This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Monday, 30 April 2012

Floor Drains

Today was a busy day here. Tony, our plumber, arrived to install the floor drains while Dave and TJ worked on the steel siding outside.

Tony is down in the gravel getting everything properly placed so our tub, shower and toilet fit exactly where Mary wants them. Note the "slipper" tub in the background. I think when we finally get to move in that tub will see a lot of use.

Dave measures and cuts drip rail for around the windows. All the windows and doors are prepped first before the siding goes on. Tomorrow, we should see the colour of our walls change. You will have to return to see the improvement.

TJ cuts the J channel to fit the siding into when it reaches the windows. Everything will be weather tight and mouse proof. Pat guarantees it.

While work was progressing on the house I was down below helping Mary build raised garden beds and moving wood for splitting. It was a busy but successful day. Tonight Mary will sleep in the cottage and hopefully feel better in the morning.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Plugged and Runny

It has net been a good weekend for Mary. With all the rain last week our trailer must be growing moulds because Mary has been miserable. He sinuses are swollen and her nose is always looking for tissue. Even going shopping can be a challenge. We will be grocery shopping and Mary will walk past a cooler holding processed meat. Not always but far too often, her eyes will start to run and her sinuses will plug up; instantly. It is unbelievable, yet she carries on and wants to be busy. Today with the sunshine she is clearing brush and burning it. She may be headed for Toronto and some medical care if this continues next week. We suspect it might be chronic sinus infection after hearing what friends discovered after a similar experience. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Big Jim Delivers

We love life up here in Bancroft. It's sort of like a "frontier" town, small, mixed businesses on Main Street, houses up and down the surrounding hills and lumber trucks rumbling through town reminding us that timber is the key industry here.

I suppose tourism is second, government jobs third and maybe construction fourth. That's just a guess.

Yesterday Big Jim delivered our steel siding. He is a big man and suites the job of delivery and crane operator to a tee. He's always friendly and places the load wherever you want it on the job site. Very helpful.

These deliveries seem to always be when our guys are taking a break. They joined us around the fire, but they weren't seated long before they heard the truck backing up our driveway.

Doesn't look like much steel to cover our whole house but I'm sure it is. Next week will be busy.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Great Northern Spray Foam

Today we have a purple house; reminds me of the 60's song, "Purple People Eater", no idea why.  I guess until we get the steel siding on we have the most psychedelic house on Coe Is Lake.

Before the truck arrived TJ and Dave were busy installing the last of the doors. Of course we had parts missing, so called Fibertec, and they will let us know when they get replacement parts.

This was one of the few days we didn't get rain, so Mary was busy with yard clean-up and her favourite job, burning the rubbage.

About 10 o'clock, the truck rolled in, as expected, and the spray guys were soon busy covering the exterior walls.

Bill makes the job look easy, but he has been doing it for over 20 years, so I guess you would develop some sense of what was best after doing so many walls. I wonder how many tons of spray foam he has gone through?

Sean, was the clean-up guy and I was delighted to see a crew that cleaned up after themselves. Very easy to get the job done, leave and then the home owner has to step in. That's another reason I like the way "Great Northern" spray foam does business. They trim off any over spray, then bag all the garbage and take it away with them.

The spray job is done and it looks great. Now comes the ................

............  clean up.

Two more spray applications and our house should be draft free, and weather tight.

Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Installing Sliding Door

Monday was wet and cold, a good day to work under the roof.

The pond didn't freeze but the trees were covered in wet snow. This is April 24th, didn't spring start a few weeks ago?

Today the guys are coming to spray foam the outside of the house. The windows were all covered in plastic in preparation for the job. Not sure if this was necessary; it really depends on the skill level of the person applying the foam. Now our trailer is 8 feet from the house. I don't want to move it but will cover it with a tarp if necessary.

We have two sliding doors and two swing doors to install before the frames get covered in foam. Yesterday TJ and Dave managed to get one door in place. These doors are very heavy and the guys did a great job to get them installed without dropping it.

Dave steadies the sliding door while TJ drives the screws into the buck. Yes, he did shim and made sure the door was level and square before the final attachment.

Like my baffles between the roof trusses? I needed something up there to keep the cellious from cover the soffit, so this was the cheapest method I could come up with. It will be covered and out of sight so it didn't have to be fancy.

The door is in and now it can be sealed with foam. This house should be weather tight and draft proof by the time we get finished.

Thanks for stopping by. Tomorrow I will have pictures of the spray foam going on.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Winter Returned in the Night

Got up this morning and this is what we saw. Looks like Christmas, feels like we want summer.

Enjoy the day, this stuff will hopefully melt by noon.

Our lane Glad I don't need to plow it today.

Wood pile ready for the first winter in our house. Just need to build a wood shed and keep it dry.

Now if the sun would come out this would be a beautiful picture.

17 Second Miracle

Have you read the book Seventeen Second Miracle, written by Jason Wright? It a great story holding many truths about life. We picked up a copy in Quartzsite this past winter at the annual library book sale. It may bring a tear to your eye but it will also cause your heart to soar when you realize the possibilities each of us face each day.

Let me know what you think once you finish the book.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Do I Look Old?

Mary and I often use the Go bus and train to get from Peterborough to Toronto; less stress and cheaper than driving in. So today we were off to see our new grandson for the first time. Marvin was kind enough to drive us out to Trent University where we caught the Go bus and had front row seats. Thanks Marvin.

Now, here we are off to see our grandson for the first and what does everyone take when they see their grandchild for the first time? Pictures. That's when I discovered I left my camera in the truck, first sign of old age today; but not the end of the story.

So the Go bus takes you to Oshawa where you transfer to the Go train, which takes you right in to Union station, Toronto. Total cost $16.90. But as a senior citizen I get the ride for $8.45, not bad.

Now comes part two of feeling older. Being Sunday, there were lots of empty seats on the train, so I sat on one side to see the lake and Mary sat on the other side to avoid the drafty heating vent. I kept our two suitcases with me propped up on the seats in front. Great ride in, very smooth and on time so we were happy. Now the moment of embarrassment.

As the train pulled to a stop and I rose to get the suitcases off the seat, a cute little thing about university age ask, "Do you need help sir? Could I help you?"

She was very sincere and it was very kind of her, but I assured her I could handle things and did manage to get off the train without falling or dropping the luggage.  Yea!

But do I really look that old? Don't answer that unless you're prepared to lie.

Safe travels and I promise next time to take my camera.

Friday, 20 April 2012

First Pictures of Pip

Finally I was able to figure out how to upload the pictures Sherri sent.

Here is dad holding little Pip. Look at that proud smile.

Here is our little grandson, first in the family and we are so happy.

Not sure if he is a good sleeper but we've heard him in the background when we've talked with Sherri on the phone. Can't wait to see him on Sunday.

He Came Early

Little Pip decided he had enough of cramped quarters and decided to be born a month early. Yes, it is a good thing we came home early. Sherri and baby are doing fine. Pip weighed in at 6 lbs, 11 ounces and 50 cm long.

Sorry no pictures. We haven't seen the baby ourselves and the pictures Rob sent I can't transfer over to my blog page.

Mary cried for hours after Sherri called and said "Hi Oma."  We are so thankful that all went well and we now have our first grandchild to hold and spoil. Mary will keep knitting those outfits, I think I will go out and look at ATVs.

Have a great day. We will post pictures of Pip when we get home on Monday.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mice and Fire

Spent yesterday morning installing aluminium screening around the base of our home. My theory is, if those little four legged creatures can't get up the wall, they can't get into the house. Time will tell if my theory is right.

Our crew start at 7 but I was up and going at 6 since I needed to get things done before they arrived and I would be in their way. Here I am cutting the screens into 4" strips. Look a little sleepy, don't I?

Yes, that's frost on our solar panels. It was cold this morning.

The horizontal strapping is just about done and the spray foam will be applied next week. That will really be exciting to see.

So here is a close up of the screen strips attached to the bottom plate. We still need to nail in a strip of 3" plywood along the bottom then cover it all with a strip of aluminium trim.

This is what you don't want to see when you drive into town. No idea what happened but this house will have to come down. The fire destroyed the inside to the point the roof is caving in. Be careful out there folks. Fire can happen quickly when you fail to take the necessary precautions.

Check back tomorrow for some good news. I just have to wait 24 hours before I can share it.

Safe travels.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Horizontal Strapping

We need to get the strapping completed and spray foam applied to the exterior before we can install the steel siding.

HavenCraft is a building firm in Bancroft and they specialize in custom built sustainable homes. Check out their web site for their speciality, timber frame, strawbale homes. The workmanship in the timber frame homes is beautiful. Our home is a Durisol Block, ICF construction which will give us a high R factor as well as passive solar gain from the heat absorbed by the concrete each day and released each night.

One thing I'm very impressed with is the crew's attention to detail. We are strapping the outside with pressure treated wood and TJ makes sure that each cut each painted and sealed for protection.

Dave inspects the equipment and makes sure it is clean and ready to work properly when needed. Even though we are off grid the guys use all the power tools available for convenience and a quality job.

I asked Pat to drop the edge of the steel siding down 2" below the floor height. This I felt would give me a better seal on that joint area where the floor meets the wall. Like wearing a coat that fits snug and looks good on you but just reaches your belt level. Every time you bend over there is a gap and you feel the cold. Yes, I know, the walls aren't going to bend over, but we did have to shim them and an extra layer of insulation can't hurt.

Double check before the final fastening.

Slowly, each job will get done and by the end of August we should be inside and out of the trailer. Yea!

Today, Mary comes home and things get back to normal.

Safe travels and see you tomorrow. Mike, you guys OK? I haven't heard from you in a while.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Boys are Back

Yesterday, Pat our builder came over and we sat down and went through the list of items we need to do to complete stage two of our house construction. We discussed some options and decided on a course of action so everything gets installed properly and in the correct sequence. It is a pleasure to be able to go through the list with someone who is as well organized and conscientious as Pat. We were very fortunate to have selected the builder we did and the architect firm who designed our home. Tom and Christine, our architect team, are approachable and open to sharing information and their perspective from their experience with passive solar homes. We have a great team and the crew actually putting everything together is like family. They do it right the first time, regardless of who is here.

Tomorrow I will post pictures so you can see what work is being done. We expect to have our cement slab floor in by the middle of May, just in time for our first grandchild's arrival. Yea! Isn't that good news Sherri?

Check back tomorrow for pictures and more information. If you have any questions about passive solar construction, or Durisol Blocks, send them and I'll get back to you "asap".

Safe travels Tony

Monday, 16 April 2012

Home Alone

Mary is in Toronto today. She has an appointment with an allergist in the hopes that he/she can pinpoint her allergy problems. I'm in the trailer, waiting for Pat (the builder) and crew to arrive. If we can get started today I'm sure we will be done by the end of August.

Missed a Kodak moment this morning. Looked outside and there was a Big Old Tom Turkey strutting his finest for the ladies to see. He fluffed up his feathers, turned, posed, turned and posed again. And there I sat watching and no camera. ERRRRRRRR!

Have a great day. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Building Blocks

Some of you are wondering what we used to build our house. Since we are building off grid and need to conserve energy we decided to use Durisol building blocks. Well we didn't really decide it was highly recommended by Tom and Christine our architects and we are very happy with the product.

Here is the block as it comes from the factory, minus the label of course. It is 12 inches high, 12 inches wide and 24 inches long. It weighs about 32 pounds and is dry stacked without mortar.

The block is made from wood fibre and cement and has the insulation on the outside facing part of the block.  That hollow space we fill with cement.

Once all the blocks are stacked to make a wall they are filled with cement and rebar. This creates a very durable wall with a high R-value (R-32)

Next job will be to install horizontal strapping to the vertical strapping, then two inches of spray foam between the strapping. Once this has cured the entire wall will be covered with metal siding and the outside
will be complete.

Friday, 13 April 2012

First Job

Our building crew will be here on Monday to get started on stage two of our house building project. There are two jobs they can work on and I suspect the weather will dictate what order they get done. If it rains, the crew will work inside strapping the ceiling so they can nail drywall up. If the sun is shining they can work outside doing the horizontal 2x4 strapping so the steel siding can be attached and the exterior properly covered. Which will get done first?

This is the east side of our house, about 10 am, plenty of sunshine and in the winter the bedrooms will be warm from the sun. No sleeping in when the sun is up.

 Here, Mary can enjoy her morning coffee and look out across the pond. Once the trees start to fill out with leaves the view will change but every season has its unique flavour, so we enjoy them all.

This was taken from the south edge of the deck. We need to get Steve back with his excavator to do some landscaping and place those huge boulders where Mary wants them.

As you can see, inside there is nothing. First job will be to strap the ceiling, then the drains have to go in before we spray foam over all this gravel. This area will be the great room, where we will spend our days. It will contain the kitchen, livingroom, dining room and quilt room. Yes, Mary gets her own space for quilting.

Looking north from the same spot as above we are looking at the bedrooms on the right, mechanical room, laundry room and master bathroom on the left. Keep your fingers crossed, we want this done by August so Sherri, Pip and Rob can come up and stay in comfort for a few days. We'll see.

Looking at the great room from the outside, you can see that it faces south and gets the most light of any room in the house. This shot was taken at 12 noon, April 12th and you can see the sunshine is about 1/4 of the way up the wall. This is due to the large overhang of the roof which allows the winter sun to come in but keeps the hot summer sun out of the house, so the house stays cool in summer and warm in winter.

Keep these pictures in mind because I'll take them again in August and you can compare the changes.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Our Homes

Sean and Casey move into their new home in May.  Our "blog header" has a combination of  pictures. Sean and Casey own the finished house, our home is a work in progress.

WE drove by it yesterday and took this picture. It's a beautiful house in a great location and the neighbourhood looks well maintained. I like the fact that it's all brick, no maintenance and has a large backyard (with a pool). Hope we get invited to the BBQ parties this summer.

Our place sits quietly waiting for the builder. We expect Pat and crew to be here Monday to resume work on stage two.

The interior needs to be completed along with the steel siding and insulation. Electrical and plumbing need to be finished along with the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms. Hopefully by the end of August we will have everything working and be ready for family and friends to drop by.

Check back often as we will update our blog daily once the crew is here.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


We are now back in Bancroft and although it's overcast, cool and rainy, we are glad to be home.

When we left last November the steel roofing wasn't done. We are very happy with the job and the look.

Pat and crew finally got all the windows in after much adjusting. Thanks guys they look great.

Now it's time to get the job completed. Hopefully by the end of August we will be inside enjoying the space and comfort of our new home.

Meanwhile we are living in our trailer, staying warm and cleaning up the yard.

Check back next week for a update on our summer construction plans.