Varnishing the floor

Chris applied three coats of Railroad Varnish from Liberty Paint Corp in Hudson, NY. Susan looked up the CAS numbers listed on the label, not entirely trusting the “environmentally friendly” and “VOC compliant” claims. The top five ingredients are the same as Waterlox — solvents, Tung Oil, gum and resin. Tung Oil is considered a green finish and a favorite of environmentalists, websites say. And, yes, the VOC level is within New York State limits.

After leaving the windows open during the coldest week of winter, Chris decided to crank up the HRV for some serious ventilation. The fumes have dissipated and the children are testing how fast they can slide across the floor in their socks.

Ceiling fans installed

Two ceiling fans will move air around our big open spaces. The drywall crew was kind enough to leave behind their scaffolding for two weeks because Chris did so much cleaning during their dirty job, so he put it to good use. He strapped a step ladder to the scaffold platform and climbed up to install these fans and paint to the peak. Passive Houses are known for being ‘comfortable’ with a consistent temperature throughout, and these fans plus the HRV will play key roles in comfort control. NB: We discovered that one can spend a lot on a ceiling fan, or not.

Celebrating in the new house

Two days before Christmas we headed to Willard’s tree farm just up the road. Closed for the season. Then we tried the place on Maple Lane. Closed for the season. Route 9 seemed promising and soon we came to a landscaping business with rows of small trees marked $25 each. But the office was closed. And nobody answered the phone when we called. “We could stick the money in the inbox,” the adults proposed. “No, no, no. The police will arrest you!” the children wailed. We drove South to Cold Spring Tree Farm. Closed for the season. That is how we ended up at Walmart in Hudson buying an artificial tree (the white ones were 40 percent off). Santa found us — even if the tree was not, in any way, green.

The drywall finishing was finished on December 24th.

We discovered that Nick Ford, our builder, signs his work.

After testing many colors, we let the Shakers decide. The main room matches the round stone barn’s cupola and stables at nearby Hancock Shaker Village. The historic preservationist there said the color is closest to Cork by Benjamin Moore.  It is full-strength on the beams and a step lighter on the walls. The exterior siding is also Cork.

Chris has been painting from dawn past dusk.

It was -2 degrees this morning outside and 68 degrees inside. No drafts. Very cozy. Conditions will only improve once we turn on the HRV, but we’ll wait until the dust of construction settles.