Windows, Excavator, Action!…..May the Force Be With You!

So fans of Middle Earth welcome to another installment of the Hobbit Hollow Construction Blog! Thanks for stopping by.

Yes people, we have finally reached the moment we have all been waiting for. The covering up of our little old Hobbit House. It’s unbelievable. I mean the guy doing the excavation work is like a magician. He’s not done yet, but what he has done in just a couple of days is awesome. It’s really going to be like nothing you have ever seen before. A real Hobbit House. Possibly the only one of it’s kind.

I get home when it’s dark every night so I would stop by and look around with a flashlight checking out what he did. It was fun seeing how far he got every day. So what I have him doing is fixing the driveway, making a pond, covering the Hobbit house, grading the areas around the house, digging my electrical trench for my service, and putting in a septic system. It seems like a lot doesn’t it? He says to me he’ll be done with everything in less than two weeks. In my head I’m thinking there’s no way he’s going to be able to do this all in two weeks. That’s impossible. I think he would have finished everything but the septic in four and a half days if I didn’t hold him up! I wanted to put gravel borders around the skylights before he covered the roof. I didn’t know he was going to start this week!

It was a little weird. If you remember I had been trying to get a price from this guy for like three to four months. I had kind of figured he wasn’t interested. I called him on my phone Friday night on my way home and asked him if he was still interested. He says absolutely, I’ll get you a price by the end of the weekend. So on Monday he calls me and says he e-mailed me a price. So I looked it over and it seemed fair. It’s never going to be a steal and I want this guy to do the job. He has really great ideas. Anyway, I leave a message saying I’d like to talk to you about the job proposal and all blah, blah, blah. Tuesday morning he calls me at 7 am. I tell him all is well with the price and ask when can he start. He says right now. In my head I’m thinking this is awesome.  I’m on my way to the house from Manhattan because I’m getting my window delivery at 10 am. He calls back at 8:30 saying he can’t get in because the chain is locked. Man this guy is really moving! I was there by 9 so everything worked out.

So it was a really great week over at the house. Just a huge transformation and the pictures don’t do it justice. So let’s just walk you through Hobbit Hollow in pictures this week.

Front windows.
Front windows.

So these are the windows that are going to be on the front side of the house. One of these will be on either side of the front door. These windows are made in Ireland by a company called Klearwall. They are Passive House certified windows and are completely draft free triple glazed windows. They’re  unbelievable. The bottom two windows on either side are operable if you were wondering.

Bedroom windows. Terence in there for scale purposes.
Bedroom windows. Terence in there for scale purposes.

So these are the bedroom windows. They follow the curvature of the roof line and are mirror images of each other when you’re looking at them from the outside of the house. Small transoms at the top and the large middle window are fixed. The other two are operable.

Little window story here. So the deal was the windows come in from overseas, clear customs, go to a warehouse somewhere in Bridgeport, Connecticut and then you take delivery of them. In some sort of time frame I might add or else you have to start paying storage fees. The other issue is that you have to have people there to help you unload them. ( The guy called me twice while I was at work asking if he could drop them off in two hours. What? I had to straighten that out.) So these windows weigh in at 1900 pounds believe it or not. So Terence and I just can’t take these things out of the back of a truck 1,2,3. I’m actually a little bit nervous about unloading these things. They weren’t cheap either. The other thing is you never know what kind of a driver you’re going to get. Know what I’m saying? You could wind up with a real jerk whose not interested in helping you. Or even worse some wiseguy from Staten Island. That could be a problem.

So once I commited to the delivery the wheels really started turning on how to get these things out of the truck. I picked up a two ton car jack, a furniture dolly, and an A frame sheet rock dolly. I figured we gotta be able to get these things in here with these tools, right? Luckily, I didn’t need any of that. The driver turned out to be a really nice guy who basically unloaded the whole thing himself with a little help every once in a while from Terence and myself….for the most part. He had this trolley cart that was made especially for these type of window deliveries. He also had a hydraulic tailgate on the back of the truck. So all we did is back the truck up to the house and lower the windows from the truck right onto the concrete slab. The bedroom windows were a little more difficult. They’re about 8 foot high so I had to dismantle the door framing to get them into the rooms. Then we had to use these specially made lifting brackets that attach to the ends of the windows to walk the windows into each room. The trolley couldn’t make the turn from the hallway into the bedroom. Terence and I were on one side, he was on the other. These windows probably weighed in at over 500 pounds.

So we put the first window in bedroom one and went to get the next window. As we’re getting the trolley cart into position for the next window one of the windows opens up. Terence says: ” That’s cool the windows open out.” I respond, “No they don’t they open in.” We all look at each other at the same time and realize that we put the first window in the wrong bedroom. My fault as usual. Terence is like: We have to move that window into the other room. He was kind of in a panic. So I say to the driver: We need to move the window into the other bedroom. I mean we have to move the window into the other bedroom there really is no other option. To which he responds, ” Hey, you know I’m not supposed to do anything here. I’m just supposed to open the door and watch you guys unload the windows.” Okay, I know I’m in a pickle here people. Terence and I are definitely not going to be able to walk these things to where they have to go. And he’s supposed to be in school taking a physics exam. “I’ll give you $60 bucks to give us a hand.” Done. That was easy. As the old saying goes, “Money talks, sh__ walks.” (Trying to keep this a family friendly blog so you’ll have  to use your imagination on that one.) I think the driver really appreciated the cash.

Now we just have to frame the openings for these windows. Which I’m not even sure how I’m going to do yet. Hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll come up with a plan. I definitely have my work cut out for me on that front. Let’s move on shall we?

I’ll just walk you through a couple of pictures of the site work that got done this week. Check it out.

Back side of the house.
Back side of the house.

He basically created a retaining wall out of huge rocks that were laying around the site. He laid a few right on top of the concrete retaining wall if you look close. It looks really good. In the fore ground is the trench for the electrical service. Gotta try and get that in there as well.

West side of the house with the new pond.
West side of the house with the new pond.

He had to stop here because I didn’t have the lumber around the skylights ready for him. I finished that this weekend. That’s the pond in the foreground. I’m going to ask him to make it a little bit bigger and a touch deeper. Some transformation right?!?!?!Here’s a picture of what I did around the skylights.

Pressure treated 2x10 around skylight well to hold gravel.
Pressure treated 2×10 around skylight well to hold gravel.

I wanted this here so grass wouldn’t grow into the skylight area. I think it will be good for long term maintenance. This way you won’t have to weed whack tight to the skylight. I mean I don’t plan on weed whacking anything. It’s all just supposed to grow crazy up there.

Another view.
Another view.

If you look at the pond there is a small tree that is laying down in the water. I want him to take that out and make the pond bigger in that area.

East side.
East side.

So one of the surprises for me is that for a house on a small lot there are really quite a few areas that you could use for entertainment, relaxation, or landscaping. I think I really am going to need a gardener like Samwise Gamgee. The bad news is it’s supposed to rain Monday so that could put the kibosch on any site work for a few days until it dries up. We shall see.

Driveway extension.
Driveway extension.

So now you pull in on the right, make a left at the tree, drive right around the tree and you’re on the way out. I came up with this idea a few years back when I started plowing the driveway after a snowstorm. It was really a pain in the neck getting around the tree. There’s enough room to park 4 cars side by side now which is great. Might have to make it a bit bigger once I start giving tours of the house. Hmmm. We’ll see.

Front of the house.
Front of the house.

So that’s a little concrete bucket sitting there. You know the funny looking white thing. He’s going to fill that up with a scoop of gravel and use the excavator to bring it up to the roof. Pull on the handle and out comes the gravel exactly where you want it. Great idea.

In other world news…looking forward to the new Star Wars movie. I think they over hyped it. I hope it’s good.

May the Force be with you!

See you soon.

Jim

PS: I’ve added quite a few pictures to “Hobbit Hollow in Pictures” if you care to take a look. You really get a feel for how much work went into this project when you scroll through it. If you click on a picture it enlarges and then on the right side of the picture there’s an arrow so you can advance to the next frame. Check it out on a rainy day.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Windows, Excavator, Action!…..May the Force Be With You!

    • Thanks Mike. He finished covering the roof up today. It was dark out but it really looks like it came out nice. If it stays warm enough maybe we’ll see some grass grow in December.

      Take it easy,
      Jim

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