April 2005 Archives

Green Expo this weekend

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The 2nd Annual Natural Events Green Expo will be held this Saturday at the Peterborough Armories. Last year's Expo was well attended and a lot of fun, this year they have twice the exhibitors, and some good presentors.

I'll be there, come on up and introduce yourself.

Did I mention that it's going to be a busy summer?

Last fall Dad and I logged a bunch of cedar trees from the west and south parts of the land. We're lucky, in that we have good cedar, it often rots from the inside out, so you can't tell how good a tree is until the tree is on the ground. The other problems with cedar are that it tapers considerably from bottom to top, and that there are lots of small branches that sprout out directly from the trunk all the way up the tree. This usually means that you have to clear around the base of the tree first before dropping it, both to have space to cut, and to ensure an escape route. I drop the trees, so I'm damn careful about making sure I have lots of space to run if the tree doesn't drop in the right direction!

Various logs ready for milling

What we want from the cedar is mostly 2" thick boards. I'm hoping to build some decks around the house this summer. We don't bother drying the cedar first, it dries very quickly in place with minimal cupping, and we use screws rather than nails to make later adjustments easier. In two years when it's dried out in place, we'll rent a floor sander and get rid of any cupping/bowing. We did that on Dad's deck and it seems to have worked out just fine.

Here's a sketch of the proposed decking:

Exterior Deck Plan

Clicking on the image will bring up a larger version. As an added bonus there is a bunch of extra info on the sketch for those of you interested in the interior changes.

The deck across the front is largely cosmetic, as you wouldn't want to sit on it, it would be much to hot and sunny for most of the year (reflection from the windows). The 12'x12' area to the west is a small deck for the BBQ, and to sit and look out over the forest, we may also screen in this deck. The large east deck is the main sitting portion as it has the best view, and is sheltered from most of the summer sun. We aren't big fans of sitting out the sun. We're also lucky in that we get a bit of a breeze around the house year-round, and that helps keep the bugs away in spring/summer.

Cedar lumber, stacked and stickered.

At this point we have probably 1/4 of the wood that we will needs for these decks, and as a result, they may get built in stages. Over the next couple of weeks Dad and I will be dropping another six cedars (at least), as well as some more standing dead Black Cherry, and at least one standing dead Ash. The Black Cherry isn't very large, it's hard to get much more than 2 or 3 inch boards out of it, but it's a very interesting wood, and I think I may use it to replace the cupboard and drawer faces in the kitchen.

The other big job I'd like to get started on this summer is the barn. The original barn collapsed a couple of decades ago, and we've pulled a great deal of the lumber, and farm machinery, and cow bones, and old straw, and.... Yep, it was pretty bad. Unfortunately once all that stuff was removed it allowed the weeds, shrubs, and even trees a chance to set roots. Something must be done. The plan is to bulldoze all of the old timbers into a hole on the other side of the driveway where they can continue to rot in piece. The part that is currently standing will be torn down and rebuilt as a shed. Cheap and cheerful, will be the name of the game. With a low roof line that matches the look of the house without obscuring the view. I'd also like to clean off the top of the walls and pour a new concrete cap to prevent further deterioration. Right now water is getting into the tops of the walls each fall, freezing in the winter and spalling off the top layers of stones. I don't intend to re-point the whole walls, I have neither time nor inclination for that, I only hope to slow their inevitable collapse.

The Barn. Looking across the front.

Globe and Mail Architourist Article

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The article is here: Globe and Mail - The Architourist.

It's going to be a busy summer.

Joanne is pregnant with #2, and so Gil is going to have to move out of the nursury, and into his own room. At the moment my office occupies the space that will be his room. The office has to go, the space needs walls, but before that the space needs a ceiling.

Here's a view of the currrent floorplan along with notations.

Floorplan Interior

  1. The new office. Just a long slim desk along the back wall. Simple clean, and I'm still working out how to hide the cables and computers
  2. Bedroom wall. This wall will be floor to ceiling bookshelves just like it's opposite (bordering the master bedroom. The top area will be triangular pieces of sandblasted glass to let in light and maintain privacy.
  3. Bedroom wall. This wall will be clad with panel or drywall on the bedroom side and T&G cedar on the living room side. It will be built to move to expand the size of the bedroom when the time comes to break it into two rooms.
  4. Linen Closet. Lined with all of my leftover aromatic cedar
  5. Bedroom Door. We're going need to enforce some privacy soon.
  6. Odd, there doesn't seem to be a number six...
  7. This space is currently the nursury, but it is plumbed to be an ensuite. When competition for the main bathroom gets too fierce, we get our own.
  8. Walk-in closet. Lined with aromatic cedar. Staining is done, but it needs some trim and sliding doors.
  9. Front hall closet. Lined with aromatic cedar, it needs sliding doors, and some better shelves for seasonal storage.

Before the walls for Gil's room can be built a ceiling must be installed.

The Ceiling

Many ideas have been floated for how to cover our ceiling. Right now it's just vapour barrier over insulation. Functional, but not terribly attractive.

Drywall: We hate drywall. And installing it after you've moved in? On 2000 sq/ft of ceiling, I don't think so.


Plywood Ceiling Picture

Plywood: Nice concept, and I've seen it done well, but a huge amount of work, very tough to get the edges clean and straight, and very hard for two people to do, over their heads day after day. I've undertaken a fairly exhaustive search for pre-finished T&G plywood, and well, it doesn't seem to exist. I can get prefinished, but it's VERY expensive. Or I can get T&G but it's used for subfloors and is very rough.

Tongue and Groove Ceiling Picture

Tongue and Groove Wood: Similar to what you'd use for flooring. It's expensive if you buy pre-finished, but unfinished Western Red Cedar is not too bad. VERY nice looks, somewhat expensive. Now I'd rather use my own wood, but my cedar is way too knotty to use for a ceiling, not to mention that most of the cedar I have right now is slated to be used in decks. I have some maple, ash and black cherry, but nowhere near the quantities I'd need for the ceiling, and it won't be dry for a couple of years if I don't get a kiln built. Then there is the work involved in planing, jointing, routing and finishing 2500 sq/ft worth of hard wood. I don't mind doing the work, but I don't see having that kind of time in the forseeable future. As the old addage of freelance work goes, "You either have money or time. You never have both."

What we're concentrating on now is the back ceiling, the ceiling over the bedrooms and open area. The 'hallway' and gallery will likely be done the same way. But I have greater ambitions for the front part of the house. I thought I'd share a few of my inspirational images with you.

Cool Ceiling Picture

Oh man, what a ceiling. We can't pull off something that daring, we don't have the space to allow a drop like that, but I'm seriously thinking that a wave effect, done with straight boards could be very effective as well.

Eventscape Ceiling Picture

Eventscape makes cool tensioned fabric errr... things. Layered I think it would be very cool as a ceiling, but probably expensive.

Felt Ceiling Picture

Yes, that is industrial felt. Great because it's rigid enough to hold a shape, and it absorbs sound. A big consideration when you've built a house that's largely open concept, and more than somewhat reflective.

More Publications

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We're going to be profiled in this Friday's edition of the Globe and Mail. It's the Architourist column, in the Real Estate section. I'll post a link when I have it.

We're also in a recent book on Modern Straw Bale building/design, the book however is in German, so even when I get it, I'll just be looking at the pretty pictures.

A review copy of the German book was sent to an Italian architecture magazine, and now they are working with SMA (the architects) on a feature article. They are working with SMA rather than us because they are a very technical magazine and are more interested in the engineering and architecture of the house than 'our story'.

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