Thursday, November 12, 2009

On My Own and Small (but giant) Steps

As I continue to work on the barn, it has become increasingly clear to me that I'm on my own. Then again, thousand mile journey begins with first step, right? (one of all time favorite fortune cookie phrases)

There's something about the contractors I've contacted that makes me feel like the invisible man. It's entirely possible I'm simply contacting the wrong ones. They either ignore me or don't have the time. Even my karate teacher has let me down, though he said his son could help... we'll see about that. Maybe it's all a test of my real man training.

In all fairness, I can't blame these guys for putting me low on the priority list. This is what these guys do for a living, and they don't want to commit to something that doesn't have a commitment on the other end. I.e., if it's not a full time, paying gig, it can't hold as much promise, because in the end, I'm not looking for someone to come in and complete this project, I'm looking for someone to assist. With this in mind, what I really need is a pair of hands to help me, while I seek out my Mentor for advice (and about 12 other people, including PR). That would work best, though it's nice to have someone on site to simply tell me what to do, I don't think that's going to happen. If someone is going to spell it all out for me, I'm guessing they'd want to do the work themselves.

The bright side of all this is that I've been forced to deal with it on my own, and am dealing with it (sort of) accordingly. At least at this stage, the framing, it's not so bad, and as I've mentioned, I rather like it. In fact, there are times that I feel so confident and enthused that I want to cut our random rough openings just for the fun of it. Mind you, these moments are short lived and infrequent... thankfully.

Either way, one issue that was bothering and scaring me was removing the siding on the upper level of the barn. I figured it would entail getting up on an extension ladder and removing nails and then pulling the boards, which in turn is complicated by the fact that I'd have to remove the window up there. This is much simpler on the first floor, because not only is the window heavy (about 70 lbs.), but it helps to approach it from both sides, something much harder to do on the second story. It's also a shorter fall on the first floor, as you might have guessed.

Anyway, but it wasn't so bad. My biggest concern was dropping the window, or having it simply fall out the opening and onto the ground. I tied it to one of the rafters with a rope and set about removing the fasteners, which was a bear of a job because I had to lean out the window to get to them while standing on a ladder (the pitfalls of being short). After all the fasteners were cut or removed, I simply pulled the window into the house, and it was no problem. Suddenly I could knock out boards with reckless abandon.

It also means that I can deal with the gable end of the barn, the side facing our house, so that it at least gives the appearance that progress is being made on the barn. This will go a long way to placating certain observers who don't get a good view of the backside, where progress is being made in leaps and bounds. When you grow up in LA, you learn early on in life that it's all about appearances.

Anyway, I put the finishing touches on the rough openings for the windows on the back, which entailed putting in shims and then nailing the studs and jacks into the frame, and I think I'm good to go. Time to get on that sheathing.

I've also managed to get the second sill installed, and one more and I'm done and can begin framing in the doors to the bedroom and shop. This, of course, excites me to no end because as I may have mentioned in the past, I love framing. It gives me a chance to use my beloved Estwing Hammer (made in America), a tool favored by real man the world over.

Finally, and this comes only about a month after my Mentor told me to do this, I ordered some door and windows, so the true test of my rough openings is soon to come. After doing a lot of research, I've found you can save a lot of money (this speaks volumes to me) if you can work your designs around what is available, rather than the other way around. In other words, I made the rough openings to conform to what Home Depot has in stock, and the prices end up being at least half, if not a lot more, than a situation where they'd either have to order them or custom design them. Custom windows will kill you in the end.

Also, I don't want to speak too soon in this regard, but I may have found someone to help me who I can trust and is knowledgeable since he built his own house. The same guy who lent me his hammer drill, and his daughter happens to be good friends with A&N. A win-win situation, if I could just get him over here. Like Woody Allen said, 87% of life is just showing up.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lysanne Ooteman for the pic.

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