Hello again free folk of Middle Earth and welcome to another addition of the Hobbit Hollow Construction Blog! Glad you could stop by.
Hmmm….Where shall I begin? So much has happened this past week. Interesting title wouldn’t you say? We’ll get to all of that a bit later. We did put the crane up at my day job this past week so that was encouraging. Rego Park, Queens is about to change. This is a little bit off topic but I did mention that this job was different than most for the company I work for. The tower we are going to construct is on top of an existing mall. I said in one of the previous posts that I would take a picture of the crane base which was a real hassle to install and pretty interesting to look at. I brought my camera to work and then forgot to take the picture. Sorry about that. It’s all covered up now so you can’t see it. I did take a picture of the crane though just so you get an idea of what’s going on. It’s actually a pretty cool concept. Residential apartments on top of your shopping mall. I guess if you’re into going to the mall this is like a dream come true. I, for one, am not a mall guy. Anyhow, check it out.
I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie ” Paul Blart Mall Cop” but we had a couple of laughs when we started and needed some help from security. They were really nice though. But guys being guys we just couldn’t help ourselves. But I digress.
Oh yeah, I have a bat in the bat house at the Hobbit house! Nice little guy. Hopefully he’ll invite some friends to move into the chamber next to his. ( I’m assuming its a male for some reason.) There are a couple of hornets building a nest in one of the chambers as well. Gonna have to get rid of them one evening after Joey goes out at dusk. (Maybe it’s Josephine?) Last weekend we had quite a few bugs about the house doing their best to bug us. This week not so much. Atta boy Joey!
Like I said in the title Middle Earth being full of all sorts of strange creatures of various sizes and shapes listen to this one. We, we being me, Jodi, and Terence, worked Saturday. We actually got a lot done and are getting really close to starting rebar installation. Anyway there was one thing I wanted to complete 100% this weekend and so I went back Sunday around noon to finish this up. So I’m workin’ away and I kind of hear an unusual splash. Like a fish kind of splash. I couldn’t see the stream from where I was so I’m like what the heck was that let me check it out. I put my tools down and I’m about to make my way around the Hobbit house and I hear this strange sound almost like a bird singing but it’s not like anything I’ve ever heard. I get my camera out so I’m ready to take a picture if this thing is unusual. Like I said this splash I heard was huge. I’m thinking maybe it’s a beaver or an otter. I peer around the corner and my jaw drops to the ground. Nobody would ever believe this if I didn’t get a picture. I mean, I can’t believe something like this even exists! Check this thing out!
I was moving in closer for a better look when it spotted me and dove back into the water. I gave chase but it was pointless. This thing moved like a tuna in the Atlantic. Come on, pretty unbelievable right? What was that thing? And I mean, what’s up with the beard? Where’s Sally H. when I need her?
Like I said people, Middle Earth is full of strange and wonderous creatures of all sorts.
Skylights you say? Yes skylights…you didn’t think that Hobbit houses had them did you? Well lets be honest: I’m sure Tolkien wasn’t thinking about them either when he wrote “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” I think most of us have a romanticized idea of what a Hobbit house should look like and what features should be incorporated into it’s design.
The fact is is that a working Hobbit house is not as simple as one may make it out to be. One of my goals designing this house was to try to get as many elements of the classical Hobbit design in while actually making a functioning home that didn’t make you feel like you were living underground or in a tunnel or cave. And when I say classical, I’m talking Peter Jackson Hobbit set classical. You know, the round door the curved ceilings the rounded hallways with the paneling. I think it’s safe to say that many of you are interested in Hobbit houses and how to build them and I’m sure that part of that comes from what you’ve seen in the movie and what your own imagination has created in your mind. Unfortunately the movies have a lot of advantages over us in the sense that none of what they are doing is permanent. In other words many of the scenes in Bag End are set pieces. Some are even partial sets made solely for a single take in the movie. All of these scenes are affected by the lighting. Which is controlled on many levels in a movie. Needless to say we don’t have the luxury of set lighting. So we have to figure a way to make all of this work.
I personally love skylights. Especially when they’re situated in the right spot. Like I stated previously I didn’t want people coming into my Hobbit house and saying that it’s too dark or it feels creepy….and that remains to be seen. So I figured if we put in a couple of strategically located skylights we should get a brighter airy feel to our home. Four total: One in the living room, one in the kitchen, and two in the hallway. What this also does is let natural light into every room in the house except the mechanical room and the common bathroom. I think when it’s all done you’re going to be surprised at how bright this house really is. We shall see.
I hope nobody fell asleep there. I could go on about skylights and Hobbit houses forever.
So there is a bit of a design challenge figuring out how to put a skylight into a Hobbit house. This took me quite a while….trust me and is still a bit of a work in progress. But let me just get into our Saturday and you’ll see what I came up with. Let’s get started.
Got over to the house around 9:30ish and got set up. I had already done one skylight during the week and figured out how to put one together. The layout is critical and takes some effort. It’s important to get them where you want them and this is where laying out all of the partitions the previous week paid off. Then it’s just a matter of centering the skylight in a room or hallway. Obviously you need to have the rough opening dimensions in order to cut everything up and all, which I had. I’ll be using a Fakro skylight which isn’t Passive House certified but is a very high quality skylight nonetheless.
One of the other issues with skylights is that they have to be at a certain pitch in order to shed water properly. Fakro skylights call for a 15 degree pitch. A four in 12 roof pitch is somewhere around 19 degrees. So here is the first skylight with some line work on it indicating the pitch and all.
Not really 100% sure how I’m gonna make this work yet. I have a couple of good ideas though. We’ll see. Not really sure why I took this picture either. the editor is probably wondering too.
Another item that is critical is scribing the bottom of the plywood to conform with the curvature of the roof. You’ll kind of see why this is important later but for now we need to be able to nail the plywood into a 1×4 kicker on the other side so the plywood stays in place.
It was then that the hired help arrived and I put Jo and Terence to work on the router table. They were wailing away when I heard. “Hey dad the router bit just broke.” Hmmm. How convenient. The bearing guide had fallen off. Oh well. We’re gonna have to go to plan B, I guess. Then something happened the ring did not intend. The boy, Terence of the Shire, put his thinking cap on and fixed the router bit. Impressive…..Most impressive. I didn’t even think about fixing it. I was too PO’ed about having to buy another router bit. He really did fix it though and they both went back to work. Good job Terence old boy!!! Here they are working away.
This isn’t them working the router table. I decided to have them start making up the walers for the inside face of the skylights. I set up Jo on the chop saw and Terence with the air gun. They took right to it and soon production was moving right along!
Hmmm. The editors starting to shape up. I didn’t even have to yell at her this week for cell phone usage during working hours. Hard to believe.
Like I said, I’m a slave driver. The editor wanted to make it known to all how she suffered. Here is a picture of what she went through.
And above the screams and suffering they made out two words….Baggins!……Shire!
Give me a break will ya. Like I said last time. Editors have to get out and see what’s going on in the real world. If it was easy anyone could do it! (Editors note: Yeah! But these blisters hurt!!!!)
Here’s what they were making. We installed one just to make sure we’re going in the right direction. Check it out.
Looks good. Oh, I bet you’re wondering why this skylight well is so tall? Good question. It’s all about the math. 12 inch slab, 12 inches of insulation, another 8 to 12 inches of soil, and a good 10 inches shrubbery. Don’t forget the shrubbery….very important. That’s pushing 4 feet and that is how high our concrete skylight curb is going to be. That’s also a lot of pressure when we pour this curb. We’ll get into how we’re going to form and secure this for the pour over the next few weeks. Very different…very interesting.
We got some other odds and ends done as well. Here’s Terence finishing up the ceiling details on the overhang using the brad nailer.
I’m kinda running out of time right now so I’ll just show you a picture of the skylights installed at the end of the day.
You can see that they are at different pitches depending on their location. So each one is going to have to be tweaked later on, if you will.
That’s about all I have time for this week. Hopefully you’re starting to see the big picture here. I’m hoping to detail the ceilings and the skylights next weekend. That is pretty much the next step.
Enjoy your week and keep a look out for those mythical type creatures!
Jim P.S. Okay, that thing that came out of the water there? That was my son Jude doing his Mythical Creature impersonation for the annual Mr. Pawling contest. (Held every year at his high school.) I bet I had Sally H. stumped on that one, eh?