Wing wall #2 done, and continuing the Driveway/Parking wall

17Apr14 – This has been tax week, dissolving and opening new LLC’s week, and bank business week – lots & lots of paperwork and forms.  Our Maple Forest Cottage was necessarily put on hold for a few days.  We’ve finished wing wall #2 and actually have a partially graded entrance!  Signs of the future before our very eyes!

We are continuing where we left off last year on what I’ll call the driveway/parking retaining wall.  The last of the wall structures as we know it….  It will circle around and come within 8 ft of wing wall #2 and slope down the future walk-way.  Again, we’ll be fine tuning the design as the wall is built.

Looks like inspections will have to wait until early next week.  Then insulation. Then sheet rock late next week or when I return from my  “Isn’t it great to be 10 years old?!” vacation with my grandson, Tyler.  Blog will probably be on hold until I return on the 26th!

Spring is beautiful in the mountains – especially being so high.  We can see the green-ness slowly spreading from the valley up the mountain sides.  The dogwoods are out in full bloom, with rhodies and mountain laurel soon to follow.  Winter has finally said goodbye.  Ah, enjoy each wonderful day……..



Day 3 for Wing Wall #2

11Apr14 – Wing wall #2 is really taking shape.  It will be so nice to see our new front entrance yard area.  I may even grade it by hand so I can start visualizing the landscaping there some day!

I’ve included a photo of the gate I’m wanting.  Thinking about adding a couple of feet of “fence” on either side that can also swing open (in addition to the gate) to allow vehicle access to the back yard.  Will have to soften it up with some landscaping for sure.

Delay on wing wall today – one of the trucks broke down, and the lead stone mason was called away so it was chinking day in the back yard…..

Days 1 & 2 of Wing Wall #2

09Apr14 – We were rained out on Monday (green is just beginning to show on the mountains!).  Tuesday & Wednesday Nick & his crew were hard at work on our second wing wall.  We altered this wall from our plans as well, allowing more landscaping room at the entrance.

When the next wall (driveway/parking wall) is finished, I have plans to put in a country gate and grass steps to access the terrace (lower) level to add some charm to the landscape.  I have a great photo from May 2014′s Southern Living that is my dream gate, but we’ll have to adjust according to our topography.  Steve wants the entrance wide enough to accommodate a vehicle so we have access to the back yard.  I reluctantly agree, so I’ll be getting creative to make the “look” as similar as possible!

Day 5 of first wing wall

04Apr14 – The first wing wall is done except for some chinking (filling in cracks with small stones).  We chose to have the wall “step down” the grade instead of capping it – we really like the results!

I missed a great Photo Op & Day 4 of the wing wall

03Apr14 – It’s a 400 lb cast iron tub for Bdrm #2′s bath.  It took all 5 guys on site today to move it into place.   And I missed it!!  Oh man……  I heard from an apologetic Steve that it was quite the ordeal.  It fits into a very specific space and it wasn’t easy getting it there.  The end result photos proves it was done and it looks — just like any tub in a bathroom – oh well. (The material half way up the wall is insulating foam we had put in months ago before the tub was placed)  So sorry I didn’t get to witness the event!

The wing wall is almost done – they are finishing up by putting caps on the “stair ends”.  Then on to Wing wall #2!  I love it when a lot is happening.


Day 3 on the first wing wall

02Apr14 – What a stream of great weather!  Almost Summer with 81 degrees today – out came the short sleeve T-shirts!

Work is continuing on the wing wall by the screened porch.  I play “Gopher” when we run out of something unexpectedly, or the delivery truck from Henson’s won’t be here until afternoon.  Today I got to go into Black Mountain in the am (only found 5/8″ re-bar – didn’t work) and out to Asheville in the afternoon to locate some 10′ #4 1/2″ re-bar.  We are drilling into various stones in the wall and inserting re-bar because the slope of the mountain is so steep – want the dry-stack retaining wall to do just that – retain the mountain!

We’re really pleased, as expected, with how the stone wall is coming out.  Nick & crew are true artists!

The Dynamic Do-Over Duo & Things are Happening!

31March14 – What a beautiful Spring day today – Sunny, and 70 degrees.  Warmer weather is finally here.  For awhile….

Nick, our stone mason, and crew were on board today to start our wing walls and to take out the low, but long, retaining wall on our driveway.  Steve & I decided it was just too much stone entering the property.  So, out it all came and will be used to help build the wings walls on the terrace level of our Maple Forest Cottage. We were able to get a load of soil delivered this afternoon and the guys all pitched in and filled in the remaining spaces.  We’ll plant grass & wild flowers on there for now and it will probably be green by May if not before.

Steve’s long-time friend, Ben, is planning on arriving from Savannah tomorrow to help us fine tune the audio-visual components of the house.  This is his love and his profession.  We are delighted he is making the time to come and make sure we have all the right A-V things for our space. 01Apr14:  Update – Ben is unable to make the trip today…..

It’s exciting to have activity on the job site again!

Hide-a-Hose central vac system

26Mar14 – Time to check back in!  We’re still working on all the little things that need to be done before we insulate.  With Steve working by himself it all takes longer than expected.  We’re getting closer every day.

We’re both excited about our retractable hose central vac system by Hide-a-Hose.  Steve’s been installing the pipe run lines (which will contain the hoses) behind the walls & ceilings from our four access points (basement, kitchen, laundry/mud room and upstairs hall).  They will all converge at the garage where the central system will be.  The hoses will each be 30″ long, except 40′ in the basement.  This system is so cool – the hoses are stored in the pipes.  You just pull out the length you need, lock it and vacuum away.  To return the hose to the pipe line, you cover up the end of the hose with the palm of your hand and the central vac itself, sucks the hose up into the pipe line for storage behind the wall.  So smooth.  We also have two vacpans for the kitchen and laundry where  Deuter’s litter box will be.  Just sweep debris near the vacpan located in the toe kick and it’s sucked into the central system. We tried it all out with our shop vac to get a feel for how it will work.  Fun!

Our stone mason will be out tomorrow – weather permitting – to begin building the retaining wing walls on each side of the walk-out basement.  When he’s done,  we get to start the deck!  Lots to look forward to.

Logging Roads and Re-claimed 93 yr old Lumber

16Mar14 – I’ve been on a mission this week to clear the three logging roads that converge on the building site of our Maple Forest Cottage. Trail heads right on our property!   A lofty goal I envisioned in moments of over exuberance.   Indeed.    Now I’m stubbornly determined to finish the job before the leaves arrive – when the job would be all that much more unpleasant.

FYI: the forested mountain we live on was a logging mountain for many years, providing lumber for all types of construction. There are many logging roads, in various states of accessibility, still visible and used as trails by fellow neighbors.  When we unearthed an old large metal calibration tool (a dial gauge?) during excavation way back when, (along with the presence of the three logging roads converging in the same spot) we realized our lot was the site of a sawmill on the mountain.  How cool…  I’ve included an old photo of the mountain with  just the logging roads for those interested in history. Our site is on the top right just before the large white mass as the main road heads down the page.

We also got a call from our stone mason, Nick, telling us that the 93 year old Doran  (originally Dover) textile Mill, in Shelby, NC (about an hour from here) was in the process of partial demolition and there were  maple & pine deck boards available for the taking.  The huge 25′ beams were going for $300 – $500 a piece.  Wish we could have used them – they are all heart wood pine and absolutely beautiful.  We did score some small maple boards made by the Robbins Corp (online, click to open site) who now make MBA flooring.  We are going to use them in a Herringbone pattern as wooden “rugs” at the entry way and in the kitchen between the island and the cabinet wall.  Labor intensive, but this type of maple board is no longer made.

It’s cold and raining today, so I have to hold back on further logging road clearing.  It’s frustrating, ‘cuz I want to take advantage while the mood is still “let’s just do it!”.  I’ll take logging road #1 photos when the weather clears.


Manifolds, Low voltage wiring and Gas connections

10Mar14 – Our Maple Forest Cottage is progressing behind the scenes.  Things that aren’t exciting visually, but are so worthwhile for enjoyment when we move in:  “sometime in 2014″ is what I tell those who ask.

Steve has been doing the locating & pulling of wires for the low voltage wiring.  Audio-visual is a big thing with him (and I’m right there with him!) so he’s prepping for now and future developments.  There won’t be a spare space in the floor boards when all is done.  Hide-a-Hose central vacuum system installation by Steve is next.  It’s a retractable hose system – how wonderful.  We’re even going to have a couple of vacpans in the toe kick area of the kitchen cabinets.  Just sweep the dirt & debris right into the vacuum pan right on there on the floor and it’s sucked right into the storage bin downstairs!  How cool….

Spring is arriving on the mountain with last minute teases from Old Man Winter, but he’s losing steam after this over-active Western North Carolina Winter.  I’m ready.

Our “one pass through” lap boards have been delivered and we’ll begin putting them up when time allows.  We’re focusing on getting all the cottages’ “innards” together so we can insulate.     Then dry wall – someday I’ll be able to post that it’s in!  Another of many lessons in patience.