OVERVIEW OF UNDERHILL

As we get closer to completion of Underhill House (expected move in – mid December – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!), I wanted to take a step back to appreciate the process that has brought us this far with a time lapse series of photos that follow our winding path to the present.

 In March, we broke ground.  The first step of that process was for our fine excavator, Bruce Lease, to clear the area.  This site was once covered with a stand of oak, but they were killed by oak wilt in the past decade, each and every one.  Some of the wood from these trees was milled into boards for the barn roof, and several of them can be found among the branching timbers of Underhill House, standing very close to where they grew.

 In April the concrete foundation was poured by Mike Flynn and his expert crew.  That task was made more complicated and interesting by the PEX tubing laid in the floor for our in-floor solar heat. (See my post Our Fab Slab )  We’re almost ready to turn on that heat – as soon as we deal with one the consequences of one unfortunately placed concrete screw.  (More on that next post.)

 By May we had insulated the exterior of the lower level wall and milled more lumber from our land.  This time the trees included a small stand of pine that were blocking our southern exposure.  Those trees were used for the roof of Underhill House. We also milled the thicker trunks of some of the trees used for the timber frame – a lightening-struck cherry and an elm succumbing to Dutch Elm disease.  Those slabs of wood have been drying in a solar kiln nearby and will be used in the house shortly.

 In June the unmilled, branching timber frame of the house was erected and braced in place with pieces of milled lumber from our local lumber yard. (See my post Bracing Underhill House for Big Winds  ) All of that wood was eventually reused as the house was constructed.

 July was a busy month.  Remember July?  That incredible heat?  The first day it went over 100, the crew knocked off, but as the 100+ days continued, they went back to work.  I was prepared to run drinking water to them but they all brought their own and kept themselves hydrated through the worst of it.  Fortunately the roof went on early in the month, and that gave everyone a sense of shelter from the brutal, blazing sun. (See my post The First 10 Layers of Our Sod Roof )

 In July the portion of the house not being straw baled (the part with so many windows, it did not make sense to fit straw bales in the small surrounding wall) was framed in.

Also in July the non straw baled walls were covered in plywood and all the windows were added.  It was time for the stucco plastering to begin.  See the blue tarps starting to unfurl?

Say good bye to a long view of Underhill House.  It was covered with tarp and burlap to help the lime plaster dry more slowly in the aforementioned punishing sun.

By August 2 progress at Underhill House continued, but under wraps.  This protective coating remained in place until last week.

Now the swaddling clothes have been removed, Underhill House seems very real.

And its passive solar design is starting to feel very real as well.

Now that the sun can pour into the house, the temperature has risen into the 60s – that is very comfortable to work in.  With its thick, insulated walls, the house holds the heat it collects.  We haven’t fired up the boiler yet (got to deal with a small leak in the PEX first).  But passive solar alone is doing the job for the moment. Even as the outside temperature drops down below freezing at night, the house stays in the t-shirt range inside.

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2 replies

    • Thanks for your kind words, Johanna.
      The progress has been especially fun to watch from close up and personal. I will never look at any house the same again after observing the process so minutely.

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