Spreading topsoil

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

At long last, Chris rented a bulldozer and moved mountains of topsoil, transforming our moonscape of clay and stone. Grass seed, drifts of rudbekia and purple salvia, and banks of pachysandra will be coming soon.

So long, container

While we were building, most of our stuff was stored in a leased 40′ cargo container parked on the edge of the front hay field.  We are now cleared out of the container, with boxes sorted —  mouse-free and moved in.



Finishing the exterior foam and stucco

Our exterior work was wrapping up in autumn 2012 when cold winter temperatures arrived in November and delayed the application of exterior stucco to the lower level. The area under the front porch was tented for warmth and stucco applied. But most of it remained bare naked through winter and early spring. By June 2013, exposure to sun and weather had started to degrade the surface of the 10-inch-thick blanket of Neopor foam that wraps the foundation. It was finally warm enough to try again.

Exposure to sunlight and the elements melted the foam.We filled in the gaps with new foam.The above two images show our repair patches. Also, the partially completed stucco from last fall had cracked.We have used masonary caulk on these cracks. Later, the stucco will be painted for a more uniform and lighter grey.The stucco product that we used was Parge-All 825, specially formulated to apply over foam. When the company was contacted, they suggested that cold weather caused the cracks last fall. The product  instructions say don’t apply if the weather drops below 40 degrees. However, when we applied new stucco at the end of August, we still got cracking, even with temperate weather.

Researching online information, combined with on the job testing, solved the problem. First, we applied a thin scratch coat to set up the surface of the foam, letting it dry for several days. This layer always cracked. Then we applied a final top layer that sets up without cracking. With our exterior foam repaired and the stucco applied, the house was buttoned up for winter 2013.



Mailbox: Marking one year since we broke ground

We broke ground one year ago today so the installation of the mailbox is now a grand symbolic event marking how far we’ve come. Nicholas was asking today if we’d ever again see Nick Ford and Al and Adam and the guys who built the house. Lily was asking for a dog. Chris and I are reflecting on the passage of time. The bullet points of this three-year journey: rennovating our 1880s home in Rhinecliff, selling so quickly, living in a hotel for six weeks to finish school in Rhinebeck, renting a drafty old rambler in Valatie for 11 months, adjusting to a new school district, doubling-up with my parents next door for 10 months, and moving into our dream house just two weeks short of a year since Ted Bombola and his backhoe broke ground. I am ridiculously pleased to see our mailbox standing tall at the end of the drive, ready for Peggy the postmistress to deliver letters containing good news only.

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.