The Roof is Framed!

Posted by Cassie

Poco a poco we are getting through some of these tough spots in the cabin-building.

Scaffolding in the air - or Andamio in Spanish

This week the guys built some pretty high scaffolding for the roofing job as well as finished framing all the walls.

Building walls
Framing and working with the scaffolding

Turkey and Britton working on the cabin
Turkey boss checking over the work

Everything was moving along really well. They brought over each of the ceiling beams and began to set them into place. Meanwhile, we got all the T1-11 for the underside of the roof/ceiling. The plan, as you may remember, was to just put it up. However, when it arrived, it was clear that it would need something done to it because there was spray paint on it from the lumberyard as well as obvious putty wood filling. This meant we needed to paint it. Britton and I thought it would be best if he and I worked on the painting while the guys finished setting the beams. We worked the whole morning into the early afternoon on these things. But we only got about 9 out of 32 done. The T1-11 is really hard to paint, especially in the grooves.

Painting panels
Painted versus not

This also meant that we had left the guys unattended setting the beams. What could go wrong with that? Well, when Britton went over to check on them, they were nearly done setting them. But they said we were short about 10 boards. What? We knew we had more than enough. Well, sure enough they had set them 16 on center…instead of 24. Oh no! We thought about just leaving them as they were and buying and painting more beams, but this would be a more costly error to allow than to just undo and redo. Man! I swear these beams are going to drive me nuts.

Side house
Beams on at 16 inches on center -woops

So we spent the next morning fixing them and it went pretty quickly really but all the pulling of the nails and such left the beams a little less than perfect. Oh well. Moving on.

House with roof framed
Roof re-done- starting to look like a house!

We still need to finish painting all the rest of the paneling before we can set them on the roof, so they began bringing over the wall side panels first. We drove them down to the halfway point and they carried them on their back like turtles to the site.

Carrying materials through the forest
Everything at the site was hand-carried /moved there!

I try and do what I can on this project such as painting, helping find materials, translation/interpreting, mathematics.calculations, drawings, budgeting, design decisions, and of course documenting it, but most of the work and pretty much all of the heavy lifting is done by just these three guys: Britton, Waldemar and Jorge. And even though they may make mistakes (don’t we all!), we are so glad to have their help.

Today my job was housekeeping! Keeping a construction job site tidy is not an easy task!

Cassie Sweeping
Sometimes I am called la jefa (the boss lady), and sometimes I am the cleaning lady. We all do what we can and needs to be done

Progress on a big project like this goes in spurts. We have to be flexible and duck and dodge and not be too much of a perfectionist. Overall, things are going really well and I think we are just about to the mid-point where the big items are done (next big one after the roof will be the deck/stairs) and then we can go on to the more fun things like finish-work. Onward and upward! Hooray. The roof is framed!

Ceiling Beams: A Comedy of Errors

Posted by Cassie

Not all aspects of this building project have come easily. Some have been a comical disaster.
It’s nothing that we can’t change or fix, but big time and money wasters. Case in point: these dang ceiling beams.

We determined a while ago to have exposed ceiling/roof beams with a siding underneath. I researched and found quite a few different styles. For instance, something like this:

Example of an exposed wood beam ceiling

So Britton and I began by first powerwashing and then sanding the beams. We picked out a wood stain at Home Depot called Oak Leaf by Lanco. We thought it would be a deep wood color and then we could use a lighter stain on the T111 underneath.

Lanco stain
This is the exact stain we chose: buyer beware!!!

When Britton began staining, we noticed that the color was quite a bit redder than we expected. However, we thought maybe it was just because it was still wet and would mellow with time.

Beginning to stain -the start of the laughable nightmare

Hmmm…. the color threw me off a little because I wasn’t sure if a golden color would go well with the wine red. We thought about it a while and Britton agreed. Well, how about white underneath instead? We decided we would change to painting the T111 white to better go with the unexpected color of the boards. That was the first plan adjustment.

Well, when Britton came back from his trip to Colorado, we checked on the boards hoping they would be mellowed out and found the opposite. They were completely unacceptable. They were all different shades of red from an orange-red to a bright purple. Some of them didn’t even accept the stain and others soaked in too much. It was just a mess!

really red boards
Check out the wild range of RED boards

So we started talking about what could be done about them. Stain is stain…literally and is virtually impossible to remove completely unless you plane it down. By now Britton has already spent probably 12 -15 hours sanding and staining these things.

We got to talking and our friends Dan and Theresa recently just moved into a wooden house in Rincón and invited us to check out how the roof/ceiling was done in it.

roof idea dan and theresa
Another roof idea we liked -and it was here in PR!

We thought this could work! We would find a solid stain or paint for the beams and then a semi-transparent one for the T111. We went to Home Depot again and took back the white paint we were planning on using and asked the clerks what they recommended. They gave us a brochure and we looked through it for the better part of an hour until we found what we wanted. We went to pick it out and…oh, yah they don’t have that here in Puerto Rico. Only in the states! Oh, ok, well that would have been nice to know beforehand…

So the next day we saw that the Sherwin-Williams store in Rincón was having a sale. Perhaps they would carry a line of semi-transparent. They did! We were super excited. We picked out a tannish color for the beams and a matching semi-transparent for the panels along with primer to cover the red stain. One of the associates insisted on bringing it to our truck, but because of his short stature couldn’t quite reach over the truck bed with the paint and he dropped it with a thud. Oops. It didn’t look like anything had happened. But come to find out that when it had been dropped, the can bent and began spilling in the cardboard box, so when BK picked it up it just splattered everywhere! All over the truck, all over his clothes (our rarely worn ‘in-town’ clothes no less) and all over the rest of the paint supplies. We went back to the store and they apologized and refilled the gallon of stain.

spill of stain on britton IMG_2688
Stain spilled everywhere!

So that day was shot. But we wanted to get these things done before the guys came back to work on the roof. We frantically primered and then painted over all the 38 beams. This took another 12 hours or so over the course of two days.

When they were complete, we were happy with the color and our newest adjustment to the plan.

Freshly painted roof/ceiling boards

Then we went to begin the staining of the T111 and found that the color did not match really at all. It was quite a bit darker and not really even in the same color shade. Why didn’t we check that BEFORE we started painting the beams? AGH! So frustrating. What is up with these stains?! Maybe we are going crazy. Or maybe we should stick with what we know: paint. Of course this is all just cosmetic and we shouldn’t worry too much but these darn beams have taken so much of our time, money and contemplation that we are just burned out!

At this point we have decided to just keep pushing through with the roof and install the underside T111 without anything on them for now. Sometimes I wonder if we would have been better off doing nothing to these beams than all of this running around. Talk about spinning our wheels! I guess this is how you can tell we are amateurs (or fools?). We thought we were being efficient by working on these beams on the ground, but maybe we should have just waited until the finishing stages. These are the painfully hilarious lessons in a big project like this. My mantra lately: Mistakes are just learning opportunities. Mistakes. Are. Just. Learning. Opportunities! I also try and constantly remind myself not to sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff). That relative to the issues other people are dealing with this is just child’s play. But sometimes I feel like a big bumbler out here.

Just Flew Back to Mayaguez

Posted by Britton

….and boy are my arms tired!!

I took a short trip back to Colorado to visit my family while Cassie stayed behind and took care of the finca.

Colorado Trip

Almost 2 years has passed since I saw this silhouette.  I was greeted by this on the way to work and back everyday for many years.

This trip was the first time I had taken the Cape Air flight out of Mayaguez.  I have to say that it was super fun.  I have my pilots license but it had been several years since I have been on a small plane.  I was able to sit in the co-pilot’s seat on both trips which was awesome!  Check the video above of the landing, we even went through a little rain on the way in!

San Juan Airplane Ride

San Juan Cape AirCool Paint Job! (In San Juan, not the plane I was in)

It was great seeing everyone!  Friends in Longmont and Greeley and all the family.

Easter Time in Puerto Rico

Posted by Cassie

Variety Eggs
A variety of egg colors from our chickens and turkeys: no need to dye them for Easter!

There is always something to celebrate in Puerto Rico with holidays large and small in addition to personal parties for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. All of Holy Week (Semana Santa) is a busy time that culminates in Viernes Santo (Good Friday), Sábado de Gloria (Saturday of Glory), and Pascua (Easter). Nearly everything closes down on Good Friday so do not even  attempt to do any grocery or other shopping. There are processions around the plazas of each city near the churches and then many people head to the beach to party.


As for us, we joined some friends (thanks guys!) for a nice party at their house complete with slip n slide and an egg hunt for all the children.

RainbowGorgeous rainbows are back

Easter time in the tropics is a wonderful moment as it signals that the shift has begun. The tourists have their final hurrah and then our little town of Rincón begins to get a little rainier and sleepier once again. While the excitement of having people in town is fun, I much prefer the slower pace of spring and summer.

Bright hibiscus
Flowers are blooming!