Moving In!

Tiny Cottage on Sugar Mountain Christmas Eve

This evening we moved into the tiny cottage. I realized that many would consider it just camping. That is, we don’t have electricity, phone, internet, plumbing or water. The roof is not properly insulated. The temperature is a shade cool. But it is home and we’re there!

But! Before moving in to the cottage today we had a long to-do list for the day…

View of Cottage Cathedral Ceiling

One of Ben’s tasks today was to sweep the ceiling. The ceiling is the underside of the barrel vault arch which makes up our roof. Next year we’ll plaster it with an inner layer of white concrete stucco. There were many loose little bits of klingon pieces of fibers held by strands of PVA fiber. Ben brushed them off now so they won’t fall on our heads through the winter.

The 661010 welded wire mesh is not structural but rather was part of the form work which held up the lath that caught the fiber concrete when we made the roof last year.

Will plastered in the master bedroom. We will still have concrete block walls to look at for the year but at least there is a small area near the chimney where we can see what the room will look like in the future. The white stucco cement plaster really brightens up the dark corner and shows the potential. I look forward to plastering all the interior walls.

Kids’ Loft View North

The kids’ sleeping loft now has a ladder but needs a railing. It would be a bummer to roll out of bed and fall eight feet to a stone floor. I sketched out a design for the railing and made a cut plan over breakfast. Holly and Ben worked on cutting and sanding pieces for the railing.

To the right, the east, in the photo pan above you can see the attic which currently contains boxes of plumbing parts and pipe awaiting my work on that system. Below that is the arch into Holly and my bedroom.

The wood stove, future chimney and air vent pipes are in the middle of the photo rising up towards the center of the ceiling. The air pipes will draw in fresh outdoor air using a chimney effect augmented by the wood stove. This year the wood stove is just a small cast iron stove. Eventually I will make it into a masonry cook stove.

To the left, the west, in the photo pan above you can see the bathroom. Currently you can look down into it – a unique view that will vanish when we pour the bathroom ceiling which is the floor of the utility room above. That ceiling is a project for next year. One neat idea would be to build radiant heating coils into the bathroom ceiling that would be powered by the wood stove. There is enough heat to power a thermo-siphon. I’m working on the design.

I spent most of the day in the bathroom finishing up the plumbing and ferro-cement diamond lath form work for the bathtub jacuzzi. It took an amazing number of zip ties and wires to get the lath to the shape I want.

The double drain and overflow for the tub is PVC which leads to the jet pump and the drain overflow. Once I had the PVC plumbing all cut and assembled Will sanded, primed and glued it together. He’s very good with PVC from building his Water War Weapons, one of which launches water balloons over 300′. Beware the plumber!

Medicine Cabinet Parged

Yesterday I had shown the preliminary form work for the medicine cabinet. Here it is with all three electrical boxes and the parge coat of white concrete. The mirror will go on a 45° angle to the room above the green and pink granite shelf. I need to trim the stone and then it will fit into the space in front of the cabinet.

This summer I found a wild stone that looks very similar to the cut shelf stone. The wild one, to the left in the photo, is polished smooth. It was out in our fields where it was probably dropped there by a glacier thousands of years ago. It is very unusual for our area. Most of our rocks are sharp, pointy and rough – not something I want in the bathtub. The smooth one will make a nice corner shelf, especially up high enough that it is less likely to be a head bonker. It is shaped just right to fit in a corner. I’m always keeping my eyes out for just the right rocks as I walk the land so now I have boxes and piles of such beasties.

In the background is a container of super magnets. They’re fun things to hide around in the concrete…

Lili & Kavi Scout for Christmas Trees

We broke off construction early while there was still daylight, cleaned out the cottage and headed into the woods to look for a Christmas tree.

Bringing Home the Boughs

This tree came from the area we had semi-cleared above the kids’ treehouse and Mystery pond. Actually, a wind storm cleared out the big trees and we cleaned up. The result has been more light reaching the smaller spruce trees which have been growing into very nice Christmas trees.

Cleaning Out for Christmas Tree

Cleaning out the full van load of materials and tools from the cottage made it feel amazingly roomy as both Holly and Will commented. Perhaps you need to spend a whole year working in the overstuffed space to get that sensation but it was quite dramatic! Space! All 252 sq-ft of it!

In the process of cleaning out I discovered that the sillseal insulation I had put on the windows when we built the walls did not work very well – Lots of air leaks. This afternoon I stripped out the material between the cedar window sills and the concrete and resealed it using minimally expanding foam insulation. That got the cottage so tight that I had to open the bathroom window while the foam cured or the seals would be blown out every time someone opened or closed the front door! I do have three 2″ ventilation pipes in place but they aren’t enough to accommodate the air moved by the door motion. The good news is that means the cottage is now sealed up quite tightly. In addition to keeping in the warmth it will also keep out cluster flies in the fall.

Santa & Elves Deliver to the Cottage

Holly says it is rather unconventional to move to your new home using a tractor. Seemed like a good idea to me. The mattresses are so big and bulky that folding them to fit in the van would have been difficult and carrying them up the mountain more so given that the road was icy. The tractor has no trouble with tr
action, the bulk or the weight. So we loaded up our green sleigh and headed up to the tiny cottage for our first night.

Outdoors: 26°F/12°F Mostly Overcast, Spots of Sun,
Farm House: 59°F/51°F Moved out – sort of.
Tiny Cottage: 46°F/43°F Jacuzzi Plumbed, Bathtub wire form finished, Bedroom corner plastered, Cleaned cottage out (mostly), Loft railing cut and sanded.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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8 Responses to Moving In!

  1. Urban Agrarian says:

    Merry Christmas. I really enjoy all the cottage construction photos.

  2. Urban Agrarian says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Thanks for sharing all the cottage construction info. It’s so interesting

  3. Walter, I’m curious to hear what fun things you’ve been up to with your super magnets in concrete. I’ve always thought that would be a great thing to do. Do tell!

    Congratulations on the big move too!


  4. I have been following your blog for several months, and enjoying it very much. My wife’s great-uncle Benno let me know about your farm! I think that makes us relatives!

    Also, I like your winter beard. I am growing quite a ‘winter beard’ myself!

    Have you ever had a blog reader come for a visit?

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  5. farm mom says:

    Merry Christmas Jeffries Family! And congrats on the move!

  6. Christopher, I guess that makes us outlaws!?! :) So you are of Elaine. Cool. We haven’t seen Benno and Elaine in quite some time. I hear they just moved to a new home.

    Peter, today (Thursday) I set supermagnets in cement. The kids don’t know yet. It will be something for them to discover one of these days… And they will! Secret fun!

  7. Chris Johnson says:

    Great work guys n gals. You are a inspiration to us all. Love the picture with the lights glowing.

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