Sunday, December 27, 2015

Winter Work

Chimney system design

The barn continues to delight us and provide many opportunities to pursue pleasurable projects. Doug is fine-tuning the equipment arrangement and inventory while I am honing my power tool skills on a utilitarian bench. If successful, I will refine, replicate it for multiple indoor/outdoor applications. (Benches are particularly useful in New Hampshire where we are constantly needing a place to sit to put on or take off boots.) From the vantage point of the warm barn, the cleared building site inspires us as we view the changing weather and wildlife movements and imagine where, next spring, the house will begin to come together.

Meanwhile there is plenty of “winter work” to do inside with Doug on crutches and his torn Achilles tendon healing. (The injury occurred two weeks ago when he gave a Herculean push attempting to attach a snow plow to a truck. We are thankful that Dartmouth-Hitchcock and its expert medical team are just 25 minutes away.)

First order of winter work was conducted at the dining room table with graph paper, ruler, architect’s drawings, and stove specs. Doug designed the chimney system, and system is appropriately applied here.

Quadra-Fire fireplace insert

Two stoves—a Hearthstone Equinox in the living room, and a Quadra-Fire 3100 in the basement—as well as a Quadra-Fire wood fireplace insert in the dining room all share the chimney chase in a 3-D wonder of pipes and angles with tight clearances and strict codes. Hours of effort later (with stove expert Steve’s input), Doug worked it all out and his design will be incorporated into the architectural drawings.

Hearthstone soapstone stove
The plan is for the chimney framing to be built over the winter in the barn and be ready to be put in place in stages once the foundation is poured in spring. After the stove pipes are installed, a stone veneer will be applied. We’ve chosen Ashlar or Ledgestone cut in Vineyard Granite by Stoneyard from Corriveau-Routhier in Concord. The product is New England-sourced stone, cut thin. It weighs less than 15 pounds per square foot but given the dimensions of the chimney, which goes 24 feet up from the first floor, the structure needs to support 10,000 pounds. 

Vineyard granite in Ashlar cut
Other major winter work: nailing down the window selection. Doug has spent hours translating the architectural drawings into detailed window specs that we can send out to bid. The baseline product is Marvin Integrity, mostly casements but some picture, awning, and double-hung windows (basement and garage). After consultation with Marvin, we also will be getting bids from three Canadian companies that offer comparable products and manufacture all windows on a custom basis—Thermotech (Ottawa, Ontario), Fibertec (Concord, Ontario), and Accurate Dorwin (Winnipeg, Manitoba). Once we have a better idea of costs we'll decide whether to go with double or triple glazing (maybe a mixture).

Windows are a crucial element in our plan to build an energy-efficient mountainside house. We are striving to achieve a balance between sufficient ambient light and allowing the beauty of the landscape into the house while maintaining energy efficiency. The industry-accepted ratio of window area to floor area is a range of 15 percent to 18 percent. International building code requires just 6 percent while other codes require 15 percent for occupancy. Doug has crunched the numbers in every room and they run from highs of 23 and 21 percent (office and kitchen/dining areas) to a low of 11 percent in the mudroom/laundry, which makes sense when you factor in that the later has a northwest exposure.
Next up for bidding: the SIPs or structural insulated panels, standing seam roof, inside railing system, and granite countertops. Then we get to design the kitchen down to the last detail. What fun! I know many friends and family who have gone through kitchen renovations/redesigns, so please weigh in with your wisdom. Fill in the blanks: “I wish I had _____________” and “I would never again __________________“ and share in comments. Thanks in advance.


  1. Kitchen wishes: Drawers rather than lower cabinets under counters. Built-in garbage/recycling. Select your dream fridge and appliances FIRST, then plan around them. LOTS of pantry space for canning/staples for winter! ....and, remind me of these things when I build MY new kitchen! LOL! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Doug!

    1. Thanks, Tracy for sharing. Drawers are on the drawing table already. Big separate pantry planned. Have to get into the details for recycling. Have a neat feature for garbage--an oubliette, which is a hole in the counter for a trash can to go under. Warm regards to you and Vin.

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