Back in Korea…

When we moved to Texas from South Korea in October 2016, we hoped it would only be for 3 or 4 months and then Monty would get a job on this big project that was starting in South Korea.  Looking back, it all worked out perfectly, even though we ended up spending 7 months in Texas.  Monty is once again an expatriate in the oil & gas industry rather than a log home builder.  The cool thing is, he has jumped from the business management side of the industry to the construction side of the industry.  This seems to be at least partially due to the experience he gained while building this log cabin.  So, the reason for the lack of updates in the past few months is, we were moving back to South Korea to this lovely home (only the first floor)…IMG_0043

We are in the mountains, but also by the ocean.  Michael and Monty are even considering building a small, log cabin-style playhouse for Sarah Jane in the forest behind our house.IMG_0233

While we have moved away and are no longer contributing blood, sweat and tears to the log cabin building, Ricky and TC are hard at work everyday to get it done.  Here are some pictures of their progress to date and Monty’s last day of work at the log cabin.IMG_4826IMG_4828IMG_4873IMG_0304IMG_0301

Building railing for the stairs and balconies.  I guess when Monty left, TC decided he better say goodbye to his mustache, too.IMG_0135IMG_0136

Completed balconies, using leftover 4×8 Douglas Fir split by a friend with a sawmill to make 4x4s that could have rebar inserted into.IMG_0124IMG_0125IMG_0126IMG_0130IMG_0133

Completed stair railingIMG_0128IMG_0130IMG_0153IMG_0154IMG_0158IMG_0155IMG_0159IMG_0156IMG_0157IMG_0160

Barn doors built from leftover 2×6 Tongue and Groove Douglas FirIMG_0167IMG_0168IMG_0166

More pictures to follow in the next update.  Plumbing is underway, as is HVAC.

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Concrete Countertops

I apologize for the delay in posting and will explain the reason for this 2.5 month hiatus in the next post.  For now, I will just show some pictures of how we poured our own concrete countertops using Z-forms from http://www.concretecountertopsolutions.com.

Monty and TC used 3×5 sheets of Durock cement board as the foundation for the concrete countertops.  They taped all of the seams with duct tape and measured for a 12″ overhang for bar stools.  Outlets were install in the cabinets and holes were made using PVC pipe, which would later be covered by the stainless steel cable collars.  It turns out an angle grinder with a metal cutting disk makes for a great tool to cut very fine edges in the cement board.  The guys draped plastic over all of the beautiful new cabinets and floor to protect them during the pour.  The actual mix was thicker and set up quicker than imagined.  Ricky, TC and Monty were all working furiously to get it all poured and smoothed out before it was too hard.  As you will see in the pictures below, it is clear they succeeded…IMG_4819IMG_4818IMG_4830IMG_4822IMG_0305IMG_4825IMG_4824IMG_4829

After we removed the Z-forms, this is how it looked…

After some diamond pad sanding and epoxy, the countertops looked really good…

Next update to include railing for the stairs and balconies, in additional to proof that the guys have gained new skills during the log cabin building process, as they made barn doors from scraps…

Big Update

As mentioned in our last update, Steve and the family drove through Abilene and spent two days working with us in mid-February on pulling electrical wiring.  Steve has continued to be a major asset to our project and a great friend, too.  He gave Monty a shopping list of things to have on-site when arrived to be able to get to work.  Here are some pictures showing the end result:

The time finally came to cut the overdangles back to a more uniform length.  TC did a great job balancing on the telehandler platform with a chainsaw.

Here are pictures of progress on the Western Red Cedar Lap & Gap for the gable ends with cedar 2x4s and 1x4s around the windows and along roof line:

The guys wet the logs with a power washer, in order to better absorb the Borate solution Ricky is spraying on in the picture below (ordered from Twin Creeks Log Home Supply).  You do this to protect the logs from wood-eating insects prior to staining.

It seemed like a good time to have a father-son camping trip in March, so Monty, Michael, TC, Stratton, Ricky and Russell were the first ones to sleep in the log cabin.  Before heading to bed some target practice was done and dinner on the campfire was cooked, along with s’mores.  On Saturday morning, the guys cooked breakfast on the campfire and went fishing at the neighbor’s tank.  Michael caught his first fish with a new Star Wars pole and got to hold his uncle’s big bass for a picture, too!

As always, we have help from our child labor force!  Sarah Jane thought she was the foreman (or forewoman) and Michael found a makeshift sword and shield.

On our way to Pensacola, Florida to hang out with Emily’s family and celebrate her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, we were able to stop in Baton Rouge for two nights at our dear friends’ house.  We spent 2 years in South Korea with Holly and Joel and hadn’t seen them in 18 months.

On to Florida we drove where the shenanigans began…A log cabin building suit is like American Express – “Don’t leave home without it!”

While Monty was off playing, Ricky and TC were working hard to stain the log house.  The stain on the logs is Sikkens Log & Siding Dark Oak.  The product on the rafter tails, rafters and Tongue & Groove roof decking is Wood Guard Clear.  Both were ordered from Twin Creeks Log Home Supply.

The next step was to shoot thousands of 3″ nails into the logs where the chinking (mortar) would go to provide support and prevent cracking.  TC drew the short straw and became the gunman.  During his glorious reign as the “Nail Chin King” he stepped off the side of the telehandler backwards and feel about 8 feet to the rocky ground below.  His pride was injured, but nothing else.  He is a beast and we are thankful to have him on our team.

Let the chinking games begin…  The guys used about 15 bags of Quikrete Mortar Mix (60lbs each) per side of the house.  With margin trowels, large trowels and black rubber gloves, TC and Monty whipped out one side of the house per day, while Ricky managed the mess, chinked around the windows and made Home Depot runs.

Monty and Ricky decided to have the kitchen cabinets build professionally, but the flooring had to be completed prior to installing them.  In their spare time, TC, Monty and Ricky finished the first floor with 2×8 Douglas Fir Tongue & Groove from Redwoods Inc.

Thanks to a tip from another LHBA member, we chose to notch the bottom of our GSLs and RPSLs to allow our flooring to slide underneath and made it appear the logs were installed on top of the flooring.  It also hides your cuts, so you don’t have to be perfect with the jigsaw.

The carpenter delivered the cabinets in mid-April and the guys got right to work painting them.  The color is Olympic Latex Whirlwind and is in the grey family. While one hand was painting the guys used their other hand to build a set of heavy duty stairs.  They used the leftover 4×12 Douglas Firm Timbers for the sides and treads of the stairs.

Next up… Concrete Countertops!

Framing

Before the wall framing really got going full speed, Monty and his cousin, Caleb, headed to Colorado for a special trip.  They wanted to take this cool opportunity, while we are living in the US, to make some memories and also have some time to talk about how they can live out God’s instruction to “go and make disciples” better.  Monty and Caleb drove to Salida on February 8th and came back on the 12th.  They were able to squeeze in a day of snow skiing at Monarch and fly fishing the Arkansas River.  Monty wore his ExxonMobil coveralls from Korea to be funny!

Not only did the guys have fun in Colorado, but they got to stay in an awesome log home.  Our new friends, Jeremy and Candice, were so generous to let them use their place as home base for their trip.  They are also LHBA members and have an amazing blog, documenting their building process at http://www.acabinintheaspens.blogspot.com.

One of the inspiring stories that came out of their trip goes like this…  Monty and Caleb have a mutual friend, named Brett, who is a teacher/coach at a middle school.  Right before their trip, there was a student at Brett’s school who passed away.  Brett is looked to as a mentor by many of these kids and felt he was going to need to have some special words of comfort and encouragement for the other students.  For days Brett prayed that God would give him the words needed for the students during this difficult time.  Finally, Brett was feeling like God was not answering him and began questioning God, “Why are you answering me?”  As he did this, he felt a very strong thought come into his mind (God’s way of speaking to Brett).  This strong thought was “I have already said everything!  Just be there for the students and remind them of what I have already said in the Bible.”  At this exact moment, Brett’s cell phone dinged with a new text message.  Here is the picture that was sent by Caleb to Brett at that very moment of hearing God’s reply through the strong thought.  By the way, Caleb had no idea that the timing of his message was going to be proof of God using him to further answer Brett’s prayer.  How awesome is this!

After Monty returned to Texas, he worked with Ricky and TC to get the house framed inside.  They decided to frame with 2″x 8″ lumber to allow the HVAC company to run all of the ducting from under the house and through the walls to avoid having any of the ducting exposed.

When you already have 16 windows in your log house, why not make it 24!!!  The guys decided to use the remaining 8 windows they ordered on the second floor (North and South ends) and the two gable ends.  Notice the great framing of the gable ends, too.  The guys used a leftover 4×12 to sit of the double butt log, screwed a 2×8 to the roof decking directly above the 4×12 and then framed with 2x8s between those two boards.

Here is the kitchen island mock-up.  Monty and Ricky are trying to decide who they want to use to build cabinets for the island or if they will do it themselves.

The great team of Monty, Ricky and TC closed in the gable ends with 1/2″ OSB on February 27th, in preparation for the finish layer of Western Red Cedar lap and gap.

Once again, Redwoods Inc. from Waco, Texas came through for us in a big way!  Greg, owner of Redwoods Inc., delivered 320 sqft of WRC lap and gap 1″x8″ for our gable ends on March 7th.  His prices are always great, his service is even better and the quality of his products is unbeatable!  Greg also got us some cedar 2x4s and 1x4s to use as the borders of the gable ends.  Finished pictures of the gable ends to follow in the next update…

Michael has been hanging out at the cabin with us (literally)…

In February, we also had another fantastic visit from Fireman9 and his family to teach Monty and Ricky how to run the electric wire and do the plumbing in the log house.  More about this in the next update, so stay tuned…

Having a Blast with Corn Cobs

With much anticipation and expectation of blasting our whole house, inside and out, in only two days as described by fellow members on the LHBA forum, we rented a big diesel compressor on Friday, January 27th, for the weekend.  We had already received our pressure blaster and 30 bags of corn cob media, so we were all set and ready to blast.

Here Monty is starting on the second floor logs.  The next two pictures show those same walls after he was done (one zoomed in and one zoomed out).  How cool is that pattern on the logs!  Notice the piles of corn cob media on the ground, too.

There were many tight spots to get into with the blaster and plenty of spots at height.  Our 4 sets of 5 foot scaffolding came in very handy.

Well, we did not finish in a mere two days as advertised, but we did finish in about one week.  The reasons for our slower speed have to do with a few things, in our opinion.  First, we bought a blaster called 150 lb pressure blaster, which only holds 20lbs of media.  Clearly, the 150lb name is just marketing and has nothing to do with the amount of media it will hold.  This made for lots of turning off the blaster and refilling it.  Second, we bought a blaster, rather than renting one.  You would think this would not matter, but we are convinced the rentals are much more powerful.  This causes you not to be able to move down a log as quickly.  Third, our nozzle and hose kept clogging due to moisture and larger particles getting stuck together.  We had to stop blasting so many times and unclog the nozzle and hose.

There were three main challenges with blasting we experienced that anyone would have to deal with, in addition to those mentioned above.  First, the size of the nozzle affects the flow rate of the media.  We received two 1/8″ and one 5/16″ nozzles with our blaster.  We tried both sizes.  The 1/8″ worked for a little while, but kept clogging.  The 5/16″ worked great until it got reamed out due to the abrasive nature of the media and then would shoot the media out too quickly.  Second, the blaster is really heavy, even without being full of media.  Working on scaffolding and moving between two floors without stairs can be a dangerous activity.  We had to use ratchet straps to hold the blaster down to the scaffolding when it was 15ft in the air.  A side note that made this more challenging was we only received two of the three walk boards for our scaffolding, because the rental store we bought them from did not have a third one available the day we picked up the others.  Third, the media bounces off of the logs with great speed and hits you in the face.  Wearing the blasting hood or at least goggles, a breathing mask and earplugs is a must!

The best thing Ricky and Monty learned during this blasting process was how to recapture and reuse the corn cob media.  Inside the house it was pretty easy to sweep up the media and sift it into empty bags.  Outside the house it required several tarps being weighted down next to the house.  The guys would pour all of the used media into a giant trash can, start sifting it into another large trash can and vacuuming up the bigger things that didn’t make it through the sifting process.  Not only does this help you be able to reuse the media, but it also removes the moisture.

We finally finished the blasting on Tuesday afternoon, February 7th.  The end result was awesome looking!  Notice the beautiful door that was professionally installed.  We had some issues with this door early on, but were able to solve all of the problems.

Monty drew the short straw and had to be the one to sand the ridgepole.  He used his super strong safety harness, since he was 20ft in the air and shaking the scaffolding with the grinding motion.

Next up on the agenda… Framing!

Let There Be Light

After two months of only having 1 hole cut in our house, we have now cut 17 more.  That’s right, 16 holes for windows (12 downstairs and 4 upstairs) and 1 hole for a door on the other end of the house.

Emily’s parents, Dave and Mary Beth, drove all the way from Kansas to help work on the house during the second week of January.  Well, they actually came to see their grandkids, but generously offered to lend a hand on our build.  Having Dave onsite, gave us the courage to get out the chainsaw and start cutting into the beautiful logs to be able to install our windows.


We ordered custom windows from Home Depot (36″ x 60″) and had them cut the fins off, so we could install them in the middle of our 4×8 bucks.  Monty and TC precut all of the window bucks and set them next to the place that window would be installed (i.e. second floor window bucks were assembled on the second floor).  This was very smart, since the window is incredibly heavy after the 4 sides of the buck are on it.

The only thing remaining is to install the two doors with jambs in the bucks that Ricky and Monty installed.  This is scheduled for Saturday, February 4th.  Pictures to follow.

Dave was not only inspirational for Ricky and Monty to get started on the windows, but he also volunteered to help get the roof trim on the gable ends installed.  With an ExxonMobil dual lanyard safety harness on, he climbed on the telehandler for a ride to the top of the roof with Ricky.  They made short work of that roof trim and had the South end of the house looking great.

Our newest person to jump on the action is Chance.  He has a full-time job during the week, but wants to start getting his hands dirty on Saturdays.  Chance put in a hard day of sanding with an angle grinder, along with Ricky, Monty and Russell.  It turns out Chance was a natural born angle grinder, as he was able to go faster with better results than anyone else.

Everyone’s favorite worker, Michael, put in a 9 hour day a few days after his grandparents went home to Kansas.  He had a great attitude and kept himself busy with various projects like building a ramp for his cars.  Michael asked Monty if he could help with the “real” work later in the day, so Monty had him drive in the 10″ lag bolts to anchor the windows to the logs.  The holes were pre-drilled with a 7/16″ bit and the lag bolts were 1/2″.  His favorite part of the day was probably when Ricky built him a warm cave with 4×8 bucks in front of the heater.  When it was time to go for the day at 6:30pm, Ricky and Monty started calling Michael’s name as they didn’t hear him making any noise.  It turned out he had fallen asleep with his head on a piece of 4×8.  What a great memory!

Sarah Jane has also been enjoying life in Texas with her latest new experience being happily playing with a Texas blind snake.

Another two members of the LHBA, Matthew and Nikki, came over from Ft. Worth on Saturday, January 21st, to see our log house and get in on the action.

As most of our weeks go, there were challenges and once again these involved a vehicle.  Monty and Emily had to make a quick trip to Houston for a dentist appointment and left the kids with Ricky and Kim.  Monty ran over a large sign that was on the highway and blew a tire within a half mile of the dentist’s office.  Thankfully, this happened on his way back to pick up Emily and not on the way to the appointment.


Another challenge, much less serious, was the lack of any eating utensils at the site.  It is amazing how many tools can be used for other purposes like how Monty learned that a grinder wrench makes a great fork to eat mac’n’cheese with!

You may be asking yourself what we did with all of those pieces of logs that were cut out for windows and doors.  Well, we made several very tall pyramids.

After a lot of discussion and many sanding disks on the angle grinder, we decided to order 30 bags of corn cob blasting media and buy a media blaster from ALC to try to get our logs quickly ready for borate and stain…

Taking It To The Next Level In 2017

“Surprise, we have a second floor!”  Those were not Ricky’s exact words to Monty when he walked into the house on his first day back to work after the holidays, but they were close.  With the help of TC, Ricky had “secretly” hung the ledger board for the second floor and cut all of the 12 foot joists out of 4×12 rough cut Douglas Fir.  Then, he carried the joists in and hung them ALONE on the last day of 2016.

The joist hangers were custom made by Ronnie Wiley’s supplier and ordered a while back.  We will probably end up painting them black in the end.

With Monty back, the guys started notching the girders, in order to ensure all of the joists would be level.  You can see the two joists for the sky bridge in the picture below.  We used some of our leftover 10″ Hilti all-thread bolts to connect these joists to the joists on both sides of the house.

Some of the work pushed past daylight hours and required the use of some lights to finish.

Our good friends at Redwoods, Inc. delivered the final load of 2×6 T&G on Thursday, January 5th, which would be used to build the first and second floors.  On Friday, Ricky, Monty and TC began glueing and screwing the T&G to the second floor joists.


After working on it Saturday and Monday morning, it was done!

Another major milestone achieved during the first week of the new year was electricity to the house.  The guys had to run cable over 800 feet down the “mountain” (a.k.a. hill to anyone from Colorado) to the power line.  Boy, is it great not to have to listen to that generator anymore!

While Zeb was here dropping off the Redwoods, Inc. T&G, he painted some different colors of Sikkens stains onto a sanded log piece for us.  No official decision on the one we’ll use yet, but we need to decide soon.


Two incidents occurred during the week, but only one involved blood.  As you can see from the picture below, splinters can be pretty big.  This particular one stabbed into Monty’s hand and had to be pulled out with pliers.  He had taken his gloves off for a second to take a picture of completed second floor.  The second incident was more of a high potential near miss (maybe L04NM).  While installing T&G over the sky bridge on Saturday, Ricky leaned out to adjust some loose boards and fell off the second floor.  Thankfully, he was able to get his feet under him at the last minute, but still hit hard on his elbow and back.  As if falling nearly 10 feet was not enough, all of the loose T&G boards began falling on top of him after he hit the ground.  He was a little sore, but was right back at work on Monday.  It really was God’s protection that saved him and continues to keep our project LTI free.


Ricky and Monty have now turned their attention to “lightening” up the house by starting to build the window bucks around the windows for installation.  I believe we will have a “bright” week ahead of us…

Christmas in the Dry

We did it!  We met our goal of having the metal roof on by Christmas!  It was actually Ricky and a team of guys that got it done, while Monty and his family was in Kansas with his in-laws.

Ricky and Monty finished putting the synthetic titanium underlayment down on Thursday, December 22nd.  There was some wind, which made it harder and even blew the roll off the roof at one point.  The guys just picked it up, rolled it up and got back up on the roof.


The roof was delivered on Thursday morning.  All of the panels were stacked, so it looked so small.  It was hard to believe everything we needed to cover over 2,300 sqft of roof.


On Friday, Ricky and TC hit it hard and completed the roof on one side of the house.


Saturday was Christmas Eve and the pressure was on to get the other side of the roof on, in order to meet our goal.  Well, God provided some good friends to come pitch in.  One of the guys even brought another guy with him who was a roofer.  How awesome is that!  Ricky and his team ended the day on a high note by finishing the installation all of the panels!  Some of the trim pieces were not cut the right length by the manufacturer and are being redone, which is why you can still some some of the foam.


We also had a visit from Monty’s brother, Russell, who worked hard sanding logs, driving the telehandler and doing anything else that was needed.  His wife, Yvette, even got in on the log sanding fun!


All of us were able to enjoy a beautiful Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus and knowing we were “in the dry”!  We really hope each of you reading this had a wonderful Christmas!

Up on the rooftop…

One thing you hear about within the Log Home Builders Association community is using SIPs (structural insulated panels) to insulate your roof.  They sound awesome for insulation and easy to install.  What you don’t find out until later is that SIPs are rather expensive.  The first quote came in around $18,000, including delivery.  Monty called several SIPs dealers and received similar quotes.  In frustration, he contacted Ronnie (www.wileyloghomes.com) to ask if there was any way to get a better price on SIPs.  Ronnie pointed out that we didn’t need SIPs, but Nailbase Panels.  They are the same thing, except they only have wood on one side of the foam, rather than both sides.  Monty searched the LHBA Forum for “nailbase panels” and got a tip from a fellow log home builder about a cheaper way to get them.  Apparently, you can buy 4’x8′ sheets of EPS foam (a.k.a. styrofoam) with one sheet of OSB on the top from Universal Foam Products (http://univfoam.com/products/eps-sheets-blocks).  Monty requested a quote for 72 panels to cover our roof.  The price was right and they could deliver them in 7 to 10 days, which worked well with our building schedule.  See the post called “Shaving” for pictures of the delivery of the panels.  It turns out the panels were actually manufactured and delivered by Starr Foam in Fort Worth, Texas.  Anyone looking to make an order might call Starr Foam directly.

On Saturday, December 17th, Monty and Ricky decided to start moving all of the panels from the metal barn up the hill to the log house and even try to get one installed.  To attach the panels to the rafters, we had to order 14″ screws.


Monday began the panel installation at full speed.  Ricky, Monty and TC had all of the panels hauled and installed by Wednesday, December 21st.


The last panels along the ridge had to be cut at an angle to fit together.  Of course, we were unable to do this so perfectly as to leave no gap.  We filled in the gaps with expanding foam, which worked exceptionally well.


Cutting the panels was very messy and made what we like to call “Styrofoam Man”…


After all of the panels were installed, they went back to the ends of the house and trimmed any pieces that were hanging over.  A chainsaw turned out to be very useful when shaving styrofoam.

We had one very cute visitor to the site this week.  She is good at reminding Monty to use all of his PPE every day.

Now all that was needed to put the metal roof on was underlayment and our goal of having the roof on by Christmas was coming down to the wire…

T&G from Idaho

The first piece is the hardest.  As with most things in life, the first step is the most difficult, because it determines the ones that follow.  After measuring both sides of our roof diagonally and adjusting the screws slightly, we chalked a line to use as a guide for our first row of tongue and groove boards.  We had a mixture of 20′ and 16′ boards.  All of it originated in Idaho and made its way to Texas via Redwoods Inc.

It really went down pretty fast with three guys, a telehandler and a nail gun.  We got about 75% down in one day.

End of the day before closing up the ridge…

Monty is putting some of the last boards on before TC cuts off the tops of the rafters.  TC is awesome!  He’ll do anything, even stand on a platform made of scrap wood 25 feet in the air running a chainsaw and leaning over to cut 4″x12″ rafters tops!



View from inside of the house:

Ridge was closed in with practically no gap.  For a bunch of non-engineers, this was truly an amazing feat!
After ripping the first board along the bottom and trimming all of the rafter tails to be flush, we declared victory on the T&G!


We had a little helper on Friday.  Michael screwed scrap wood together to make what he called toys for the kids that live in this log home in the future.

On our way out to the ranch, Monty and Michael saw about 6 wild hogs cross the road ahead of them.  Monty quickly parked the truck on the side of the road, told Michael to stay inside and jumped the barbed wire fence to go catch a hog.  The smallest one could not run very fast, so Monty easily picked him up and ran back to the truck, while scanning the horizon for an angry mama hog.  Michael was in “hog heaven” with his new little pet!  He named him Max.

This week was hard one on Monty physically, as he was injured three times.  The first incident happened when he was driving the telehandler.  He raised up to tell TC to move an extension cord and his head rammed into the metal bar above him.  That’s not the worst part, though.  His immediate reaction after hitting his head was to jerked his head down.  As he did that, he smashed that place between your nose and upper lip on the steering wheel.  This knocked him silly, opened a gash under his nose and blood started dripping from his nose and mouth.  TC began singing “I fought the LULL and the LULL won” (the brand of the telehandler is LULL).  The second incident involved a board on a trailer breaking under Monty’s foot as he was carrying stuff and hurting his ankle pretty bad.  He is now walking normally again five days later.  There’s nothing like working on a roof with only one good ankle.  Notice Monty is wearing his double lanyard, full body harness thanks to Private Ryan.
The third incident happened when Monty’s truck slid off the country road into a cedar tree.  He was fine, but can only use the passenger side door.

Panorama on Saturday as the fog in the field was lifting:


With all of the T&G on, it was time to start transferring the Nailbase panels from the metal barn to the log house site…