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Yesterday was a productive day at our house.  We had originally been planning to be out of town this past weekend as I celebrated my 30th birthday, but plans fell through on our big trip and later our dog tore her ACL, which meant we weren't going to go anywhere.  It was probably a blessing in disguise because we have been able to get a lot done around the house and I have been getting caught up on some homework as well. 


This picture is of the starting point for the rafters as of yesterday morning.  





This is Tor putting the second to last sheathing piece down.  



















This is a picture showing the final sheathing down in place.  



















The back view of the house with the sheathing over the garage finished.  I wrote this in an earlier post, but Tor won't be putting the top sheathing down until we have shingled the bottom so that he can ensure there is enough space for a gap between the top and lower roof lines right at the peak. 












This is the front view of the house with the sheathing finished.  

Tor's goal for this weekend was to finish the rafters and sheathing over the garage and possibly start the kitchen framing.  He accomplished the first goal as of 6:30pm last night.  We spent the morning however looking at windows, siding, and picking up our garage door and attic ladder at Menards and found out that the windows we were planning on purchasing are on sale.  What that means is that instead of starting the kitchen, Tor is going to spend the rest of today taking measurements of the windows so we can get them ordered. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Finished Garage Rafters



Tor has been busy putting the last few rafters into place along the south side and placing the remaining sheathing. The top is covered with a blue tarp still because no sheathing has been put down over that area.  The roofline will be tricky to shingle so Tor plans on shingling everything on the lower level before he finished the very top roof.  This will help him ensure that he has enough space between the top and lower roof at the peak.  








This is the back view of the house. Again most of the sheathing is down with the exception of the last places that we have rafters to still finish. Mostly Tor has done the sheathing, but myself and his brother Erik have helped as well. 














This is the side view with the rafters still going up. 



















The finished overhang on the back of the garage.  It looks really nice with it all being finished.  Tor's dad Haakon helped a great deal with this project.  He even came over during a few afternoons to work on this himself while we were at work!


As always we owe a thank you to some people.  We wanted to thank Shaun for letting us use so many of his tools.  We know he is an avid reader as well so thank you for all of your support!  We really appreciate it!  You will have free access to beer at our house whenever you want!



Thursday, October 16, 2014


More work on the Roof

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Rafter Work



Tor and his dad have been hard at work for the past two weeks.  They sistered 2x4's to the 2x8 rafters in order to extend them out for the overhang. This picture is looking straight onto the house.  It shows the rafters well and you can also see the roof sheathing that is stacked on top of the house waiting to be installed.  We just ordered the garage door today so this will soon look like a functioning space.  









This is a closer picture of the rafters. You can see the sub-fascia for both the dormer roof and garage roof.  We have had a lot of neighbors stop by and check out the work now that it is starting to take shape.  Everyone is interested to see what we are doing on top of the garage. 












The overhang is 2 feet.  The existing roof above the front stoop was already 2 feet, however the original roof cut back a foot over the rest of the house. We are filing this in to have one clean roofline across the whole house.  















This is the back view facing east.  The sub-fascia isn't completed yet on this side, but we are getting close!





Sunday, August 10, 2014


Framing, Framing, Framing



This week has been another productive one.  We have gotten the rim board up; some wall sheathing, most of the i-joists and have begun some of the plumbing.  We had help from Tor's dad and brother this week.


Here is the rim board in place.  It is up all around exterior.











This is another view of the rim board.




















This is the front view with rim board and i-joists going up. Tor's brother Erik is in the purple.  He looks very purply. 


















Tor is hanging some of the smaller LVLs in this picture.  



















I-joists and plumbing are going in. I helped sink a bunch of nails into the joist hangers yesterday.  Over the 2.5 hours of nailing I improved my accuracy from about 46 swings to 26 swings to get one of the 4 in nails in. Not too shabby considering I was working between the joist and didn't have a lot of room.  I almost smacked my head with the backside of the hammer a few times too. 










This is a better view of the plumbing. 


The larger plumbing is for the toilet while the smaller one is for the tub. They will meet up between the blue LVL and the i-joist and attach to the shower plumbing that will come from the left area in the picture.  














The flooring is looking pretty good!



















The blue LVLs frame out the shower.

Yes that is a massive shower… we will have dual showerheads in there. 


















I sunk these screws in with a hammer drill! I felt like such a big girl doing this.  Tor had me put a few extra in one spot by accident so we actually ran out and I had to do some more later. 















It is basically joist hanger Christmas at our house!  Lucky me, I get to help hang all of these.  



Sunday, August 3, 2014


We have Walls!

Saturday, July 27, 2014


Productive Saturday

As the title states, we had a very productive Saturday.  We got up early and were able to start off the day by getting some errands run and the house picked up a little before the noise ordinance ended at 9:00AM. Tor's goal of the day was to start framing the walls.  


Tor started off by prepping the area above the side door and installing an LVL where the framing walls and bathroom floor joists will join the house.  I had to help him lift it up into place and let me tell you those suckers are HEAVY!  It does give a nice clean look to an otherwise messy facade however.  


Once the LVL was on, Tor got to work on the framed wall.  He measured and cut the sill plate first then put down the sill plate gasket. After all of this, he was able to plan out the measurements for the walls. The magic number for the garage is 91.5 inches.  To be sure that all of the framing boards are the right length, Tor used the miter saw shown below and adjusted the mounting brackets on the stand to the desired length.  He was then able to cut multiple boards confidently without having to measure each and every one of them.  







Tor assembled the wall on the garage slab so that he had a nice flat surface to work on.  We had to buy a new level about halfway through this because the one we had was compromised and would read differently if flipped over.  Tor started with this wall given that I was the only one around to help him out and I wouldn't have been strong enough to help lift any walls that are any larger than this.  In fact, we had to swivel the wall back and forth to move it closer to the foundation and I basically just helped disperse weight as Tor lifted it onto the foundation on his own one side at a time.  



Here is the sill plate prior to being attached to the wall.  I took a picture to show the gasket that was also installed.  The gasket is very lightweight and kept blowing away in the wind so we had to shimmy it in place once the wall was actually in place.  












Here is the gasket label.  I figured this would help educate better than I could.  









Below is a picture Tor took of 








This is our finished work for the day.  I removed all that stucco myself and Tor and I got one wall installed.  A beam will sit right in the space above the cluster of seven 2x6s that are towards the middle of the wall.  There will also be a window from the mudroom in the area between the cluster and the house, but we have yet to decide on the actual size or placement of that window yet. 



YES WE HAVE WALLS!  It is so exciting to see the house take shape.  It keeps getting more and more real… and more and more expensive.  (We just paid the first part of the foundation and slab bill and it was more than our down payment on the house.)  Good thing is that most of the really expensive parts are done and out of the way so now we will be able to refill our savings account.  


I was traveling this week for work so I wasn't around to take progressive photos, but these pictures show everything well since we are still in the framing stage.  The first photo below shows the south wall of the garage.  There will be four 30in x 18in windows on this wall.  We put them high so we still have wall space to hang garden tools etc.  We really wanted a little natural light in the garage.  


The blue LVLs shown in the first picture were a feat all by themselves. Our friend Aaron came over Friday night to help put some boards in place (just on the left edge of the photo) and was gracious enough to come back the next day for a real workout.  These LVLs are 26ft x 18in x 1 3/4in and each weigh 250 pounds.  There are four boards lined up next to each other.  Aaron said he was going to lift weights at home that day anyway so he figured he would get a workout at our house instead.  The guys were balancing on a stepladder while hoisting one end of the board over their shoulder then up over their head!  I was "helping" keep the board from swaying too much and near by if the ladder started to move.  I also handed Tor the nail gun when his side got into place.  (The nail gun alone is heavy enough for me.)  There are two sets of four boards so together they lifted over 2,000 lbs. of wood into place in about an hour.  Pretty impressive to say the least.  I know better for next time though to invite my girlfriends over first.  We could have all enjoyed some cocktails while watching the guys' muscles go to work!  Oh and did I mention it was in the mid 90's?  Tor and Aaron did all of this in the middle of a heat wave!


The second picture shows the width of the four LVLs once in place.  They are all nailed together throughout the span.  


A big thank you to Amy and Aaron for coming to help out and check out the progress.  Much appreciated!  We will have to repay the favor when they paint their house or refinish their deck later this summer. 






There isn't much to report about these photos other than if the project didn't feel real enough, it should now.  We are starting to buy framing members! The three kinds we have are LVLs or Laminated Veneer Lumber (the blue ones), I-Joists (the ones that look like "I's"), and LSLs or Laminated Strand Lumber which I didn't get a picture of here.  LVLs are used for longer spans and higher loads.  The color means nothing here other than to distinguish brands.









Another picture of the LVLs.  There are different sizes for different parts of the roof.

















A chance to get artistic with my photos!




















The other half of this post is about dealing with rotten rim board.  The house was built in 1950 so these boards have lasted quite awhile.  In total we have replaced 3 different portions so far. There is a little rot near the bottom of the wall all around the house in various places.













There are a few peices around the window too.  This whole window will be taken out and replaced with a bump out that we can put firewood in for the fireplace.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Prep and Rotten Wood


One step that needed to be completed before we start the garage was to get rid of the windows that would otherwise be looking into the garage. Tor didn't need to install a header at all because it will just get filled in.  I was in class the night that this window was taken out so Tor gets credit for the first couple photos.  












The plywood is screwed in from the inside so that someone doesn't just come up and unscrew the board and crawl in the house. What you can't see in this picture is the 2x4 that Tor put in the other side to reinforce the wall.  


The octagon is my favorite so I am really bummed to see it go.  In all reality I have a love hate relationship with it.  I love this window because I could see our Christmas tree through it in the winter.  I really liked it when I would get home after Tor because the lights would be plugged in and ready to welcome me home.  On the other hand I hate this window for two reasons.  The first is because the trim work in the house was not installed properly.  The other reason was because since it was so old it would allow any and every spider to crawl inside and spin a web.  It was almost a cubbyhole for them to taunt me from.  The window always looked so dirty no matter how often I cleaned it. I did talk Tor into letting me keep the window so that I could make something of it.  I don't know what I will make, but was leaning towards something to hang in the deck area outside.  I do however have a stump side table project that I just had to do that has been sitting in the garage (now just outside) for a year and a half.  I still have every intention of finishing it someday.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Removing Windows




Saturday morning started off with more rain.  It actually rained all day up until 5:00pm so it was difficult to be outside.  Some projects are fine to work on in the rain, but others are hard because we have a pile of mud circling most of our house.  The funny thing is that I had to go downtown Minneapolis to meet a group for school and it was not raining about 1 mile east of the house.  I met with my group for 4 hours and on my way home the rain was still in the same spot!  I felt like our house was the character Joe Btfsplk with a constant rain cloud hovering over us.  




We were not the only ones who took advantage of the sun today.  The concrete guy came out to cut the control joints into the garage slab. He didn't tell us he was coming.  He just showed up. It was kind of funny to watch the neighbors' reaction as he started cutting.  As you can see in the photo, it created a huge dust cloud. As he kept going the cloud got bigger and bigger.  The neighbor south of us stopped mowing the lawn and went inside.  The neighbor 2 houses down from us had come home from a bike ride with her daughter and was going to stop over and say hi.  I saw her just as she turned around on her bike to go back home when the dust cloud came rolling over the front lawn.  She yelled over that she would come back later. I also saw a red convertible drive by with the top down.  The guy just glared at us.  The cloud got really big when he took out his leaf blower to clean out the cracks and see if there was any additional work needed.  I left my camera inside during that for obvious reasons. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Busy Weekend with the Garage Floor


So taking pictures of concrete slabs and rock is not the most exciting thing to do.  I am sure for most of you, this post will go down in history as one of the most boring things you have ever read, but for us of course it is very exciting!  The ground was graded earlier in the week and the concrete was poured over Tuesday and Thursday this week.  Why not Wednesday you ask?… you guessed it, we got more rain.  Big surprise right?!








The garage has a floor!  You can't see it very well in this picture, but the garage floor slopes approximately 2 inches down as you progress to the doorway to the left (not pictured). You can kind of see how the distance between the slab and the mortar joint gets wider as it moves to the left.  











I didn't take this picture for any purpose other than to attempt to have an artistic view of the slab.  I thought it might help spice up the post a little. To me, this picture kind of looks like the underbelly of a frog or maybe a petri dish full of bacteria.  Use your imagination!



Thursday, July 10, 2014


We got Slabs!

The foundation has started to get poured.  There is no turning back now! Enough work has been done to make the bill big enough that we might as well keep going.  I woke up yesterday morning to the crew already working at the house.  I think I startled them as I came out of the front door with my bike in hand ready to leave for work.  They were still at it when I got back home as well which was a sign that it hadn't rained (well not hard enough because it had actually rained a little). 


Here is the full spectrum of the garage foundation.  Looking west into the backyard.





Brin has loved playing in the yard lately.  She digs holes in the dirt piles and gets covered in mud.  She has probably had more baths in the last few weeks than she typically has in a full summer.  You would think she would learn the correlation between dirt and showers, but hasn't yet.  That yellow ball is just too much fun to play with I guess. 











This is looking east through where the garage will sit when finished. 





Saturday, June 28, 2014


The Foundation is Going In

Sorry for the long delay between posts for those of you that check back frequently.  If you live in the Upper Midwest you have experienced first hand all of the rain we have been getting as of late.  Basically the excavation crew was supposed to start about a week earlier than they did, but couldn't because the ground was too saturated.  


Now getting down to business, although we like to do much of the work ourselves, we hired out the excavation and foundation since it is something that neither of us has ever done before and it is something you want done right the first time.  The project started with a single crewmember taking out the garage slab, sidewalk and first few driveway sections.  Then it started to rain again….


Our neighbor a few houses down has a daughter that has been excited to see the progress.  She has been riding down to our house on her tricycle to see the changes and we keep coming up short on meeting her expectations.  As a Minnesotan, all I can say is at least it isn't snowing.   


Once all the rain stopped (again), the crew got started and work progressed quickly.  I came home from work one afternoon to find army bunkers dug into our yard.  I know heavy machinery can do a lot, but it is still impressive to see what one guy can get done on his own when paired up with a digger. I now know why my two-year-old nephew is so intrigued by them and owns so many construction toys.  


This is the front view of the house with the excavation started.


Given we are in the northern half of the country, the footings need to be pretty deep.  I don't know all the specifics on code etc., but the excavation went six feet down in order to get below the frost line.  






Here are some mounds and mounds of dirt!  It isn't the prettiest thing on the block that is for sure. 


















Here is our new front stoop!  My neighbor sent me a text to let me know how crazy things looked at our house. She is a teacher and has been keeping tabs on what is going when she is home during the day in the summer.  Our living room has been do dirty every since this project started.  Walking up a giant dirt pile is not great for your floors.













This is ready for the foundation to go in. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Garage Excavation

The garage is gone!  It is crazy to look out our kitchen window and no longer see the ugly thing in our backyard. Despite the rain we got up fairly early yesterday and got to work.  We starting by taking down all the stucco off the back side of the garage.  That stucco was pretty hard to remove so Tor did most of it alone while I took down the 1 x 12 shiplap on the south side (left in pictures below).  










Here is the backside of the garage with the stucco gone.  After the stucco was gone, Tor left to go grab some tools while I got working on the roof.  We thought it was best to stop taking down the side shiplap and work on the roof before it got too unstable.  I only spent about 40 minutes on top of the roof because it was wiggling so much.  I was moving the whole structure every time I used the crowbar to pry a board off the frame or dig out a nail.  Yikes!









Our next plan of attack was to take off all the siding then just push the rest of the building over and work on the roof off the ground.  It worked pretty well. It took us a couple hours to get down to the framing all the way around.  Most of the 2x4's were no longer attached to the foundation because all the nails had rusted out. We kept a lot of the shiplap to use on the house later.  The stack is next to the table.  The pool is for the dog to play in. 





Tor grabbed some rope, tied it to the frame and pulled about three times taking the whole thing to the ground. Our neighbor came out to watch it come down too (and I am sure to make sure we didn't take his fence out).













The garage after it was pulled down.

















"What the heck?  Where is the garage?" asked Brin. 


















Just another view.  We kept a number of the 2x4s.



















It took quite awhile to take apart the roof.  Let's just say, the builders probably realized they hadn't used the appropriate number of nails on the framing and figured they would make up for it here.  We were diligently working on this for who knows how long.  At one point I went in the house only to realize it was 6:15 at night. I hadn't been inside since 11:30 and thought it was probably 4ish at the latest.  Time flies when you are having fun right?








We left the garage like this before calling it quits.  We were both pretty worn out and hungry.  It was a productive day.  Not only did we take the greater portion of the garage down, but I had successfully dumped the wheelbarrow in the dumpster in such a way that the front stand landed right on my foot with all the weight distributed right there as well.  I now have a nice bruise straight across my right toes. It almost looks like I have set of brass knuckles tattooed on my foot.  







Check on progress.  Tor was hiding behind the shovel. 




















At the start of today we just had a few boards to get rid of.  Tor took care of those while I swept up the area and worked on getting nails out of the grass. We had tried our best during the take down to throw all of the nails onto the foundation so that we could sweep them up easy later. We did a pretty good job, but I ran over the area a couple times with the magnetic sweeper. It is crazy how many of those buggers come out of nowhere when a magnet is pulling on them. 




Sunday, June 8, 2014


Garage Tear Down: Day Four and Five

This will be a pretty quick update.  Tor worked on the garage by himself one night and we worked on it again together tonight.  We have been getting to know our neighbors really well.  A lot of people are stopping over to check out our project and see if they can have some of the waste.  Tonight we had a neighbor come over and offer to dig through the dumpster and take some of the wood.  He likes to take old wood and make things out of it.  We plan to use some of the larger boards inside the edition if any are salvageable, but weren't going to use any of the smaller ones.  I would much rather have stuff get put to use then just end up in a landfill so it is a win win!


So far we have found lots of nests, huge spider webs, and tons of big dead bugs to go with them.   I am looking forward to getting this eyesore off the property.  I am good at a lot of things, but I am not good about bugs.  My 4 year-old niece walked around the family cabin this weekend holding a little snake for about 10 minutes only to later play with ants in another cabin.  Needless to say, I was completely grossed out.  Maybe I should hire her to come help clean this out.  








Over the two nights, we knocked out boards from the front and north side. We also took down stucco and more trim on the north side as well.  We are busy for a few nights this week, but around all weekend and hope to have this sucker taken down by Sunday evening.  













Another quick check on our progress. Lots of room left in the dumpster still. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Garage Tear Down: Day Two and Three

Today the big project began.  We technically started the project yesterday by cleaning out the garage, but didn't get too far because the weather wasn't cooperative.  It is supposed to rain through Wednesday so we will see how far we can actually get this week. This is how the garage started this morning. We rented the dumpster through











There isn't much to explain for this post. We basically took roof shingle scrapers and crowbars to take the stucco and shingles off and then used a wheelbarrow and tarp to catch and move all of the waste.  Tor did use a reciprocating saw to cut through some of the metal lath in the stucco.  Much of our stucco is actually rotting away and was quite easy to remove.  In areas that it was in good shape, it worked best to remove the trim so that there was an edge to catch with the crowbar.  







Our neighbor stopped by to help for a few hours.  He is actually taking our old garage door and using it on his garage. He traded a free door for a couple hours of hard labor.  The garage door had a torsion spring, which can be very dangerous to uninstall.  Tor bought a 3/8 in steel rod (could have bought a 1/2 in), cut it in half and placed each half into a notch within the spring system. He then used them as levers and rotated them until the spring was loose.  










We opted to demo the garage ourselves so that we could keep some of the large boards to use on a later project.  We are thinking of lining the mudroom with some of the roofing boards.  This is how we ended today.  All the stucco is off the south side (on the left), all shingles are off and most of the trim.  

































The dumpster at the end of today. Nothing interesting to look at… just fun to track our progress this way. :)


Sunday, June 1, 2014


Garage Tear Down: Day One

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Gararge Door Installation



It has been very cold over the last few weeks so we haven't gotten much work done on the house.  This weekend, however warmed up enough to started on the garage door. Pictured here is Tor installing the bottom panel of the door.  This process is pretty easy given that all that needs to be done is screw in some connectors, lean it up against the opening, and put in a nail that can bend around the panel to hold it in place.  







Here is the exterior view of the house with two panels in place. 


















Now there are three panels in place with the fourth ready to go.  



















Here are all four panels in place and level.  We didn't snap pictures of the opener installation.  I helped with the track installation with a number of small jobs.  Other than that, I was cleaning the garage.  Believe it or not, this is clean compared to what it did look like. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Start of the Mudroom



The mudroom is one of my favorite parts of the whole project.  Since our house is so little, there isn't much space for all of the gear we need given we live in a region that has all four seasons full fledge and you never know which season you are going to get on a particular day.  We have been known to have 80-degree swings between consecutive days!  


Anyway, so here is the beauty it its original days.  The first picture shows the subfloor with some insulation tacked down to the bottom side. 





Here is a picture with both sections of the subfloor in place.  Tor created a wedge for the floor to be slid into against the wall.  Once the floor was adhered to the house, he took the wedge off.  The legs are temporary at this point.  The garage floor is slanted for drainage purposes so it made more sense to put the legs in second.  This ensures that the floor is level.  










The next few steps were to add in the support underneath the floor, add insulation, and add the sheathing.  



















The final photo here shows the walls in progress.  The door to the mudroom will be on the left.  The opening next to the chimney on the right just needs the wall added still.  The room will have a closet on that end as well. There will also be a bench with jacket hooks and cubbies inside to make it easy to store shoes, hats, gloves, jackets etc.  I am looking forward to the bench because currently I have to trample through the kitchen with my shoes on if I want to sit down while taking them off and on.  All this means is dirty floors that constantly need mopping.  I am looking forward to less cleaning!


Sunday, March 8, 2015


Mudroom Progress



Since the last post we have made some progress on the mudroom.  To be honest, this is again 99% Tor's doing. Together we installed the door to the mudroom, but Tor did everything else himself.  
















This is an inside view of the room. Insulation has been added and he has also installed lighting above. It is already so helpful to have a space to walk into the house rather than entering straight into the kitchen.  The weather is starting to improve and the days are getting longer so we look forward to having some days full of progress!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Inside the Mudroom



The mudroom is coming along nicely. The first photo is looking west.  I am standing in the coat closet area looking towards the door to the garage.  In the second photo I am looking towards the coat closet.  The door to the kitchen is on the right side.  We will eventually have cubbies where our coats and snow pants are hanging.  


Sunday, March 22, 2015


Inside the Mudroom

Sunday January 22, 2017


Garage Door Upgrade

It has been awhile (2015!) since I have posted on this page.  The cool thing is that the weather has been nice enough to work outside on the garage.  We used four 3/8 plywood sheets and stained them with the same stain as the rest of the wood exterior. Here they are set out so we can match grain a little and check for blotches.  

We used clamps to hold the 21 x 96 inch panels in place on the first few boards.   

Here is a shot with five panels in place.  Once we had the bottom row up, the rest of the layers could rest on the boards below so the clamps weren't needed.  

Here is the finished project.  We got the idea to cover a standard steel garage door with plywood while on the MN Architecture Tour a few years ago.  

Here is a closeup of how we fastened the plywood to the door.  We used 2 inch Allen-button-head machine screws.  They are stainless steel of course so that they don't rust. 


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