Hidden Bend Retreat, Romney West Virginia

Romney, WV

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guesthouse Crawlspace Footings Poured

The footings for the guesthouse were poured today. Took a bit more concrete than expected but should be ready for blocks to be laid in a couple of days. Plan is to have blocks delivered later this week and to build the crawlspace walls next week. More progress!

Here are a couple of pictures to show the work.

Getting ready to pour

Footing for rear wall

Front section

First Food from the Oven!

During the last curing fire the other day, the temperature in the oven was well over 700 degrees so seemed like a shame to waste the heat. Didn't have all the fixings for pizza but did have a pizza dough ball in the freezer. Formed two pizza shells and added olive oil, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper- cooked in about 2 minutes and we ate them sitting outside as a before dinner snack, they tasted great and had a different flavor from being cooked outside compared to the indoor oven.

First Pie in the Oven!

Mighty Tasty

Then, Donna decided that a smore would be in order, the marshmallow cooked in about 15 seconds and was a perfect golden brown! Didn't have time to get a picture before it disappeared but Donna said it was wonderful!

Swing for the Patio

Here are a couple of pictures of the patio and the swing we hung under the deck. This is a swing I made a few years back out of some Cypress wood that I was given. Needs to be sanded again but we finally found a nice spot for it.

And here's a picture of the patio area looking down from the front deck.

A little cluttered with some oven tools and equipment I'm using on the oven build but gives a nice vew from above.

One more from under the deck.

TIle on the Pizza Oven

Yesterday I finished applying tile to the pizza oven. Tiles are 2"x2" tumbled travertine and think they will work well with the rest of the stone work. I applied a sealer over the tiles and will add the grout later this week. The grout is an epoxy type that should make the dome almost weatherproof. Not perfect but with one more coat of sealer, think I'll be done.

Here's a picture of the dome before the sealer was applied.

Here's a picture after the sealer, gives it a wet look and really brings out the colors in the tiles.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Guesthouse Crawlspace Excavation

This morning, the excavator for the guesthouse arrived through the fog and rain to dig out the crawlspace.

The first thing they did was to cut in a driveway area. This will later be covered with gravel once the construction work is completed.

Then they worked the rest of the day to get the dig completed. Here's a picture of the work under way.

Digging out the main area

These are two pictures after the excavation was completed.

Looking from back towards existing house

Looking over porch area

The area at the front of the picture right above shows where the footing for the front porch will be laid. Next comes concrete for the footings- about 8-10" of concrete will be poured in to the footing areas and once this dries, the concrete block foundation will be laid. We're looking for the walls to be about 4' or so high, the back area may be a bit higher and it looks to me like they may have dug this a bit deeper than I expected. Worse case, we'll be able to add a couple more rows of block and make the crawlspace and have a bit more head room.

This last picture shows a ditching machine that will be used to dig two trenches. One will go from the side of the house to the electric pole across the cul-de-sac for the electric service. The second ditch will be over 300' around the cul-de-sac to the existing wellhead which is near the workshop. Sharing the well with the main house saves us over $5K! Originally, they were going to dig the trenches at the same time as the foundation but decided it would be better once the crawlspace is completed to finish that work.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pizza Oven, Second Coat of Stucco

Put a second coat of stucco on the oven this morning- this should help with weather proofing the dome. Here's a before and after picture.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Oven Curing

After completing the first coat of stucco on the oven on Wednesday, on Thursday I did another curing fire for about 5 hours. Oven temps reached nearly 500 degrees inside, the dome was warm on the outside but you could tell the insulation was keeping the heat inside.

I let the fire burn down about 3pm and at 8 pm, it was still over 400 degrees in the oven, this morning at 8 am, it was still reading about 200 degrees. Once the oven is completely cured, it should hold temps well overnight. The idea is that you can heat to 7 or 800 degrees to do pizza, then as the oven cools, you can cook other foods like roasts, bread, vegetables, etc.

If I can get the second coat of stucco applied on Saturday and do a couple more curing fires, should be able to cook for real next week- right now I've been using pine for the curing fires but will switch to hard woods if we decide to use the fire for cooking.

More later on the oven build.

Pizza Oven Stucco

More progress on the pizza oven. I covered the dome with fiberglass insulation, the batts of insulation are just over 1" thick so I did 3 layers on the oven and 2 layers over the entrance area. Here are a couple of pictures. First one is just after the first layer was applied.

Next picture shows all the fiberglass in place and hardware cloth being formed to hold the insulation in place and give the dome shape.

This picture shows the dome with the hardware cloth completely in place, ready for the first coat of stucco.

Here's everything ready to start mixing the stucco- the first coat is applied about 1/2-3/4" thick. The stucco is 1 part portland cement, one part lime, and 4-5 parts of sand.

Here's the dome with the stucco applied and the basic dome shape is in place. After this dries a bit, at least one more coat will be added. I'll increase the amount of lime in the mix which supposedly helps with the weather proofing. It may need a final coat or might use some kind of a limestone coating or paint to try and keep the dome as weather tight as possible.

More pictures when I get to the second coat, hopefully on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guest House Staked for Excavation

Our local builder and excavator came out last night to lay out the stakes to start excavating for the crawl space for the guest house. The trenches for the electric and water connections will also be done.

Here's a picture looking from the road in to the site, you can see the corner stakes for the front of the house (actually the porch).

These next three shots are from where the porch will be, first looking to the right up the road, then across the road, then to the left towards the existing house. You can click on the pictures to get a larger view. A bit hard to see the detail but wanted to give a starting point.

The excavator hopes to begin digging this week, once this is complete, the builder will begin to layout the footers for the crawl space walls.

Will try to post progress over the next few months as we move along.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Fire in the Pizza Oven

Was able to light a small fire in the pizza oven yesterday afternoon after the last piece of chimney pipe arrived from UPS. Here's a picture of the oven with the chimney in place.

Here's a shot of the first fire. I still have a lot of work to do before any fires large enough to cook with can be made. You're supposed to cure the oven concrete with successively larger fires so wanted to get started.

I wanted to go ahead with a couple of small fires before adding the external fiberglass insulation blankets in case I get a crack- much easier to see and repair this way.

Making progress, maybe there will be pizza by labor day!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pizza Oven Arch

More progress on the oven but I've proved I'm not a mason. Used some of the leftover block from the fireplace build to add a decorative arch to the front of the oven. Here's a picture with the form in place to hold up the arch as it dries. Hopefully it will still be there when I look later this morning.

I had a bit of trouble getting the mortar to stay in place but hoping I'll be able to add a skim coat to the joints to improve the look once the form is pulled out today.The black piece of wood on the form is what I used to hold the form together. I originally made it in one piece but then cut it in to two pieces so I could remove the screws from the joint and allow it to be pulled out of the hole, I hope.

It was so cool yesterday morning that we built a fire in the outside fireplace and had coffee before the day really started. Sparky, Jasmine, Deago, and Waylon all joined us as well.

Here's a picture of the pavilion as we made our way down after the fire was going.

Sparky Adopted

Yesterday, a really great family from Lynchburg, VA came to meet and adopt Sparky. They all hit it off immediately as you can see in the pictures. Sparky will have a big brother to play with at his new house, a nice yard, and family members who are around all the time. Looks like a perfect match and Donna and I are really happy these folks applied for our little Sparky.

We miss him but time to get some order back in our life, lol.

Enjoy the pictures.

A picture before they go!

Sparky enjoys a belly rub

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pizza Oven Progress

On Saturday, I used the refractory (high heat) mortar that came with the oven kit to cement the 3 pieces of the oven together. Here are a couple of pictures.

Second picture also shows the attachment for the chimney where it enters the oven. This was secured in place with screws after sealing with chimney/heat caulking.

I also spent some time cutting some blocks for the arch that will surround the door way, here's a picture of the blocks sitting on top of a plywood form that will hold them until the mortar dries. We're still sorting out how we want to handle the area directly in front of the oven but will most likely use a large patio block or a piece of granite?

Next steps are to set the arch in mortar and then cover the oven with an insulating blanket. Then, it will take a couple of layers of mortar to finish.

Septic Completed

On Friday, the septic install for the guesthouse was inspected and the contractor was able to finish covering the tank and drain field. Install went very smooth, here are a couple of pictures as the final grading was finished.