Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tarps tumbling down - the roof is on!

All cheered as the tarps came tumbling down for the last time. The final roof panels are in place, this historic day, 27 July 2008. We're weathered in! Hallelujah!

When I tucked the boys into bed, one asked, "Mom, have you had a shower yet?"
"No, why, do I stink?"
"No, you just smell like the roof."
"That's the smell of a completed roof, baby. Savor the aroma of exhaustion and joy."

Sunday 5pm

By Sunday 5pm we were ripping the final panels, ready to complete the roof.

Sunday noon

By noon we completed the roof to the cupola on the north-east side including the ridge cap. Now the big push to the west. Will we make it? Thunder rumbles all around, threatening our progress.

Small boy checking out the view from the roof.

So hot you could fry an egg on it

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Roofing technique

Novice roofer at work.

Novice roofer's junior assistant.

The cupola in a sea of blue and white

The cupola is complete! We're moving in around the cupola with the roof, replacing blue tarps with white roof. Dry-in is so close, we can taste it.

Roofing Action

We are tag-teaming it on the roof, with Dad Kiker feeding metal panels from the ground.

Drenched - Saturday 26 July

The 98% relative humidity has taken its toll--sweat glands are working overtime. At one stage, I thought it was raining, but it is was our sweat spitting onto the roof. We made it around the cupola today. Only one panel remains to complete the roof on the south side. Oh yeah, baby.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cupola very nearly there

The cupola received the last major touches today. Fascia and flashing are complete. Tomorrow we attend to the last bit of touch-up staining, the final row of roofing screws, a bit of caulk here and there, and window washing. Then we can get back to roofing around the cupola and make the big push on to the west end. Excitement is in the air. We dream fitfully about the long-awaited farewell to the tarps, now so tantalizingly near.

Underground fort denied C.O.

The thrill of the underground fort was dampened by the report that it does not receive a Certificate of Occupancy. Our experienced and knowledgeable excavations expert deemed the fort to be dangerous. We need to put in additional safety measure to ensure that a cave-in will not occur. The boys are going back to the drawing board.
This photo was taken before the smiles disappeared.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Big cousin

Our big cousin has come from Tennessee to adventure with us in the Florida woods. The boys are creating an underground fortress, made possible by our sandy soils which give way to shovels and shoulder power. The architects paused in the digging in order to make their own ladder when the hole got too deep to exit without assistance. They've labored tirelessly, extracting sand by the bucket-load as the hole deepens. The work continues tomorrow.

Baby turns 1 - July 2008

The baby turns one. After a birthday breakfast celebration, he was dragged out to the building site for another day at work.
We received the building permit when he was two months, broke ground a few weeks later, and received the FirstDay kit when he was 4 months. We've been building actively for 5 months now (if you subtract two months of overseas travel). We're still hoping to be done by Christmas--some days this seems possible, and other days this seems like a pipe-dream.

Notice now that he's one, the small boy has graduated to the use of shoes.

Hemming and hawing about the fascia

The fascia has been detailed in theory, held up to scrutiny, discussed and debated to death. For some reason we were all seeing it differently. We tried many versions of white trim at different widths and lengths, gable rake, drip edge, and so on. Here is photo evidence of one attempt to find something that works. By Sunday mid-morning we finally reached agreement--ditch the big white thing. We'll use stained lumber instead with a diminutive white trim at the roof line. Whew.

Wood prep

We are staining and painting the ship lap exterior siding on the ground. We've already sprayed the wood with borate, and are now oiling the back and sides with Chevron Shingle Oil mixed with M-1 (a mildewcide, "proven to be the world's finest & most effective additive by the US Navy" yeah, that sounds a little scary to us too, but all advice points to M-1; however, it's caustic so application should be done with caution--the boys in the picture are applying plain latex paint!).

After the back side is protected with the shingle oil, the rough side of the ship lap gets the stain: Benjamin Moore's "Stonehedge" opaque stain mixed 50/50 with the shingle oil. This is an ubiquitous Florida color that blends nicely with our indigenous landscapes.

Still working on the cupola

The cupola gives up an opportunity to practice the finishing details at a small scale; however, the cupola is also deceiving -- it's so cute, so charming, and only 8'x10', how much time could it consume? Plenty. We've chosen to complete the cupola before we continue the roof. It's much easier to stand on the 1x3 strapping than the slippery metal.

We're staining the wood on the ground for the most part, but demand got ahead of supply. The natural wood on the left is raw shiplap, and the grey on the right is the stain color we are using.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

ooh, ouch, ooh, it's sizzling

Why are we roofing in the height of summer? Who thought this would be a good idea? We slid off the roof at the end of the day, languishing and limp. But we're smiling because we got the NE roof done to the cupola!

Well, there is still a ridge cap to put in place, but it's close.

One of the boys yelled from the ground, "Dad, is that fun?" At that moment, no it is not fun, but it is satisfying.

And a cold water bottle positioned directly above the heart helps keep the ticker moving.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


One of our major motivations for building on this site is that we have a great cycling commute into town (when we're not cruising in the gas-guzzling Merc that is, see below). Many look puzzled at the mention of bicycle access, wondering how a bike route could be a prime reason for choosing a home site. But we are no longer seen as eccentric or strange. The price per gallon says it all.

Lightning Strike Returns

Lightning struck one of the pines AGAIN, but this time the surge also took out Pop's 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis. This rates as the most expensive lightning strike to date as the Merc's electrical system had to be repaired at a cost of $650.

We love snaking our way across town on these classic wheels. We're very image conscious, you know. And, yes, those are shower bars masquerading as roof racks. You gotta be a creative-type if you wanna build a First Day Cottage.

Aaahhh, we got a few panels up!

At last, the sun broke through and we got a few roof panels up. The south-east side is completed up to the cupola. Tomorrow we''ll work on the north-east side, then put the ship lap siding on the cupola before we continue westward. Now, we know that if you look closely, you may notice a few flaws in our roofing results, but hopefully the harsh glare of the Florida sun will obscure the imperfections.

Take a break - it's raining

It was spitting rain throughout the day. The kids enjoy an excuse to romp in the elements, but the adults watch with frustration as moisture muscles its way through the tongue and groove.

Storm's coming

Roofing during the summer is fraught with a continual seeping from the heavens. As soon as we pull the tarps back, mother nature seizes the opportunity to anoint the raw lumber with her gift of precipitation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

We have a dumpster

It's a real building site now. We have a dumpster. Fortunately, we have generated very little refuse to date, but it now seems useful to have a place to put the stuff we can't save or reuse.

Bess beetles

We found a stash of Bess beetles under a log. Fortunately the baby had a tummy full of cantaloupe, so he did not consider these black, shiny bugs potential nourishment.

Flashing the cupola

The cupola is flashed, ready for the roof to meet the cupola. If it leaks, we have only ourselves to blame.

Testing exterior wood stains

We plan to mix Chevron Shingle Oil with a solid color stain to treat the exterior ship lap. Here we are test-staining a few boards with a weathered blue-gray look.

Summertime... and the living is... HOT

Summertime...and the living is anything but easy. Our top priority is to stay cool. The roof metal is sizzling to the touch. Roofing this weekend is going to be intense.

And when it's really miserable, just bury
yourself in the sand and come out in November.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lightning Strike

A storm surged into town recently, and lightning struck two tall pines near the house. That's powerful stuff, as we observed from a mere 40 feet away. After a shocking explosion, pine bark confetti flew all over the place, and the scent of burning wood filled the air.

Mosquitoes and other pests

The down side of being in the sultry tropics is that we have creatures clamoring to suck our blood: ticks, chiggers (mites), fire ants, horse flies, and mosquitoes are the Florida Big Five. If you come to visit our wilderness lodge, chances are that you'll return home with more than just a suntan. That little itch could be telling you something.

The smell of sawdust

We will forever remember the fresh smell of fresh wood and sawdust. Everyone who comes to visit comments on how good the house smells!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A good day for creatures

Summertime brings big fun for boys on the hunt for creatures. We've seen walking sticks mating (everywhere), fence post lizards laying eggs, gopher tortoise, millipedes, giant ants, beetles, and larvae of all kinds.

We also have a Carolina wren feeding her babies in one of our boxes. They peep and cheep urgently whenever we pass by, but the boys don't want the babies to imprint on humans, so we steer clear and let the mother feed the chicks herself as nature intended.

Windows all in

The windows are all in. But no rest for the weary, now it's back to the roof. Gotta get rid of those tarps.

View from the indoors is looking a bit more finished. We moved inside the remaining tongue and groove that will be used for interior walls. It was getting damp outside under sun-scorched tarps with daily summer showers.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Building on the 4th of July

When building a house, national holidays are an excuse to get in a full-day's work. Windows in the cupola and a ridge cap on the cupola roof are the result of today's effort.

Redneck Teeter-Totter

The Redneck Teeter-Totter in action

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


We have water at the building site. Thanks to our western neighbor who made it all possible. Thanks also to our eastern neighbors who let us trail PVC tubing from their house while we awaited the installation of our permanent pipes.

eewww - decapitation

We had an injury at the building site today. The baby was playing with a lively grasshopper, when all of a sudden chubby fingers closed in on the unlucky insect. Like a flash, the hand went to the mouth, and when the hand was removed, the grasshopper's head remained skewered on the only two teeth in baby's mouth....eeewwww. Before I realized what was happening, I got a picture of the guts hanging out of his mouth. Was baby perturbed? Not in the least!