Monday, September 17, 2012

Owner Building a Home - Week 17 - More Drywall, Insulation, Well Water, Etc.

TUESDAY - Today was a great day.  Well, Jason might say that now at the end of it but during the day it was a bit tense for him.  For the majority of it, Jason was helping a friend raise the well to the surface level.  See, the property we bought already had a well on it but it is an old well.  Back then when they dug the well they only brought the well head about 8-10 feet below ground level.  They put a large steel ring around the well and then you cover that ring with plywood to prevent anyone from falling into that 10' deep x 4' wide hole.  With a well like that it is easily contaminated since surface water can run into the well water and make it undrinkable (the state it is in now).  We have actually applied for and been accepted to receive grant money to raise the well to the surface and cap it above ground level, making it safer and less likely to be contaminated.  That day was today.  First of all they needed to determine how deep the well was.  We were guessing 90' and it proved to be about 85' - average depth for our area.  The big question was how much volume could our well pump out?  The amount of volume it can pump is a huge factor in whether or not this old well would be able to accommodate our family and the possibility of geothermal heat for our new house.  If the volume was low, we may need to dig a new well.  We were hoping for 28 gallons per minute but were shocked to discover it is pumping more than 37 gallons per minute, more than enough to provide for our family and geothermal heat, should we go that route! 

That was a big "Praise the Lord" moment!!  He continues to provide for us.  Then the challenge was to snake the electrical wire through a pipe from the submersible pump in the well to the new house.  It is more than 100' away and the pipe had a kink in it causing some challenges.  What they did was push a fish tape into the pipe by the house until it came out by the well, attach the 2 electrical wires to the fish tape securely so they couldn't come off and then Jay pulled the fish tape back through the pipe until the wires came out by the house.  Sounds simple.  But it wasn't.  It was hard work pulling that fish tape back out.  He used his hands.  Then he used a pair of pliers.  I was coiling the fish tape back onto the spool and sometimes he was only able to pull a few inches at a time.  It was sloooooooow going.  Then I grabbed a pair of pliers and we pulled together, at the same time, and before we knew it, we had that wire to the house!!   Another "Hallelujah"!  We now have the pipe to pump the water to the house and we have the wire to connect the submersible pump to the house.  We have well head lifted to the surface and we have a well pumping plenty of water each minute.  Now we need to shock the well to decontaminate it so we can actually use it for drinking.  Shocking the well is a simple process of pouring a whole bunch of bleach into it until all the lines are clean.  Of course, once that is done, I think we will get the conservation district to retest it to ensure it is drinkable.  I wonder how it tastes?

While Jay was working with our friend on the well, Mr.W and I worked on insulating the office.  The drywall crew wants to get in there tomorrow evening so we need to finish up the insulation and the poly.  Most of it is complete and we even installed the office window (Jay, Mr.W and I) today so it will be ready to drywall tomorrow as requested.

WEDNESDAY - Knowing the drywall crew was going to be working in the office boarding it completely this evening, we focused our attention on getting the last details ready.  We ran out of bubble foil to wrap the ducts in yesterday so we finished that up today.  Those ducts are nice and cozy wrapped in a layer of R20 insulation and then wrapped in bubble foil. 

Once that one duct was wrapped the rest of the insulation was put into the walls and the poly put in place to seal the insulation.  Then we checked to make sure all the outlets were sealed as well.  I had a little helper for a few of these! 

First you run a bead of that black, sticky tar -like acoustical sealant around the outlet to seal the 2 layers of poly and then you tape the two poly layers together.  Somehow I ended up getting acoustical sealant on my shirt which then transferred to Ari's hair when she was helping me.  Not sure how to get it out yet but I will worry about it later!  Once all the poly was sealed and in place we added the additional strapping around the window (after foaming the space around it with foam insulation), framed in the door opening to the one closet and finally cleaned out the room of all things non-drywall.  It was ready.

Once we were done with the office, we moved to the main floor to get that ready for drywalling by Saturday.  Jay and Mr.W worked on framing out the fireplace opening.  It is so fun to see that taking shape but it sure takes a lot of figuring and I am SO GRATEFUL for the very intelligent and creative man that Mr.W is and that he can figure those things out.  He had all the specs for the fireplace and what was required for framing but it took a lot of conversing between he and I to figure out what the finished fireplace would look like.  How big is the hearth?  How wide is what some refer to as the cheek or the stone surrounding the fireplace insert itself, how big is the mantle and how high off the ground and how wide is the header which is right under the mantle?  How am I planning on finishing the space above the mantle?  How far into the room do I want the fireplace to protrude?  There were certain specifications I needed to meet to ensure the fireplace was framed in according to code but after that it is personal preference.  After a lot of talking and looking online, I was able to figure out what I wanted and Mr.W and Jay were able to frame it according to the end goal.  It will truly be the centerpiece of the room when it was done (although Mr.W did say he was just going for mediocre! :-D  ).

While the guys were working on the fireplace I was putting insulation into the ceiling joists between the first and second floor.  This insulation is not so much to guard against the cold but to create a bit of a sound barrier under the kids bedrooms.  In fact, as you read on their website, the fact that it is so dense actually compromises its ability to prevent heat loss.  The insulation is called Safe 'n Sound by Roxul and it is a very dense fire-resistant material made out of stone.  It behaves very differently than fiberglass insulation but works great to deaden sound, its main purpose.  Since it is fire-resistant, it is also an effective means of slowing the spread of fire, should that ever occur.  It is more costly than fiberglass insulation so we have chosen to "sound-proof" only under the kids bedrooms (or what would be above the living room, part of the kitchen and the dining room - that way if we want to have company over later in the evening, the kids can still sleep).  As for interior walls, we have put the Safe 'n Sound in the powder room walls, in the kid's bathroom walls upstairs and in our master bedroom walls.  The farm bath downstairs shares walls with the pantry and the laundry room so we didn't feel it was necessary to put any there.

When the guys were finished with the fireplace framing, they moved onto the laundry chute (not "shoot" as I spelled earlier!).  I framed out the closet in the farm bath the other day but didn't tackle the laundry chute (which runs in the very upper part of that closet since it backs onto the laundry room) because I just couldn't figure out how to do it.  I left it for Mr.W (and if I tell him often enough how fantastic he is, he really doesn't mind!) so he finished it off.  The laundry chute will start in the master bath in a small wall beside the toilet and then dump down angling into the laundry room landing in a wall cabinet just above the laundry sink (at least, that is the plan!).  We originally wanted to put it under the master vanity but the spacing was a challenge so we changed the plan.  Right now it is just the rough framing - it will be finished with a smooth, non-snag surface later.

At the end of the day, we felt good about what we accomplished.  We do have a bunch of cleaning up to do in the main floor before Saturday since it is really a mess there.  It will be hard for the drywall crew to move around the way it is now.

THURSDAY - I am not sure what we all did this day but Mr.W finished up as much of the ducting as we could.  There is one piece of specialty duct work that will be picked up on Tuesday but the remaining work has been done.  This has allowed us to create the bulk heads and dropped ceilings where we needed to in order to allow the drywallers to continue.  By the time they are ready to board the pantry (where most of the duct work enters into the basement) we will have finished up the last little bit and the main floor can be boarded completely.  The drywall crew was busy at work putting on the second (and maybe even third) coat of drywall mud.  Fans were set up to help it dry quickly.


FRIDAY - Honestly, I don't even know what the guys did today because I was hardly on site at all.  I had to take Pepe to his audiology appointment (all is sounding good), I had a haircut appointment (haven't had one yet in 2012) and then I went to pick PAINT COLORS!!  I was a little overwhelmed but I had an idea of what I wanted.  Eventually I walked out with 8 sample cans and 2 extra-large chips to help the decision process.  I picked the following colors, pending approval from all involved and how they actually look in the various rooms (all are Benjamin Moore colors):

Overcoat  CC-544 (main floor areas like kitchen, living room, hall, mudroom maybe?, boy's rooms)

Escarpment CC-518 (dining room, laundry room ?)

Smoke Gray 2120-40 (master bedroom/bathroom?)

Pewter 2121-30 (upstairs hall, lounge?)

Distant Grey 2124-70 (the white for ceilings, doors, trim)

Pink Taffy 2075-50 (little girl's room)

Seaport Blue 2060-30 (AJ's room)

Citrus Orange 2016-20 (accent in Pepe's room though the paint chip looks more orange and less yellow)

Bonne Nuit AF-635 (RJ's room)

Thunder AF-685 (kids bathroom - chosen to compliment a fantastic blue/green back splash tile I have)

The drywall crew will start sanding the second floor tomorrow so after that I will bring my samples of paint (I painted chunks of drywall so I can move them around to the different rooms) and stick them in the rooms to see how they interact with the light.  The color I chose for the living room (overcoat) looks perfect with the stone for the fireplace and the curtains I have already purchased so I think we are going in the right direction!  Though the purple is not quite as bright as RJ wants, it also looks fantastic with the curtains I have for her room and a 2-canvas art set I have as well.  So, though I am still uncertain as to how everything will look when it is done, I think I am on the right track.  I want casual elegance with the ability to change the accessory pieces at will.  If I stick with grey walls, I can accent with deep purple or turquoise or fuchsia or pretty much any color I want.  I like that!  :)

I was also able to find the lights for the vanity area in my master bathroom so I am excited about that.  They were what I was looking for at the right price - even a 15% off sale that day!

SATURDAY - We were supposed to get a lot of work done in the basement today getting the rebar ready for the concrete pour on Wednesday morning but that never happened.  Jason ended up having some complications in one of the chicken barns and I woke up with an irritated eye.  We almost got all the Styrofoam laid out for the floor heat and Jay almost finished digging under the footing for the pipes for the geothermal system (should we go that route) but I felt really unproductive. 

My eye was bothering me enough that I really wanted to go home but stayed anyway.  I was certainly distracted and not motivated.  While we were down in the basement, the drywall crew was boarding the first floor!  It is really quite amazing the difference drywall makes.  We can no longer see through all the walls and in some ways that makes the place look smaller and in some ways it makes it seem bigger.  Whatever the case, it is coming along nicely.  They boarded the school room, living room (leaving off one section until the fireplace is installed on Tuesday), kitchen, dining room and entrance.  The rest of the main floor will be boarded after they finish sanding the upstairs early next week.




SUNDAY - No, we did not do any work today but I thought I would share about my day anyway.  Before going to bed last night, my eye was really bothering me.  It felt like I had sand or a stick or something really scratchy in it all day.  I tried Polysporin Eye drops but that didn't help.  I tried an eye wash solution we keep on hand but that didn't help.  It was hard to fall asleep but I eventually did.  I was woken up by the pain around 5:30 this morning and I could not open my left eye at all.  It was so painful.  It was watering like crazy.  It was super sensitive to the light.  I was supposed to teach Sunday School in 4 hours and I couldn't see!  So, I woke up Jay and I talked about what to do.  I couldn't drive myself to the emergency room but we couldn't leave the kids by themselves either.  Eventually we decided to call Jay's parents and his mom came over.  I felt terrible about calling her since she helps us so much during the week but our options were slim.  Let it be said that they are the kind of grandparents we want to be when we get older - always available, no matter what.  So she came and we left with my eye watering all the way.  When we arrived we were admitted quickly since no one was there.  Once the doctor saw me he put a dye in my eye so he could look at it with ultra-violet light.  Turns out I have the herpes virus in my eye - you know, the same virus responsible for shingles or cold sores.  How it got in my eye, I will never know.  But it is causing an ulcer to form on my cornea, just beside my pupil.  It may feel like something is in my eye but there isn't.  He insisted we drive into the city to buy the anti-viral medication immediately (the town with the ER has no Sunday shopping whatsoever and in our town the pharmacy isn't open on Sundays) because if I delay treatment, I could have permanent scarring of my eye.  After he told me all that he gave me some drops to freeze my eye - the pain left immediately.  Then when he went to get the prescription, I started to feel ill.  My stomach felt funny and I didn't know what to do with myself.  He just returned with the paper when I practically passed out on the bed (had the bed not been there I would have hit the floor).  Well, he lifted my legs in the air and asked Jay to get the nurse.  Suddenly a bunch of people were in the room and lifting my shirt, checking my pulse and blood pressure (which had plummeted) and attaching the electrodes for a quick EKG.  Once they could get the electrodes to stay where they should and work, the results were normal.  Then they just waited for my pulse and blood pressure to return to normal before I was allowed to leave.  Why did I pass out?  I don't know.  It is not normal for me.  But the best place to do it is in a hospital, I suppose.  So, Jay and I headed into the city 45 minutes away and stopped at the nearest 24 hour pharmacy.  Turns out they didn't have the medication I needed.  On to the next one (we called first) and they had what we needed.  Then we headed home.  We walked in and Jay walked out to teach both the Sunday School class he was substituting for and he taught my class as well.  I went to bed while Jay's mom stayed to watch the kids.  As soon as Sunday School was over, Jay came home.  I slept away most of the day and stayed in dark rooms.  However, the eye drops I have to use every 2 hours when I am awake are really making a difference.  I still feel like something is in my eye but it is much more bearable.  I am not light sensitive and I can keep my eye open.  Every time I put those drops in it stings but after my eye feels just a tiny bit better.  Between those drops and the oral anti-viral I am taking, I am sure this will clear up quickly.  I do have to see my doctor in the next 3 days to ensure it is getting better or I will have to see aN opthamologist.  None of this was what I was expecting for today.  I was expecting to teach 4 delightful girls in Sunday School, have a lovely couple over for a delicious lunch meal, have a great nap in the afternoon and make crepes for supper.  None of that happened.  Well, we still had a good lunch but I was terrible company!  However, in spite of the curve ball thrown my way today, I am incredibly thankful for such amazing in-laws, for an understanding and loving husband, and a medical system that knew what it was doing and was able to do it quickly.  And now I am off to bed  - we will see what tomorrow brings.


  1. I can not believe how fast you guys are building this house! I'm loving the features that are already showing up. It is going to be a beautiful house! You all are like machines!

  2. Hi,
    I love your pendants. I have been looking for a while for a pair of pendants like this. Can I ask where you got them from?

  3. These pendants were purchased from a local building supply store here in Southern Manitoba. The brand is Can-Arm and they are called Sloan 1-Light Mini-Pendant. You can find them here:

  4. looks like you guys have done lot of hard work, came across while searching for drywall insulation and now eagerly waiting to see the completed work.

  5. We have 5 boys and are now planning the build of a new home. I love your faith and love for the lord. I share the same love for him and praise as well. I said that to say that your life last year is what my life will be next year. I look forward to it. Also I was very negative and had read all these reviews about shoddy subcontractors. You seem so positive and have a great team working with you. That gave me hope. When I read this blog I lightened up and began to see new construction in a different light.


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