Solarium Ties

So the oldest portion of our personal Xanadu is slated to become a solarium like space with exposed beams, double height cathedral ceilings and lots of light. Upon closer inspection it became obvious that our future solarium was mimicking a somewhat inebriated lean, the architectural equivalent of hanging loose. At some point many years past when they installed the North facing dormer they did so by just cutting through the center rafter, lacking the parallel pressures to hold things in line our walls have started to push out. Not a huge amount, but it's probably good that the chimneys are there to serve as a supportive friend. We had an engineer come in to review our plans and to determine if taking out the floor (not beams) would exacerbate the issue, and whether our plan to use steel turnbuckles to pull everything back true would work. To our surprise he said forget about pulling things back, it would probably cause more problems and that all we needed to so was add some braces up high to hold things together as they currently stand. So with that in mind we found some age appropriate lumber (since the ties will be exposed) and installed them up high.  

Here you can see Graham's favorite tool, the Bostitch framing nailer and a couple of the ties. We measured the angle of the roof and cut the ties to match. We use the framing nailer to tack them in place.

Once the ties were in place we drilled pilot holes and then really tied them all together using long screws. We opted to use screws instead of just nails since they will be able to grip better and we expect the roof will flex a bit over the years. The rafters are all tree trunks dating back to the 1700's, amazing how well they have held up. We would love to leave them exposed, the need to have insulation trumped aesthetics this time around.

Helping Hands

It was hard to admit, but my better half was right when she said I had not built enough raised beds for the bulbs ordered. So...back to it. Luckily I had extra hands this weekend in the form of Oren, Emily, Naomi and Asaf, hard working and very generous friends. With their help we were able to knock out two more beds and get top soil in them in just a couple hours. 

That's Oren using a nail gun for the first time, he got the hang of it pretty quick. 

One lesson learned from this was that we need another wheelbarrow. Preferably a bigger one, so that we can size the tool to the task, things would have gone even faster with two going back and forth. The six yards of topsoil are finally starting to dwindle, but we probably have another bed or two worth. 

Twilight is settling in and we are just about done on this bed. Testing out the concept of leaving wire mesh on top of the beds to see if it helps deter deer from digging for bulbs. 

Meanwhile, while the guys were tackling raised beds and throwing old lumber out of one of the attics, the very industrious ladies were demo'ing the back room (future solarium).

Que 80's montage music....

Efficient, organized and fun, those girls make one hell of a construction crew. 

End of the day tally: Girls, one broken window. Guys, one broken window - tie game. 

Anyways, thanks go out to Oren, Emily, Asaf and Naomi for taking a precious weekend day to come play on the farm. 

We Have Skylights!!!!

When we first visited the house the Realtor actually suggested we take down the oldest section of the house and just keep the front. Granted, there are valid arguments for that (no insulation, low ceilings, jam packed with ceramic cat trinkets), but we saw potential... or at least the glimmer of something.

Today we took the first step of that idea coming together, the solarium has glass. Not a lot of glass, really just three good sized skylights, but they make so much difference. On the inside we are opening up the ceiling to the attic (which is quite large) and creating a double height space which we hope will be bright and airy. A good spot to hang out next to a wood stove and feel cozy in the dead of winter; or on summer days, a nice place to open the double doors and let the breeze in.