May, 2005

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Major beams were finally placed for the Great Room roof.

(click on picture to view larger version — more pictures below)

We are learning that building a house is somewhat like putting together a giant 3 dimensional jigsaw puzzle. But the task is more difficult when you must first make the pieces prior to any assembly. This is most apparent when it comes to assembling the timbers. The workmen spent over a week cutting notches and making holes in the three timbers that fit to the arched timbers and other structures of the house. The final exam came when the crane showed up and the pieces could be fitted into place. There are more major timbers to be added to the Great Room (see below).

The Chrysler minivan finally died after 144,000 (hard) miles, just as Gary pulled up to the Carriage House. We bought a Toyota Highlander SUV to replace it, and donated the minivan to charity. With a little work, the minivan might have lasted another 40,000 miles, but we needed something we could count on.

18 April: Eight inches and still snowing like mad. Notice the snow plow is not attached to the truck. Gary is clearing the driveway by dragging a special sledge he designed. When the drive is not frozen solid, the sledge is preferable since it does not damage the surface as much.

The weather has alternated between clear sunny days and snow flurries, and has hampered construction a bit. The main concern is that we need dry weather to pour more concrete.

At right is our "herd" — there is a large collection of bones just below the Carriage House. We suspect the Christies dumped cows that died there. The dogs often visit the graveyard to find bones to gnaw on. Meanwhile, the ghosts of our cows continue to graze the property.

05 May: Pauline contemplates the view from the Great Room now that the temporary roof has been removed to make way for the timber beams. There are still major timbers to be placed, and temporary structure to remove, but we're starting to get a sense of what the Great Room will be like. The steel beams will be "wrapped" to have the appearance of timbers; the steel framework is needed because Montana is a seismically active area.

11 May: Big timbers are laid over the arched timbers in the Great Room. It's wet, cold and windy today; rain turned to snow later. The crane is on a schedule, so the show had to go on. Trusses will lay across the upper timbers to make a peaked roof. The ceiling will be tongue and groove Douglas Fir.

This has been our month for visitors. We have had four in little more than a week. We toured the Lewis and Clark Caverns and Yellowstone Park with daughter-in-law Samantha. She found this moose scat on a hike around the property. Some of her Yellowstone pictures are here. Then, we celebrated Mother's Day with Gary's mother Wanda, who stopped by on her way from Seattle to Kansas. Finally, friends Marilynn and Robert from Wales came for a few days.

Be sure to check out the Main House Progress

With all the pipes, ducts, equipment and controls, the Mechanical Room is beginning to look like the inside of a submarine. We're installing a central vacuum system to add to the maze of ducts, so the space between the upper and lower floors is reminiscent of Brazil. Since we will have a fire suppression system, there will be over 1 mile of pipe in the house to carry water; the fire suppression system meets the NFPA 13D standard, which allows the cold water and fire suppression systems to use common pipe.

We have done quite well sticking to the plans; other than requesting modifications to a couple of small non-structural walls and changing some finish details, deviations from the plans have been to accommodate requirements of the HVAC and plumbing systems.

Parting Shot
Neko and Pumpkin in the Snow
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