Posts Tagged With: Coleman Lake Cabin

dave and the skyjack…


Outer first floor logs, dormers and deck rails all stained, we could no longer put off staining the upper portions of the cabin. After giving it much thought, Dave finally decided that the best way to tackle this daunting task was to rent a Skyjack lift with an articulating arm that would enable him to reach the higher areas of the cabin. We arranged for one to be delivered by Reliable Rentals in Dinwiddie over Memorial Day weekend and drove down early that Saturday to get started. Dave’s goal was to have the outside work done by the end of the weekend so that as the weather begins to get hotter, we can move our attentions to the inside. When we arrived Saturday morning, we found the lift had been delivered as promised and Dave went about trying to figure out how to use it. It all started out fairly well but, unfortunately, the day did not quite go as planned…




Because of the position of the septic tank, the Skyjack had to be driven farther out away from the house (so as not to crush the tanks), where the side of the property slopes downward. The newly regraded soil is still relatively soft here and as a result, as soon as the arm swung out far enough to reach the house, the right front wheel sunk into the loose dirt, throwing the vehicle off balance and left rear wheel began to raise off the ground, tipping the Skyjack to the right. (Ah-ha, that’s what all that extra beeping was about!) Once it’s off balance, Dave discovered, the wheels won’t move forward or backward and it took some effort to figure out how to rebalance the basket inorder to release the wheels so that he could drive it back up onto flat ground. After much frustration, Dave realized that there was no way he could get the vehicle base on a flat area close enough to the cabin that would enable him to lift the basket into a position that would allow him to stain that side of the cabin.  Much discouraged, he gave up, thinking we’d just thrown $900 down the drain and would have to hire someone else to finish the staining after all.

Unable to do the staining as planned, but not wanting the day to be a total waste, we moved inside and began to put up wall in the kitchen.

After finishing the kitchen wall, we called it a day and drove back home.

We returned Sunday morning, and, as Dave had reconsidered his decision to call someone else to finish the staining, he went ahead and gave the Skyjack another shot. I had suggested, the previous day, that he try driving it around to the other side of the cabin, via Colemans Lake Rd, and up the old road where the ground would be harder and more level. Apparently he had mulled the idea over the evening before and decided to give it a try.

It took awhile, and other than a brief stall in the middle of Colemans Lake Road where he caused a slight traffic hold up, he was able to successfully make it around to the back of the cabin and on to firmer ground.  (Yay, Dave, we believed in you all along!!!) And, thanks to the video feature on my new camera, I have it all on video. I’ve tried to cut it down to a reasonable viewing length…


Successfully making around to the other side of the property, Dave dons his Amish hat and goes about staining the cabin. Nice look Jebediah, but at least your neck and face won’t get burned I guess. 😛


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septic system… ✔ front porch and deck stained…✔

Slowly but surely we’re knocking things off the list.  We’re trying to get the outside buttoned up before the weather gets too stinkin’ hot so if we can get just a couple more weekend of spring weather before that happens, we’ll be happy.  We’ve been working on finishing the staining on the outside while Todd Hawkes has been working to get the septic system wrapped up so we can move forward with the inside.

Dave, Max and myself, have spent the past couple of weekends sanding, washing and staining the front porch and back deck. Unfortunately, we ran out of stain before completely finishing so will need to order a bit more before finishing with the deck and the staining of the log siding around the wall of windows in back.

Meanwhile, the septic system has been going in.  Heavy rains these past couple of weeks have slowed down the process but it should be completed this week!

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easter at the cabin….

After such crazy weather this spring, we were thrilled to have sunshine and 70 degree temps for Easter Sunday, which, of course, is perfect weather for hanging out at Colemans Lake with the fam! My eldest sister’s two kids, Maharlika and Zarek, as well as my middle sis’s twin girls, Emily and Erin, had all spent Saturday night with us.  Easter morning the kids all piled into Maharlika’s car, while Dave, Mom, the three pups and I, all loaded into the van and headed down to the cabin for a full day of fun.

We started the day with an Easter egg hunt, because, even though the “kids” range from age 13 to 20, you’re never too old for that, right? I had stuffed 92 plastic eggs with candy the night before, and, once we arrived at the cabin,  hid them randomly around the outside. (We forgot to recount the eggs once the kids were done to see if they’d found them all…. yep, still finding eggs there every time we’ve been down this week.)

Next on the agenda- we head over to the picnic area on Waffles Ridge for a cookout.

After lunch, it’s time for our annual deviled egg eating contest…

As Zarek struggles to keep down his thirteenth deviled eggs, we here a splash, followed by much giggling from the girls down on the dock. Uh oh. Surely someone’s phone didn’t just go in the lake?!

After the kids hung out on the dock for awhile, and Zarek’s wave of nausea passed, we pulled out the toys….

After a full day of fun we pack up and head for home. As we drive off, I think about the summer ahead and look forward to spending lazy days watching the kids hang out together, bonfires at night, waking up in the mornings and looking out at the lake ….

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replacing the siding and testing out the well…hooray, we now have water in the house!

Another eventful weekend at the cabin! Now that we have power coming in to the place, we were ready to test out the well, but never having had one before, we weren’t quite sure how it works. After a brief conversation with our trusty contractor, Todd Hawkes, we realized all we had to do was hook a hose to the small water tank in the basement and then flip a switch in the circuit box to turn on the pump to the well….lo and behold, it worked!

Next on the agenda was to finally tackle removing, and then replacing, the log siding along the right side of the great room window so that it lines up with the siding on the left. When the builders originally placed the siding, they ended up with a one + inch gap between two pieces on the right side and rather than fixing it, just cut a thin strip of siding to fill in the gap… unfortunately, we didn’t notice it till they were gone. Although we briefly considered leaving it, we knew it would always bug us if we didn’t go ahead and make it right. In order to correct the mistake, we figured out that if we just spaced out the siding pieces about an 1/8 of an inch more than they had been, it would make up the difference and line the two sides up properly. Thankfully, it all went as planned and, aside from the precariousness of having to work from the third level of  the very wobbly scaffolding (which was much higher than in looks on camera!) it worked out perfectly and now we can move on to finishing the stain on the outside.

Our other tasks of the day were to finish connecting bathroom the vent pipes, wiring the outlets in the basement and to begin sanding the deck rails.

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after months of all work, we finally get in a little play time as well!

Although we did spend the first part of the day Sunday working, we decided to break early to get in some ATV action, and then ended the beautiful spring day with a little fishing as well.

First on the day’s agenda was to put up scaffolding on the back deck. We have discovered that the log siding on either side of the great room windows does not match up and that the builders have put in a 1-2 inch strip between two of the siding pieces on the left in order to make up the difference. In order to make it look right, we’re now going to have to strip off the log siding on that side and replace it before we finish staining the outside. Our intent was to go ahead and tackle that project but after getting the scaffolding up, decided to put it off for another day and work on a few simpler projects instead.

Our dumpster was removed last week but we still have a ton of scrap wood to get rid of so decided to go ahead and build a fire in order to burn some of it. Max and I were put in charge of cutting down wood pallets and tending to the bonfire.

After starting the fire, Dave went to work drilling into the basement wall, under the front deck and through to the inside, in order to make openings for the bathroom vents.

Bathroom vents taken care of, Dave moves inside to do some framing in the laundry room.

These two tasks crossed off the list, it’s now time for our first trail ride of the year!

About an hour of sunlight left, we decide to get in a bit of fishing before packing up.

After a full day, we packed up and headed for home…

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poles…we have electric poles!

Dave’s folks were down visiting from Pittsburgh this weekend. Fortunately, after a week of rain, it finally let up and they were able to go down to check things out at the cabin.

Two poles were placed by Southside Electric on our property this past week, one on either side of Colemans Lake Road, and lines run from the existing power pole to each of these. Power lines will be run from the second pole, underground and to the house, in the next week or so. We’re pretty excited about this because once we have power, we can start spending the night. Woo Hoo!

Shower pans were also placed this week…we’re getting there slowly but surely!


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ready for the rough in inspection at last!

After redoing about two thirds of the wiring ourselves (okay, by ourselves I mean Dave, with a tiny weeny bit of help from me), we finally were able to get an electrician in who was willing to complete the work. The main thing still needing to be done being to wire the meter box on the outside of the house, as this was one thing Dave has not done before and he was a little uncertain about doing himself. With that finally being taken care of, along with the rest of the rewiring, we were able to have our rough in inspection.

After looking over the framing, HVAC, plumbing and wiring, the inspectors had a few minor suggestions as to what we should change but gave us the thumbs up! One of the suggestions they had was either to replace our circuit box from a 30 panel to a 40 panel box or to add mini breakers to the current panel box in order to allow for more circuits should we need them in the future.  In the end we decided it was best to go ahead and replace the entire thing and put the larger one in. So much for all my work rewiring and organizing the incoming wires a few weeks ago.

The couple of hours we thought it would take to replace the panels ended up taking the entire day, but it was time well spent and we are now ready to have power brought into the house!

Meanwhile, Todd Hawkes has been busy taking care of several other things that still need to be done.  He had the propane tank delivered and brought over a few of his man sized Tonka Toys to bury it and to clean up the front of the house, which at this point was beginning to look like a junk yard. Next on his agenda is to have the septic system installed.

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and then there’s the wiring issue….

I imagine that a certain amount of frustration is to be expected anytime you take on a large construction project. With that in mind, aside from a few hiccups along the way, we consider ourselves relatively lucky that most things have gone smoothly thus far. That is, if we don’t consider the wiring issue.

We were initially referred to a local company, McCray Electric, when we first began to put our plans for building in motion and scheduled an appointment to meet with them back in September. Completely clueless as to how to go about lighting our cabin or where we would need to place all of the outlets, we took our cabin plans in and met with them to discuss various options and ideas, feeling very confident when we left our meeting that they would do a fantastic job. They said they had wired other log cabins in the past and seemed well aware of how to best go about the job, bringing up things we’d never even thought of. After discussing the project in length, we were told that they would go over the plans a bit more thoroughly in the coming week and then get back to us with a price quote and give us a complete plan for wiring our new cabin. Several weeks went by and several phone calls were made, each time we were told they would get back to us with a quote, “tomorrow”.  It’s now February and we’re still waiting for them to call “tomorrow” with their price quote!

In the meantime, construction began and we needed an electrician to go ahead and start wiring as the logs were being laid. At Mr. Lipham’s recommendation, we agreed for him to bring up his electrician from Alabama to do the job. We absolutely loved Andy (who turned out to be Mr. Lipham’s son for those of you who haven’t been following all along) and found him to be much fun to have on the site. Clearly he was knowledgable not only as far as the wiring, but in all areas of building a log home. The problem was, after wiring half the cabin, he had to return home to Alabama and the rest of the wiring was left to another member of Mr. Lipham’s crew who had been helping Andy wire the basement and first floor.  We soon began to suspect that the only training Raymond had in running wire was the two days he worked with Andy before he had gone back home to Alabama. The idea was that Andy was going to return to finish up what Raymond couldn’t do at the same time Mr. Lipham returned to finish up the few construction projects that were left undone when the building crew had left. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow for them to return when they had initially planned and, as we needed to move forward with construction, we eventually had to make other arrangements to get the work completed.

Having little luck in finding an electrician that would come in to finish what Andy had left undone, fix the mess that Raymond had made, as well as to sort through the quagmire of unmarked wires that were running haphazardly throughout the three floors, Dave finally decided he’d take on the project himself. Having a father who is an electrician, as well as having previously wired a house that he had renovated in Richmond’s historic Church Hill, he was no stranger to the task. He’d just been trying to avoid it. He has now spent the last three weeks sorting out the mess of unmarked wires, starting by first by going wire by wire, attaching a 9volt battery on one end and a current detector on the other,  painstakingly going through the entire cabin trying to figure out what runs where and labeling each with a sharpy as he goes along. He has also confirmed what we had feared- that everything Raymond had run on the second floor, as well as much of the main floor, has to be redone.

While we’ve been working on the wiring, Todd Hawkes and crew have started putting the stone on the chimney….AWESOME!

Gentry Well Works have been back as well…

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drilling the well…we have water at last!

Okay, so we don’t actually have water in the cabin yet, but, thanks to Gentry Well Works Inc., who came out this week and drilled our well, we’re that much closer to running water. Hooray! The septic system should go in next week so it’s only a matter of time now…

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front porch stair rails, check… fireplace stone, check…

We had started working on the handrails for the front porch stairs the day we finished the interior of the fireplace but ran out of time so that was the first on our agenda to complete this past weekend.

Next, we set the log mantel supports in place so Todd Hawkes and his crew could begin putting the stone around the fireplace.

After looking through countless samples of rock, we had settled on using Eldorado stone veneer in Shadow Rock Willow and were extremely pleased with our choice! Our initial reason for using a wood burning fireplace insert and stone veneer was to cut back on cost a bit but in the end we could have done a full masonry fireplace for what we ended up paying!

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