in the pink

The rigid insulation was installed today. Basically it goes only on the sloped ceilings: the horizontal ceiling surfaces are all actually interior, and so there's no concern with the "ghosting" phenomenon described in my last post. Because there's a whole lot of insulation above the new stair dormer, we felt it sufficient merely to install insulation directly to the existing rafters:

In the rest of the space, we mounted the rigid insulation between ledgers attached to the rafters, so the cold spots of the wood are reduced only to very small squares where the two planks of wood meet:

This shot gives some idea of the eventual shape of the space, approximately from where our bed will be (although higher off the ground). My friend Rog would probably slap up a flatscreen TV that folds out from the ceiling here...

Here's a shot of the front part of the house, where bookshelves will surround what was originally going to be a gas fireplace (it may eventually become that) and now will become a decorative niche:


our long national nightmare is over

Tuesday, the insulation crew returned (again), and this time, they used an alternate product (still soy-based, but open- rather than closed-cell: the difference has to do with its ability to trap air and thereby its insulating efficiency). They cored out the failed insulation where it had pulled away from rafters, studs, and from itself, and filled the space very thoroughly (which, with this product, means right up to the edge of the rafters or studs). Finally, we can move forward.

In much of the area we'll still be putting in some rigid insulation, separated from the rafters by spacers to prevent "ghosting" from the reduced insulating properties of the wood versus the insulation. This stuff should be going up within a day or so, and then the drywall (which has been sitting around for quite a while, as you can see in these photos) can be put up, the subflooring be put in, and the various finishing work be done (including putting in the final window, which has been kept open and protected by plastic, so it could be used to load up the drywall and, eventually, the plywood subflooring).

Plus, we get our own cool freaky H.R. Giger braincave space...


a date with Ikea

Today was a shopping day. We rented a van and drove to the Ikea in Bolingbrook, Illinois to buy furniture, primarily for the new bedroom but including a few other pieces as well. We'd done pretty extensive preparation beforehand, in terms of visiting the store earlier to select the items, making sure they'd look good in our space, and so on. We assembled a list so we wouldn't forget anything.

Only thing we forgot to do was make sure we'd be able to get it all home. First, a note: Ikea does deliver, but their rates are very high: it's essentially a per-item cost (as if each item has its own truck...), and so picking up the stuff yourself is considerably less expensive (assuming you live within reasonable driving distance). The risk, though, is that you can't have them hold stuff beforehand: if it's in stock, and on the floor, great...but if it's not...you're SOL. (And we had a very unpleasant experience a year or so back: one of the items we needed was in the store...but on a high shelf where it supposedly could be reached only with a forklift...and they refused to get it down until the end of the day since doing so would be a safety hazard to other customers. Why couldn't they just shut down that aisle like Home Depot does, I asked? No good answer. I was very, very close to monkeying up onto the shelves and trying to muscle one of the boxes down, when fortunately we were informed that the Schaumburg store had one of what we needed.)

Back to our shopping list: Rose had a conference in Chicago a couple of months back, so she stopped by Ikea on the way back and picked up two bathroom cabinets, two sinks, a bathroom shelving unit, and a few miscellaneous items. Good thing she did - because if she hadn't, there's no way everything would have fit in our rented van. Here's a photo of the rented van and all the stuff piled next to it: packed in the van, there was maybe three inches of room above the stuff, and no room anywhere else in the vehicle (except where we sat):

And here's a view of the stuff from the other side:

What foiled us is that Ikea's vaunted "flat-pack" thing does not apply to some of its seating materials. As we were purchasing a love-seat and a sofa bed, this was a problem: both were simply huge boxes (the large unit on the left, and the enormous box on the right, flanking the pile of other stuff). We ended up packing and re-packing the van several times, with the assistance of one of the store's loading guys. We finally got it right, though, and home with no problems.

(An inventory: four short bookshelves, about 30 inches wide; four short bookshelves, about 15 inches wide; two doors for those shelves; a bed in three parts; a set of headboard shelves for that bed in two parts; a mattress; a bed frame; a metal bed brace; two small storage units designed for the foot of the bed (although that's not where they're going); one love-seat; one sofa bed; two bathroom mirrors.)


first thing you learn is you always got to wait...

Unfortunately, the second application of insulation also failed in the same way the first batch did. Everyone is mystified - and, alas for my need to vent righteous indignation, acting with utter professionalism and integrity to try to figure out what's going on. Our contractor's worked with the stuff before; the installer's worked with it before, and of course the manufacturer has as well...yet even though everyone's followed all recommended procedures (as far as they know anyway), still things are going weird.

I have a theory (no, it's not bunnies).

You may recall that the morning the insulation was initially installed, a poor little squirrel had entered in through the eyebrow dormer window in search of rancid cookies and, presumably frightened by the men in moonsuits making noise and carrying scary hoses, skittered off into the soffits to hide. Once the insulation was installed, poor Soffity the Squirrel was trapped! He was scared to death - pooping all over the place, desperately scratching and looking for a way out, like Buffy when she woke up in her tomb after Willow's spell... Fortunately, we eventually figured out what was going on, and opened a hole for the squirrel to get out.

But it was too late.

As soon as Soffity recovered, he and his squirrel brethren and sistren pronounced a Squirrel Curse upon the evil insulation that had trapped him.

My theory is the insulation will work only if we propitiate the squirrel gods. I think scattering a bunch of nuts in the front yard ought to do it. A prayer or invocation or suchlike will probably help, too: "O Great Squirrel God, we are heartily sorry for injuring and traumatizing Soffity, your faithful hoppity, fluffity-tailed worshipper!"

(I think the Great Squirrel God's name is "Buddy")


more windows

The trim on the exterior of the stairway dormer is nearly done (except for painting), as you can see here:

And the eyebrow dormer window in the front of the house is being restored. Rather than rebuilding the decaying framing (visible in the first image below), they merely applied epoxy to fill in and strengthen that framing, which will then be painted to match.

In other news, the insulation has been reapplied, and while some small areas persist in beginning to tear away, they're small and few enough that we will merely fill them in with spray-on insulation foam and count on the rigid insulation we'll be attaching on the ceilings to eliminate any weak spots. All in all, the insulation problems have set us back about four weeks (going back to my July 12 entry detailing its initial installation and the misadventures of Soffity the Squirrel).

Unfortunately, in any project of this scope some sort of unanticipated setback is nearly inevitable. Fortunately, we had no particular timetable or deadline we needed to meet.


and an update

Siding on the bathroom/closet dormer is nearly complete; siding has begun to be attached to the stairway dormer.

The second paint coat should bring the color closer to the brown of the gable in the back of the house, although the difference now is pretty minor and in keeping with new construction compared to existing, somewhat weathered construction.

Tomorrow the insulation folks are scheduled to core out the insulation in the places where it failed to adhere properly to the wood (a prep issue, it seems - not a problem with the insulation itself). After that (which they supposedly can take care of in a day or so), the new insulation will be applied. We're also going back to our original plan of furring out the ceiling by a half-inch or so and also putting in rigid insulation, just as insurance against any possible unseen contraction in the foam insulation that might occur after it's drywalled over. It's not supposed to do that, and all indications are that the only reason it did so were related to the adhering issue - but more insulation will save money in the long run, and the ceiling height change is minimal enough not to affect anything.