If you’re a Minnesotan (or maybe a fan of Game of Thrones), one phrase can send shivers down your spine: Winter is coming.
It’s coming for us now, and Ryan’s team is moving as quickly as possible to get the shell secure before the snow begins in earnest. “Quickly as possible” is really not all that quick, unfortunately. The walls of the house are not simple by any measure, and the details are time consuming. Building a wind-tight, waterproof, vapor open, highly insulated wall that will last for generations is a tall order in any climate, but we here in Minnesota are blessed with some of the worst weather in the country. Here are the layers of our exterior walls, from inside to out:
- 2×4 Studs and insulation
- Original sheathing (on old house)
- Taped OSB (the air barrier)
- 9 1/2″ I-Joists and insulation
- Insulweb (to hold in the insulation)
- SIGA Majvest (weather resistant barrier)
- 1x Strapping (to create rain screen)
That’s a lot of work, and that doesn’t include all of the foam, tape, wood, trim and metal that surround the window and door openings. The fact that we’re on the last two layers of the exterior shell is sort of amazing to me in this context.
Work continues inside the house as well, primarily with electrical. Electrical, the work that would take ‘a weekend or two’, has now dragged on for several weeks. One of those weeks I had taken off from work, and I’ve had probably another 20 or 30 hours of help from friends. Here’s the problem: I’ve always lived in old homes. For me, it’s perfectly normal to have a room with one or two outlets (usually ungrounded), a single light and/or fan in the middle of the ceiling (if you’re lucky), and one wall switch. No outlets on exterior walls, maybe a single GFCI outlet on a countertop, and plenty of power strips in any room where you have to plug in more than a single lamp and a clock. No three-way switches on stairs, so you’d find yourself trying to remember to turn the lights on and off in the right order.
Contrast that with our current plan: over one hundred lights, most of them recessed, spread throughout the house. With code requirements a small room will have five or six outlets. Dedicated circuits for all appliances, a dozen three and four-way switches, outdoor lighting and outlets, wired smoke detectors… When we’re done we will have strung about a half mile of wire, every foot of it meticulously planned, laid out and secured.
But we’ll be done with it this weekend. Promise.
Complaining aside, I feel incredibly lucky to have such awesome friends and family. As Desiree said in her Gratitude post, as long as this project has taken and with all of the work it has been, it would have been unbearable without the outpouring of support from the people in our lives. As much of a privilege as it is to be able to build a house like this, it’s nothing compared to how we feel when we think of these amazing people.