Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas week

A white Christmas for sure, Pete got lots of snowblowing done, a couple of times. Photos are from around the property, it is a beautiful place in all seasons but maybe the most beautiful in winter.

On Christmas eve we took a small supper and a bottle of champagne out to the new house, built a fire and had our first meal together in our new home. It was a fine evening.

Work will pick up again on Monday, the flooring should be completed by Wednesday and that will pretty much be it for the week. The following week the kitchen appliances and countertops and the rest of the plumbing fixtures will be installed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Working inside

First floor flooring is in and will be sanded and a first coat of finish put down on Monday. The fireplace surround is in place, Craig will do the mantel when he is doing the bookcases, window and door trim and baseboards.

Slate tile in the mudroom.

The basement bathroom with tile work completed. The plumbers brought some of the bathroom and kitchen fixtures on Friday and will bring the rest on Monday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Orchard House in winter

The exterior work is finished for the winter except for installing a couple more door handles. The body of the house will be painted in the spring and screens for the south facing porch will be added so we can escape the relentless attacks of the dreaded black flies.

More progress

The fireplace puzzle which Terry Gilfoy will put together next week.

Slate tile in the mudroom.

Interior progress

First floor flooring starting with the central hallway.

Stairway from the guest area of the basement to the first floor.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finishing the porch columns

So what if it is 25 above and the wind is out of the north gusting to 40 miles an hour. Dan and Jeremy had one last porch to finish and they did.
Thankfully they will move indoors later today to start the baseboards and window and door trim in the basement.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Porch Columns

The weather is cooperating this week with temperatures at or above freezing and no rain or snow so even with a smaller crew there is progress on the porch columns.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

First big snowfall

Pete finally gets to try out the snowblower attachment to the John Deere, he plowed out the driveway at the new house and made dog walking trails through the fields down to the creek, getting in practice time before branching out and helping the neighbors.

A lovely view.

The porch columns are all fabricated and primed, it was just too cold to finish the installation last week. This is what we have to look forward to.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

all in one day's work

Both showers are ready for tile work to begin.

The carpenters moved to the basement today to fabricate the porch posts, outside it was in the 20's and about eight inches of snow on the ground.

First fire in the fireplace, it warmed much of the first and second floor by the end of the day, even without the fan being on. The surround will be granite and the hearth is slate.

Schwalbach Kitchens crew started installation of the cabinets in the kitchen and will do the guest and master bath cabinets next. After the cabinets are in, the template for the countertops will be drawn up, it should be about three weeks until the granite counters arrive.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The kitchen, looking towards the pantry. The flooring was installed on Thursday. It is beech wood from trees in the eastern part of the upper peninsula; there is a blight killing the beech trees so the trees are being cut before they die. Monday this area of the flooring will be sanded and a first coat of finish applied before the kitchen cabinets and the island are installed.

No more concerns about the basement being dark or uninviting. This is late afternoon with light coming in through three high windows. With the radiant heating in the floor and plenty of daylight as well as good lighting for the evening it promises to be a pleasant space.

Coming up this week: a test run on the fireplace, tile installation in the bathrooms and mudroom floor, wood flooring for the remainder of the first and second floors, kitchen cabinets installed, and if the exterior trim and siding get finished work can start on interior trim and bookshelves. Lots to look forward to.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Getting the siding up is almost done, only the areas under the porch roofs are left and will be done by Monday if weather permits. We have had some snow this weekend and snow showers are in the forecast for the next several days.

The back side of the house, the door leads to the garage and Pete's workshop.

A view of the guest room porch on th left and the south facing screen porch on the right. I hope to see the posts on the porch all trimmed out by the end of next week.

This is what I call the front of the house, it faces south and looks down over the long front yard towards the slope down to the creek, Pete insists it is the back of the house.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Hunter Gatherer at home

After the first big freeze, the leaves and the black walnuts come down almost all at once. Pick up some walnuts and put them down on the driveway.

Get in your car and drive over the walnuts a few times to break open the outer shell. Put on some old leather gloves, find a bucket to sit on, peel the walnuts.

Wash off the cleaned walnuts, let them dry. Find an old mesh bag and hang the walnuts up for a few weeks to let them cure. Put aside a few hours to shell the walnuts. Now you are a beginner hunter gatherer.

Inside-Outside workers everywhere

Inside, the U.P. Painters are at work, all the ceilings have been painted with Benjamin Moore White Dove. The upstairs, the kitchen and downstairs hall have two coats of BM Sea Wind on the walls. This is an off white that looks different in each room and changes with the time of day and light available. Here is a photo of the kitchen.

On Tuesday the carpenters started putting up the siding. This LP product comes primed and will be painted the same white as the trim, either this fall or in the spring depending on weather and painters.

Richard and Larry from Trudell Plumbing got the furnace going yesterday and today will get the boiler started up. Heat, light, running water....starting to feel like home.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More gorgeous trim. The weather is cooling quickly so the painters have to use afternoon hours to get as much of the trim painted as possible, the siding comes primed so if the cold settles in before the painting is complete it will be ok to wait until spring to finish. There is snow in the forecast for Sunday and Monday.

The chimney with its stainless steel cap.

Inside the house is like a tropical zone, the drywall is complete throughout the house and the first and second floor rooms are primed, it all adds up to heaters everywhere and lots of moisture, it really feels pretty good on a cold morning. This is the mudroom, the light even with the windows covered in protective plastic is lovely.

Monday, October 13, 2008

There is more

More pictures to follow but it is impossible to get photos to upload this morning. Will try again later in the day.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Catching up

Looking east through the dining room windows, insulation with a vapor barrier and then the drywall.

Looking west at the fireplace in the living room.

Inspections went well for electrical, plumbing and framing. The walls have been insulated with great care, blown in cellulose, foam, and some insulation batting around windows, it was a far more detailed process than I had imagined; it took five men just over a week to complete the work.

When we first started the building project we were interested in doing a geothermal heating system. We got an estimate of $53,000.00 for said system, and found during excavation for the septic system that the soil is almost all sand,with just a few thin layers of clay, not an ideal situation for geothermal. Since we also wanted to have air conditioning we knew we would have a forced air system as well so the geothermal idea was replaced by Craig's proposal that we concentrate on building a truly well insulated house.

We have an efficient boiler for the hot water and radiant heating system for the basement, a Bryant heat pump for heating and air conditioning for the first and second floor and lots of insulation. The fireplace has a Napolean fire place insert that will burn 30" logs. We will not have cold winds whistling through our house.

The drywall crew has been on the job for a week now, the first and second floors are pretty much complete, the garage and Pete's workshop are complete including a paint job, and the basement will be done this week.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This photo of the granite is the best of the four I took at Genese Cut Stone and it still falls short of the beauty of the stone but does give a better view than I can do with words. The dominant color is a dark, almost black green background, the stones are as varied and lovely as any you would see on a Lake Superior beach.

Here you have a view from one of the bedrooms in the basement looking out at the egress well and the new stairs. Building code requires the egress and it has the added advantage of bringing natural light into the bedrooms and the bath. There will be a picket fence around the top of the well and maybe a potted plant or two on the steps for color.

Looking east out the dining room windows, notice windows on three sides, wonderful light, looks out over the apple trees and towards the barn.

58 Windows

The new windows are in, they are beautiful. they tilt in for easy cleaning, and there are lots of them, fifty eight including the basement and garage and workshop. These windows will give us good cross ventilation during warmer weather and more daylight during the long dark winter days and every window looks out onto an idyllic landscape. And, I will never be at a loss for what to do as there will always be windows to wash which fits in with my new exercise plan of keeping fit by keeping house.

The electricians and plumbers have been working off and on for the last two weeks and will be calling for first inspections next week and then come the insulation people. The masons will start the chimney and fireplace surround Monday.
Siding is on order as are the garage doors and exterior doors for the house and Monday the material for exterior trim will be delivered. Craig says he and the carpenters plan to make and install the trim and then the carpenters will put up the siding.

Last week Pete and I drove down to Flint to visit Genese Cut Stone & Marble Co. to pick out granite for the kitchen counter and island and marble for the master bath. We chose Green Marinace for the kitchen, this is granite that once was part of an ancient stream bed with stones of various sizes and colors and for the master bath we chose Quetzal Green marble.

With these choices made we placed the order for kitchen cabinets and cabinets for the first floor guest bathroom and the upstairs master bathroom from Schwalbach Kitchens, a local company with an excellent reputation for service and not just at the time of purchase. We heard a story of a kitchen remodel gone very wrong with crown molding that was too tall for the space left after the cabinets were installed and a stove that was too wide for the space available and a vent hood with no room to vent to the outside and Schwalbach's coming to the rescue with no questions asked.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


The roof is finished and it is beautiful. Craig talked to a mason this week who has a passion for bricks and brickwork about building the chimney and if we get a chimney that looks like any of the photographs he showed us we will be very fortunate. I have a new appreciation for roof design and am now looking forward to a fabulous chimney, always something new to desire!

The basement space is turning out just great. There will be two bedrooms, one with two big windows and one slightly larger one with one big window. The windows are required by code for egress in case of emergency but I love them because of the light. There is also a large room for games, television or video games or anything else visiting children and grandchildren might enjoy, as well as a bathroom, storage space, utility area and a fine work room for me. We will have two staircases into the basement, one from the mudroom to the utility space and one from the living room to the bedrooms and sitting room.

We ended up the week with a picnic with our carpenters, in the shade of walnut trees, at the farmhouse on our adjoining property.

Jim and Jeremy (aka "Cooter") are fourth generation carpenters, their company is called American Classic Construction and it is well named. Jim has his back to the camera at the left of the table, next to him is Craig Cox, from left to right facing the camera is Dan, Cooter and Jake. Jake was an intern while he was in high school and will be starting at Northern Michigan University on Monday to study mechanical engineering. Dan has been telling me stories about his grandfather who raises longhorn cattle in Wichita County, Kansas. I love these guys.

Coming this week: finishing the two remaining porches, putting insulation around the outside of the house, the window delivery on Wednesday and the plumbers will be back.