Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God bless our insulated home..............

How time flies!  Hope you had a great Holiday season and all the best for 2013!  I am writing this from my sickbed, with pneumonia, but Val is at my feet as a trusty footwarmer.  Brian is outside putting wood from the barn into the basement for the wood stove.  It's a lovely sunny day, but it is very cold!  Brian includes a weather link below for exact temperatures.

In October, I was delighted to get a term job teaching Phys. Ed. and French until April 2013, and am really enjoying it.  I go between two schools, so it is busy, but the staff and students at both schools are great.  Brian's taxi business is doing so well  that he finds me carping at him to get the house renovations going again!  He has just done up the business books for the accountant, and is starting work on the kitchen this week...hooray!  My studio is finished and I delighted in creating some Christmas gifts and have started making mosaic tiles for the backsplash that will go behind the kitchen sink.

We had a nice "city" get-away in October and found ourselves grinning at the fact that we didn't know anyone/or they didn't know us at the "Split Crow" (my favourite pub from NSCAD days)!  Halifax is a lovely city (it's where I grew up) and we enjoyed walking downtown, seeing "Cloud Atlas", and visiting friends. 

In December, we had an early Christmas weekend with Steph here in the Valley House, and met up with her again, and her boyfriend for dinner at "The Wooden Monkey" in Halifax (delicious food) before going to the airport hotel to be ready for an early morning flight to Ottawa to spend Christmas with Emily and Maher.  The weather in Ottawa was sunny, cold and snowy and the Christmas lights on Parliament Hill were beautiful.  We had a wonderful visit and really enjoyed eating the "vegan" way.  It was delicious, but we both confess to having intestinal tumult with the incredible influx of fibre and veggies!  Their new house is lovely and situated in a lively neighbourhood.  Maher and Brian got "lost" en-route to an art gallery, we found them grinning in a nearby pub happily downing a pint (or three). 

Val is enjoying the snow, she scoots a piece along the crusty surface, chasing it, tackling it and rabbit-kicking it into submission!  She then darts behind a drift and assumes hunting position, crouched down - tail lashing, before leaping mightily on the offending hunk of snow and resuming the chase. 

Over to Brian now for house news and photos!

Work on the house centered on getting the place as watertight as possible for the winter months. But the progress has been gratifying with half the house now completely insulated. 

The ground floor long room

This room will become a large living/dining room and, with the exception of the south wall, the work completed has not changed since the last blog. However, all windows and doors have now been completely replaced in this room on the ground floor. We have also added a new door where a window used to be which will lead to a new deck. To the left of the door we have added a new window to get the best of the light and another amazing view of the river. 

The main outside boards all had to be replaced (see picture below) leaving a huge hole ( I was getting nervous at this point). One beam had considerable rot at the base and had to be strengthened using 2x6 studs. Then the careful task of building the new frame work for the door and window. I thought it was going to be fairly straightforward, but a house of this age had other ideas with odd angles, beams not quite where you need them to accomplish a flat wall etc. But the window went in perfectly followed by the door. That was a small triumph for us as it was the first door we had done without any help. But ( and there is always a 'but'), I was so elated that I forgot to finish the weather proofing outside. That night a rain storm went through sending several gallons of water into the room via the top of the door.  Jenn managed to catch most of it in a bucket, so no harm done!

The next step for the long room

We are waiting for the plumber to rough in the pipe work for the new bathrooms on the first floor. This will have to come through the corner of this room and into the basement. 

There will new some new wiring for sockets and our heating for this room will be a heat pump. Cheap to run and cleaner than another wood stove, it's becoming a very popular source of heat for many houses here. 

The gyproc (plasterboard) ceiling will also need to come down to make way for some of the new wiring. Then we can add insulation, Rx foil backed foam board and gyroc walls. The new ceiling will need to put up and finally the ply floor will come up revealing the original boards underneath. Some of these near the front door need replacing, but the hope is that we can have this room finished by summer.
First floor

The bedroom above the long room still has lath and plaster walls and ceiling so this room will be gutted at some time this year. This room needs two new windows added.


The east side of the house needs to be completely stripped of all wooden siding or weatherboard from the first floor to the top of the roof gable. We will need a fair amount of scaffolding to get this completed and is definitely a summer job. In addition some weatherboard needs to be added to the front of the house. 

The winter difference

Jenn and I are often told that last winter was mild. Which was just as well as we did not have the insulation we have now. This winter is NOT mild. We have a lot of snow and certainly since just before Christmas, it's been very cold. Today (Jan 23rd) is -15c and the wind chill is -25c and its been like this for the best part of three weeks. Take a look at what we have in store. Click on the link in the next line:
"Local weather for the Valley House"

However, the insulation and all the hard work has paid off. We are warm and comfortable with no more snow blowing in under the back door or howling gales through windows or walls!! The difference is remarkable. The studio last winter never got above 5c. It's now a cozy 18c.

The Taxi Business - Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown Taxi

Started in May 2012, the number of taxi runs has increased to over double what I was expecting. Most are long distance, to Halifax Airport or the City. That is a round trip of about 250 miles. As an example, this weekend I have four runs to the airport in five days. Have met some amazing people with many interesting stories and I am really enjoying the chance to run a small business. 
The car is performing well, in some very difficult driving conditions. Snow is the main problem, but the snow clearing here is amazing and very efficient. Winter tyres are essential and next year I may stud them as well. Salt is the biggest issue and the Nova Scotia highways department put down tons of it.  With temperatures typically -10c to -20c, you cannot wash it off that easily, so the car looks like a white ghost.  

Well, that's it for the moment and keep an eye for the next blog soon. If anyone has any questions please drop us an email or send a comment.
The Annapolis River from the house

Studio south wall finished

The winter river, frozen and snow covered

The East Wall with the frame work going in for new window.

From the outside
The East Wall and new main boards
East wall and the house wrap goes up

Windows in place on the east wall

The south wall of the long room. Cardboard insulation. The window is now a door

The south wall with the window due to become a door
The south wall boards removed
The beam on the south wall with the rot removed

Outside the south wall. Door to the left and window to the right

Carpenter marks

Peg and beam on the south wall

The new door and window. There will be a deck built here if you wondered why the door was so high

Val love the snow and is rabbit kicking the snow

Sunrise across our valley

Winter from the house with the river frozen and snow covered

Our local marsh walk and sunset

Valley keeping warm

The Valley House