Monday, June 11, 2007

We can see for miles and miles

After getting another sheet of drywall up on Friday (it's on an exterior wall so we also insulated and vapor barrier'd behind it) we awoke Saturday to a long-awaited task: putting in the big window in the attic!

But first--we had to take advantage of our new proximity to the farmer's market, which is only a couple of miles away in Nellysford. What a luxury to just roll out of bed and right down the hill to the big white tent. We visited our friends from Double H (bought lettuce, ciabatta and beets, and they gave us a taste of their first tomatoes -- completely ecstatic!), bought some eggs from another table, and said hello to a few people I know from my days manning the Double H table in years past. Nice to feel like there's a little bit of community here. We've also been introducing ourselves to most of the businesses in Nellysford as the occasion arises, and a few neighbors too.

Back to the house, stocked up the cooler with ice since our fridge won't arrive until Wednesday, and started sizing up the window project. Measured the window and the rough opening and got an idea of how it all would fit together. We'd have to add some framing on top and bottom, and we'd have to trim away some siding on the outside to make room for the nailing fins on the window.

John tossed the hose up onto the roof so that we could wet down the asbestos shingles and keep them from splintering into our lungs as we removed them. We also put up plastic to keep fibers out of the house and he wore the respirator as he pulled the shingles away. Then he took the circular saw and trimmed away the planks that form the house's sheathing.

We measured and cut two 2x4s to add to the frame, but after nailing the bottom one in, we realized we wouldn't have room for the top one. That's because the top part of the rough opening is significantly saggy--half an inch lower in the middle than at the ends--and more space is eaten up by some unevenness on the bottom. But we still needed something up there, so we found a 3/4-inch plank and cut it to fit.

At this point John had a great idea: to call our friend Alex and invite him over to help us maneuver this beast into place. We probably could have done it ourselves but it would have been quite a logistical pain. Luckily for us, Alex was up for it and came right over blasting Lil' Kim up and down Stoney Creek.

Some more chiseling away of siding, some stapling of plastic as a vapor barrier over the now-bare sheathing, and we were ready to carry the window upstairs. Alex and John did it without a hitch and got it out the opening to lay on the roof.

Dry fit, shimming, another dry fit, caulking, leveling, here we go! Alex went inside to be on shim duty and John and I lifted the window in and started nailing. We adjusted as we went, got it as level and plumb as possible, nailed all around and there it was! Many of the nails had to be carefully punched in since there wasn't enough room for the head of the hammer between the window and the old sheathing. (That's gonna make trimming this thing interesting...that's another day, though.) It was all so much easier with three people to fetch tools, pass stuff in and out, and do the lifting.

Time to wiggle back into the attic, go downstairs and have a beer on the lawn while admiring our work.

It's great to have a friend like Alex who will come over at a moment's notice, help you with something major on your house, and identify lots of your trees while he's at it. Thanks, Alex!

- Erika

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