Here is the rebirth of my housebuilding blog, originally published on the now defunct Vox platform. It mainly covers the building process from 2006-2007, with some sporadic posts afterwards. I will present each entry as is from when it was first written and add real-time commentary (in italics) when I just cannot help myself.

You Look Radiant, Dahling

     Labor day couldn’t have been more aptly named for us this year. A whole weekend of work was squashed into one day due to the remnants of Ernesto that blew through the northeast.  It was a long day indeed.
     On Saturday, Anne and I laid out the plastic sheeting for a vapor barrier on the basement floor. We then moved all of the blue-board insulation into the hole, and were ready to start cutting it to size. But then a thought struck: if it does pour down rain tomorrow, won’t the floor become a big swimming pool as no water can drain past the plastic? A call to our excavator, a well-timed lunch break, and a return call confirmed we should cease and desist and wait until Monday. So we did, even though our first laborer arrived that afternoon. That would be Bridget, who arrived with three bottles of wine, a plethora of fancy cheeses and chocolates,  and dinner from an Indian restaurant. Hooray for Bridget. She received a swift promotion to “Chief Assistant to the Head Laborer.”

Sat and Sun were spent in a very leisurely fashion, as there wasn’t much choice. We were marshalling our strength for Monday, and by 8 am Monday morn we were on the hillside and getting work done. We laid the plastic back out on the floor, and then began laying out the blue-board. It went smooth, with everyone keeping busy cutting or measuring or moving pieces. 

 There was a long break in the action as we did some math and soon figured out that we were one board short—I believe I said something to the effect of: “You have got to be shitting me.” I probably said a lot more than that. Use your imagination (I sure did). Anyway, Anne ran down to Hamshaw’s lumber to pick up a sheet while Bridget and I laid out the rest of the insulation, and then started on the radiant tubing.
     The tubes came in 300 foot long rolls, and seemed to be spring loaded. It was quite a wrestling match and took some doing to un-do the mess I quickly had in my hands. But we soon got it under control and had four or five runs laid out by the time Anne returned from Hamshaw’s.

Soon afterwards, Carrie and Simon arrived to whisk Bridget away from us and back to her non-tubing and insulation related life. Carrie and Simon quickly received the title of “Most Esteemed and Thoughtful Visitors” since they came bearing two important gifts:
     1) A battery powered saw/drill kit (borrowed from our friends Cecily and Brett, who have the honor of being titled “Last-minute Lifesavers”)
     2) Cookies and brownies
I hope all of you out there who are planning on stopping by are seeing the trend of visitors arriving with edible gifts. Let’s try and keep that theme going!
Bridget’s VW barely made it down the driveway, and it was just Anne and I left to finish the job. After some layout discussions, we figured out what would work best, and motored onward. During our discussion, we had one more visitor, a quick stopover by Barb (who brought M&M’s) who stopped by after a busy day monitoring the boats at Lake Skatutakee.  She witnessed one of many long strategy meetings, and quickly beat a retreat.

This story has a happy ending, however. The tubes were laid out, the manifold hooked up and pumped with air (which was a whole separate adventure in and of itself), the cracks in the foam filled, and measurements taken for future reference. It was a twelve hour day, but mission accomplished. Our floor is ready, and now awaits the slab to be poured, which I thought was to be done today, thus staying and working until dark, but as it turns out, probably won’t be poured until tomorrow. Well, at least it is out of the way. It looks, in my opinion, absolutely radiant.

Putting radiant in the basement slab was sold to us as a good way to heat the whole house. Heat rises, right? Well, wood heat does, and steam heat, but radiant heat...radiates. It warms up that big concrete slab in the basement and then sort of hangs out down there. So a 70 degree basement, while the cats certainly appreciate it, did not equal a 65 degree second floor. Not even close. Thank god for wood stoves. Still, if we ever want to convert the basement into livable space, a main element is taken care of, so no regrets.

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