Mill Creek Haunted Hollow: Construction BLOG

Entry 141: April 23, 2013
Had a nice, sunny afternoon. Was able to get the other three porch posts started. All the bases are now complete.

Put up the double panels and lower molding around the remaining three porch columns.

Had enough time to go around and caulk seams and do some sanding, too!

This post is so close to the wall, I had to use clamps to glue the inside panels to the post. Going to be awkward to paint.

Entry 142: April 25, 2013
Another nice day and I'm taking advantage of the weather to put the new roof on the apothecary tower.

The view from the front tower area looking up to the tower.

The 8-sided tower base is finally in place. Believe it or not, this took a long time to fit just right so I had the proper 9 in. lip over the entire tower structure.

Looking at the tower roof base from the balcony/second floor walkway.

Looking at the tower base section from the driveway below. The roof sections will rest on top of the octagon.

Posted by Ghost of Spookie: I love how the skellies are supervising the various areas!
The post bases and scroll work are looking good. Are you planning a slight slope into the posts' flat areas so water/snow/ice will tend to drip off? During construction we had to have our capping stone on our outdoor seating area redone to tilt slightly. They said they would factor that in and then forgot on install. Caught it before it got mortared on. Now everything drains nicely and no water pools to stain.
I don't know what it's called but are you adding "fencing and rails" between the posts or will it be an open porch?
Posted by KillerHaunts: I just noticed that tree in your yard! It's so awesome! So mossy and spooky! BTW GREAT work on your house, too. I drool every time you post new pictures!
HA! Thanks, the skellies do seem to be hanging around everywhere.
The porch posts do have a slope to them, so any water that does land on them will run off, but the posts are also under the eve of the porch roof, so they're pretty save from water.
My plan is to add a railing and balusters to the front porch, I just haven't put them together yet.

Entry 142, Continued: April 25, 2013
My daughter (Kylara, 16) came up with a good idea to put pegs in the center pin so the tower rafters could slip into place. It took an hour to drill all the holes, cut the dowel, etc. but it works like a charm. (She came up with the idea as I was trying to hold onto the octagon center pin and figure out how I could nail into it while she held on to one of the rafters).

The octagon center pin with four of the eight rafters in place. My daughter can be clever!

Four out of eight rafters in place and the tower roof is taking shape.

All eight rafters in place (thanks to the pegs) and everything fits together like a glove.

Looking good and ready for sheathing.

This is what it looks like from the driveway. I spent the last bit of the evening measuring and cutting the eight side panels of sheathing and getting them up to the roof, but I couldn't hold the sheathing in place and nail at the same time, so I decided to call it a day and take a shower.

Still, proud of what I was able to get done today.

Posted by Ghost of Spookie: Wow, nice roof topper there. Very clever you guys. Sort of reminds me of a witch's hat, just needs a brim. That is a cool tower. What room is that going to be? BTW like the address plaque typeface.
Posted by Stick: It is all moving in a positive direction and looking great as always. Keep up the great work.
HA! Thanks, the skellies do seem to be hanging around everywhere.
The porch posts do have a slope to them, so any water that does land on them will run off, but the posts are also under the eve of the porch roof, so they're pretty save from water.
My plan is to add a railing and balusters to the front porch, I just haven't put them together yet.

Entry 143: April 26, 2013
Finally got the sheathing on the garage tower roof. Still need to put the little dormers on, and the shingles, and the ridge accents, but hey, it's a lot better than it was!

It might not look like much, but each triangle is 43.5 in wide and 90 in tall. And there's eight of them!!

This is what if looks like from the driveway. Again, it might not look that impressive, but believe me, when you're carrying everything up there and trying to balance, it's a lot of work!

Posted by Ghost of Spookie: It might not look like much or look that impressive?! Are you kidding? From this side of the computer it's amazing what you have built.
Posted by Mordessa: I'm with Spookie on that one buddy! This has still got to be the coolest thing I've ever seen! I soooo envy you!
I can't even replace the railing on my freaking stairs so I can sell my house! :P ... You are amazing!

Entry 144: April 27, 2013
Cloudy, windy day, so I decided to stay inside and give my back a rest. Took some time to design the gable fretwork for the small dormers I will put on the tower over the garage. Here is the design I came up with. There will be five dormers. Four of them will be plain and the center will have the version with the spider.

Posted by Ghost of Spookie: A spider! Very cool. I love how you saw that design and saw a spider spinning a web from it. This really is a halloween inspired dream home.

Entry 145: April 28, 2013
Slowing down a bit as the weather returns to the gloomy normal of the northwest. Had some time to print out the gable fretwork pattern, trace it onto the 1/4 in. fir plywood, and cut it out with the new scroll saw. Also cut out some 1/2 in. fir plywood backstock, and cut and routered the A-frame for the small garage dormers.

Trace the pattern onto the 1/4 in. plywood.

Cut out the 1/2 in. back panel and put together the A-frame for the dormer. Routered the inside edge, too.

Dry fit the gable fretwork to make sire everything looks good.

Burgundy for the background of the dormer.

Primed all of the pieces that will eventually be white.

Posted by Halloween Scream: Outstanding! As part of my weekly Sunday tradition, I get caught up on this thread. I love the recent photos. The detail of the spider in the dormer is one of my favorite so far. Keep up the great work TK!
Posted by Stick: I look forward to the updates so thanks for doing them and as for it does not look like much come on that is some under taking for one person.

Entry 146: April 29, 2013
Paint dried overnight so I put the pieces together this morning to see how they look. I still need to put the trim color white on the gable and fretwork, but you definitely get the idea with the primer.

This is what is should look like when it's all together. I'll glue everything in place and probably use a couple of short brad nails as well. To clean up the seems, I'll use a bit of all-weather wood fill and then touch up with paint.

This is what the one with the spider will look like. Haven't painted the dowel yet, but you get the idea.

Entry 147: May 1, 2013
Two steps forward, one step back.

Turns out my engineer doesn't actually do Inspection Engineering, meaning he doesn't do walk-thru inspections, and he has since picked up some full-time work and doesn't have a lot of time for my project anymore, so now he is recommending I go to another engineering group that specializes in inspection engineering so I can fulfill one of the last requirements of the county.

So now I have to find an inspection engineer and spend more money. I really don't know what's going to be left for the county to inspect after I pay for everything to be inspected on my own.

Entry 147, Continued: May 1, 2013
This is the email I wish I could send back to the county in response to my latest hurdle:

Since I now have to find an engineer to inspect the work I have already done, and then bring any substandard work up to code before the engineer can submit his report. What is left for the county to do? I mean, since I've been "red-flagged", should I just complete the project (minus drywall) and work with the new inspection engineer? It's costing me more money, but it might save the county some time, if you actually approve the inspection engineer's report.

After that, I have no idea what you would still need to do?

Remember, this is my first time at all this, and so far, it's exactly the tumor-inducing, heart-shredding, social-wrecking, psychotic-breaking trauma everyone told me it would be.

Posted by Stick: "If there is ever a next time Rule number 1 get plans approved first, then start construction and you would avoid a lot of the trauma you have had. Coming from somebody that has to deal with the county all the time.
Very, very true. Just extremely frustrating situation. Every time I think I'm making headway, something new jumps in front of my path, halting my progress.

It's actually really nice that I have this forum to post to on occasions like this where I really just need to vent my frustrations. Much better then yelling at the people in the county offices and making things about a thousand times worse.

Posted by SavageEye: Just be thankful you don't live in California!
Posted by Dark Tiki Studios: This is the highest level commitment to home haunting I have ever witnessed! It is looking SO good! Don't give up! You sir are an inspiration.

Entry 148: May 3, 2013
Had some good afternoons and evenings this week working on the scroll saw. Got all the fretwork done for the five tower dormers. Now I just need to do the little spider!

Entry 149: May 5, 2013
What do you think?

Still enjoying my new scroll saw. So much, in fact, I'm changing my main corbels to a new (and easier) design. I didn't like how the original design was weathering. Trying to join the long curve was difficult, and after a while, the uneven seams would reappear. With this new version, I use less wood, I have fewer pieces to line up, and the joints are more natural, so they'll weather better and be more protected.

I have to make about 50 of these, so I'm happy to have a simpler way to do it that actually looks better!

Old version was the same thickness throughout and the wide curve was hard to blend. New version tapers so I don't have to blend seams.

New version has three distinct sections, so it will be easier to seal and has more visual appeal from a distance.

By not having the center try to curve into another piece, but rather round out, I don't have to be as precise and worry about sanding down the inner curve like I was trying to do with the original version.

Posted by Ghost of Spookie: Nice job working with the scroll saw.

OK for me I still prefer your original design in overall look. Might be the uniform thickness of the pieces or the simple curve to it. I also wonder if in the second design your not making the pieces too small and the scale will look off in the final mounting. Now that you have the scroll saw couldn't you combine pieces 2 and 3 into one piece and cut the design out of one block (or is it 2, 3 and 4? counting your outside angled piece as Piece 1)? Then only 2 pieces to fit together--that new piece with the outside angled piece. Also wondering if you couldn't have a rectangular block of wood that you use to cut this combined piece out out of and get two pieces from it--one flip from the other. Seems to me like it you'd have less wood to play with, you'd be cutting bigger pieces out, and doing less intricate work and have fewer seems. But then again I don't do woodworking so maybe this doesn't make as much sense as I think it does!

As for the thickness of things. We have been having two pergolas built (Small trellis one over BBQ island and a dining pergola 10x16 I think)--finally trying to finish our dirt yard after living here for 7-8 years. A supposedly 6-8 month project that has now been 2-1/2 years with problems from materials to workmanship throughout. Almost done though--so I hear your frustration at things seemingly always going as unintended. Anyway, we found thru trial and error that thicker wood does look better up than thinner beams from a distance. And you have the advantage of thicker wood not warping over time like thinner wood will. Learned this lesson after workman didn't prime the wood before staining and we ended up with tanning bleeding and blisters all over. That contractor gave up saying he really didn't work with wood much and offered to buy all the wood back so we were essentially starting the pergola over from scratch. Second time around we went thicker with the beams and if accidents happen for a reason, we did end up with a nicer looking pergola with the second contractor as well as one that was prepped properly. That probably is influencing my decision as well as liking the thicker uniform design.

Entry 149, Continued: May 5, 2013
What do you think? Continued...

Ghost of Spookie, I really appreciate the feedback. I agree, thick has a better look from a distance. My frustration comes from trying to make the same cuts over and over again so that they can line up perfectly side-by-side to look like a single piece when painted. This is why I'm looking for alternatives to try and break up the look while making it easier for me to build. Sometimes, while it may look more complicated, it's actually easier to build because there's a bit more freedom in how things line up.

Here are some alternatives:

I could double up the new piece, so I'm still getting rid of the problem of the long curve wearing poor with weathering, or I could combine the old with the new, and have a single curved piece down the middle and a split version of the new piece on either side.

The benefit of the hybrid version is that I don't have to try and perfectly match two cut pieces side-by-side. I have one curve and I split the new piece to give weight and detail to either side.

From left to right: 1. The original style, thick, with the wide curve that blends into the top. 2. A hybrid of old and new, combining the wide curve down the middle with two thin, multi-curve pieces on either end. 3. A narrow version that reduces the width of the second block from 3" to 2.5" and then uses a single 1.5" multi-curve center spine. 4. A thick, multi-curve version.

Of the four styles, the original (#1 above) is pretty easy to produce, I just worry about how smoothly I can join the top of the curve. The thick multi-curve version would be the most difficult to produce because it would take the most time on the scroll saw and would be the most difficult to align two 1.5" wide pieces cut to the same template.

Posted by Terror Tom: I vote for the second one.
Posted by JDubbya: I agree. The second one.

Entry 149, Continued: May 5, 2013
Managed to get two of the dormers up. It's pretty heart-pounding to climb the narrow ladder and get everything in place while trying to juggle the nail gun.

Entry 150: May 11, 2013
After a very frustrating week, I had a good Saturday and got a lot done!

Here's the frustrating stuff (If you want to know): Last Saturday I got a notice in the mail from the county for a $1,000 fine because I was past my 45 day extension to get my paperwork in. Of course, there had been no prior notices or warnings, just a phone conversation 45 days earlier saying, "don't worry, we'll just put in an extension". So, that threw me into a panic and a huff. I scrambled to get the two documents I still needed in.

The plumber was more than willing to help, just hard to get a hold of. Finally got a signed letter approving the plumbing on Tuesday (5/7). My engineer, on the other hand, was a complete pain-in-the-a$$ about the whole thing. The whole reason I got the fine in the first place was because he was dragging his feet. Starting a month ago, he didn't understand what the county wanted and didn't think he could provide it, so after not talking to me for two weeks, he finally told me I should try contacting another group that does that sort of work. So, I then called the county and talked to the head of the department that originally requested the inspection and found out exactly what the county needed. Turns out, all they wanted was a report of the engineer's site inspection of the house that he did back in November. So, I tell my engineer that and wait, and wait.

Then, last Saturday hits and I get the fine!! Now I'm panicked. I call, I write emails, I even call another guy that shares office space with him. I finally find out he's in California. More panic, more calls, more broken promises from the engineer. Sleepless nights, stressful days, violent outbursts, a weird rash, a throbbing vein in my forehead, etc. I think we've all been there. Finally, Friday arrives and the engineer is back in Washington State. I talk to him on the phone and he goes to his office and writes up the report. At 2:30 pm, he emailed me the inspection report, which I immediately forwarded to the county. Now, I still need to pay the fine, but they usually reduce the fines quite a bit once everything is turned in, so I'm hoping to get at least some of my money back.

All five tower dormers are now up! Must thank my oldest daughter for climbing on the roof with me to get this done.

The next thing I want to do is start the siding and molding around the tower.

Very happy to have the spider on the center dormer.

Also putting on the base siding on the exterior. The separating molding will be painted white (eventually).

I'm also going to paint the dividing molding between the grey siding and the corbels white.

This is the fretwork I designed to go over the red sections of flat siding at the base of the second story. It's gonna look wicked awesome!

Posted by Hallorenescene: Wow TK, that is amazing looking. you have put a lot of work into this. when finished, it's going to be something to be proud of.
Posted by Terra: Wow, it's becoming more beautiful with every update. Love the one little spider - awesome touch.
Thanks, Terra! I do enjoy the little embellishments that nod to Halloween. I hope to add more things in the fretwork I design for the round window dormers. Just little bits here and there for the detail-oriented observer to catch.
Posted by Bethany: WOW! This is fabulous! My husband is going to ban me from this blog.
wonder if I can find me a victorian house for sale here in Central FL!
I am in awe of everything you have done with this addition & the remodels on your house previously!!

Entry 151: May 13, 2013
The most beautiful email I have ever received from the Snohomish Planning and Development Services Department:

"The reports you have provided are what we need to approve the building plan review. The cashier staff will process the permit and call you when it is ready to pick up."

Entry 152: May 14, 2013
So, uhm...anyone want to come over and help me cut out over 120 of these little corbel pieces on the scroll saw?

Entry 153: May 16, 2013
The scroll saw seems to cut through the 1.5 in. stock pretty well. I managed to cut quite a few of them over the past few days just by going out to the garage whenever I had a few minutes. After I cut them, I have to pair them up and glue them together. Then I can sand them as a block and fit them to the other components to make a corbel.

Here's a line of complete cut-outs and some that I already glued and sanded. The corbels are just resting together, I haven't actually glued them together yet.

A series of cut-outs clamped and drying. Tomorrow afternoon I'll sand them down.

Entry 154: May 17, 2013
Didn't do a lot of cutting and sanding today, but I did a ton of cleaning. Managed to haul off a bunch of old, cut lumber and soggy OSB, had a really nice burn pile in the backyard, filled some containers with old roof paper, shingle debris, etc. It was really nice to get the driveway a bit cleaner. Plus, now I have a safe area to set up the ladder so I can start working on the siding and molding for the tower over the garage.

The kids love a good burn pile. (If anyone from Snohomish PDS is reading this, this was a recreational fire which had the original intention of being 3' x 3' x 2'.)

I don't think I've seen this part of the driveway since last August.

Posted by Ter_ran: Truly amazing work my friend! I can't wait till the day its all complete! I swear I will make the long trip up north to see it in person! Keep up the outstanding work man! Krispiest of Kudos to ya!
Posted by Ckenyon1964: I just spent 2 hours AT WORK reading this blog from beginning to end. LOL... I AM AMAZED! Your craftsmanship and attention to detail is incredible. I bow to you for having the skill and talent to do what you are doing. I am so happy I found this thread and plan on continuing to follow you as you round the final lap in completing this masterpiece!
Posted by Diggerc: It's like watching the Winchester mansion work in progress. Posted by Ghost of Spookie: Hey Diggerc that Winchester house's construction went on for decades and never ended until Sarah was dead. Hopefully not the case for TK!

TK I saw bad weather for the Pacific northwest on our weather report. Some school being closed for heavy snow. Hope that doesn't include your area. Good news on your permit though. What's one more day.... Our whole-yard project is nearing the end for the construction phase--electrical left to finish, landscape plans in the works now in the background and waiting for a set time to begin from the landscaper, but I swear these construction guys have felt our yard was a lifetime project for them. Have missed out on a lot of holidays and time in the yard with friends to get to this point. It's all looking good, like your house, so keep staring at it and reminding yourself you're getting closer.

Entry 155: May 24, 2013
Did some touch up painting yesterday and today, put all the pieces of the corbels together, and got the primer coat on the corbels this afternoon.

Took off the old corbels and repainted some of the dings and such. Also painted the upper and lower trim pieces, did some more caulking around the windows, etc. By the end of today, the windows and siding are looking much nicer.

I guess I should be happy knowing I can always start a side business. This is the first set of corbels. It looks like a lot, but I will need to build at least another 36 before I'm done.

Posted by Bethany: Looking great! Love watching the progress.
Posted by Forever Haunting: I am thoroughly enjoying following your amazing progress. Your entire home is the ultimate Halloween prop. Do you have any special lighting in mind just for Halloween? Your masterpiece deserves it!
I definitely have some ideas for Halloween lighting. I've got several new LED yard lights that I want to use, plus soft lights shooting straight up to highlight the windows and tower. I'm going to have a ton of jack-o-lanterns all over the place, plus green floods on the lawn for the graveyard and red lights for the porch.
I'm going to play with lighting a lot in October, once things are built and props start coming out.

Entry 156: May 27, 2013
Been drizzling most of the weekend, so I decided to get out the front doors we started refurbishing last summer (remember last summer, when I started this "project") and I'm stripping out the remaining paint so I can start with the new coats. Nice to know there's always something to do in the garage.

This is the right side door. I'll start cleaning the left side door next.

Entry 157: May 28, 2013
Took two coats of stripper to get into all the grooves, but I was able to enough old paint off to feel I was ready to paint.

The door is stripped of layers and layers of old, white paint.

Windows taped up and the door is dry and ready to go.

First coat of Behr "Chianti" red. It will dry darker. As I was painting it, I was thinking, did I miss the opportunity to do a crackle finish?

Posted by GhostTown: I want to tell ya, TK, you are one hell of a man. I can't find any words strong enough to compliment you on your achievements with this project and still make it sound truly sincere.
Nice work, man. Nice work.

Entry 158: May 29, 2013
The other door is prepped for paint! And, after years of secrecy, you all finally get to see a photo of my absolute favorite halloween coffee mug! I know, a rare treat, but you're all worth it.

Posted by Ferryman's Wake: I'm not quite sure what to say about this...

It looks...amazing, brilliant, incredible!

Then again there is a thin, fine line between brilliance and insanity...

I will sum it up by simply stating...If I could, I would...and be beyond thrilled if it looked half as good.

So Heck Yeah Man, go big or go live in a boring looking home, Bra....vo! Best of luck with the rest of the process, love to come help, probably cut a limb off, so probably shouldn't.

Entry 159: June 3, 2013
We have awesome friends! While my wife and I were down in Portland for the West Coast Haunter's Convention (which was a ton of fun) some friends came by and landscaped our front yard!!

The front area was overgrown with weeds and sticky little vines that were sprawling everywhere. Nothing was planted and the homemade bench was pushed back into the corner by the PUD box with the old bicycle leaning up against it. The only thing standing was our family marker (which needs a little touch-up paint).

They cleaned off the brick path and found some old round-topped path liners that we had in a pile by another tree. Moved the bench out and cleaned it off, cleaned off the bicycle, and planted things everywhere!

More cleaning, weeding, and planting as you continue down the path. They also edged the lawn and path to make everything look sharp and clean! I really wish I had some before pictures to show the amazing difference.

Entry 160: June 5, 2013
Back from the West Coast Haunter's Convention and full of ideas and new contacts. But before I start building props again, I need to finish the house.

Painting the front doors. Not the best picture thanks to the afternoon sun, but that same sun is what allowed me to get the doors out from the garage and spray them, so I can't complain, or did I?

Putting up the new corbels. Very happy with the new corbel design. Still have to build another 30-40 more, but it's nice to get some of them up.

Posted by Bethany: Looking awesome TK!!
Seeing what you are doing made me wonder if there were any "victorian" style houses for sale in my area.
there is one. Now if it will still be on the market when we can buy....
Posted by Stick: The house is coming along and looking great.

Entry 161: June 13, 2013
Installing the new front doors is going to take some time. Before I can completely install the new doors, I'm going to have to fit them to the new entry, build the new jamb, finish the exterior, and then . . . I'm going to have to take out the original wall with the current front door. That means taking out load-bearing beams and replacing them with new material. I have the plans, but I know it's going to take a real effort.

To start, I found I had to raise the existing header on the new enterance by 1.5 in, so I had to take it apart and use up 30 ton piston jack to raise everything up. That was a meticulous, but rewarding afternoon.

Molding, siding, and sheathing removed. Right side raised with jack.

Right side secured, left side jacked up. The pictures make it look easy, but I had to cut out a sill plate to raise everything up, then add new wood and level everything again.

I was so proud of myself, I had to take a picture.

Both sides raised and secured. Sheathing going back on.

Door jamb construction and left door mounted! Don't want to mount the right door because it would block the current true door to the house.

Also continuing the work on the entrance. Put the siding and some of the trim back on, and started building two corbels to go at the top of the vertical molding on either side of the doors. These two corbels will go from the molding to the ceiling.

My corbel design printed onto paper, then cut out and laid onto a piece of 3/4 in. pine.

I'm getting pretty good with my scroll saw.

Starting the painting process. Each piece will get at least two coats.

Cut and glued the center pieces together. Painted the sides in Chianti because they'll show through the side fretwork.

Painting the center pieces and finials.

Dry fitting the corbels together. I'm going to even out the portion of corbel where the finial attaches before anchoring the finial.

Entry 163: June 15, 2013
Got a good start this morning and did some painting.

Primed a stack of siding. Next I'll give them a base coat, then cut to fit, and do one more coat when they're in place.

Putting a new coat of primer on the porch column to even out the base. Next I sand and then put on a final coat.

More painting of the porch column. Still have some routering to do on the bare post portion, but I was on a roll with the 4 in. brush.

Painted porch post and entry trim. Lots of detail will be going into the entry, including the corbels I just built.

Entry 164: June 17, 2013
Did some more painting on Father's Day and cut and primed the casement pieces for the top two tower windows.

A shot of the house with the unfinished tower section. I'm hoping to put in the window casing, corner trim, and siding.

Getting the tools out and cutting all the pieces.

Wife helped by painting the siding I primed yesterday.

Window head casement with cap attached.

Nice pic of Molly painting away. After painting the Hemotite grey for the siding, she starting priming the casement pieces as I assembled them.

A few claps of thunder and dark clouds told us we needed to move everything into the garage.

Entry 164, Continued: June 17, 2013
Had a good afternoon. Put up the window casing and tower corner molding, started shingling and flashing the gable roof on the tower, cut one piece of siding (which you can't see), and did some more painting.

Got the window casing in place, nice and true. Also took down the house numbers and hose cradle so we could paint the remaining green area of the garage.

The 2x10s will be covered with plywood siding and another row of corbels, and the tower cap will go on top! My goal is to put the tower cap on after the Fourth of July holiday week.

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