Hidden Bend Retreat, Romney West Virginia

Romney, WV

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Guesthouse Started

Donna and I have decided to have a guesthouse built next to our existing house. Hoping this will make it easy for family and friends to visit yet still have some space of their own. Plan is for a contractor do do the framing and the rough in for the electric and plumbing, then Donna and I will either take care of the rest or hire others to finish the house. We were going to have one builder do the whole thing but after running the numbers, we think we can save a substantial amount (about 20%) by taking on some of the work ourselves and handling the general contractor role.

We've selected the builder, the same people that did the pavilion for our patio project. We have been really impressed with their work and their approach, hopefully we'll feel the same when the framing is done. Here's the floor plan, we'll have 2 bedrooms and two baths, then a kitchen/great room area. House will be built on a crawl space. We're going to save a bit of money by connecting this house to our existing well. The house will have a covered porch along the entire front so should be a nice spot to sit when the weather is cool.

We're thinking it will take 45-60 days or so to get the house dried in, then our work will start. Hoping to have it ready for guests by spring at the latest but you never know! We've received a number of estimates for things like flooring, HVAC, insulation, and dry wall that have seemed surprisingly affordable so we may end up with others doing more of the work that we originally planned.

As of now, Donna and I will be doing the external siding, all the paint and trim, setting the kitchen cabinets/counters, the final electric, and setting some of the plumbing fixtures. The rough in plumber will install the tub/shower in one bath and the shower unit in the second bath as part of their work so that will make things easier as well. We're going to use board and batten siding to match the other buildings we have but the good news is that this is a single story on relatively level ground so should be pretty straight forward. 

Went with the contractor this morning to the local county planning office and applied for the building permit, a bit of paperwork but the county was very easy to work with. Hopefully we'll have the permit in a week or so as the contractor would like to start excavation on the crawl space late next week if possible.

We've already started work on the septic system, here are some pictures of the install. The only thing remaining to do is to cover the tank and drain field after the final inspection which we hope will be tomorrow.

The tank is 1,000 gallons and the drain field has two sections, each about 90' in length. The good news is that the installer was able to get a Type 1 septic system approved even though we have a lot of shale that can cause drainage issues. This makes the system much more simple and less expensive. For our log house, we weren't able to get a Type 1 system and had to go with a more complicated version that uses pumps and dosing- the guest house will is a traditional gravity fed system.

Will try to keep the blog updated as we move forward. We're also starting to keep our eyes open for furnishings or other supplies we'll need over the next few months.

Sparky Gets Comfortable

Sparky is still doing well and growing fast! He really likes to take his nap and gets very comfortable in his crate or pen.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pizza Oven Started

Donna and I were able start the pizza oven this morning and made good progress. First step was to put down a fiberglass insulation blanket on the stand and then place the oven floor stones on the blanket. Here's a picture after we got this done.

The dome is made in 3 very heavy pieces so we used the tractor to move them over to the stand and then set them over the floor by hand.

There is a bit of a slope behind the pavilion but using the tractor worked well, this picture shows the last piece of the dome ready to be removed from the tractor bucket and set in place. Notice that I was able to use the stabilizer leg from the tractor backhoe to get the bucket level with the oven stand.

Here's a shot with all three of the dome pieces in place.

Next we put on one of the chimney pipe sections to make sure it would extend just up next to the edge of the roof- this way we don't have to make any cuts or changes to the metal roof of the pavilion.

Put a tarp over the dome in case we get rain.

Next steps will be to use special high heat refractory mortar to cover the joints and seams where the dome sections fit together. Then we'll attach the chimney pipe permanently.After that, we have about a 3" layer of fiberglass insulation that will cover the dome to keep the heat in. Eventually will add a stone arch at the door to the oven and cover the entire oven with a couple of layers of stucco.

We were really happy with the progress we made this morning!

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Sparky Pictures

Sparky has been a busy boy lately. He likes to meet the alpacas through the fence and loves to explore the back yard, sometimes at high speed! Donna has also been working with him and he's doing really well learning to follow hand signals for sit, lay down, watch me, stay, etc. He's a smart little guy. Yesterday, he was the hit of the party at a BBQ we went to with some friends from the area. Got a lot of treats, was held a lot and generally had a great time, he was wore out by the time we made it home. Here are a few pictures to enjoy.

Saying hi to Delorean and Gold

Welcoming Donna back from the barn

"Watch Me"

Sparky at speed

He's growing fast, has really gotten taller and weighed 12 pounds at the last checkup. We're hoping we'll find him a new home in the next few weeks so they can enjoy him as a little guy too.

Peach Surprise!

I bought a cheap/small peach tree last year at a local nursery and we put it out front of the workshop. Used a lot of composted alpaca manure in the hole when it was planted but with our shale ground, didn't expect much. It's only about 4' high but we were surprised in the spring when we saw some flowers and peaches starting to grow. We ended up with about 14 peaches, small but Donna says they are really good, very sweet and juicy! Hampshire County is known for their peach crops so maybe it was too easy- we also planted an apple tree but no apples this year. In fact, the first annual West Virginia Peach Festival will bhe held in Romney from August 7-11. Here's a link if you want more news!

West Virginia Peach Festival Aug 7-11

Hidden Bend Retreat 2013 Peach Crop

Sink & Faucet Installed in Patio

Here's a picture of the sink and faucet after I got them installed in the new patio. Seems to work well and will give us an easy place to use to wash our hands or clean up a spill. I have a drain in the lowest part of the supply pipe that I'll use to shut down the sink and drain the lines in the winter.

I bought a 1 3/8" diamond coated drill bit to drill the hole for the faucet through the 3" concrete counter top blocks, went more easily than I expected.

Pizza Oven Crate Opened

Finally opened up the crate with the pizza oven to check out what it looks like. Everything looks to have arrived in good condition, nice thing is the oven is sitting in the crate the way it will be constructed so easy to see how it goes together. The dome is in 3 pieces, will have to figure out how heavy they are to sort out the best way to move them, may need some help.

The oven dome rests on a 2" thick blanket of fiber insulation (very itchy!), then the 3 dome pieces are set on top of the blanket with fire bricks inside the dome to make up the floor of the oven. The dome is then mortared together with refractory (high heat) mortar and then covered with about a 3" thick layer of fiber insulation to keep the heat in.

The chimney is added and at that point, the oven is usable but will need to be covered. Leaning towards using a stucco finish at this point that would complement the stone in the patio area- might use some of the patio bricks to make an arch on the opening of the oven as well but will figure that out later.

Here are some pictures of the oven as it was opened up.

Crate Top Removed
Fiberglass batting roll
Oven as it will be built

Front view with door

The oven has a metal door that can be used to help hold the heat for baking, when cooking pizzas, the oven is left open with an open fire to the side. The inside of the oven is 36" in diameter so there should be room for at least 2 10" pizzas next to the fire. Hoping the learning curve won't be too long to use the oven but understand it takes some time to get the hang of using it and learning the characteristics of your own oven.

Hope to start construction sometime this week, stay tuned.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Latest Patio Pictures

Patio area is nearly completed. Waiting for a dry day or two for the landscaper to fill the cracks in the pavers. Had hoped to have this done last week but too much rain. The pizza oven stand is nearly done as well, blocks to surround the cinder block foundation is complete and the top is on. Yesterday, I installed a fan and the associated wiring in the pavilion and will try to get the sink done in the next few days. Hoping that cutting the holes for the faucet and sink drain in the 3" thick pavers isn't going to be as bad as I think.

Here are some pictures. First one shows Sparky checking out the area and you can see the fan.

Next one shows the fireplace and oven stand, you can see I lit a small fire this morning to make sure the fireplace chimney worked. Seemed to be okay. You can also see the copper vessel sink that is on the right hand side, this isn't installed yet but setting close to where it will end up.

Last picture is one of the overall area, we're really pleased with how it turned out.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Alpaca Blanket from Triangle Loom

Here's a picture of a small lap blanket that I made on the triangle loom. Basically, two 6 foot triangles are weaved on the loom at the same time, the second triangle goes on top of the first after it's done. Once all the weaving is completed, the two triangles are brought together while still on the loom with a crochet type stitch along the hypotenuse. Once removed from the loom, you have a square blanket. Easier to see than describe!

The blanket is 100% alpaca, the light brown yarn is from Delorean and the dark is from Tuxedo. The yarn was spun from their blankets and is nice and soft. Should make a nice rug to provide some warmth when setting on the couch- the weave is fairly open so shouldn't be too hot. Will try to find some pictures of the rug as it was in progress but here's the finished picture.

Alpaca Lap Blanket

Patio Lights

Here's a picture of the patio with the lights last night, really turned out nice!

Front Patio Nearly Complete

Work has continued this week on the front patio, the pavilion is nearly completed. I just need to do some trim work but haven't decided just what to do yet. The pavers are all in place and the plan is for the landscaper to put in the silicone/sand mixture on Friday if the weather forecast continues to call for dry weather, the mixture needs 24 hours to set. As I understand it, this mixture will fill in the gaps and then harden so water doesn't penetrate the pavers and at the same time, it has some flexibility so it will stick to the stone pavers but accommodate some movement.

The stand for the pizza oven is completed as well and most of the top for the sink area are ready to go. I'm leaving those loose for now until I purchase a faucet so I can figure out how to get the faucet and sink holes in to the concrete tops.Lighting is in place and looks really good, will include a picture below of the patio area lit up at night in a separate post.

Here are the latest shots.

Overall View

Tongue & Groove Ceiling in Pavilion

Friday, July 5, 2013

New Puppy Pictures

Sparky is doing fine and continues to wear Donna and I out. Like having a baby in the house and we've been there and done that! Here are some new pictures.