Ranch Redux: A Ranch Done Wright

Adventures in Framing Part 2: Going Topless

August 15, 2011
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The framing project is going apace.  We are still open to the sky, battling zombies and mosquitoes. Several people have told me that we could never get away without large swaths of our roof in any other place but Southern California.  After all, it never rains in California.

The rebuilding of the back room has become a blessing in disguise.  Tim and his friend Richard dug deep and wide foundation trenches.  The soils guy said that they were actually deep enough to hold a second floor.  Hmmm, maybe that will be our second remodel.

Interesting things are unearthed whenever Tim starts digging.  In one trench he found Austin Powers, fully articulated!

So now, not only will we now have a dining room that will have a chance at staying up during a major earthquake, but when we poured the new foundation we salted the cement with brownish-red rock and amber glass.  When we grind the slab we will really have a dramatic floor.

Pouring the grade beam, foundation, and slab was quite a process.  David, the pump guy, came to our house about an hour before the cement truck to set up his interlocking hoses.  He and his helper started at the far end of the pour, filling the trenches with cement, and disengaging sections of the pump hose as they got closer to the cement truck.

Fernando finished the concrete pushing the rock and glass far enough in the cement so it wouldn’t pop up when we grind it, but not so far that it is buried too deep to be seen.

The framing of the walls has become a family affair.  I even helped to put up a wall in the dining room!  Tim’s dad Joe and our dear childhood friend Jeff came down one morning to see the progress. J. and Charlie immediately put them to work lifting up a huge laminated beam called a glulam.  With a little ingenious engineering by J. and Charlie, and raw manpower, the beam came to rest at the top of the structural steel poles without incident.  Houses are either lego or tinker toy type structures.  Ours is more tinker toy than lego.  The poles hold up a series of glulams and paralams that in turn carry the second floor.

When we didn’t have the extra manpower of Joe and Jeff we rented a lift to install the heavier paralams.  Sometimes it was just Tim, J., and Charlie lifting the beams.  Luckily J. knows how to pop Tim’s back in place.

A couple of weeks ago I looked up in the sky and worried about the clouds on the horizon.  It smelled like rain, but the weather channel said there was only a twenty percent chance of thunderstorms.  Surely they wouldn’t be on the coast.  That Saturday night Tim and I went to bed only to be awoken at around midnight to the sound of rain on what was left of our roof.  It was sprinkling and it only lasted about ten minutes.  Joey was getting rained on and didn’t even wake up.  We laughed about it, cleaned up the water, and went back to bed thinking we dodged a bullet.

At about 5:00 a.m. I heard Tim say “Oh crap, it’s really coming down.”  I was deep into a dream where I was fighting a large snake like the one in Harry Potter.  I was waging battle with “Sting” (Frodo’s sword, not the singer).  In my dream I somehow lost my sword and started throwing rocks at the snake.  It looked pretty bad for my me, the snaked looked pretty hungry, but I still didn’t want to break from this dismal dream to face reality.   It was pouring rain in the house for about 35 minutes.  Tim was sweeping the rainwater out the back and I was frantically moving electronics into dry areas.  Joey slept through the whole frenzied ordeal.  It occurred to me as we were swabbing up the water that at least we didn’t have to worry about the rain ruining the hardwood floors or carpet.  It really just made our cement floors better looking. Small blessings.

I am sure someday I will look back at this time of open air living fondly.  Moe and his kitty friend Jade waking us up at night playing rafter tag, the sound of planes going over our heads as we are watching T.V., the sound of trains roaring through our town, the constant threat of zombies and rain.  Yes, I imagine it will be something to laugh about one day.


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We are embarking on an adventure turning a boring little ranch house into a modern style remodel.