The Traveling Company Expands…Okay Lets Do Something Different Shall We

Can we get to something new here people or what?

I know, I know everyone is getting sick and tired of doing the detail work. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing the same old same old, as well. Well we’ve reached another Hobbit House milestone of sorts. Finally getting to some new material free folk of Middle Earth. Thanks for hanging in there.

So let’s begin. Like I said at the start everyone is feeling the detail work, myself included. So I put Ethan and his friend Marco into service. (Marco’s an old friend of Ethans…I gave him the quick rundown about safety and not disclosing the whereabouts of Hobbit Hollow ….then I showed him where I buried the bodies. You know just to reinforce the gravity of the situation.Just kidding. So the Traveling Company continues to grow.)I’m figuring we’re not gonna last another two weekends doing the details. We gotta get the cavalry in here to bail us out. (Or for all you Lord of the Rings fans I’m thinking the Riders of Rohan during the Battle of Minas Tirith.)

So I had Ethan and Marco set us up for the weekend. Yeah, more detail blocks and also screwing in all the detail blocks we’ve already installed. There are a lot of detail blocks people. I mean a real lot. Hundreds. Here they are finishing up on Saturday.

Marco and Ethan finishing up the detail blocks.
Marco and Ethan finishing up the detail blocks.

So it was a great way to start off Saturday. We got right into it…and what a gorgeous day we had! We did have some layout work to do still and I pressed Terence into service to give me a hand. Here he is setting up the living room border pieces very tedious work.

Terence laying out the living room border details.
Terence laying out the living room border details.

Jude was busy all day cutting trim….and there was a lot of it. He finished it all by the end of the day. Here he is working away.

Jude alone with his trim.
Jude alone with his nail gun and skew back. Nice day out!

So I guess the question is how far do you go with the detailing? Like I’ve said before with just a few shapes you can really come up with a lot of interesting geometric configurations. Sometimes you can go overboard with complexity and somehow it just doesn’t look good. It’s like too busy or something. I have a detail in the kitchen that I’m not so sure about. It might be a little too much. I’m going to go back tomorrow and double check it. And sometimes when you see a simple detail done right you know that’s what is supposed to be there. I kind of wanted to set this house up with a lot of different things so people could check out what they might like in their own Hobbit house.

Just real quick here while it’s on my mind. Did you ever have a squirrel try to outrun your car? That happened to me when I left the work site Saturday. I mean there’s this squirrel in  the middle of the road and as I approach with the car he turns and starts running right down the center of the road away from me. I’m like beeping my horn and wondering what the hell is wrong with this guy? Finally I’m on top of him and I beep really really loud and long and he takes off into the woods. It was strange. But…I digress.

So. What’s next. Electrical my friends, electrical.

Hobbit houses do have electricity and this one is no exception.

I went to Home Depot a couple of weeks back just to get a couple of ideas for fixtures and the like.  I spy a fixture book there and it’s like 685 pages long. It cost like $8.95 or something so I’m thinking I’m gonna find something Hobbitesque in this thing. I mean it’s as big as a phone book. (For those of you who have never seen a phone book just google big huge books.) I think I found two types that might work. That’s it. Very frustrating. Anyway I wanted to go with recessed canned lighting in the kitchen, bedrooms, and the bathrooms anyway. I also added some recessed lighting in the living room over the fireplace, (We’ll have to talk about that another day) and I added some where the living room couch is going to be. Remember people I’m legally blind so when I’m sitting on my couch reading I need plenty of light.

So for some reason I think I’m gonna go to the store and find hi-hats that you can encase in concrete. Wrong. Well they have them but they cost around $300 a piece and I don’t like the way they look either. I need about 20 hi-hats so that’s totally out of the question. (20 hi-hats by $300= $6000. Definitely blew the budget there.)So I called up my friendly neighborhood electrician friend John. Boy, oh boy did he come up with a good idea. This is the short version: Get recessed canned lighting for old construction, strip all the extra stuff off it and wire it directly to the hi hat. Run the wires for each series of lights into a common junction box where the switch is.  That way if there is a problem you have access to it. Also add a grounding wire to the hi-hat. Simple. So simple. John is always up for saving a buck.

So I set up Ethan and Marco on a bench and we walked through the process. I showed them how to break down the hi-hat and rewire it. We also went over how to cut and connect the poly coated BX cable that’s rated for concrete encasement. The poly coated BX is awesome. Once you encase it in concrete it’s as if you ran conduit in your slab. From an electrical point of view it’s a beautiful thing.

But…There will be blood.

Ethan's blood soaked hands after cutting them on a hi-hat.
Ethan’s blood soaked hands after cutting them on a hi-hat.

It wasn’t really that bad though. He survived. Gotta be careful when your dismantling these things.

Anyway, they made some good progress and we need the hi-hats installed before we can start the rebar. One other interesting feature for all you Passive House fans is that encasing all of the hi-hats in concrete air seals the whole assembly. Another hurdle we won’t have to bother with later on.

I don’t want to run too long here so I’ll just go over a couple of other electrical items as well.

I set up almost all of the hi-hats on an extra large detailed diamond. It’s large enough to encase the plate cover or ring of the hi-hat.So to install the wired hi-hat just find the center of the diamond and use a compass to draw out the diameter. Once that was done I used 6 penny nails to hold it in place and then used 1 inch angles as hold downs to really secure it well for the pour. Check it out.

Hi-hat installed on the deck.
Hi-hat installed on the deck.

Duct tape keeps the concrete out during the pour. I also drove those other nails home later on. This thing isn’t going to move. For the chandeliers and other hanging fixtures I used your basic octoganal box. This one still has to get wired and a cover put on it.

Hanging fixtures get an octagon box.
Hanging fixtures get an octagon box.

Where the slope of the Hobbit house is 5 in 12 I’m going to use cathedral ceiling type hi- hats. This way the light will shine straight down instead of perpendicular to the ceiling. You forgot about that didn’t you? Come on people this is a Hobbit house nothing is supposed to be flat. Geez.

Different hi-hats will be used at the heavy sloped areas.
Different hi-hats will be used at the heavy sloped areas.

Okay, I know I’m running a bit long here  but just one other thing.

With the good weather out come the neighbors. Everyone’s got an interest in what’s going on. But this Bob is relentless. I’ve got five people working including myself and this guy is nagging me about helping me out. One more person to set up and watch. Not only that but he’s wearing a California Angel’s baseball cap. I mean who the heck is an Angel’s fan in New York? Thank god it was the end of the day and we we’re almost done. I gave him an air gun and let him install some trim. I took a picture of him and told him I’ll call him if I need some extra help which won’t be soon.




Neighbor Bob working on the trim.
Neighbor Bob working on the trim.

By the expression on his face you can’t really tell if he’s haveing a good time or not. Oh well.

Hopefully next weekend we’ll start the rebar installation.

Enjoy your week!



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