2 steps forward, 2 steps back

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Having struggled to the house through the snowpocolypse a couple of times, in true PNW style, it’s rained and the snow is mostly gone. What’s left is a reminder of just how filthy internal combustion engine vehicles are, with a layer of dirty soot covering the white frozen remnants at the side of the road.

Our trips to the house have yielded some significant progress on some of the most complex bits of plasterboard in the house. Unlike most builders we have not simply cut a hole in the roof with a tube down to the ceiling. Oh no. That would be faaaar too simple. No, ours is a funky shape with the ceiling the bare minimum thickness that’ll allow us to keep the R-48 requirement betwixt ceiling and underside of the roof vents. It slopes back at a not-quite horizontal angle (why would you want horizontal), and allows light to flood into the corridor. At least, that’s the theory.

It also carries the ‘letterbox opening’ theme which we’ve carried around the house from the front windows to some of the storage… There’s architecture hiding in our little box. At least, in our heads, there is.

Anyhow, so we’ve completed one of them and the other is about half done.

There’s some finessing to do with a rasp along the edge, but otherwise it’s looking pretty nifty

The really nice thing about this is how much we have come to like the place we’re building. Both of us have separately commented on how we enjoy the light, and the space, and the general feel of the building. The time we’ve spent finiking with the design has made a place we both enjoy being in. When we’re not itching from the exposed glassfibre / mineral wool.

We’ve switched from skylights back to doing bedrooms, though, because having started with, we thought, 4 extra boards we’re now down to the wire on boards. More so after our frankly disastrous day today.

See, we had the board cut. So we thought. We’d cut it back at the beginning of this odyssey, when we first discovered the lift wouldn’t reach the ceiling. We had, however, put up the thin strip up that it’s meant to mate against. At least, so we thought.

Cue the struggle that is getting a near 12′, 60kg, floppy and fragile board onto a lift that is about 4′ in the air, in a room that is only half an inch longer than the board is.

After much shuffling of the lift, the two scaffolds, the bench and a folding chair it was up. Aaaand, about half way up we realised it was maaarginally too long. Like, a few mil needed to come off each end. After some debate we concluded that we’d shave off a few mill just where the studs were on the exterior wall end, and just where it was touching a stud that’s marginally further out on the wall we built.





Finally with some shoving and tweaking we got it lined up along the bottom edge. We got it most of the way up and concluded that it looked pretty good…

…and so we put the glue on it and up it went…

…at which point we realised that it didn’t fit. I mean, it fits side to side, and the bottom edge lined up just dandily. The top edge, where it was meant to meet our thin-strip-of-correction…not so much.

It met in the middle. It was not-awful in the middle. I mean, it wasn’t great, but we could probably have got away with it.

But at the south end the gap became about 1/2 an inch…and at the truly abysmal north end, it overlapped by probably more than an inch. There was some panicked debate. The thing had some screws in already – part of a technique we’ve developed for getting the damn things aligned when we have neither the strength nor the number of people traditionally required for this kind of affair.

It had glue that was already drying.

We both felt totally demoralised by going from “we’re going to have our first room with a finished ceiling where we can move onto the walls” to “oh, shit, at least part of this needs to come down”.

We started by backing off the board a bit and taking down part of the thin-strip-of-correction. But after some more looking at how terrible things were Kathryn voiced it and I agreed. It’s got to come back down.

Defeat poured over us as we winched the bloody board down from the ceiling.

It’s not really the board’s fault. Early on we had a bad day. A really f’kin bad day. One of those days where you wonder why in hell you’ve put yourself in this situation and wonder whether any of it is worth it (there are always days like this, it seems). You curse every rotten strand of xylem and phloem that make up the timber that you’re inexpertly wielding.


On this a’cursed day, we were putting up the short section of wall that goes over the master-bathroom door. And nothing, just nothing went right. It was too heavy and unwieldy. We hadn’t realised how unsquare the house is and the measurements we’d made beforehand so I could make the parts – or the parts I’d made – one of them wasn’t right. It wouldn’t line up the way we wanted. It didn’t sit square with anything we tried. We knew it wasn’t right.

We should have taken it down.

We didn’t.

We thought it would be okay… that we could kind of hodge it and bodge it and make it work… but it has come back to haunt us.

The lounge side we’ve come up with a fix for, but this bedroom side?


Well, the widths are all over the shop.

We lose a full inch (2.5cm) across that last 4′ (2.1m) run over the door. Part of that is that the house gets narrower at the end and we didn’t take enough account of it earlier. Part of it is that the roof is not exactly centered over the house, and part of it is that we fucked up.

It is going to be 18 different kinds of nightmare to make something that lies like a sufficiently fringed Persian rug and makes it look straight. We’re going to have to have to make things mate…with curves…and angles…and trying to make things look like they are a constant width…when they’re not.

Which is miserable enough in itself, but taking it all down and staring at it today? That truly sucked.

I am trying (we are both trying) to look on this as a learning experience and with more equanimity than some previous issues. I think we’re both doing better… it’s a sod. No doubt it was very, very disappointing. And it <em>is</em> going to be a pig to sort it out. <em>But</em> we have got better at this than when we started. It is within our capabilities to make this right.


Kate's allegedly a human (although increasingly right-wing bigots would say otherwise). She's definitely not a vampire, despite what some other people claim. She's also mostly built out of spite and overcoming oppositional-sexism, racism, and other random bullshit. So she's either a human or a lizard in disguise sent to destroy all of humanity. Either way, she's here to reassure that it's all fine.