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The Diary of Our House And Barn Projects

August, 2008



Dear Families and Friends,


This page is "under construction" and so is our barn.


In March, the plan was that we would be working inside the barn by now. In fact, we started this work with a birthday party.

August 1, Half a Back Door But a Full-Size Party

Our new back barn doors were to be finished and hung by Friday, August First. The young carpenters from Fischer Schreinerei delivered them Thursday, via fork-lift, since the shop is only a few hundred feet from us and loading them onto and off of a truck would not make sense.Once set in place, the doors look great. The iron hinges look as old as our barn.

However, there was a problem with the hinges, and they were sent back to the blacksmith for some re-work. The carpenters were going to just block the door closed for the weekend, but Marianne would not allow it because she had PARTY planned!!!

A candle-lit party

I've seen too many of them to be excited about birthdays. Fortunately, Marianne has a wonderful imagination and she threw a "surprise" party for my 62nd. It gave us a chance to show off our "new" barn to the dozen-and-a-half friends who stopped by. We promised electricity and running water before the next party.

(See the "regular" diary for more party pictures, if you want ... as soon as I get around to it!)

The Next Morning

So, we start the month with an inaugurated barn. Next week the plumbing should start going in, before the plumbing company's summer break. Otherwise, things will sit for one or two weeks while the August doldrums hit Bavaria.

August 7, Plumbing

Activity is increasing. Mr. Gumbrecht's crew is putting in a few good days before their summer break and it looks like all the rough plumbing will be done.

Now we can "see" the sink and shower and toilet. Small room.

The pipes managed to all go underground, below the old stone feeding trough in the cow milking room.


Inside the milking room, it's a maze of little pipes, some for water and others for hot-water heating. I wonder how all this will handle winter?

August 8 and 9, Insulation

While the plumbing was going in downstairs, the insulation was being delivered - rolls and rolls upstairs for the peaked roof and more rolls downstairs for the ceiling above the garage. All in all this insulation is an expensive proposition, so I volunteered to help with installation.

Slavco and his company "Service4Me" have the insulation and drywall contract and he said he was OK with me helping this first part. So, we spent a Friday and Saturday installing all the insulation and the vapor barrier upstairs. I actually enjoyed doing work, the result of which we could see hour-by-hour.

(Technical note: we are putting in 23cm or about 9 inches of fiberglass insulation. The total "R-value -- by the American system -- is about R40 for the whole ceiling, including outer and inner surfaces. This is roughly what would be required in a cool, northern US climate.)

Working with Slavco, I learned some about attention to detail, particularly when it came to installing the vapor barrier. Every joint or opening had to be taped. It turned out that we installed all the roof insulation on Friday but it took all of Saturday to put in the "simple" barrier.


The room is starting to look like, well, a room. The best feature remains the view but it is fun to imagine Marianne painting up here or guests feeling at home.

August 16, Insulation -- Again

Things are indeed happening. We finished the insulation, upstairs and down. And then we had to tear out apart to allow the furnace exhaust to be moved. The local inspector decided it was too close to the windows in the house, so we had to move it up a meter.

From the outside, our "new house" looks OK but the little varmint that has moved under our back yard for his house is driving us nuts.

August 19, Busy, Busy

This was our busiest day. By 8:30 there were a dozen workmen plus Axel.

First, Axel went upstairs to tell the plumber where to move the furnace exhaust and to tell the electricians where to run wires.
Then, the more dramatic construction was the arrival of the "gussasphalt" crew. Their truck of hot asphalt arrived and they put buckets full of the hot goo on the bathroom floor and the cow stall. The idea is that this is both a sealer and an insulator so feet stay warm. The cows never had it so good!
Meanwhile, up on the roof, the plumber was taking a chainsaw to the roof to make space for the new chimney. I worry when someone uses a chain saw for precision work but it seemed OK.

Finally, Mr. Fritch and his crew arrived for plastering instruction. The idea is to keep the barn looking like a barn, but refill all the holes and seal the surface so the sandstone walls will continue to stand. Without sealing and protection, sandstone turns to sand in short order.

August 22, Plaster

Plaster work would occupy the next few days. "Fill in the cracks" sounds easier than it is, I think. It takes a couple ofworkers to clean the cracks bigger and one to fill them back in. It's starting to look good though.

They also had to put in an insulation patch on the wall between the bathroom and the garage. I think our entrance/bathroom will be just semi-insulated so it will be interesting to see how cold it gets in winter. For now, it's pleasant as we continue to be treated to our colorful sunsets.

August 23, Wire and Walls

Activity is increasing.

August 25 and 26, Getting Done -- Outside


Plaster work is almost finished. Hopefully, this will be the last time our patio furniture needs to be covered up.
The final look turns out great. Outside, there are are some large areas where the stone was too rough or where there was new concrete or blocks to cover but the rest shows the old stone, just as we wanted. Inside, we have a few stones showing but, mostly, it's finished off.

Next week we are off to Helsinki. It's work for me and (another) holiday for Marianne. I wonder what will happen then?


John and Marianne




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The Diary of Our House And Barn Projects