly more exacting than the average owner-built addition!)

By the end of the week, we got the existing “trusses” supported on the south end of the building, and framed up the new south wall.

We got the “dreaded north wall” framed. Its studs are interlaced between the old “trusses”, which had to be bent & pried & twisted out of the way in order to get our stud spacing to work out.

We got enough of the super-tall east wall framed to support the east end of the ridge beam, and we placed the ridge beam.

We got the rafters placed, and the LVL truss rafter sandwich assembly surgically inserted into its new home, where it will live out its days supporting the west end of our ridge:

And we got the roof sheathed without anyone needing a trip to the emergency room:

We also got the collar ties in place (though I forgot to take pictures). We are currently trying to recover, but are looking forward to going back in a couple of days and getting to the point where we can remove all the remaining bits of the old kitchen, and can actually begin the experience the space that we’ve framed in. It’s a little frustrating to do all this work, and not still not have a good sense of the space that we’re enclosing. But maybe that will make the last of the demolition all the more fun

Oh, and by the way, for any of you who may be aware of the Christy-heritage into which I married– don’t worry, this is a true Christy project– Luke managed to find a use for his collection of ropes & come-alongs. We used a come-along & rope contraption to pull the north wall plumb.

More photos at on flickr: click here

Sorry they’re a bit out of order, and they’re backwards. I really think that Flickr needs to make it easier to change the order of pictures, so that people like me can have an easier time telling-stories-with-pictures.

cheers, lkcm


4 Responses to “we’ve crashed.”

  1. Thanks for the wonderful chronicle! Enjoy your well-earned rest!! Love, Mom

  2. 2 Carl

    Great progress, guys! No need to worry about the ridge being at a slight angle — just think of it as your homage to Frank Gehry. And if you ever get tired of the vaulted space over the kitchen, you can add loft space – the guest room!


  3. 3 John Mezoff

    Laura and Luke, I am excited to see these pictures, I cann’t wait to see the place in person.

  4. 4 Carol Lenger

    Hey Luke & Laura,
    We had such a great time with you and then went back in our respective lives – there’s something wrong with that picture! How was the rest of your trip (you might not remember anymore)? There is concrete evidence that you arrived at home safely, though 🙂
    Thanks for the work you’re doing to help keep us up on your lives (home). The notice when you’ve added info will be great.
    The ‘mother’ in me wants to say, “Be careful, don’t get so tired :)” But I know it takes hard work and exhaustion is a by-product.
    Lots of love… Carol

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