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.




The Work of the Dwarves Continues…..Why is the Sink Backing Up?

Alas friends of Middle Earth the holiday season is upon us. Much to do and little time. So we’re going to keep this short.

Oh yeah. Welcome to the continuing saga of Hobbit Hollow. The journey continues.

So yeah the holidays.

Having a big crowd this year for Turkey day. So when you have a big crowd you have to go the extra mile with the house cleaning. Damn holidays. The grease buildup on our range oven is ridiculous. Went through a whole can of wet wipes trying to get that under control.  I actually broke out into a sweat with all the elbow grease I put into this oven cleaning. Turns out we have a Kitchen Aid oven! I thought we had a GE.  It’s something I really didn’t need to know. It’s all because “special people” are coming over. Like I said. Damn holidays.

I also was forced into switching out the faucet in the downstairs powder room.  It really looked pretty bad. What a pain in the neck that was. What made it so hard was the fact that it was a two door vanity. 30 inch vanity means the two doors are about 14 inches across maximum. So this 200 pound man has to get in there  on his back with a basin wrench. You ever use a basin wrench before? Broke into another sweat trying to get this faucet off with the basin wrench. What an ordeal.

So the sink was kind of backing up anyway so I knew I was going to have to take apart the drain and unclog it. No big deal really. I open up the drain and inside the drain I find one of Georgia’s paint brushes! This thing is like a foot long! How that got in there I’ll never know. It was one of those moments when you’re like. “What the hell????”

So it was good. I shed about five pounds getting ready for Thanksgiving. I probably won’t have to wear my stretchy pants this year. You know the pants with the elastic waistband so you don’t have to undo your belt buckle when you overeat on Thanksgiving. So that’s great.

Give a shout out to whoever invented stretchy pants. Good job.

Get to the blog Jim you’re running out of time.

So I am out of time so I’m just gonna give you the visual.

Dwarves workbench.
Finished under the windows. Working the sides now.

Almost to the top,

It really changes the look of the house doesn’t it?

My excavator guy also was there. He finished off the patio area on the side and secured my walkway path to the roof. Check it out.

Future patio area on the side of the house.
Walkway path secured with stones and dirt as well.

It’s a really nice area there now. Nice barbecue area.

He also got rid of the garage for me.

Blog fan John wants me to build some sort of carriage house there for Gandalf and his horse and buggy.  Take it easy John.  I’m a busy guy but I want to finish this thing before the end of the century.

Worked on the electrical. Set up the exterior boxes for the lanterns that will go on either side of the door. It took a while. Worked on some interior framing and electrical the rest of the weekend. We’re getting there people.

Have a great week and enjoy your family and friends this Thanksgiving. There’s much to be thankful for.



The Dwarves….Great Miners and Craftsmen of the Mountain Halls

Seven rings were given to the Dwarf Lords. Great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls.


Yes people. The Dwarves have finally arrived at Hobbit hollow to work their craft. ”Tis a craft my friends. The Hobbit house would not be complete without a touch from the dwarves.

In my mind it is the dwarves influence that gave way to the design and construction of Hobbit houses as it were. How could it be any other way?

Welcome friends of Middle Earth! Ah yes. It has begun. The stone facade is finally on its way. Hopefully the weather will hold for another week or two. I never had the opportunity to watch someone assemble a stone wall. It’s slow and tedious work though. It reminds me of doing a jigsaw puzzle that you  have to assemble but none of the pieces fit and there are none in the box. (Not a very good analogy) You have to have the vision to see where things go and how they might fit together. You must have to have a pretty good eye and imagination to “see” what might fit where and how certain stones might be chiseled to fit in.

So interesting to see it go up. I stopped by every night after work to see how far he got. It’s slow though. I thought he would have gotten a lot farther then he did. He also is using the stones from the property which was a huge concern of his and mine as well. Searching around the property to find stones is no small task. It sounds like a plan but you really need a lot of stones to put a wall like this together. And quite a few are useless. To wide or round or whatever. He has quite a sample though. Check it out.


Stonemason gathered stones from around the property for the front of the house.

He brought an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) to the house so he could load them up and drive them to the front. Pretty good idea.

So yeah. I really like the way things are coming out so far. Using the stone from the property was really the way to go. It’s such a nice blend. I’m actually rethinking how I’m going to finish the door trim. We”ll see. I’m not sure a bright door trim is the way to go with the stone. Might have to do a sample or mock up of a few different things. It’s important to get this right. Let me show you what he did so far.

Starter course begun along the front of the house under the windows and on top of the stairs.
A better look at the stairs.

It’s cool the way he’s working  the steps.

I’m hoping he finishes the front of the house this week. Sounds like the temperature is going to hold for another week and a half. It changes the whole look and feel of the house. Maybe I’ve been staring at that styrofoam too long. It really is looking good.

On another front my excavation guy dropped off his machine the other day. Looks like he’s going to start this week as well. I have to give him a call. I have to finish getting my stuff out of the garage too.

Excavator on site.

On my end I got a bunch of little tedious odds and ends done this weekend. Not much to show for a days work. I laid out the wall in the master bathroom in the wrong spot way back when when I did the original layout. My fault. I didn’t notice that an electrical line came throught the ceiling outside of the wall line. I had to take the whole wall down and replace it. What a pain in the neck.

I also wired the common bath lights. One of the high hat lights is messed up. The internal wires and the part of the fixture that holds the bulb is missing. No idea what happened there. It’s as if the whole thing was ripped right out. Even the screw where the wingnut goes is gone. (Kind of hard to explain.) Hmmm. Not sure how I’m going to fix it yet. Oh I’ll figure it out.

I’m getting real close with the electrical. Probably two full days and we’re done and ready for inspection. If I get good weather next weekend I’ll be working on the exterior trim though. Have to utilize my good days outside as best as I can.

The heat pump is working great by the way. Keeping the house at a toasty 62 degrees. Good thing I had them do the installation when I did. It got down to 18 degrees the other night. Brrrrrrr! Can’t have my water tank freeze.

So I had to go see my sister the other day up in Orange County. I took the Palisades Parkway up from the city. What  a nice drive. I stopped at a scenic overlook.

Corwall on the Hudson. Scenic overllok on the Palisades Parkway.

See you all next week!


PS: Walked by a job I did quite a few years back on 63rd between Central Park West and Broadway. Right next to where we are working right now. Just a few pictures of the art in architecture.

The colors really make it special.


Of the Laundering of Money?……The Return of the Boy!!!!!

It is what will come to pass if you should fail.

The Fellowship is breaking, it has already begun.

He will try and take the Ring.

You know of whom I speak.

One by one it will destroy them all.


The Elven queen Galadriel on the fate of the Fellowship after Frodo has looked into the Mirror.


Hello there friends of Middle Earth glad to have you all back again for another week of the Hobbit Hollow Construction Blog.

So it is true. My head definitely feels a lot better after I stop banging it against the wall. But the Jets won this Thursday night….and played pretty well beating the Buffalo Bills soundly. The Bills are pretty good too.  So hope remains…..while company is true. Hey. Maybe the Jets can turn things around in the second half of the season. Who knows? Now all I have to do is patch the hole in the wall in my living room.

Hmmm. Maybe I should wait till the season is over. Why practice patching holes in the wall. Ya know there’s going to be at least one more hole by the end of the season. It’s the Jets remember?

Sounds like a plan Jim.

So I get home the other day and walk into my bedroom to find this.

$20’s galore!

So yeah. What the heck is going on with this picture? I was wondering the same. Turns out the Editor got a bunch of smokey 20’s. Like they really stunk of cigarette smoke. Bad. At least as far as the Editor was concerned. She actually put the money in the washing machine. Small load permanent press setting. This was taken during drying mode. You never put your money in the dryer. Especially 20’s. Jackson’s face gets distorted at high heat. And an arrow appears through his neck. Google it. It’s true.

So in other non blog related news the college boy came home. Just for a little r and r and to put the dorm room beind him for a day or two. It was nice seeing him.

Terence the boy with the Editor. A weekend break from the Manhattan College campus.

It was really nice seeing him.

So  a few items of note. I had the Mitsubishi heat pump installed this week. Pretty awesome. It’s working like a charm. Check it out.

Mitsubishi hyper heat pump installed on the roof.

So this does heat and cooling for the Hobbit house. Hobbits love their creature comforts. Staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer is crucial. It’s a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be. It’s on a pedestal so that snow won’t interfere with it operationally.

It’s weird but I had the temperature in the house set at 62 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday. It felt like an oven inside the house though. So oven like that I thought the unit was actually malfunctioning. It was around 50 degrees outside. It felt like 80 degrees inside though. I shut the unit off.

When I first heard about Passive House I read an article stating that you don’t need to heat your home nearly as much because there are no drafts and the house retains heat so well. Therefore you can live in a Passive House with a much lower setting on your thermostat. I think this is true. I actually brought a thermometer into the house to check the temperature on Sunday. Really just to make sure that the unit was  working properly and that it wasn’t overshooting the temperature I had set on the thermostat. It stayed at 62 degrees the whole time. I was sweating while I worked on the electrical. Pretty cool.

So  Terence and Ethan came over to help me with a couple of things. One of which was finishing off the walkway path up to the roof. Not that we finished it but I had them top off the walkway with gravel . This way in the spring I’ll be ready to go with the bluestone I want to use for the path. Here they are having at it.

Topping off the path with gravel. Ethan and Terence.

It’s not that steep but it’s still takes quite a bit to get a wheelbarrow up this slope.


The other item we took care of was cleaning out the garage. My excavation guy should be here in a couple of weeks to demo the garage. Got to get the minor stuff out of there. There was actually quite a bit. It took most of the afternoon to get everything organized.

Cleaned out the garage to get ready for demolition.

Gotta come up with a good garage design. I wonder what kind of car a Hobbit would drive? I kept a gang box and saved the extra styrofoam I had.

Going to use the styro under the slab for the shallow frost free design.

By the way the stone mason is supposed to start Monday weather permitting. This should be interesting. Kind of nervous about the stone to be honest. It’s such a big deal and you really don’t know how it’s going to look. It’s also really hard to describe what I want. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Oh yeah. I put an addition on the house on the other side of town for my Mother-in-Law. So she can stay over after she cooks for us. It’s nice. Check it out.

Bed and breakfast for my Mother-in-Law

I think she can fit in there. It just gets a little smokey when we turn the pellet stove on. I don’t think that will be an issue though. She used to be a smoker. The bird’s had no problem raising a whole family of four in there over the summer. There’s only one of her.

The only issue that I can think of is that the money she owes me for my overpayment for dinners is that the cash might smell a tad like a fireplace. Hmmmm.

No worries. I’ll throw it in the wash!

Have a great week!




Of Mini-Splits and Electrical conduits…..CALL 911!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Will you look into the mirror?

What will I see?

Even the wisest cannot tell, for the mirror shows many things.

….things that were

….things that are

….and some things…that have not yet come to pass.


The Elven queen Galadriel talking to Frodo Baggins.


You have to look yourself in the mirror….And think about what you see.

Welcome again  Free Folk of Middle Earth to another installment of the Hobbit Hollow Construction Blog! Lord of the Rings geek in me coming out in full force. It cannot be helped people. So sorry.

Would you look in the mirror???

So for all you non Lord of the Rings fans the mirror is actually a basin in which, Galadriel pours water. Once the water is still and you look into it you will see things. Things that were, are, and some things that may not yet have come to pass. Get it. Got it….Good.

I actually picked one up the other day. You know for the Hobbit house. So when people come over I can offer them a look in the mirror. I found it on Craigs List. Pretty cool.

So I got the water into it and took a look.

I saw the future. I was lying in my bed and saw my daughters cat on top of me choking me with it’s little paws around my neck. Weird. Even weirder. I heard this hideous cackle in the background. It sounded like my Mother-in-Law.

For the record  I threw the mirror out. Who wants to look into something like that anyway,right?  So stupid.

That is a true story though. I think that dopey cat is trying to kill me. No comment on the Mother-inLaw thing.

I just had the unfortunate experience of watching my dreaded Jets lose again to the Falcons. Did you ever hear that joke about the guy who was banging his head against the wall? No. Okay. So this guy is banging his head against the wall and his friend comes over to him and says to him why are you banging your head against the wall? The guy replies: Because if feels so good when I stop. That’s sort of how I am with the Jets. I’m so glad this game is over. I can finally get back to doing something constructive. You know like looking out the window and watch the rain fall.

I have to stop watching. I really do.

Oh yeah one more thing before I get to the blog.

I guess this isn’t part of the blog. It’s something else. Skip ahead  if you want to read the blog.

So I’m not a meat eater. Not that I’m a vegetarian either. I just don’t like chewing meat. I have enjoyed steak a few times in my 54 years but most of the time it’s just chewey and I’m not into that. (For the record I do really love burgers and chicken. I just want you to get the right picture that’s all.) So if you’ve been paying attention we have that Mother-in-Law of mine over for dinner once a week or we go over to her house. It’s not far. (I’m still trying to figure out how I got roped into this)

Let’s get going Jim it’s going to be Thanksgiving soon.

Right. Got it.

Anyway she made stuffed pork chops this week. (You have to keep in mind she’s a swamp Italian. They don’t know that the only thing that you’re supposed to stuff is a turkey.) They were really good. But like I said I don’t like to chew very long. So one of the pork chops got stuck in my throat.

You ever see that emoji with the big bug out eyes. Well that was how my wife’s eyes were. I mean I wasn’t nervous or anything. I could breath but this damn pork chop wouldn’t go down.Then the hysterics start. OH MY GOD CALL 911!!!!!! I indicate to Ethan to slap me on the back which he does but it doesn’t help. Then my Mother-in-Law starts with the give him the Heimlich maneuver. She comes around the table to give me the Heimich. In my head I’m thinking, “If this was serious I would definitely be dead cause there is no way a 79 year old woman who has a bad arm is going to be able to do the Heimlich successfully.”  My wife on the other hand is calling 911 and then I coughed it up.

So that was an exciting dinner. At least that part of it was. Then I was screamed at by my Mother-in-Law about going to get checked out by a doctor. For what?? I choked on a pork chop. Hmmm. Maybe I should go to the doctor and bring one of those pork chops with me. See what he thinks.

Actually she didn’t scream at me. But if you were there you would have thought that she was screaming. Everything comes out very loud.

Needless to say I didn’t finish the rest of my pork chop. The stuffing was a nice touch though I have to tell you.

Let’s start the blog part of the blog shall we?

So the non blog part took a lot longer than expected so I’m going to be a little brief.

I did a lot of little things this weekend which set us up for success with our upcoming subs if you will. First I wired the breaker for the mini split heat pump as well as the breakers for the exterior GFCI’s (short for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet) on the front and back of the house. The exterior GFI outlets are nice because now I don’t have to run an extension cord through a window to work outside. The GFI’s  took time to wire though. It was a tight squeeze into the outlet box. Check it out.

Installed three GFCI’s. Two in the front and one in back on a separate breaker.

So I set these outlet boxes and the wire into the concrete way back when when we poured this like 8 million years ago. Everything worked nice too.

The other thing that I wanted to get done was secure the conduit for the mini split heat pump on the roof. This involved some formwork and extending the pvc pipe up there. I wanted to make it solid so someone wouldn’t step on the pipe and possible mess things up later on.  The 2 inch pvc is for the copper lines and the 1 inch pvc is for the 10/3 wire for the unit. Check it out.

Concrete formwork for the support .

After I poured it I threw small stone on top of the concrete. I kind of wanted to see how it would come out.

Finished off with 3/8 pea gravel.

The other issue I had was setting up the exterior conduits for the excavator guy. I needed to expose them so I could show him which ones I want going where kind of thing. Let me show you a visual.

Electrical conduits.

So the 2 inch horizontal is the power going to the garage. The 1 inch horizontal is for walkway lighting and tree lighting. The vertical 2 inch is for a generator if we lose power. The other two vertical 1 inch I don’t know what they’re for. At least  I can’t remember. The worst part was the digging. When I was done I felt like I had been beaten severely. I took two Advil right after that…and crawled to my truck.

I also set the 2×6 front and back to indicate the final grade and separate the grade from the gravel which will be next to the house. Forgot to take a picture. You’ll get it once it’s done.

I also wired the lights in the mechanical room and started the kitchen lights which is a pretty big task. During the week I also taped the second coat of tape where the exhaust unit is going to be in the living room.

Tapping the sheetrock.

Will call Monday about the mini split install. Oh yeah check out this picture I took at the end of the day.

A fine fall day at the Hobbit.

Enjoy your work week!!!!

And make sure you chew your food properly!