Interior Panorama

Interior Panorama

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 30th Status

We've reached the 90% completion stage for framing as of Friday the
28th. The picture shows the bedrooms, baths and lofts are finished,
with the raised kitchen floor and barn facade being the last remaining
major items to frame.

Height Perception: Is that a tall door or a short woman?

It's been two weeks since we started the framing and we're about 90% finished.  I've come to realize how we perceive the size of a room on more of a relative as opposed to absolute scale. As a clear open space, the 12' high ceilings in the Hay Loft felt spacious but not overly high.  However, once we erected the hallway walls it made the ceiling feel way higher and almost cavernous because of the 3'6" wide hallway. I figured that we need to build on this stretching effect by putting in some bedroom doors that exaggerated the height, so we made the doors as tall as we possibly could at 7'6".  I also decided to lift an idea that I've seen in old office buildings, particularly the old Mills Block (former home of Motion Picture and Sound) where the interior doors all have operable windows directly above the doors.  Think New York City private detective's office and you'll know what I mean.  So now we've got bedroom/bath entrances that will be 30" wide by about 11' tall. Fir will be the wood of choice for the doors and most of the finishing.  It matches the exposed fir ceiling joists and is a bit of a throwback to when the building was built in 1935.

Unfortunately the height of the doors, while proportionately fitting into the Hay Loft better, will have a negative effect on people, essentially making them look shorter when standing in front of the doors.  Sorry Lover....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Progress Report

Over the last week we finished installing the radiant floor heat tubing and pouring the concrete floor for the Hay Loft.  I've been working with Vic Ellis of Sustainable Concepts Inc. and Bruce Kell, both of whom have really impressed me with not only their technical expertise in RFH systems but also with their holistic view of building energy efficient heating systems.  
The project is moving along at a really great pace.  The two main guys working with me, Ken Heath and Willie, are champs and have really been moving things along well.  I'm shooting to be in the house on June 1st. Carrie remains skeptical....

Bubinga Countertop

I bought a massive (4' wide x 11' long x 2" thick) slab of African Bubinga on Friday for the counter top of my kitchen island.  It is the most spectacular piece of natural material that I've ever witnessed and can't believe that it's going to become part of our Hay Loft....

Not All Barns Are Created Equal...

I realize more and more just how much I don't know about the history of my home province.  I'm in the middle of doing research on construction techniques for barns and grain elevators.  You see, our Hay Loft will have two home offices for Carrie and I that pay tribute to the farming roots of Saskatchewan by emulating a barn and Saskatchewan Pool grain elevator.  
It turns out that not all barns are created equal; log barns were among the first built in North America by early settlers; Dutch Barns, which have more of a
 boxy appearance and resemble war-time houses, utilized mostly heavy timber post and beam construction techniques and date back almost 2000 years; English Barns, another common old-European style of barn, also used post and beam timber frame construction, had a more rectangular form and in some ways resembles early 20th century housing; Quebec Long Barns, which are somewhat self explanatory; Bank Barns, which separated the crops from livestock and originated from German and Mennonite Swiss farmers; Round and Polygonal Barns (again, self explanatory) which I'm convinced was designed by an engineer who had no practical experience with farming (ie. maximum volume to exterior wall ratio);  and new-world gambrel roofed barns (which we're quite familiar with in Saskatchewan) that were constructed using dimensional lumber rather than traditional timber framing techniques.  

It turns out that when I've said I'm building a barn in our Hay Loft (which is inverted in itself) I actually mean that I'm building a new-world gambrel roof barn.  Sorry for any confusion I may have created.  For more info please see Jon Radojkovic's Barn Building: The Golden Age of Barn Construction.
I'm having a bit more trouble finding documentation on grain elevator construction techniques. I've found a great website that has photos of most of the remaining grain elevators in Saskatchewan. My hunt will continue....

We're starting to frame the interior walls this week, so I'm super excited to see the walls go up.  It's going to be an exciting week with lots of decisions to be made.  Time to finalize the design details on my barn and grain elevator...