I meant to include this in the last post…when I was working out how big to make the gravel pad (and before I do most stuff), I always like to do a little sketch before I start doing too much work, to make sure I get everything right. It’s really easy to miscalculate or mis-measure, hence the old adage “measure twice, cut once.”
I took a picture of my workbook, I guess it just looks like the scribblings of a madmen, but just thought I would show a little insight into my process of doing stuff.
You can (perhaps) see that I worked out, I’ll see about 11 cubic yards or 22 tons of gravel, to create my level pad (50’1″ x 9′ x 8″ thick). This should give me about a foot of extra pad beyond the extents of all the racking and concrete ballasts. It also means I’ll be shoveling out about that amount of topsoil, or perhaps a little more, to get down to the bedrock. A good honest workout, to be sure.
The other day I got a picture of our motley crew of animals (not pictured, our newest rabbit Chewie, who is segregated from the others until he gets settled in), and thought I would share it. You can see poor Fluffy’s head is quite tilted which is causing him some issues, but he is hanging in there and doesn’t appear to be in any pain.
On the house front, I have been continuing with the duct work for our HRV. While possible to use flexible duct, I opted to use rigid ducting as much as possible, as it provides better airflow than flexible duct. Sometimes connecting the ducting together involves using a set of crimping scissors, to add a crimped end to a duct where it was un-crimped originally, as follows:
I also brought up the main 6″ duct for the exhaust air through the main bathroom/laundry room – from here it branches off to 4″ ducting into the main bathroom. This 4″ branch is terminated with a “T” as we will connect a 4″ exhaust vent both in the main bath, and to the master bath which is on the other side of the wall you see on the right:
You can also see that the ducting stack at the back is reduced from 6″ to 4″, then goes through the vapour barrier and into the attic at the back there. In the attic, I will use 4″ insulated duct to get a run over to the kitchen, as you are also required by code to have an exhaust register in the kitchen, separate from the range vent hood.
As you are also required to have a fresh air supply to the basement, living room, and bedrooms, I started cutting in the hole for the vent in the living room floor. As we are using a 4″ duct for fresh air, we chose a 3″x10″ rectangular register for the job. First step is to select a spot which is free from obstructions in the basement (make sure we are clear of any floor joists and gas piping), and at least 3″ from the wall. You start out measuring and marking, then you drill holes in each of the 4 corners:
From there, time to crack out the jigsaw and cut along the lines, connecting the holes. You might have to do a little finish work in the corners to get them nice and square.
Before I actually go down in the basement and connect the ducting boot you see in the picture there to the floor from below, I’ll pop out and pick up a couple of floor registers, and test fit them, just to make sure we won’t have any fit issues.
I also got around to wiring up the controls for the HRV itself. While not difficult, it was just some more wiring to be run. In the kitchen/living area we have a digital control that sets the overall state of the HRV (high/low/etc) for the house overall.
in each of the bathrooms we have installed a 20/40/60 minute timer that will override the main control and switch the HRV to high when they are used.
On another front, I have been pushing forward trying to get all our electrical outlets installed, as well as installing proper light fixtures (just cheapo IKEA ones to get started). I also had to install the last two smoke detectors.
By code, we are required to have a smoke detector in the bedroom, the kitchen, and the basement. We opted for Kidde combination smoke / carbon monoxide detectors, as we have the generator and gas appliances, so better to the safe than sorry. It’s not like the old days either, the smoke detectors all have to be wired off of the kitchen light power (the most likely lighting you will notice is off in a power outage), and all need to be interconnected so that if one goes off, they all go off! Quite a racket when you first turn them on and test them. They also have a battery backup, but that will likely never get used as we are at no risk of losing power in a storm. One of the pluses of generating your own power I guess 🙂
Now that the washer and dryer are in the laundry room and out of the way, I was able to bring up and install the last kitchen cabinet and get it installed. I also took the opportunity to put on the drawer hardware, but did leave the protective blue film in place for now, and it’ll probably stay on until after mostly all construction is complete.
Finally, last weekend we had a lovely day, so I went out to the meadow behind the house and staked out the area where our solar panels will go. I need to remove all the topsoil from the area, then get a truckload of gravel brought in to create a level and well draining pad for the racking to sit on, so I spent a bit of quality time with my spade and moved a little dirt. A few more days at it and I’ll be ready for the gravel!
I’ve got to head off to the hardware store now to purchase some more supplies for the ducting, but hope you enjoyed the post and the pictures!
I spend a lot of time writing about the trials and tribulations of building our house, but I haven’t really talked too much about some of the more intangible benefits that come from living out in the country. Even though, we are only about a 45 minute drive from Ottawa, we are in quite a rural location. Considering that from our old house in Toronto, if we drove for 45 minutes on the 401, we wouldn’t even really be out of the city and surrounding townships in that time. So we are quite pleased to be able to enjoy the rural lifestyle, and still not be too far away from a major city.
There are some great things about living the rural lifestyle. The silence, for one. It is so nice to be outside and all you hear are birds singing, and the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves. There are a lot of wetlands around here, and on quiet nights in the spring, the sound of the frogs singing is almost overwhelming.
That’s the other good thing about being out of a major city centre – at night there is a lot less light pollution, and the stars you can see are quite an incredible sight!
We also get a number of visitors which pass through from time to time. We used to have quite a lot of wild turkeys which would pass through, but I haven’t seen too many since the last hunting season. There are also some deer that visit our apple trees in the night, but we have so far not been lucky enough to see them in person. We also often see foxes, there used to be a pair that would play in a meadow just down the road from us, it was nice to see them having fun!
Today though, on our way back from town, we found this little fella relaxing in our driveway. One thing I know for sure – it’s important to be able to distinguish a garden turtle from a snapping turtle – and this guy was s snapping turtle (you can tell by the way his shell has pointy bits on it around his tail / rear area.)
A good sized snapping turtle like this guy has got to be respected, if you get your fingers anywhere near him you’re liable to lose one! I just held our local newspaper folded up in the picture for reference, I wasn’t poking at him or anything 🙂
Anyway, those are just a few of the reasons we love living out here. The city life does have it’s benefits, but it’s really hard to beat the simple beauty of nature. Hopefully this sheds a little light on why we embarked on this somewhat crazy journey to begin with!
The past month has seen us complete a number of things, though it has been, as usual, slow going over here. While we have been working on the house, one of our rabbits has taken ill and requires a fair amount of attention, so it is good that I am around during the day to keep an eye on him. We are hopeful that with a lot of TLC (and antibiotics), that he’ll be able to recover and stay with us for years to come!
Here’s a picture of his girlfriend, lounging beside the box that we need to keep him contained in – for his own safety.
On the house front, with some help from my mother (who has been coming around to help out from time to time), I managed to get the drywall installed on the ceiling above the stairwell, which was fairly tricky business. Not only did I have to accurately cut a hole in the drywall to allow access to our attic hatch/stairs, but we also had to build a platform over the stairs that we could put ladders on, to hoist up and fasten the drywall into place. Thankfully, this all went fairly smoothly, as you can see in the following picture.
It will still be a bit of a chore to finish the rest of the drywall on the walls in there, but not as bad. As I mentioned in a previous post, I messed up when I cut one of the tiles for our master bathroom floor, and was waiting for when I tiled the floor in the main bathroom to fix it. I got around to this about a week ago, and fixing the tile wasn’t as bad as I thought. I first pulled up the improperly cut tile, leaving me with a bit of a mess to clean up.
I carefully went over the area with a small prying tool and popped out as much of the thinset as I could, to leave me with the best possible starting area. It was difficult to get all the thinset out, without damaging the Ditra, but it’s not super important that the Ditra got a little banged up in the process. After I was done prying everything out, I carefully vacuumed the area out to remove any last remnants.
And here’s a couple pictures of the tile laid and then grouted, you can’t even really tell that I made the mistake to begin with! Thankfully I still had some grout left over from tiling before, so it was no problem to match it perfectly.
As I said, I was planning to replace that tile when I did the tiling in the other main bathroom / laundry room – the process was much the same as with the master bathroom. I added screws to the subfloor to better secure it to the floor joists underneath, then laid a layer of Ditra XL. We didn’t really need the Ditra here for waterproofing reasons, but it is a great uncoupling layer for putting down tile and has the added benefit of coming out level with the 3/4″ hardwood floors at the transitions. In the following picture you can see that I also spent a day or so installing our vanity in that bathroom – such a convenience to have warm and cold running water to an actual sink!
When I tiled the master bathroom, I rented a wet tile saw to cut all the tiles. Because it was a lot of bother to rent the tilesaw (quite unweildy so I had to beg another vehicle from family), this tile I decided to just use my 4″ grinder with a ceramic/diamond blade. It went surprisingly well, except for the one tile I had to cut twice because I rushed it the first time. Trick is a steady hand and to let the grinder do the work. Honestly I just watched a guy do it on youtube and then did it myself, it’s not really hard!
Because I wanted to lay the floors all in one go, I pre-cut all the tiles in advance and dry fitted them with their spacers to make sure everything would fit correctly.
The only difficulty with this approach was that I realized, I would have to pretty well be able to lay the tiles identically a second time. When I came to that realization, I decided to do the tiles over two days – the first day I laid a row of tiles from the door to the far end of the room, and stopped there. The second day I was able to walk on those tiles, so I could lay the tiles on the other side and under the vanity. It all worked out pretty well, I think, and it seems our new cat Daisy agrees. Another wipe-down with a damp rag to get rid of the grout haze, and it’ll look super!
Since the floor was complete I decided to get the washer and dryer tucked away in there, to at least get them out of the way, and make it easier to do laundry (we had jury-rigged something before, but it was not really ideal.)
At some point I will actually need to hook up the dryer, but for now we can dry our clothes on the line which is better for them anyway (and they always smell so fresh after being out on the line!) Next up, I’ll be working on the ducting for the HRV, and will endeavour to get a few photos of that as it progresses, as boring as it may be 🙂