Monthly Archives: November 2013

day 24 and 25…they’re still heeere

We had been back and forth as to whether we should have a full masonry fireplace built or put in a more efficient wood burning insert.  After much research on Dave’s part, we decided on an insert, as long as we could find one that would still give us the look of a massive wood burning fireplace that we feel every log cabin needs.  After finding just the right one, Dave, after more research, decided he would be able to install it himself and went ahead and placed the order. Expecting it to arrive after the crew had left, he had it delivered it to our Midlothian residence, hoping it would be in smaller pieces as the total weight would be 600lbs.  We were rather surprised when in showed up two days later, on two separate pallets, one of which we were able to break into smaller sections to get into my van, the other, the insert itself, in one complete piece and impossible for Dave and Max to lift even with a hand truck.  I’d like to give a shout out to our awesome neighbors, Brian and Jason Astroth, and Bill Durow, who came over to lend Dave a hand in hoisting the massive thing onto our trailer so we could haul it down the the cabin…thanks guys we owe you one!!! Once down at the site, it took all six crew members plus Mr. Lipham and Dave, to heave it up the four feet onto the front porch and then bring it into the great room.  Thank goodness they were still here when it arrived! Unfortunately, I was sick that day so there are no photos of the whole production. 😦

It came as no surprise to Dave and I when the end of today arrived and our Battle Creek crew had yet to wrap things up as we had thought it incredibly optimistic of Mr. Lipham when he set today as the new finish date.  They had ended up losing two crew members durning the course of the time that they have been here which has slowed down the progress somewhat and, in addition, there was a discrepancy between what the Battle Creek rep had agreed to have completed for us and what Mr. Lipham and his crew had been expecting to complete. Fortunately for us, Mr. Lipham and crew have been great to work with and, despite running way over their expected finish date, they’ve been knocking out much of the finish work on the outside that they were not expecting to have to do.

They have spent the past two days working on the roof and porch trim, running more electric, starting the steps between the first and second floor and figuring out where all the railings need to be placed.

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day 19 – 23…framing the second floor, sealing the log ends and building the roof system

By Monday of this week the tongue and groove had been replaced on the second floor.  Thankfully, the crew had been able to pull it up and put it back down without damaging the boards!

Once the floor was put back into place, they moved onto framing the bedrooms and guest bath on the second floor.

Much of the week was spent working on the five layered roof system.  First to go down was the tongue and groove that makes up the ceilings of the second floor and great room, over which was placed the first layer of roofing felt.  That was followed by the layer of super thick insulation, followed by a layer of OSB and finally another layer of roofing felt. We’ll eventually have a tin roof placed on top of all of that.

With much of the major building complete, they began to work on smaller details.

We had heard from a few different sources, one of which was the Perma Chink rep at the Log and Home show, that log sealant should be used on the log ends…Mr. Lipham had never heard of such a thing nor seen anyone else seal their log ends in the 14 years that he’s been building log homes. Pretty sure he thought we were crazy for doing it, but we did it non the less. The log sealant turned out to be the consistency of Elmer’s glue and smelled remarkably like it as well.  Actually, it ended up drying somewhat like Elmer’s as well.  We’re now pretty well convinced that’s all it is.

Though Dave had stayed down at the work site till dusk several times, I had yet to be down there long enough to see what the sunset would look like from our deck.  We had arrived so late the day we went down to seal the logs that I finally had my chance as we were just finishing when the sun began to set.

We are still completely amazed that in just over three weeks we’ve gone from having just a foundation to being almost completely dried in! Although the first estimate was to be done in 16 days, Mr. Lipman’s new goal is to be finished tomorrow which will be 25 days…only 9 day over….stay tuned to see if they meet that goal.  😉

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day 18…windows, we have windows!!!

First thing on today’s agenda was hammering down hundreds of metal plates over the wires along the second floor so the tongue and groove flooring could be put back in place. Dave pitched in and helped so that it would move along a little faster…this time, unlike the caulking incident, Miguel seemed happy for the help.  🙂

Once the wiring issue was taken care of, it was onto the windows!

Max had come down with us and spent the first half of the morning working on homework. When it was time to clean up, we all pitched in…there was sawdust and wood scraps everywhere so I picked up the broom while Dave showed Max how to blow off the sawdust with a leaf blower. He was supper psyched when Mr. Lipham let him switch out our puny leaf blower for his giant one.

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day 17…Dave discovers that the wiring hasn’t been completely covered with protective metal plates…up comes the recently placed tongue and groove of the second floor

Dave’s BFFs, Dan and Steve, along with Dan’s son Matthew, met us for lunch at our local haunt, El Caporal, then drove out with us to check out the progress of the cabin as neither one had been down since we’d started the log construction.

Dan, Steve and Matthew took off to the other side of the property to do a little target practice while Dave went up to the second floor to check things out.  He soon discovers that the the tongue and groove flooring has been nailed down directly on top of the wiring that runs between the t & g and the first floor rafters without first putting down the protective metal plates.  The purpose of these plates is to keep the wires from being damaged by nails when the flooring is placed.  Without them, not only is there danger of one of the wires being damaged, but we also won’t pass inspection without them.  Dave calls attention to this error to Mr. Lipham, who promptly has the crew remove all the flooring and put the plates down over the wires.  And there’s another day lost.

While all that craziness was going on, I took my camera for a walk.  It’s been a full year since we first set eyes on this place and it’s beauty still astounds me. I find myself taking pictures of the same spots over and over, but with each season the colors and the lighting changes and I just can’t resist trying to catch each different setting on film. I particularly love the bright green moss that grows along the rock ridge and between the gnarled roots of the old beech trees.

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day 15 and 16….t & g ceilings and…this is why wiring a log home is different than your average house

We both missed going down last Thursday to check out the progress on the cabin and were completely astounded when we arrived Friday at the site of the great room ceiling! We’d seen countless photos of the interior of many a two story great room in our Log Home magazines but were still unprepared for what we walked into that morning…it was simply breathtaking.

Most of the crew worked outside putting up more log siding, finishing off dormers and laying down more roofing felt. They’d been working particularly hard so we thought we’d bring in pizza for lunch.

Although some of the first floor wiring had been done, we hadn’t witnessed first hand just quite how difficult some of the wiring would be. As I had mentioned in a previous post, all of the wire has to be hidden in window and door frames, across the first floor rafters and under the second floor t & g, and also up over the roof for the second floor ceiling lights and fans .  This requires drilling through the heavy 12″ timbers and running over half a mile of wire, all to be connected down in the basement.(I’d somehow turned off the autofocus on my camera so some of the photos are slightly out of focus. Boo.)

Andy had to leave at the end of the day to drive back to Alabama and I must admit, we were sad to see him go.  He has added such a positive energy to the work site, constantly laughing, helping everyone out and keeping the entire atmosphere upbeat.  Before he left, he told us not to hesitate to call if we need help while we’re finishing the inside of the cabin…we may just have to “create” a problem so we can call him to come help us out!  ;-D

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day 14…closing in the front dormers, framing windows and placing more t & g on the roof

Another unusually chilly and windy November morning on Colemans Lake. I spent most of my time sitting by one of the two fires we had going!

The crew continued to put down the tongue and groove on the roof and to close in the front dormers today.

While most of the crew worked up on the roof, foreman, José, and our multi-talented electrician, Andy, worked on building the frames for the wall of windows in the great room while Dave and Mr. Lipham discussed our ideas for our fireplace.

After helping with the window framing, Andy does a little more wiring while Carlos, Nelson and Mateo start placing the tongue and groove roof around back.



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day 13…building the front dormers and laying the first layer of roof felt

We were very happy to have both Andy and José rejoin our team today! Despite a few snow flurries and crazy cold wind blowing off the lake, the crew started on schedule and began to close in the second floor dormers on the front of the cabin and to lay the first layer of felting on the roof.


While around back, the fireplace box was being closed in, inside Dave discussed with Andy and José whether or not we could remove one of the off center rafters in the great room ceiling.  In the end we decided to keep it even though structurally it would have been fine with out it, taking it out would be more of a hassle than it was worth.  Andy pointed out that once the tongue and groove ceiling was in and the cross ties up, there would be so much going on up there that we wouldn’t notice it.


view of the back of the cabin today

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day 12…staining the outside of the cabin

Unfortunately, Max was sick the day the crew started staining the outside of the cabin so I missed the big event.  On top of that, Dave forgot to bring my camera with him so what few pictures he took were with his iPhone, which leave a bit to be desired. Better than nothing though and he did get a little video footage:

Getting them to stain the outside for us was definitely a great decision…it would have taken us weeks to do what they did in a day!  The process looks pretty simple, one person sprays the stain on the logs while another follows behind with a brush to make sure it goes on smoothly…however, they’ve done it a million times so I think they made it look a lot easier that it would have been.

While half of the crew worked on staining, the other men were on the roof putting on the tongue and groove that will make up the ceiling of the cabin.

Our concern in choosing the Oak stain was that it looked much lighter than what we wanted and was also had a little more of a yellow tint to it than what we had in mind.  The Cedar, on the other hand, was too red and too dark but there was no color choice in between the two. So we went with the Oak stain and decided to put on two coats to make it darker…thank goodness we didn’t go for the Cedar because even the Oak initially looked much darker that we wanted!  Thankfully though, it didn’t have the yellow tint that it had in the sample and as it dried it has lightened up a good bit so we’re really happy with our choice.  Good thing ’cause there’s no going back!

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day 10 & 11…bleaching the logs and adding the log siding on the second floor

Saturday morning Dave went down ahead of me so that he could be there when our stain was delivered.  We had initially planned to do the staining ourselves but when we saw first hand just how high the second story is on the back of the cabin where the double wall of windows will be, the more daunting it seemed.  We made the command decision the day before that we would have our Battle Creek crew go ahead and do it while they were here, given that they had all the necessary equipment and knew what they were doing.  However, this put us in a time crunch as the forecast for the next week was freezing temperatures and snow flurries.  Mr. Lipham said that if we could get the stain overnighted, they could start staining by Sunday and be finished before the icy temps set in.  After much back and forth, it was decided that the cheapest way to have it overnighted was to pay a driver to drive it down from Tennessee.  We also had to make a quick decision as to which color to choose. After attending the Permachink talk at the Chantilly Log and Timber show, we decided to go with their Lifeline Ultra-7 line as it had the best reviews and only requires one coat.  This left us with fewer choices, none that really jumped out at us.  In the end, after talking with Mr. Lipham about it and listening to his advice, we went with the Oak.

The stain arrived as scheduled and the crew went to town trying to get everything done on the outside in order to start staining on Sunday.

By Sunday, the log siding was ready to be placed.  The full timber logs make up the first floor walls as well as the double story wall around the windows in the great room, while the two second story side walls are framed, covered with OSB and then covered with the log siding.  Once it is finished and stained, they will look like logs as well.  Once the logs and siding are finished, caulking is placed, if desired, in areas where there are slight gaps.  While the crew was on lunch break, Dave decided he would pick up a caulking gun and start doing a little caulking himself.  Clearly none of the crew members know that Dave has done his share of caulking in the past. I heard a quiet muttering in Spanish behind me as one of the crew members tried to catch Miguel’s attention to let him know what was going on.  Next thing we knew, several heads appeared around the corner of the front porch as everyone came to see what was going on.  Miguel promptly came over and removed the caulking gun from Dave and proceeded to do it himself.  Lunch break over!

By the time the caulking had been finished, the wind had really picked up and the command decision was made to call it a day and wait till Monday morning to start staining.  Just as well since ideally the caulk needed to set for 24 hours before applying stain.

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day 8 & 9… in which Dave finally gets to do a little work

Dave and I both missed going down to watch the building progress last Thursday so got around bright and early Friday morning to head down with the plan to hang out all day.  Mom had been wanting to check out the progress as well as she hadn’t been to the lake since just after we purchased the property, so she made plans to come along with us. Building had slowed down a bit the past couple of days as José had to take a couple of the guys off to  finish another project that they had previously started. Andy had also returned to home for a few days so we were down to just half the original crew.  When we arrived, a few of the men were working on laying the back deck, while the others were around front setting the heavy timber porch frame over the front door.

If you know Dave at all. you know that he has been dying to jump in and do a little work himself.  He had been fretting for months over the fact that the deck and porch posts were going to be placed directly onto the concrete pads that had been poured and finally decided that he was going to improve upon that plan.  He drilled into each concrete block, epoxied a large metal bolt into each hole, and attached metal hangers on which to place the posts upon.

I know I’ve posted plenty of photos of the lake and dam, but I just couldn’t help taking a few more…it’s just so beautiful. I will leave you with a few more shots…

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