Mill Creek Haunted Hollow: Construction BLOG

Entry 88: August 9, 2012
Still working on the proper documentation for my meeting with the County on Tuesday. I think I have everything in order now, but I won't hear back from the office until tomorrow because they're closed on Thursdays (typical). So, I'm finishing up some sheathing issues and my wife is still diligently working on the front doors.

It takes a lot of patience to scrape out all the old paint from the molding, but my wife is sticking with it.

We can actually see wood grain! The paint stripper does a lot of the work, but the sander really cleans things up.

Posted by Danielj2705: You seem to be doing a brilliant job with those doors. Can't wait to see them in place.

Entry 89: August 10, 2012
I need to move the heating vent in my daughter's bedroom so that its in front of the new windows and not in the new closet. Unfortunately, the easy path means cutting through two floor joists, which I know is a HUGE no-no. So I'm trying to figure out what I can do.

This is the second floor, so if I want to move the heat duct over to the proper joist void, I would need to cut out the closet in the downstairs bedroom so that I could remove the ductwork that goes up the wall, then go under the house and move the duct joint from the main line over, then feed it up the new wall area and come across between the proper joist void to the area between the new windows.

Now that all sounds like a huge mess to me.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Posted by Cathartik: Would running a bulkhead in the room below not work?
Not a bad idea, but there's a window in the downstairs bedroom and a bulkhead would just look terrible. I mean, I think it would look completely out of place (no other bulkheads in the house). I would rather cut through the drywall in the closet and re-run the duct.

You know, the more I think about it, a bulkhead might not be the worst option. I can build the box pretty shallow, and I can center it over the window, so it looks even. I'll have to conference with the wife on that option.

Thanks, cathartik!

Cathartik, the wife loves the idea of a simple bulkhead. It won't be that big because it only has to fit a 6" duct, and I can center it over the window. Also, we have to replace some of that drywall anyway, so it's a win/win.

Entry 90: August 11, 2012
One of the county folks wanted a clear description of what is "additional" or "new" and what is original. Came up with these two illustrations.

I must confess, I'm getting tired of County Planning and Development. Seems all they want is money. They either want me to pay for permits and stuff, or they want me to pay other people to get approval (i.e., engineer, electrician, etc.) I mean, isn't that what they're for? To come out and check on what I'm doing and make sure it's being done right? So how come they can't officially validate anything? They can't approve the electrical, I have to pay an electrician to look at my work for 10 minutes, sign off a checklist, and pay him $100. Same with the structural plans. The county can't approve anything, they can only require that I pay an engineer $500+ to look over my work and stamp their approval.

Getting aggrivated. Can't wait to finish.

Entry 90, Continued: August 11, 2012
Took me two hours, but I have framed out and hung my new office door.

Posted by JimmyZDC: Isn't it amazing how much of a pain is it to hang a single door. So much time to get everything level and right :P. Well bittersweet news for myself. We are moving. Gonna be in the similar boat as you. Perpetual construction for a while. The house was built in the 1966 and its had nothing done to it for a while so its gotta pretty much be gutted inside. Gonna be a lot of work but the outside is a colonial style and lends well to Halloween. I told my wife when we were looking the house had to be Hauntable :P

I'm not sure how Halloween will happen this year so I'm pretty bummed out. I think we will still be in our current house but it will be up for sale. Wife wasn't to keen on me having it decorated while we are trying to sell it. At least if we are still here I'm going to make a sign to let everyone know to follow me on facebook and our new address. Luckly its only 3 miles away. But I'm hoping people will still come to check it out next year in our new location. My biggest fear is no ToTs in the new neighborhood. I will be crushed

Posted by MissMandy: That should be one of the first things you ask the realtor
Yes, it's definitely a aggrivating struggle. But once it's done, it's very satisfying.

Wow, an undisturbed 1966. You may be in for some scary finds. Lead-based paint, insufficient wiring, asbestos. That could be a real handful! The colonial style could be very cool. You'll have to post a pic or two!

If you let people know, maybe even hand out fliers this year, people will come. When I started out, we only had a few kids from the neighborhood come by. Now, we're a local favorite with people driving in all month long to see everything get set up. If you haunt it, they will come.

Posted by Frughoul: 500+ for an engineer to approve your plans?!? That's ridiculous, what is there to inspect? You've built this thing pretty good from what I can tell. Besides, what is he going to say besides "approved"? Not like he can make you do anything different from what you've already build. What a ripoff. Sorry man, hang in there, once you get past the county you'll have an awesome house!
Posted by Raven's Hollow Cemetery: Hang in there TK, dealing with the bureaucracy is never the easiest thing. And yes, it's mostly a bunch of bs, but there's no way around it. So take a deep breath, put on your hip waders, and grab a snorkel. Because it's going to get deep before it's all said & done. I wish you luck sir

Also, I agree with GothiKim's assesment on the cornice valances. They will disguise that bulkhead in a beautiful, period correct way. Plus, they're pretty easy to make, and quite inexpensive when you DIY them.

Entry 91: August 12, 2012
Slowly getting some electrical work done on the house before my big meeting with the county on Tuesday. I was able to wire all the new outlets and install the three outdoor balcony outlets. They'll be a lifesaver when it's time to decorate.

In an attempt to come across as "not so crazy" at the county meeting on Tuesday, I shaved my magnificient chops back to a respectable length using a #5 guard. I have 80 days before Halloween to grow them out and crazy again.

Posted by MissMandy: Nice to see ya there, TK! I give you kudos over the fact that you can still smile even with all the stress of this build. lol
Posted by Stick: 1) The engineer is signing there name on the plans saying it is safe to live in. 2) If the engineer did see something bad he can make TK tear it out and correct or not be approved. 3) If anything happens in the future to the house he would most likely be the first person some one would sue saying that that he approved something that was not safe even if it had Nothing to doing with the structure of the home. So the Engineer has lot more to lose with costly court cost in the future than the few dollars that he is going to get. Plus the engineer has to inspect the home/plans and have a report type up for the approving government agency and have to deal with them also so it is not a five minute process.

I thing you are are getting a great deal of a price. Yes I do work for and engineer and have to deal with the governmental BS all the time.
Looking forward like you till the day you can say it is DONE / FINISHED.

Posted by IowaGuy: I would have to agree, who has ever been able to say "my house was modeled to be for Halloween"?
Stick, you're right. The engineer is putting their neck out there, I'm just a bit frustrated because I'm the one doing all the work. He's just checking my work. But again, you're right, he's the one who's name will be on the plans and the calculations, so it's important to him to make sure everything is accurate. I'm hoping I can have all the work checked and any revisions made for $500, but we'll see. It's an onging process.

Entry 92: August 14, 2012
Nightmare Day. I have to get a structural engineer to do a site visit to check the foundation, then look over my plans and do load and sheer calculations. I've got a friend coming over to look at things and see what we can do. He does commercial building, but knows a lot of people.

I'm crossing my fingers, but I met a real b!tch down at Planning and Development. She's the first mean person I've met during my experience with the county, but she made me feel like a scolded child, like nothing I did was right. It was very frustrating and I do not look forward to dealing with her again.

I'm a grown man and father to four children, and this witch almost had me in tears.

Posted by SavageEye: Curse her… doesn't she know that she has thousands of people on the edge of their seat waiting for this build to be complete? Sounds like she needs to be burned at the stake! (just kidding, I would never wish harm on someone… on second thought?)
Posted by Ghost of Spookie: Sorry today was rough. We've had work done on our property by contractors and I know when the inspections happen and things don't always go the way you hope it's frustrating. Putting in the work yourself makes it more personal I'm sure. Our landscape contractor who was doing our dining pergola had to get a structual engineering report done before he could proceed. Think it cost us an extra $500 for the report, that was an unpleasant surprise for us and something not planned for by our contractor. We've got ample footings on it now and I'm sure it will take some really strong earthquake to bring down the concrete columns and beams.

The foundation, load and sheer issues you mentioned are super critical to your safety in high winds, structure settling, etc. so when it's all said and done you'll have piece of mind in the end at least. I'm actually surprised this kind of report wasn't required in the initial stages. I hope you get hooked up with the structural engineer you need quickly and get back on track soon. We're all pulling for you....So I figure you either put on boxing gloves and punched a bag or had a few beers tonight after dealing with Ms. B.

Posted by MissMandy: I can't tolerate that kinda crap. I'm the nicest person in the world, but if you're rude or disrespectful to're going to hear it! Just gets my blood boiling Sorry you had to deal with such a nasty person, TK. Not everyone is like that, but sometimes it just takes one a$$ to ruin it
Posted by Frughoul: That's intolerable. Haven't you spent enough already? We've all seen your plans, and we've seen your work, it's incredible! Keep your head up, karma will deal with this person.
Good news, everyone!

Found out one of my oldest daughter's friend's father is a commercial building contractor and knows a lot of people at the county offices, as well as some good structural engineers and the like. I'm reworking my blue prints per SP&D requests, then I'm going to print them out and he's going to do a walk-thru with me. He will also get a friend of his (a structural engineer) to help me out!!

A little light at the end of the tunnel.

Entry 93: August 21, 2012
I've been doing a bit of work here and there, but it's been on hold while I work with the engineer to get the right materials to the county. I'm really hoping the engineer with come through this week and I can get a quick meeting with the county. With any luck, I can start putting on the roof soon.

Entry 94: August 22, 2012
Been using my jigsaw so much, I think I've developed "tennis elbow". My elbow is sore and my forearm muscles are tired and weak.

Entry 95: August 23, 2012
We've finally picked our shingles. I'm still a little worried that the overall house is going to be too grey, but the wife really likes the varience in color of these shingles. Plus, they're high wind and algae resistant. Lowe's doesn't carry them in stock, so I'm going to have to order them.

Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration Estate Gray AR Laminate Shingles Item #: 135316 | Model #: TD20

Entry 96: August 25, 2012
Getting some work done inside while I wait for the shingles to arrive. I have to add 1.5" to the exterior walls to meet current code. Used to be you could just have a 2x4 wall with R-15 insulation, but in 2009 they changed the code to require exterior walls be build with 2x6s so you could put in R-21. So, now I'm widening the exterior walls and putting in the R-21. Bit of a pain, but necessary.

Remarkable how much additional space is in the master bedroom now. The walls have been up for a while, but I finally moved my desk into the new office and can see the actual size of the additional space in the bedroom.

Another shot of the bedroom with the insulation in. I'm insulating the office for sound. Just using R-13 for that.

I've moved into the office! It's only temporary while I do work in the bedroom. I'll have to move out again so I can drywall the office after the county inspection.

Entry 97: August 28, 2012
I still need to get the engineer to finish the lateral and gravity report, and he may need to come out and check the foundation and write up a separate report. It's time consuming and frustrating, but it's what the county wants.

Since I'm still waiting on the Engineer, so far, widening the walls to allow for R-21 is the biggest thing. I also had to replace one of the bedroom windows with a casement window so it would fulfill the egress requirement (but that was easy).

The next thing I need to check off the list is the electrical inspection. I've installed the sub-panel and just about everything is wired up. I need to take out one length of 14/2 and replace it with 14/3 because I bought a light/fan kit for the office. Once again, just a little thing and easy to do while all the studs are still exposed.

Entry 98: August 30, 2012
Wrapping the house and doing some painting.

Wrapping the exterior before trim and siding goes up. I'm also hoping to finish the roof paper and get some shingles on. Gotta beat the rain!!

This is the new paint color. I put some in my sprayer and did the bay window so I could see what it will look like. It's dark, but I like it!

Posted by Mordessa: Did you get all the approvals and everything now that you needed?
Still working on some of the permit issues, but I can "secure for weather", so I'm doing what I can.
Posted by Ghost of Spookie: TK I'm so use to seeing your house with the green siding from all the pics, but have to say I like the foggy gray color (at least it looks that color on my display). Who's it by and what color is it called? All the architectual details you accent with should show up nicely against it. And a much better color for halloween too! It's coming along beautifully and I can't wait to see pics of the house with the railings and the shingles up. The front doors shown in a photo as your wife was painting them many pages ago are going to look great on the front of the house. Here's to wishing you good weather.
Posted by Bethene: Love the color,, and a reading nook is a fantastic idea,, I agree with Ghost of Spookie,, the door will look fabulous with the color of the house, and the trim!

Entry 99: August 31, 2012
Had some time before dinner to play with my router. This is what I'm thinking of putting together for the window exterior.

This will fit around the new 2' x 4' windows I've installed. Each one is about $7 worth of lumber (2 2x4s and part of a 2x6).

Here's a bit more detail. I am using one bit for all the detail. This makes it easier and faster, but I think I chose a good bit. The style works.

Posted by N2Darkness: I like the look your going for and the routed detail will stand out when painted. I'm sure price is a factor at this point, but I think you might want to use a more exterior grade wood for this such as primed spruce. It is used on a lot of houses now for window and door casings. I would just hate for you to have to replace some of this in less than 5 years time.
That's not a bad idea. I'm happy to play around with some 2x4s to get the shape and look, but I'll check Lowe's tomorrow for their primed spruce.
Posted by N2Darkness: I'm not sure if you have a lumber yard around you or not like Parr, but I think it may be cheaper than Lowe's or Home Depot.
I've got Lowe's, Home Depot, Chinook Lumber, and Dunn Lumber all within a few miles of my house. For long boards, Dunn Lumber is the place to go. Dunn carries lengths up to 20 ft and above. It's great! I go to them for most of my oversized structural lumber, and I do like getting other materials from them as well.

For 2x4 hem/fir, Lowe's has them for $2.48 vs. Dunn at $3.58. Dunn does offer a lower grade "green hem/fir" for $2.12, but it's prone to warping. Chinook Lumber is just overpriced. Everything I would want there is 10% - 20% higher than Lowe's.

Lowe's also beats the others on OSB Sheathing. The prices change daily (and they have been climbing) but right now Lowe's (and HD) has OSB 7/16 sheathing for $12.97 a 4x8 sheet. (Sadly, I reemmber when it was under $5 a sheet) Dunn wants $14.43 for the same board.

I definitely shop around, and I have found different prices at different stores. The Lowe's I go to has good stuff at good prices, and the sales tax is lower than a few of the other stores closer to the city.

Posted by Bethane: That will look great around the windows! I am so enjoying watching this come together.
Posted by Terror Tom: TK, I was looking at your window molding treatment and I came up with some ideas. I hope you don't mind. I was thinking some dentil details on the top and bottom. Some medallions on the top and bottom. And using the router to make flutes on the sides. The dentil detail could be glued on with some waterproof glue and some attached with some small finish nails. I almost forgot the arched pieces under the top. Please excuse my very bad paint rendition. Kind like this:

I like the addition of the dental trim at the top and bottom. I think that adds a lot to the overall look. I'll have to go Lack to lowes and pick some up. I played with the idea of running a round bit down for some flutes, but so far I haven't found the "right look". I think if I go with a smaller bit and try for two flutes per side it will look better. I also have to set up the router jig so I don't accidently go all over the place with the router.

Now tell me what I should be doing with the arch at the top, because I'm at a loss. I don't want to leave it empty, or that deep. I think I'm just inviting birds that way. Thanks for the modifications!!

Posted by Terror Tom: TK, how about putting a piece of plywood in there set back a little bit. Get some thin cedar board and cut out some scalloped miniature shingles to cover the plywood. Kinda like fish scales. That should keep out the birds and add a little bit of detail.
I think the area is too small for that. Scallops need some height to show their curve (like a good woman, eh?) and I don't think I have that in the arch.
I joked to my wife that I could put a little naitivity scene in there! If I had some good 6" skulls, I could put them in, but I don't think my wife would go for that.
Who knows . . . maybe after she sees them installed?
Posted by Terror Tom: How about a circular medallion on plywood? I know again with the medallions or I thought maybe something like this.

Posted by Irishguy: Whatever you do above the windows, Make it hinged panel to lay flat and paint the inside void space black. That way, you can hide some glowing eyes up there for Halloween!
I like the idea, but I'll have to see if I have the room. The arch is pretty short.

Entry 100: September 3, 2012
I have constructed and attached the double window molding for my office windows. Thank you, Terror Tom, for your suggestion of putting dental trim on. I couldn't find anything I liked at Lowes, so I just came home and did it myself with some scrap. I have to say, I think it looks pretty good.

Everything is glued together with all-weather, waterproof glue, and I used screws for all the main pieces (much stronger against weather than a nail).

If I have time tomorrow, I'll mask off the windows and hit it with primer, then at least two coats of the exterior, anti-everything paint.

By keeping the detail large, you can still see it from the front yard.

Just another shot that gives a little more perspective against the tower and house.

I'm still thinking about what to put in the arches above the molding, and I might still add a medallion or two. For now, I just wanted to get the main elements in place so I could appreciate them and show some progress.

Entry 101: September 5, 2012
I've been cutting more wood for the various window casings and I thought I would ask everyone a question. I like the single and double arch, but I'm wondering if I should do something special for the triple window? I can go wtih three symmetrical arches, or I can do something more significant with the middle.

This is what I'll go with if you can't make any good suggestions!

Posted by NormalLikeYou: I don't usually go for symmetry, but for what it's worth I like the three symmetrical arches. I am loving following your progress. I think it would look pretty cool if you filled in each of the arches with a custom relief of bats or a spiderweb design or something. It would just add a subtle, ever so slightly creepy awesome detail.
Posted by Irishguy: I'm getting a Tim Burton feeling looking at the triple windows. Maybe raise the arch and extend outwards it at the peak? Just a thought.
Posted by SavageEye: For me it would depend on the location of the triple window. Can you post a pic of the space?
Here's a shot from a month ago that shows where the triple window is located.

Okay, This is what I came up with. This will distinguish the triple window and give it some character.

Entry 102: September 6, 2012
It's a small accomplishment, but I feel better. I was able to get the new shingles and started putting them on. I can't get in trouble for re-roofing the existing section of roof, so that's what I'm doing.

Posted by Mordessa: TK, I'm just curious, why did you choose to go with three windows rather than a picture window for your bedroom? Was there a practical reason or was it your preference? It looks like the perfect spot for a picture window to me.
Building code states every bedroom must have an alternate means of exit, like an emergency window. This means the window has to open with a minimum area of 5.7 sq ft. Because of this "egress window" requirement, I couldn't put in a larger, fixed window. More than that, I really wanted to keep the windows consistant and in fashion with the victorian style. The victorian homes I've looked at don't have large windows. They have narrow windows, but will opten put two or three together for more light.
Posted by Mordessa: Not to give you any extra work to do or anything, but have you tried making a sketch of the three windows with one top over all of them, in the same style, rather than individual arches? I'm thinking something along the lines of taking that middle top in your last posted sketch and extending it to the full length of all three windows and then having just one mild arch, which a cool spiderweb-like latticey thing in there. I wish I could sketch what I'm thinking, but that's the best I can do. Not sure how well it would work, but might be interesting to see if it would, if a sketch of something like that doesn't take too long or too much effort. lol
Funny you should say that. That was my first design! After drawing it up, I just didn't like it was much as the individual arches. I thought they added more distinction and detail.

Posted by Mordessa: I do love that notch in the middle of the center arch though. That adds a lot to the character, in my opinion. (Plus it'd be a fun place to up a spider or a small skull or bat during the season just as an accent.)
I like the notch, too. I was worried it might not be in keeping with a victorian as it is a bit more on the Italianate side, but the two do go hand-in-hand.
Posted by Witchy Poo: I don't comment much on this thread but I read it every time you post. I just want to say that I love what you are doing and can't wait to see the final pics
Posted by SavageEye: For me it would depend on the location of the triple window. Can you post a pic of the space?
Posted by Mordessa: I can see why you didn't like this first sketch you did, the arch looks somewhat odd, like it's not high enough to compliment the windows or something. What if you raised the arch that you have in that last sketch so that it's the same proportion as it has as the middle window and then put the notch back in? How would that look? I was thinking the whole thing above the windows, with the dentil thing and everything stretching all the way across, and then the arch above that. Would that appeal more to you?
I can't raise the arch too much because I have a corbel run above the windows, under the mansard roof. This is part of the eleveation illustration that shows the corbels under the roof. I don't want the window trim to bump into that row.

Posted by Mordessa: I'm not an expert on Victorian architecture, but I think they all sorta borrowed from each other at that time, didn't they? I know there are some Victorian manors that I've seen with notches like that. Just a thought.
You're right, they did all borrow from one another. Victorian, Edwardian, Gothic, Federalist, Stick, Italianate, etc. So I think I'm save putting things I like on the house.
Posted by Mordessa: I think it's great that you are letting us give you our input, even if you don't use most of it, it is awesome of you to let us feel like we're involved in this particular dream project!! Thanks for that!
Collaboration can be a gift. Some of the ideas people have put forward are very useful.
Posted by Frughoul: Dude you're a lot more patient than I am. I just realized that when you put the siding on you'll have to cut it to match all these angles and arches and stuff. Guess there's no real easy way to knock it out quick, is there?
Posted by SavageHaunter: I LOVE what you have done to your house TK. I hope you build a Cousin IT prop to look out one of the windows. I really think it is an old school gothic looking house now.
Posted by Raven's Hollow Cemetery: It's been a while since I've had time to visit this thread. Love the casements, and the triple window plan looks especially nice TK. What problems are they giving you with the permits?
The county isn't making things difficult. They gave me a list of things I need to draw up and I've been too busy to get everything done. It took me three weeks to find an engineer that had the time to help, but wouldn't charge me an arm and a leg.
Posted by Raven's Hollow Cemetery: That's good to hear. Some inspectors & the permitting process can be a downright pain to work with. Yeah, engie's tend to ask seemingly outlandish rates, but I'm glad you found decent one to help out.
Has the inspector gotten everything squared away, or are you still waiting for the inspection?
So far, so good, but I need to finish some drawings that detail the beams, brackets, and loads. Then take that over to the engineer so he can confirm and stamp everything. Once the engineer stamps the plans, then the inspector can come out to make sure I'm following the plans.
Posted by Raven's Hollow Cemetery: Gotta love the bureaucracy. The long way around the elbow to get to your... I kid, I kid (only if there's a bureaucrat reading this. If there isn't, then I'm definitely not kidding). =D

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