Posts Tagged With: Todd Hawkes

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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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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framing up the fireplace wall and hearth

Another crazy weekend, weather wise.  Saturday started with heavy fog that was just beginning to lift as we got to the lake.  It was already warm and humid out when we arrived and supposed to get up into the 70s, but not so inside the cabin.  As soon as we opened the front door, we were hit by an icy draft as the cold air from inside the cabin rushed out.

Undeterred from the icy inside temps, Dave started up the generator, turned on the heater, and went to town building the fireplace wall.

And, incase you were wondering what our place looks like from above, Todd Hawkes just sent us this photo… Thanks Todd!!!


The Coleman Cabin and Colemans Lake as seen from above

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finishing the dormers, closing in the chimney, putting in the basement windows and starting the roof

Okay, so I got a little behind with my bloggin’ over the holidays…bear with me, a lot has been happening so this is going to be a long one!

When the JM Logcraftsman crew left on Thanksgiving Day, there were still a few things left unfinished.  They had run out of log siding for the second time so were unable to finish one of the dormers and, therefore, unable to stain them as well. In addition, the original basement windows that had been delivered with the rest of the kit ended up being the wrong size so new windows had to be ordered but had not yet arrived before the crew left. The wiring on the second floor was also incomplete and that which had been done was done incorrectly as, once Andy left, it had been left to be completed by one of the crew members who was unfamiliar with wiring. The original plan was for Mr. Lipham, Andy and one other crew member to return the first week in December to finish these three things, as well as to finish staining the outside of the cabin. The first week turned into the second week, which then turned into no communication from anyone as to when they might be back.

Granted, this was all during the holiday season and Mr. Lipham had also taken on building another cabin in Arkansas so I have no doubt that he and Andy both were being pulled in all different directions.  Having said that, regardless of what is happening on their end, the fact of the matter is that our place is still unfinished and we need to move forward.  Our local contractor, Todd Hawkes, had lined up people to start the plumbing, the HVAC and the roof and they were all ready to get started. Unfortunately, the dormers in particular had to be completed before the roof could be put on so, still hearing no date for Mr. Lipham to return, Dave arranged with Battle Creek to have the log siding and basement windows to be delivered directly to us so we could move forward.

Finishing the dormers

Although the log siding had yet to arrive, we went down the weekend before Christmas to start staining the dormers in the front so that the roofers could at least start on that side.  Dave also wanted to change out the trim on the arched window over the entrance as, on closer inspection, we realized it was less than spectacular to say the least.  By the time we finished the front dormers and had stained what we could in the back, the siding arrived so the following weekend we were able to get that up and finish staining the last dormer so the roofers could begin.

Putting in the basement windows

Meanwhile, the new basement windows had also arrived.  Thankfully, they proved to be relatively simple to put in and made a huge difference in the amount of light in the basement once they were in.

Putting in the fireplace/chimney insert

One of our next goals is to get the fireplace in working order so we can warm up the inside of the cabin to make working on the inside a little more pleasant during these coming winter months. Over the past few weekends we’ve been making progress and were finally successful this past weekend in getting the last of the chimney inserts in place and closing up the chimney.

HVAC & Plumbing & roof

While we’ve been busy with our projects on the weekends, there has been much going on during the week as well.

putting in the knee walls

Initially, we wanted to keep the tongue and groove of the roof exposed on the front side of the upstairs bedrooms and build knee walls on the back for storage. However, once the air vents and pipes were placed, we had to rethink which walls we were going to keep exposed on the second floor.

A visit from Dave’s folks

Although Dave’s parents have been avid blog followers, they haven’t had a chance to get down here to check the place out since construction began.  Fortunately, they were able to come down and spend Christmas with us and we brought them down on Boxing day to take a look around.

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bringing in the electric

Still no new date for the arrival of our construction crew! In the meantime, however, there are other things that still need to be decided upon, such as, where exactly our power line will run.  There is an existing power line that runs parallel to Colemans Lake Rd, on the opposite site of the road from the lake, which supplies all of the neighboring houses.  Our line will be pulled from this existing line, to a pole that will be placed somewhere on our property on that side of the road, then run across Colemans Lake Rd to a second pole, and from there will run underground to the cabin.  We had our initial meeting with Lacey Palmore, of Southside Electric Cooperative, a few weeks back and had discussed tentatively where that line would run.  As a result of that discussion, we had Todd Hawkes clear the necessary 40′ wide path so it would be ready for the power line as soon as possible.  We were thus a little concerned yesterday, at our second meeting, when Lacey suggested a different path, which would require clearing a completely different section of our woods.  Thankfully, Todd was very adamant about placing the first pole exactly where we had previously discussed and Lacey agreed that she would make it work.  We are finding that, just as we are so fortunate to have George Lewis working with us on the home site prep and excavation, we are just as fortunate to have Todd Hawkes handling things for us from this point forward! AND come to find out, they used to be brother-in-laws. Have I mentioned how small Dinwiddie County is?!

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a structure arises…

Dave arrived bright and early Friday morning, did a little fishing and awaited the arrival of Eric Riley and his crew from Superior Walls Foundations.  Although overcast, it was a beautiful morning on the lake, the early fall air cool and quiet.  I stayed behind to get Max off to school then headed down, not wanting to miss out in witnessing the first level of our log home being put into place.

The crew arrived at 7:20 to prep the ground before the amazing production began.

The crane and two trucks carrying our foundation walls arrived soon after.

The crane made it safely up the steep drive, but now it was time to get the heavy trucks, weighed down by the heavy concrete walls, up top to the home site.

After several attempts, it was clear that the heavy truck was not going to make it up the hill.  All seemed lost for a moment. But wait…

Todd Hawkes, who had previously put in the ATV trails for us, popped by to watch.  We had yet to meet him in person so we were very happy to finally meet him face to face.  He will be taking over as contractor for the mechanicals so we will be seeing a lot more of him in the coming weeks!  It was much fun having our three trusty contractors all on site at the same time.

Having successfully pulled the trucks to the top of the hill, George takes off and Eric Riley and his team from Superior Walls take over the production.

While Eric and his team were busy putting our foundation in place, we received a call that our port-a-john had arrived.  Hooray, no more potty tent for us!

Meanwhile, Eric’s crew puts in the fireplace foundation.

The last wall in place, we head inside to check out our new basement!

Three hours from start to finish, our foundation is complete and Eric and his crew, take off.

As usual, I couldn’t resist taking a few more photos of the lake before we left for the day. The cloud cover had lifted, leaving a beautiful deep blue sky overhead…

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