Of Mysticism……

Hello once again friends of Middle Earth and those interested in learning the ways of Hobbit house construction! Welcome once again to the Hobbit Hollow Construction blog! Thanks for stopping by as always and I hope all is well wherever you may be.

Just a few things before I get going here.

The wife and I went to Mystic Connecticut for the weekend to celebrate 28 years of marital bliss.  (How did a dope like me marry such a wonderful woman? I’m truly blessed. The best years of my life truly.) What a nice time we had there. Mystic is actually known for it’s aquarium and its famous Mystic Seaport. We had been to the aquarium when the family was younger but I never knew that the actual town of Mystic was so cool. There’s a drawbridge that separates the town and there are a ton of shops and restaurants. Everything is in walking distance to each other but the town is not really close to the Seaport or the aquarium. So the town was  a real eye opener for me. We stayed at the Whaler’s Inn. Very nice. What was surprising about the place was how busy it was in the middle of February. Which was nice. I was thinking that we would be the only people there but you needed reservations for almost all of the restaurants. It must be super busy there in the summer once all the boats are in the water. A great weekend getaway trip if you’re ever in the mood.

The Editor hiding behind a couple of delicious martinis at the Ancient Mariner.

They had a really good list of specialty cocktails at this place. If you get thirsty that is.

Anyway I’m driving over to the house the other day and I notice a huge bird high up in a tree. I was able to pull over but me being the legally blind fifty something that I am I really couldn’t tell what kind of bird it was. I took a picture of it because it was so huge but of course me being the dope that I am I forgot to use the close up on my phone. It was only after I got home and zoomed in on the picture that I could see that it was  a bald eagle! I knew it was too big to be a red tailed hawk but I’ve never in my life seen a bald eagle sitting in a tree before.

Bald eagle over by the house.

If you look close you can see his white head. Pretty cool. I probably need to get one of those seeing eye dogs that speaks so that it can tell me what the hell I’m looking at. By the way the Editor is making me an eye doctor appointment so we can find out how fast I’m going downhill in the eye department.

But I digress.

So on the Hobbit house home front we finished the durock in the bathrooms and the siding out front among other things. I also got started on the framing of the skylights which is going to be quite an endeavor. Let’s go through some pictures and I’ll fill you in on a couple of details.

The prep for the durock.

So believe it of not I’ve never installed Durock before. Haven’t done a bathroom in a long time. The last one I did I had the plastic wall sections put in so there was no need. Anyway I watched a video of a guy installing Durock and he went off about how it isn’t affected by water but how it does absorb water. So that was disturbing. I wound up talking to a couple of tile guys and I guess there’s differences of opinions as to how to proceed. My take on things was that if the cement board can absorb water the last thing you want is for that water to get absorbed by the wood studs. I look at it like a belts and suspenders kind of thing. I used zip sheathing tape (which is waterproof ) to cover the studs 24 inches up from the bottom of the shower. One tile guy said that he waterproofs the cement board 24 inches up after installation. We’re going to do that too later on.

Durock is easy to install though. Just like sheetrock. You score cut it with a sheetrock knife a couple of times to break through the fiber mesh and then you break it along that line. Simple. I used a drywall keyhole saw to cut the hole I needed in it as well. Check it out.

Durock installed in the Master bathroom.

So the skylights have to be framed out and insulated before we sheetrock them. I picked up the stuff one day and figured that I would work on them in the mornings before it got light out. The weather was good last week and I wanted to finish the siding out front during daylight hours.

Framed skylight ready for insulation

What I had to do was secure a 2×4 to the lower part of the sheathing box that formed the skylight. It’s all ladder work which is a pain in the neck.Once that was done I cut inch and a half thick styrofoam to fit in-between the skylight and the 2×4.

Styrofoam insulation installed.

This one is now ready for rock.

The last item for the week was the siding. Terence did the Lion’s share but the finish was a bear. I had the scaffold set up which was great but with the way the overhang of the house was and the way I had to work I was hunched over most of the days I was working on it. I also cracked my head  against the concrete bad a couple of times. (Sort of reminiscent of when Gandalf cracks his head inside Bagend.) A few foul things came out of my mouth when that happened which I shall not utter here.

But boy there were a lot of cuts. I mean a lot. Very very time-consuming. I’m not looking forward to the North side siding. Check it out.

Siding on the front now complete.
The last few rows everything had to be cut to fit. A lot of little pieces.
Terence did most of the cuts around the circular door. The boy did good!

I also started preping for the front door finish. I picked up the wood  the other day and primed it.

1×8 shiplap cedar for the front door. Primed both sides with a stain kill oil based primer.

I also preped the opening for the door as well. I had to trim back some concrete so that it would sit in the opening properly. Forgot to take a picture but I’m hoping to get that door in and painted this week. We’re supposed to have warm weather in the low 70’s on Wednesday.

On another note I did get the kitchen cabinets delivered but I am going to work outside this week on the door and North side trim and siding. Hopefully we’ll be installing kitchen cabinets the following week.

We shall see!

“We travel light…….let’s hunt some Orc!”

Aragorn after the breaking of the Fellowship.

See you all next week.


Of HRV’s and Salamanders……Hey!!! I went to the Island of Spice Too!

Aragorn:  I do not know what strength is in my blood, but I swear to you I will not let the great City fall. Nor our people fail.

Boromir: Our people….. I would have followed you my brother…my captain…my king.

Boromir’s last words as he lays dying defending the Hobbits against a raiding band of Urukai and Aragorn’s promise to him.


One of the best scenes from the movie “The Fellowship of the Ring”


Welcome people to the saga we call the Hobbit Hollow construction Blog! Ta Da!!!

Yeah well okay Jim take it easy  with the hats and horns stuff. You ain’t nearly done yet. True. But I feel like we’re heading into that final tunnel and once we’re in we are going to see that far off light.

Heading for the tunnel now.

So smart phones are smart. Right? Okay, let’s not get too wordy now. But they are. I think I’m probably the worst guy on the planet with a smart phone. I really don’t know how to use this thing. The sad part about it is I really am not interested in the smartness of my smart phone anyway. Okay the thing is great. Especially the weather stuff. The Doppler radar stuff is incredible. But then something happened that the Ring did not intend. I mean the smartphone did not intend. Well as I was saying these things do stuff that I had no idea that they did.

So we got home from Grenada and of course you go on vacation and you take a bunch of pictures that you think are cool that nobody else really wants to see. But these pictures are in your phone somehow somewhere just sitting there. So the other day the Editor has her phone out and somehow she hits something and the phone starts playing music and begins to show a slide show of all the pictures my wife took on our vacation in Grenada. Kind of creepy but it was really cool. (I guess everybody knows this already but it was news to me) So the Editor tells me about this and sends me the slideshow. Turns out I was never in Grenada. My wife went there all by herself. Looks like she had a great time as well sipping drinks by the pool at sunset and taking in the sun on the beautiful beaches of Grenada. I think I was in one picture paying a cab driver at JFK airport. Amazing. Smartphones.

Oh yeah back to the tunnel.

So a lot of interesting things this week over at the house. Little stuff. The main thing that took up most of my week was setting up and connecting the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator). So that took a lot longer than anticipated. Which I was kinda thinking it would. Almost 4 days. It was one of those things that you’ve never done before so you make sure you’re doing everything the way it’s supposed to be done.

So the directions for this thing weren’t the greatest. Not the worst either but there was one thing at the start that I had to call for technical support. So I hang this thing on the wall and start connecting the tubes to it and I realize that I can’t make the electrical connections if I continue. They kinda left that step out somehow. I did find that step in the directions later on but it wasn’t in the right order. Strange. Anyway I call the guy and he’s says I can get access to the control panel later after it’s installed but it’s just a little more difficult to get at the connections. Okay so this guy doesn’t know that I’m legally blind but that’s okay. Put it to you this way there’s know way on God’s green earth that i would be able to make these connections once I put this thing together. So I had to take everything I put together apart and make the electrical connections. Annoying and frustrating. Let me show you what’s going on.

The smallbox on top is where the electrical connections have to be made.

So the silencer box over that little box is in the way of making that connection. You can see from this picture that I haven’t made the electrical connection yet. The wires are hanging out of the wall on the left.

So this machine brings fresh air into the house distributes it to the bedrooms, living room and dining room and exhausts stale air from the kitchen, bathrooms, and mechanical room. Pretty simple. Couple more pictures.

Putting it together.

So after attaching the box to the wall and making the electrical connections I connected the main supply and return ducts to the unit. Very time consuming putting this together and making sure the ducts are connected properly.

Once the main ducts are in place you have to run the 3 inch lines to the unit one at a time securing them as you go.

Duct connections complete
exhaust connection going through the roof of the Hobbit House.

So we’re going to build a chimney around all this stuff so it looks good. That’ll be in the spring. All Hobbit houses have chimneys.

So I had Ethan remove the styrofoam where the shower drains have to go. Look what he uncovered in the darkness of Khazad-dum.

A salamander 5-6 inches long.

I let him go Sunday. The lady at the pet store said to let him go by the water and he should be okay. I hope so. He must have come in through one of the electrical pipes I had exposed in the Fall. Pretty cool. Biggest one I’ve ever seen.

Drain connection where we found the salamander.

So this connection took a good  day to figure out. I’m putting a linear drain here and finding the right location away from the wall took a little bit of doing. Hopefully I have it in the right place. Very little wiggle room for this drain location. I had to go to a tile store to get the info I needed. The drain waterproofing system that I’m going to use is from a company called Schluter. Pretty cool detailing of the shower assembly. It will be fun to put it all together. It should come this week.

I also had the floors of the house leveled with a Sika product. I was able to get it delivered this week from the city. The hardest thing about installing this is the prep work Clearing out the floor and priming the floor with the adhesive. The installation only took 2 hours from start to finish.

Had two skids of level set delivered. Only used one.

The operation is a guy mixing another guy opening the bags for the mixer and a third guy spreading it out. You could probably do it with 2 guys if you had to.

ethan’s friend Mike preping the floors.

The floor has to be completely dust free before you prime it.

Ethan’s the bag man. Tom is mixing.
Antonio is spreading it out.

So why are we doing this? We need as flat a floor as possible to put the tiles down. We are more than likely going to put large format tiles in that look like plank flooring. The floor has to be within an 1/8 of an inch over 10 feet for these to be installed properly. This is what we’ll get by using this product.

Pete the taper is going to get going again this week. He’s moving along.

The taper started skim coating the hallway.

Have a great week!


Return from the Isle of Spice…..

Yes I’ve been away friends to the Isle of Spice to be precise. Grenada. A little gem of an island in the south of the caribbean. The Editor and I enjoyed ourselves for a week there. So nice. I brought the laptop so I could write a post on the plane ride over but I ran into a problem downloading my pictures so it was never meant to be. After a few rum punches the thought of writing was off the table anyway. But I digress. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods and the winter months aren’t treating you too harshly. Glad to have you back. For those of you who have been with the blog for a while you might recall that I’ve been to Grenada before. (I actually tried to leave my mother-in-law there once but after 5 minutes with the people in customs they gave her back. It was a valiant effort on my part as I recall.) Very few Americans there. Mostly Canadians and English. Although we heard German and Russian methinks. I actually went diving with  a Canadian, a Russian, and a guy from  the United Kingdom.  Just a picture or two and I’ll move on.

Banana of the island

So the bananas that were served at breakfast were all small. As you can see they were way smaller than the ones we get at our supermarkets at home. And these ones taste way better. They’re like creamier. Delicious!

View of the beach from the pool bar.

It’s weird. We got back home and I drove around a bit. The colors down there are fantastic. It’s so nice to just be outside without a coat on.

Anyway let’s get started. The Super Bowl is today and I’m going to run out of time later on. Hoping for a good game at the very least.

So they finished up the fireplace while I was away. It was pretty cool to see it all go up day by day. I’m happy with the way it came out. Check out the process.

Setting the base.

Get the stone in.
Build a temporary wooden arch
Work around it.
Top it off with a bluestone cap and bluestone hearth.

Hobbits love arched fireplaces. Not bad. It fits in well with the size of the room.

I also had the taper start while I was away. He’s got a ways to go. I think he only worked two or three days.

Before I forget the sheet rocking nearly killed me. I was working 11 hour days trying to get this done before I left for Grenada. There are still a couple of things that need to be addressed. I did use water on the sheetrock to bend the rock to fit the archways. It took a lot more time than I thought it would but it did work.

The next step is to get the HRV installed. I’m going to be doing that this week if all goes according to plan.

Good luck with your Super Bowl picks and I’ll see you next week.


PS: A few more pictures from the Isle of Spice.

Sunset from the pool bar.
View from our spot on the beach.
I saw these baby coconuts fall off the tree next to me. I don’t know why they fell off so early on. I thought they had to get big before they fell? Sally H.?


Of Sheetrock and Insulation

The Ring brought to Gollum unnatural long life. For five hundred years it poisoned his mind……

…….and in the gloom of Gollum’s cave it waited.

Darkness crept back into the forest of the world.

Rumor grew of a shadow in the East whispers of a nameless fear and the Ring of Power perceived.

Its time had now come……


Yes friends the time has now come. We are on the brink of making this little  old Hobbit house get the look and feel of the real thing on the inside. And welcome as always. It has been a busy week over at the Hobbit. A trying and frustrating one at times. As you’ve guessed by the title we’ve started sheet rocking in earnest. It’s a painfully slow process though and is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. Before I get to that I just want to share some pictures of the insulation operation that went on before we were able to start the sheet rock.

So like I was saying we went with the open cell spray foam option. It really is an amazing thing to watch. It yields an R-value of 4.5 per inch of depth. So my wall depth is 9.5 inches which gives us an r-vale of 42.75 plus the 4 inches of styrofoam on the outside of the plywood gives us an overall R-vale for the wall assembly of 62.75. Impressive. Most impressive as Vadar would say. A typical 2×6 wall has an R- value of 19. So we’re 3 times more energy efficient than a typical house. I was thinking that these guys would be here all day doing this install. It was basically a half a days work. Most of the work being protecting the floors, windows, and walls. And then the final cleanup. Once they got going it proceeded quite quickly. The lead man sprayed the insulation on the walls and then as it dried another man cut back the overspray with a sawzall with a really long blade. A third guy spent most of the time cleaning up. A couple of pictures.

Getting started with the spray gun.

They spray it in a series of layers. He did an initial shot and then went back a number of times to get the right depth. I was actually surprised at how much overspray there was. Once they started cutting the overspray there was quite a mess.

I also had them spray a bunch of interior walls.This is the hallway.

The idea here is to isolate each bedroom from themselves and from the  main living space. Hobbits like quite. And they like their naps as well. Nice quite ones. This stuff really works well. It gets into all the nooks and crannies of the wall assembly. It definitely changed the sound transmission.

Soundproofing the master bathroom from the common bedroom.

The sawzall he’s using has about a 36 inch blade on it.

So as I was saying installing the sheetrock has been a bear of a job.  Quite technical. The curvature of the ceiling really makes for a difficult install. Even standing up the sheets is an issue. I was working in the hallway standing up a sheet and I somehow managed to get it jammed between the floor and the ceiling. Like jammed where I couldn’t get it out. So there I was with this sheet that I just spent a half hour cutting to fit stuck there between the floor and ceiling. The last thing I needed to have happen was to break the sheet and have to redo it all over again. So after a few choice words which I shall not utter here I got a ladder climbed up and got it unstuck somehow. Thank God.

Originally I was thinking that I would be able to do two sheets an hour. Which would be pretty good time. It’s taking me more like 45 minutes a sheet. Like I said it’s a slow process. I have to make a a separate template for the top of every sheet and then take very careful measurements for the height of each sheet. In addition to that there are tons of outlet and wall switches that I have to cut out for. Because the house is small there really are no long runs of boards anywhere. There always seems to be a corner or nook that has to be cut out to make things a little more difficult. On top of that there were multiple spots where the framing had to be either fixed or modified. Also the insulation was not cut back enough and was protruding beyond the framing in certain locations as well. So as I was saying it’s taken me more time than I anticipated. A few pictures.

Sheet rocking the hallway.

This is where the sheet got stuck. Check out all the outlets.

Living/Dining room almost done.

I had Ethan help me put the balance of the sheets on horses so it would be a little easier on my back and legs to work on the sheets. (They were previously stacked on the floor.) Those are all 4’x12′ sheets. The only place I’m really able to use 4×8 sheets is at the low ends of the house. (The far end of the picture above.) If you look closely you can see the brick for the fireplace on the floor. The stonemason is going to start the fireplace possibly Monday.

So right now I’m hoping to finish the sheetrock this Friday if all goes well. I’m getting some pricing for someone to tape the house for me. That’s a must and a pretty big job as well. The good thing is that I ran all the sheets vertically so there are no butt joints. This will make for a really nice wall finish.

Keep the faith.



Getting To the Finish……..How Much Pizza Should We Get??????……….

Hello once again friends of old and strangers from distant lands. So glad to have you all back for another edition of the Hobbit Hollow construction Blog!

Was having lunch over at the Hobbit the other day with Jude and Terence and started talking about how fast time goes by. Jude being in his final semester of college and all. It really did go by fast. So I stated the obvious. “Yeah everything really does go by fast.” to which Jude replied, “Yeah except for building Hobbit Houses.”

Hmmm. A wise old sage the boy is isn’t he? Or as they say in the Bronx a wise a_s! Just take a moment to fill in the blank there. If you’re having trouble the middle letter is an s. It’s always annoying when people point out the truth. There really is no argument there. He’s right. I would say, in my defense, that the last three years at work have been pretty stressful and tiring. It’s a poor excuse but an excuse nonetheless. Really what you need is time. Time is not a commodity so easily purchased. And to be quite frank  the house has been a lot more difficult to build than I ever really anticipated.

So. What to do. Well we have finally had a break in the action in Manhattan and I talked to my boss about taking some time off to finish this epic house that I’ve been working on for the past 7 years. And he said okay.

And so it begins. The final push to finish the Hobbit house. The beginning of the end.

So there are approximately a million little things to do. And about a million little stories I could tell you about since I started working full time over at the Hobbit. Just a quick one for starters.

So I’m working over at the Hobbit and nature calls, if you catch my drift. So  that mother-in-law of mines house is literally 60 seconds away. So off I go. After I’m done she asks me if I want a cup of coffee, which at the time sounded like a great idea. She has a Keurig so it’s not like she has to get a mortar and pestle out and grind the coffee by hand. So me being a sweet guy I ask. Do you have any sugar? Sure she says right in the sugar bowl. Of course I go to the sugar bowl and the thing looks like it’s never been used. Not even a grain of sugar is in this thing. So she goes to the pantry to get me sugar.

My mother-in-law looking for the sugar in her pantry closet.

Oh! Here’s the sugar!” she says. And proceeds to hand me a bag of flour. And this is all true people. She does this three more times!!! There I am with my black coffee and four bags of flour. Now this is where it gets interesting. She goes to another closet and gets one of those miners lights that miners wear on their hard hats so they can see in the dark,straps it to her forehead and starts to crawl into the back of the pantry looking for the sugar! It doesn’t look possible from the picture I know but that’s what she did. The sugar was so far back in the pantry that she actually lost her footing and all you could see were two little legs sticking out of the closet!.  I had to pull on her legs to get her out of there!

She did get the sugar though. It was one of those moments when you’re thinking “Am I going to have to call 911 to help me get this woman out of here?” Moral of the story…..get a toilet in the Hobbit house as soon as possible.

That really happened people. No joke.

This is what she pulls out of the pantry.

So there really is too much to go over in one sitting so I’ll just give you a bit of a run down on whats been going on. It’s longer than usual.

I’ve been working on the electrical and plumbing for the last two weeks for the most part. It was great because it was bitterly cold out for quite a while in the Northeast. So even though the boys were home on their college winter break they weren’t able to help all that much. Jude couldn’t help at all because of the treatment he was having for his staph infection.(Intravenous antibiotics 24 hours a day for 14 days.) The plumbing is a slow process with a lot of thought going into putting the puzzle together if you will. It was actually a lot of fun.

During this time when I was nearly done with the electrical and plumbing I went to order the kitchen cabinets. I’ve done a few kitchens over the years and this one woman over at HG Page is an ace. She takes one look at my design and says. “This is not going to work.” Great. So in order to make things “work” I had to move a whole bunch of stuff electrical and plumbing wise. This was mainly because I had the frig adjacent to the wall and the door wouldn’t open properly if it was next to the wall. She also moved my dishwasher and my range to make everything more user friendly. On top of that the vanities that I had planned for the bathrooms were not what’s typically done as well as the lighting around the vanities. So there was definitely more than a days work fixing all that stuff. I think it was well worth moving everything.

Oh. Almost forgot. The plumbing supply lines, hot and cold water, I used the PEX pipe. What a dream to use. So quick and easy. You use  clamps and a crimping tool to connect all the pipes and fittings. I also used these “Shark Bite” fittings and valves to make a bunch of other connections. “shark bite” are push to fit. You just push them into the piping and you’re done. No cleaning fittings, brushing flux and soldering. I cut at least two days off the install using this stuff. It was great.

Getting the plumbing done.Note the PEX piping.

I also started getting into the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) I set up some of the supply and return vents the other day as well as the incoming fresh air supply. check it out.

HRV supply temporarily supported so we can insulate the outside walls.

So I needed to make this connection for the insulator. He’s coming over this Wednesday to insulate the front and back of the house with open cell spray foam. He’s also going to insulate a number of interior walls as well for sound proofing purposes.

I originally wanted to use dense pack cellulose for the exterior insulation but the insulation guy said the dense pack will be hard to get into the nooks and crannies around the windows. Also there is the possibility of the insulation settling on the high wall areas. He said I would have to install plates between the studs every four feet to ensure that the cellulose wouldn’t settle. So it will be interesting to see their operation come Wednesday.

Just a few pictures and comments to finish out the blog.

Started a little drywall the other day. Everything has to be cut to fit on a radius.

Sheet rocking the house is going to be a slow process. Just because most of the sheets have to be scribed to fit is all.

Ethan adding an electrical outlet in the circular hallway.

The electrical inspector wanted a couple of things done in the house. One of which was adding an outlet in this hallway. Another thing he mentioned that was new to me was that the dishwasher line has to be an outlet that is in the cabinet where the kitchen sink is. Also all of the bedroom circuits must be protected with arch fault breakers. That’s a new one as well. I also need a GFI outlet within 25 feet of my mini split heat pump on the roof. Like I said, a lot of little things.

Ethan wiring for the smoke alarms.

The electrical inspector also mentioned that the smoke alarms have to be hard wired on their own circuit. One in each bedroom and a smoke/carbon dioxide detector in the hallway. If one detector goes off they all go off.  Pretty good idea.

Jude uncovering the entrance to the septic.

So I had the plumbing inspector come over Thursday to do an inspection on the vent system and the supply system. So way back when I had a water test done on the under slab piping before we covered it up with gravel. Unfortunately the inspector wanted another pressure test done on the system. Which I wasn’t ready for. The problem is I have to plug the end of the system in order to pressurize it. Which means we have to plug the pipe that goes into the septic inside the septic. Only problem with that is that the ground is completely frozen over the septic. Luckily I had some extra styrofoam that I used to cover the septic with to thaw out the soil. So Friday, believe it or not the temperature hit 54 degrees and rained torrentially all day. I had Jude remove the styrofoam and uncover the entrance.

It’s another long story in which we had a couple of false starts but we finally got the water into all of the lines. I ran a water hose up to the roof and put the hose into the 3 inch vent stack and turned the water on until it came out of the vent pipe at the top of the house. Check it out.

Water test on the vent/drainage system of the house.
The tarping of the front of the house.

We tarped the front of  the house so that Terence could work on the siding during the rain on Friday. It turned out to be a great idea.

Terence working on the siding during the rain.

He really did a great job on the siding

Siding coming along quite nicely.
Drywall delivered and unloaded by Jude and Paul. Ethan helped with the 4×12 sheets. 120 sheets delivered.

Terence working on the siding. A very technical job I might add.

The curvature of the roof and the windows pose a special problem.

Like I said there’s a lot to go over.

I know this was really long but just one more story before we go.

So the other day we went over to my sister in laws for pizza. There were eleven of us. How much pizza should we have gotten? I looked at my father in law and we both came up with 4 pies. Eight slices per pie gives you 32 slices, divided by 11 people gives you 3 slices per person and we all know that the Editor and my sister in law are only going to have one slice. Simple math. (And there will probably be a couple of slices left over.)That would leave 4 slices  for the big eaters like my three sons. So “they” go to order the pizza and I hear my wife say “Lisa come here!” In my head I’m thinking these two are up to something. They order five pies to our surprise.

Did you ever hear the story of Jesus and the five loaves? Well basically there was this huge hungry crowd of ten thousand and Jesus asks for whatever food they have which is about five loaves of bread. He blesses the loaves they pass them around and when all is said and done there are tons of baskets of bread leftover.

Guess how many slices were left when we finished?

Twenty three. Probably could have fed the ten thousand.

I’ve never been involved with a pizza dinner where there was that many slices left over. Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

Turns out there were a lot of people in that crowd who didn’t tell Jesus they had bread. Or one of the apostles ordered way too much bread!

Have a great week!



Happy New Year!!!!!……….Where Were We?????

Hello fans of Middle Earth! Welcome to 2018!!! Happy New Year and I hope you all had a merry Christmas as well.

Where were we???

Well the holidays are a busy time and I hope to get back into the blogging once again. I am sorry today. It’s already past my bedtime so this is going to be really short.

Son Jude got a staph infection the Saturday before Christmas. Apparently a bad one. He was in the hospital Christmas Eve until the Wednesday after Christmas. So being in the hospital is always a blast. Especially during the holidays. He also had to go on intravenous antibiotics for 14 days after he got out. A dose every 6 hours. So Jude is having a banner semester break from college.

Georgia headed back to Spain. Boy are we gonna miss her. It was really really nice having her around. Good luck Georgia. We love you.

Be safe.

Or in Lord of the Rings speech. Keep it secret…keep it safe.

Gotta go. Just a few pictures of what we’ve been working on.

A little taste of siding.
Jude and Terence working on the furring strips out front
Terence getting quite a laugh.

Apparently Jude was making an analogy with me and the father from the show “Orange County Choppers”. Not really relevant as far as I’m concerned. You have to have seen the show.

Jude trying on hats.
Jude working on the sill extension for the front door.

Looking to get my electrical and plumbing inspections this week. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I hope you all have a blessed and prosperous year.

Best wishes!


PS: Mike. Negative 10 here the other day. Hope you are enjoying the sun!

Of Construction Blogging………..Johnny Fontaine is Not Going to Get the Part

Friends of old, strangers from distant lands!! Welcome to another addition of the Hobbit Hollow Construction Blog!

Pleased to meet you. So glad you regulars have made it back. For those of you who are looking in at the blog for the first time my apologies. It is a construction blog but probably not in the true sense of the word. To be honest I’ve never even read a construction blog or any other blog for that matter. Not that I don’t talk of or explain the ways of Hobbit house building and construction techniques I use in building a Hobbit House. I kind of veer off the path if you will and lose myself in tangential stories completely unrelated to the world of construction. Usually it winds up being about some stupid incident I was involved with in one way shape or form. Sometimes it’s some crazy thought passing into one ear and coming out of the other. Which happens to me more than i’d like anyone to know. It’s okay though. The Lord of the Rings nerd in me leads me whichever way it wants to take me. Very little control over that part of my brain.

The holidays. Everyone has officially landed back home from hither and yon. Georgia from Madrid, Ethan from California, Jude and Terence from their respective colleges. The Editor and I picked Georgia up from JFK airport Saturday around 7:30. Traffic was ridiculous. Where in the heck are all these people going? The New York Metropolitan area traffic. It’s totally out of control. But I digress…..

It’s always tough getting things done after Thanksgiving. You pretty much got to give in to it. There’s way too much to get done. I actually did go out and pick up a few things I need for the house. But as far as working over at the house that was not part of the equation this weekend. Kinda knew that was going to happen.

So like I was saying the blog goes off in a different direction every once in a while.

You ever see the movie “The Godfather”? You know the original one with Marlon Brando.

Like there’s another Godfather movie Jim?

What do I look like an Almanac???

If you’ve never seen it it is a classic.So in the movie this guy Johnny Fontaine, a singer slash movie star wants this role in an upcoming movie that would be perfect for him. It’s like the perfect part. It would make him a star. The producer slash executive says he won’t give Johnny the part because Johnny messed with his girlfriend a few years back. So he’s mad at Johnny and he will never get the part and the exec knows it’s perfect for Johnny. So Johnny goes to the Godfather and asks him to see if he can help him get the part.

So the Godfather sends his consigliere  out to “talk” to the producer. So they chat and during the chat the producer shows the consigliere his prized horse which he bought for $600000. Now this is in the late 40’s so that’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of money today too!

Where we going with this Jim?

Hang in there. There’s gold at the end of the rainbow.

So the producer tells the consigliere that he’ll never give the part to Johnny Fontaine. Never. And that he’s not afraid of the Godfather and his people. The consigliere tells him that’s too bad.

So the scene cuts to the next morning in the producers bedroom. He wakes up and notices something wet on his hands. He pulls the covers back and there is the head of his prized horse in the bed with him. He starts screaming hysterically.

Johnny gets the part in the film.

So the other nite I went to bed and pulled the covers up to my chin. Then I noticed something wet on my hand and kind of solid. So just like the producer in my head I’m thinking what the hell is wet on my bed. I get out of bed and flick the light on. To my absolute horror I see that the cat has thrown up a fur ball right where I sleep and I’ve stuck my hand in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I start screaming hysterically.

That my friends is a true story. The screaming included.

It was too long Jim….way too long.

If you saw the movie you’d think it was funny. Actually, I just googled “horse head scene from the godfather.” I was screaming just like the producer. It really is a visual. If you get a minute check it out.

The point is is after this happened to me I thought of that scene in “The Godfather”. And that’s why the blog is kind of fun.


Oh well. Johnny Fontaine got the part and I got to clean up a fur ball.

So Ethan went out to California. He wanted to see the redwoods. Check out this picture.

The Forrest Moon of Endor

He said they say one of the trees they believe is 1500 years old. Almost as old as a Numenorean King.

Oh yeah on a side note. My Father-in-Law stopped in from Arizona the other day. Asked me if I wanted a beer. I’m not much of a beer drinker so I took a pass. His idea of a beer and most peoples idea of a beer are two different things. check it out.

Father-in-Law having “a” beer.

It’s a generational thing…..and those are just the emptys!

Enjoy your week!!!

Hobbit hollow Jim



A December Snow……..The Dwarves Time at hobbit Hollow has come to Pass.

Welcome friends to another edition of the Hobbit Hollow Construction Blog! Had a little snow the other day and had to go out back to fetch a snow shovel from the Hobbit shed. Took a picture of it.

First seasons snow on my Hobbit shed.

The proportions of this shed seem a little more in tune with the movie than the house. If you’re into the whole micro house thing this size place would probably work fine. It fits into the hill nice.

My apologies from the get go people. I’ll have to make this one short and sweet.

The Dwarves work on the exterior is now complete. Wow. What a nice job they did. It took some time but the final results are very satisfying I must say. I really haven’t been to the house much as of late so I haven’t been able to take some really good pictures of the stonework. It came out really nice though. Something that you can actually stand back and take a good look at and marvel at the craftsmanship that went into it. A lot of time as well. Very cool. A few pictures.

I meet with Scott the stonemason Saturday and talked to him about the fireplace. He said he should be able to get to it sometime in January. That would be awesome.

The hour is late and Gandalf the Grey rides to Isengard to seek the council of Saurman the White.

For that is why you have come……..

……..and I must be going now..

…..until we meet again.


Of Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV)……Let’s Go to the Zoo!

It’s a jungle out there people. It truly is. Only the strong survive.

Christmas Tree Shops. Yes the Editor and I did some Christmas shopping the other day and I tell ya it was ugly. (I didn’t know the Editor could walk so damn fast. I almost lost her in the Food Court!) Thank God we went early. I can’t even imagine the zoo like conditions that were just a few hours away. The people working there were quite pleasant believe it or not. But man what a feeding frenzy. Have to go out one more time just to mop things up so to speak. (I’m going to do some cardio training this week so I can keep up with the Editor.) I don’t know how people do it. Or how people like it. Hmmm. The holidays. You could really spend quite a bit of time going off about them. But it’s neither the time nor the place.

Welcome friends of Middle Earth and those interested in the ways of Hobbit House building. Welcome.

So like I was saying the holidays are upon us and time is of the essence. I only have a few moments here to get this blog post done. A few items to note. Update on the stone. The front of the house is now complete and he is nearly done with the back. Probably two more days I’d have to guess. The weather is supposed to stay warm so I’m really hoping he is able to finish up. My excavator guy also graded out the front and set my 2 inch electrical line back to the garage area. Check it out.

Stone completed with front yard final grade.
Back of the house stone coming along nicely.

I’m going to have the stonemason do the fireplace as well as long as the price is decent. I came up with a pretty nice design. You know with Hobbit Houses and Middle Earth in mind. I have to have an iron guy make me a curved lintel out of steel….to sit the stone on. The picture I drew is pretty cool. I think it will really have a nice impact on the room.  One of the things I did this weekend was clean up the living room so I could start the framing for the fireplace. Check it out.

Cleared the living room out for the framing of the fireplace.

So my big ticket item came in this Friday in the mail. My Zehender Heat Recovery Ventilator that is. I had it dropped off over at my Mother-in-Law’s house cause they give you one of those long time frames on the delivery. I think it was  from 2 am to 6 pm. Which worked out really well cause my Mother-in-Law never sleeps. She stays up all night figuring out ways to bug me. She quote unquote gave the guy a $100 dollar tip for unloading the truck. Seems a bit excessive to me. He had a lift gate and a pallet jack. What’s up with that???? She said, and I quote, “It was a lot of stuff!!!!!” I use the exclamation points to indicate volume here people. That came out quite loud. I forked over the $100 a little reluctantly.  I really just wanted to get my stuff and high tail it out of there so I could look at the stuff. Which is pretty cool.

It actually took three trips to get it all over to the house. There is quite a bit. I spent over an hour just going over the invoice and making sure everything was there. It’s going to be very interesting to put this system into the house. I really can’t wait. The guts of the system is this ventilation box which hangs on the wall.

Main ventilation unit from Zehender.

Just the short version here. Basically what this machine does is bring fresh outside air into the house while expelling stale air from the bathrooms, kitchen, and mechanical room. This system runs continuously. When you shower, cook, or have a party at your house there are boost switches you can hit to increase the fan speed on the system so more fresh air comes into the house. The beauty of the system is that inside of that box is a device that transfers the energy of the incoming air to the outgoing air with 90% efficiency. Translation. In the winter time the incoming air is cold. The outgoing air is warm. They intermingle when they go through that box and the heat of the outgoing air is transferred to the incoming cold air. It’s that simple. The high efficiency of this unit means that your heating bills will stay low.

One other important fact. The reason we need this type of device is that our house is completely air sealed. It is almost impossible for air to get in or get out once the windows and door are shut. This is why we have to bring in a constant supply of fresh air.

Pretty cool.

That’s what a Passive House is all about people.

I hope you all have a great week. Take it easy and watch out for little old ladies on social security.



PS: A few more pictures for the road.

Finished up 1865 broadway.
Top of the house at 1865 Broadway



Who Cut this Doughnut!!!!?????….There’s No Mustard?!?!?!?!

And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost…..

Of the One Ring


Yes people. somethings should not be forgotten. Many things perhaps. Maybe some things that were never learned. But I digress. How was your Thanksgiving! I hope it all went well, you know, the family get together. It’s always a bit of a mixed bag isn’t it?  Hmmmm. Keep it secret….keep it safe as Gandalf said long long ago.

And so we shall.

Welcome again to the never ending saga of Hobbit Hollow. I really do hope you enjoyed your Turkey Day. For those of you who are outside of the United States it really is a great tradition. Being thankful and celebrating what you have in one way shape or form. No gifts either. That’s kind of the best part. Keep it simple. Just bring that bowl of succotash. Ah succotash. I miss it. Haven’t had it in a dogs age either. Gotta look up a recipe for it one of these days.

It’s funny what you think of when you’re writing a blog about construction. So many things pop into your head. Like succotash. To be honest I really don’t know where to begin. Needless to say I didn’t get the chance to work on the house this weekend. Had to work the Friday after Thanksgiving as usual so that is always a bummer. What are you going to do.

Had my old friend Mike pay me a visit over at the house on Saturday. I gave him the grand tour. It was great seeing him. It was really nice taking a break from everything and just spend a few hours talking about old times…..and new. He heads down to sunny Florida now for winter. You lucky dog you. That was a really nice afternoon. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. We’ll have to do that again when you and Diane are back in Jersey later next year. Enjoy your time down south Mike. You deserve it.

For the record the stone guy is working away. He’s just about done with the front of the house. Heading towards the back Monday. The weather is in our favor this week so hopefully we will get it all done before the cold weather sets in. That would be fantastic. I have to design a fireplace for the guy and get him to give me a price. It’s not going to be a real working fireplace because this is a Passive House. Totally air sealed. Can’t have any  drafts. I’m going to put those fake electric logs in there. The ones I’ve seen look pretty good.  I was thinking of doing a stone fireplace with a huge piece of rough sawn lumber on top for the mantle. I have a neighbor who has his own saw mill. Might be able to get him to cut me something really heavy looking. The only problem I see is I need the fireplace to have a significant arch. This would probably have to be made out of steel. Especially since we’re talking stone on top of this. It’s going to  be the focus on this end of the room so it’s going to have to be done right. Gotta put a couple of sketches together and try and figure this one out.

Front stone almost finished.

Not really a very good picture because there’s too much shadow. I’ll try for a better shot next weekend.

So yeah I go get the Sunday morning donuts every week. I usually try to get one per person and add an extra for diversification purposes. I always seem to blamed for a lack of choice. The main problem is nobody winds up eating these things so I always seem to be left with the task of finishing off the balance. That’s why the one donut per person rule is critical. Any more and my waistband would be a ring of jelly donuts. I’m not kidding.(It’s also why I’m such a huge fan of stretchy pants.) So usually I arrange the donuts on a plate with a knife. This way if you want to try more than one it’s sanitary. You know what I mean. You can’t maintain your appetite if someone takes a chunk out of a donut and just leaves it there. It’s unsightly. Hence the knife.

Check out what twiddle dum does.

Poorly cut crough dough custard donut with chocolate frosting.

I mean really? Who on God’s green earth would ever cut a donut like that. This is what I have to deal with people. How do you even pick up the piece that you cut and cram it in your mouth. But whoever did this didn’t even leave a legit piece of the donut intact. As far as I’m concerned this donut has been destroyed. It’s useless to me. We’re definitely going to have to start enforcing the donut laws we have on the books. If you do the crime you’re going to have  to do the time. Jude.

Oh yeah. Took a picture of that faucet I replaced in my powder room for the special people who were coming over for Thanksgiving. It was a lot smaller than I said it was. The door opening was only nine and a quarter inches across. (I didn’t tell you this last week but once I squeezed myself in through the door I couldn’t get out. The Editor and Terence each had to pull on one of my legs to pop me out of the vanity.) Check out the size of this thing.

200 pound man gets stuck in vanity with basin wrench.

When I look at it now it’s amazing that I was even able to get in there. I might be able to get some side work as a contortionist. Hmmm. I wonder if the Big Apple Circus is hiring. Maybe I can pay for that fireplace with a little side work. (In the center ring watch as overstuffed man gets inside and out of vanity with basin wrench clenched between his teeth!!!!!!!!!!!) Gotta love the big top.

Well I’m glad you are all hanging in there. enjoy the upcoming holiday season and have a good week!

Take care.


PS: Just finished watching the Carolina Panthers beat the Jets in a game the Jets should have won easily. Another horrible Jets loss. My point is we went over to my sister-in-laws house to watch the game. She serves us pigs in a blanket. I happen to really love pigs in a blanket……..but she didn’t have any mustard. How can I eat pigs in a blanket without mustard??????

One more picture for the road.

the morning view of Hudson Yards from 61st street.

The company I work for did two of the five jobs down there.