Ranch Redux: A Ranch Done Wright

Adventures in Framing Part Four: The Final Chapters | October 12, 2011

Ground Hog’s Day

“So how long will the framing take, J?”  I asked the first week in July.

“Six weeks.” He answered.


“No Problem.”

I was skeptical, not because I know anything about framing or building or even how to hold a hammer, but because the project seemed so big and complex.  Tim did so well with and enjoyed the process of organizing and building the foundation, he was excited to start framing with J., a master carpenter, Charlie, an experienced framer.   And so it began.  Every day, Monday through Friday was the same as every other. The alarm clock sounded each morning signaling another workday just ike the previous workday with the compressor roaring, the radio playing the same songs, and J. and Charlie’s banter.  Like magic, the frame of the house sprung up. Things went along swimmingly for the first five or six weeks.


In mid August, when Corrina was visiting, I asked Tim “how much longer?”  He said “Two weeks, three on the outside.”  A little over time and budget, but to be fair, there were many things that Tim, Charlie, and J. did not foresee.  First, they had to tear down and rebuild the dining room. Second, every wall they tore into was riddled with termite damage.  Basically, they built a new house around us.  Almost every wall was rebuilt, and Tim, Joey, and I were living in the construction zone.

 We Could Have Had It All

At about week six things began to change on the worksite.  The strain of the job began to wear us all down.  Things were taking longer than we thought, and it was harder living in the construction site than we anticipated.  Tim and I became very eager to get the house roofed and wrapped before the rains came.  As our urgency to get the job completed waxed, J.’s enthusiasm for the project waned.  He started the day later in the morning, left earlier in the evening, and began to take longer lunches.    The drama at the work site escalated.  I never thought I would say this, but I began to look forward to the straight-forward, drama-free zone of my work in academia.  Finally around week ten, J decided he had enough.  We should have known he was not it for the long haul because he told us repeatedly “I am here for a good time, not a long time.”    Thankfully Charlie stepped up to take the lead on the job and Chino stepped up on the ladder to help.  Tim and J. parted friends, so it’s all good.

 Little By Little

A couple of weeks ago I asked Tim “how much longer?”  He said “Two weeks, three on the outside.” I reminded him that I heard that before.  I have since stopped asking.  It will be done when it is done.  The house he is building is really much more than the house looks like on paper.  Everyone who tours the place with any building experience remarks how well built it is.  The joke is Tim is going for tolerances of 1/32 of an inch. Charlie likes to remind Tim that this is “rough framing,” but Tim has high standards and the house reflects that.  Clearly we underestimated the complexity and scale of the job and what three guys could accomplish in six weeks.  I doubt if anyone could have built the house cheaper given all that was done, but I am pretty sure it could have been done faster with a larger crew.

During all of the construction, the beat goes on.  On Labor Day Tim and I worked putting tarps on the roof because it was drizzling a little and we wanted to stay dry. We had just finished dinner and I was settling in with a good book and a glass of red wine when Joey said “I am going out mom.”

“OK” I replied.  About ten minutes later I get a call from him that he hurt himself and needed to be picked up.  I was just about to tell him to buck up and walk it off, but thought better of it at the last moment.  Tim picked him up, brought him home, and we inspected his swollen knee.  It looked real bad so we took him to Palomar Hospital for an xray.  It turned out he had an avulsion fracture of his anterior tibia spine. Ouch!  He was very brave under the circumstances.   We worried that he would have to have surgery, but after several xrays and an MRI, it looks like the boy dodged a bullet.  He was not wearing a helmet and I couldn’t help but think that this accident could have been so much worse.  His life and ours could have changed in an instant if it was his head he hit rather than his knee.

While Joey was recuperating, we had a swarm of plumbers put in all new plumbing including roof drains.  Ed and his crew came three weekends in a row, putting in ten hour days, and knocked the plumbing out.  It was very impressive.

We also replaced our electrical panel and put the electric wires underground.

In addition, we had our panoramic doors installed.  These doors are really cool.  They look like sliders, but really are slide and folding doors.  We splurged on these doors in the living and dining rooms.  It will completely open the living and dining rooms up to the outside, increasing our entertaining space immensely.


Last week, days away from the having a water-tight roof, an early storm came through Carlsbad.  We had dealt with rain before and thought our tarps and buckets would be sufficient to handle the water.  Those previous rains were isolated thunderstorms or drizzle.  They were short-lived and presented few problems for us.  This time we got hammered!  We saw the storm on the horizon the night before, so we spent the entire day Wednesday preparing.  It rained for about an hour Tuesday night so we had a preview of what we could expect.

I left the house at about 2:00 p.m.  to take Joey for an MRI.  It had just started raining.  When I got back to the homestead two hours later Tim was in full rain gear, on the flat roof, trying to sweep the rain into the roof drains.  I rushed into the house and saw that we were flooding pretty badly.  Tim worked on the two high roofs and I took over the bottom floor.  Rain was pouring in mostly in two places: the hallway and where the sliding glass windows were.  I grabbed the shop vac and went from one area to another trying to keep the rain from getting in our room and the kitchen.

I thought we could handle it until it really started to pour!  We needed buckets, old towels and help! I told Joey to call Cheri and Greg; I called Scott and Leah, and then ran next door for help.  The Calvary arrived just in time.  We had three shop vacs going sucking up the water and we made dams where the water was seeping through the walls.  Finally we got ahead of it downstairs and Scott went upstairs to help Tim.  Mercifully, the rain stopped and moved out.  It was an epic battle that would have been lost without our dear friends’ aid!

Now that we are almost finished (the roof is scheduled for Monday!) it is clear that a lot of progress has been made.  The shell is almost done.  We will be water tight and then can relax and finish the interior details at a more leisurely pace.  It has been a tough couple of months, but we will enjoy our home for years to come and soon these trials will be distant memories.  Things are coming along.  As Chino says: “Little by little Tim, little by little.”


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







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