Of the Finish…..And the Burden of the Ring

They were once men. Great Kings of men.

Then Sauron the Deceiver gave to them nine Rings of Power. Blinded by their greed they took them without question one by one falling into darkness. Now they are slaves to his will.

They are the Nazgul. Ringwraiths  neither living or dead.

At all times they feel the presence of the Ring. Drawn to the power of the One. They will never stop hunting you.


Aragorn explaining to Frodo and his companions about the figures who are following them.


So much blindness these days…..and little in the way of questioning.


Hmmmm. No need to go there Jim.

Welcome to the little oasis we call the Hobbit Hollow Construction Blog. It really is nice to have you all back once again. It certainly has been a long journey hasn’t it? It certainly has been. Not that it’s over yet cause it isn’t but I am certainly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and I don’t hear the sound of a train. It must be the end of the tunnel right? My hearing isn’t that good to begin with. Or as the Editor would say, “You’ve got to get your ears checked!!!!!” It is true. I have tinitis. I really do have trouble hearing and my wife has a very soft voice. I wind up saying , “EHHH!” way too much.

The ringing in my ears never stops.

Where were we?

Oh yeah finishing up the Hobbit house. Yeah well I’ve sort of dropped the ball a bit this week with the pictures. My fault as usual. It’s because I’ve started listening to a lot of classical music over at the house. I got the Spotify playlist thing going. So I turn it on and I get kind of lost in my work so to speak. Forgetting that I have a blog to write. I think I do a little better when people are working at the house with me. I always try to take pictures of the people working there. Terence was on Spring break this week so he stopped by a couple of days and Ethan was there once.

So many little odds and ends. I really wanted to take a series of picture of how I set the linear drains for the showers. It’s really a great little system. (I forgot to take pictures of what I did though. Sorry.) It’s Schluter. That’s the system. The waterproofing system is actually incorporated into the drain itself. I’ll take a picture Monday morning. Somebody put a lot of thought into this. Pretty cool.

It’s funny. I worked 50 hours over there this week and I really can’t even tell you what I did. The main event was the siding on the North side of the house. It’s weird but I feel like I didn’t really work too long on the siding. Terence did more than me I think.  A couple of pictures

Terence working the middle section of siding.

Actually this is a picture of something Terence noticed while he was working. The ever elusive Pawling stinkbug!!!!

The Elusive Pawling stinkbug.

Yes people. And it isn’t even spring yet.

Terence pulled a Spider man on me and actually crawled up the side of the house to try and catch this critter. check it out.

Terence crawling up the side of the house.

Never knew he could do this.

Must have learned it in college I’m guessing. Or maybe he got dosed with something in Chem Lab.

Ethan showed up the next day to break down the tarps we had up and help set up the scaffold for the finish.

Terence and Ethan setting up the scaffold to finish the siding.
Scaffold set up for the finish.

It was cold out this week!

The finish isn’t easy. Especially over the windows. Double cuts on every piece. a couple pictures.

Over the window siding.
Terence doing his thing.
Getting to the top.

I think I can finish the siding in two days. That would be clutch right now. I have the interior doors coming Monday as well. Got to get those bathroom doors on for privacy purposes. Very important. Hobbits like to take their time in the bathroom without having to worry about big folk barging in on them.

You get what I’m saying.

I started up the HRV this week as well. Looks like I wired everything correctly. Very cool machine. Makes hardly any noise. And seems to be functioning correctly. I signed up to get it commissioned by Zehnder on line. Hope to have that done in a few weeks.

Anybody hear a train whistle?

See you all soon. thanks again.


For those classical music lovers out there. The playlists I have. Telemann, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Hayden, Handel.

A Nor’Easter…………Ten Bucks a Week is a lot of Money Over Six Years

Be careful, both of you.

The enemy has many spies in his service, birds and beasts…….

Is it safe?

Never put it on, for the agents of the Dark Lord will be drawn to its power.

Always remember, Frodo, the Ring is trying to get back to its master.


Gandalf giving Frodo and Samwise instructions before leaving them as they set out for Bree with the Ring of Power in tow.


Hmmm. Many spies you say. Yes people there are people spying the Hobbit House as well. It is a pleasure to look at….worth the drive and the look. And welcome again friends of old, strangers from distant lands. We are slowly but ever so surely getting there people. Getting real close.

I had a realtor stop by the house Tuesday before the storm. Had a nice long conversation about selling the Hobbit. It went well. Thinking of putting it on the market sometime in May. First of June by the latest. We decided to leave a lot of the finishes off the finish list if you will. It’s a strange house. Floors, tile, countertops, fixtures, paint, trim. They are all so personal. Now you can personalize the finishes in your very own Hobbit house. They get a credit for those items and have at it. It makes it simple. Bunch of leg work involved on my end but I think it’s for the best.

So yeah we had a Nor’easter slam us last week with wind and a second Nor’easter slam us this week  with a heavy snow. We were one of the lucky few who didn’t lose power with the first storm. My in laws didn’t have electrical service for over a week. Trees and wires down everywhere. Check out some of these snow pictures.

16 inches or so from the Nor’easter.
Once the sun came out the day after the storm it was gorgeous.
Skylights covered.

So I know I’ve never told you this but I’ve been making “payments” to my mother-in-law for quite a while now. You know cause I use the bathroom over at her house when I have to. She’s been charging me $10 a week. I’ve been putting money in a special fund to cover the expense. Do the math people. $10 dollars 52 weeks a year for 6 years that’s over $3000. We would meet in a little coffee shop in town and I would give her an “envelope” labeled “vacation rentals”.  The conversation would go along something like this.

Mother-in-Law: So. You find any interesting vacation rentals in Florida this week?

Me: (Sliding the envelope across the table.) Yeah. There’s a few in here I think you’ll find interesting.

Mother-in-Law: Yeah. I always look forward to the stuff you find. (Big cheshire cat smile crosses her face.)

I’m not meeting her this week though. There’s been a recent development that has altered our meeting plans.

Temporary toilet installed at the Hobbit.

Oh yeah!!!!! Nice right? Now I just have to make sure I lock the door every night. Little old ladies who are supplementing their social security income with “envelope payments” don’t take kindly to anybody messing with their “Kool aid” so to speak. (Especially Italians ones.) Gotta watch out for sabotage. I don’t want to get a call about something “Leaking” in the house.

I’ll have to go to the mattresses if that happens. It will get ugly fast. Believe me.

Hobbit house construction right? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be talking about.

Worked on a bunch of stuff this week. Not much to show for it and I didn’t really take many pictures so I apologize for that as well. Hmmm. I did get the cabinets in. I have a bunch of little odds and ends to do though. Crown molding, yada yada yada. Couple pictures.

Assembling the pantry and the cabinet over the frig.

I had to assemble the whole thing temporarily in order to get a measurement for the filler that goes against the wall. Was quite an ordeal.

Cleaned up the house nice for real estate purposes.

I also got the siding going on the North side. Hopefully getting the interior doors this week as well. A lot of little odds and ends I hope to get done this week coming. Also looking to buy the electric hot water heater. Very interesting little unit I’ll be getting. I also have to call the bluestone guy this week. I think the snow might have messed him up.

Like Gandalf was saying. The enemy has many spies. Watch out for little old ladies walking around the Hobbit house late at night.

See you all next week.







Of Kitchen Cabinets……Was There Any Change????

The Hobbit House after the recent Nor’easter.

Welcome friends of Middle Earth and those interested in the ways of Hobbits and their dwellings! Good to have you all back! Yeah we dodged  one over at the Hobbit house this last storm for sure. A  lot of people still without power all over the Northeast. Trees down everywhere. As a matter of fact there’s a huge tree down about a half mile down the road from my own house that’s leaning heavily on the electrical lines. Hopefully the lines will hold. A lot of people are still without power. Lost the top of a pine tree over at the Hobbit. Check it out.

Top of the pine tree came off and laded where I usually park.

Quite a mess. Not nearly as bad as some people got it though.

I thought this storm was going to be mostly rain. I was worried about soil erosion so I dug a little gully along the side of the hill to divert the water. I’m supposed to be getting a price to make something permanent for the property. We’ll see what my guy comes up with. Check out what I did.



Diverting the water around the lawn as it comes off the hill.

A nice little stream of water is flowing there. I should have set this up a while ago.

A quick unrelated item before I get going.

You ever notice that when you give somebody money to go pick up a pizza or get a couple of sandwiches at the deli you always have to ask if there was any change?  I think I mentioned this way way back in a blog once before. But it’s annoying no matter how many times it happens. We order a pizza and a meatball parm wedge Sunday night. I give Ethan 40 bucks and I get nothing back but a blank stare. Then when I ask if there was any change I get the big smile and laughter. What’s up with that???? It never fails. And he’s not the only one. When I call Jude out about the change he makes a face like I should be forking over the extra $10 to him because he’s such a swell guy. Amazing I tell ya, simply amazing. It’s bad enough I have to feed these goons but then having to wrestle the change away from them is nuts!

Miserable kids.

So I got a bunch of little stuff going this week. First off I didn’t do such a great job sheet rocking the arches into the kitchen. I had to wet the sheetrock down and then bend it. It came out okay. I was thinking that the taper would be able to fix it nice. It didn’t come out the way I wanted it to so I got the flexible plastic corner bead that you glue on and made it nice. It’s pretty easy to use and now I have a nice smooth curve to look at.

Redid the arches with plastic corner bead.

You use a spray glue and spray the sheetrock and the bead, then wait about 4 minutes until it’s tacky and push it into place. 1-2-3 done.

Now I just have to retape the arch. Oh well. At least it looks good now.

I also did all the exterior trim work on the North side of the house. Pretty time consuming. Especially the little window. I had to make my own moldings for that window. I had a piece of Azek 3/4 left over from the front door which worked out really well. It took the better part of a day to trim out this little window. When I started I really had know idea how I was going to do it either so there was quite a bit of a learning curve to do this. Check it out.

Setting up to cut the window trim for the back window.
Window trim complete.

That pipe coming out of the house to the left of the window is the fresh air supply for the house.  The trim came out nice though right? All Azek. Zero maintenance. Trimmed out the other two bedroom windows as well.

North side trim completed.

I thought I took a picture with everything done. I guess I didn’t but you get the point. I’m looking to start the siding this week so I can wrap up the outside of the house. Have to see what the weather brings.

Like you guessed I started the kitchen cabinets Thursday afternoon. Got quite a bit done by Friday. Cabinets are always a slow process though. You need  every tool in the book at one point or another and you really have to slow down and take your time. It’s nice seeing a finished product going up on the inside. It makes it feel like a real house. A few pictures.

Getting started.
Top cabinets in place.
One side installed.

I used a piece of plywood for a countertop. Now I have a spot to put my coffee cup. The range and the microwave go in the empty spaces.

Additional 1×4 pine under base cabinet kick plate.

I never like to trust the shims on base cabinets. What if they move? Unlikely but what I like to do is put a continuous support that ties the whole thing together as well. This will get covered with a veneer strip I’m going to put on later. Forgot to take pictures of the other side of the room. I’m hoping to have all the cabinets installed Monday as long as I don’t run into any serous issues.

I ordered the bluestone for the path up to the roof. Should be here in two weeks.

Keep the faith friends.



Of Doors, Skylights, and Stinkbugs………I’ll Have the Ultimate Burger!

“If we cannot go over the mountain, let us go under it. Let us go through the Mines of Moria.”

“Moria….You fear to go into those mines….The Dwarves delved to greedily and to deep……You know what they uncovered in the darkness of Khazad-Dum.”


Gimli’s response to the obstacle put in front of the Fellowship by the wizard Saruman the White….and Saruman’s response to what Gandalf the Grey must be thinking.


Hmmm. Yeah. Probably not such a great idea going through the Mines of Moria. Hindsight is always twenty twenty though right???? Lord of the Rings geek coming out of me a little bit.  I’m going to have to sit down one evening and relax with a gin and tonic and watch the Fellowship of the Ring for the 98th time. It gets me in the right frame of mind for working on a Hobbit house.

That’s all.

It’s my inspiration.

Welcome friends! Glad to see ya. Thanks for stopping in as per usual.

Now for the bad news. Yeah had the misfortune of having to take my Mother-in-Law out to dinner Saturday night. Not something I look forward to but is a necessary evil if you will. We went to Mckinney’s which tends to be a bit pricey. I wanted to go to a cheap Italian place in Brewster but that plan got kiboshed for an unrelated reason so I steadied myself to go a little deeper into my pocket for this event.  The Editor and her sister were going to get what they call the “Ultimate Burger”. Okay it’s a fancy burger with some specialty stuff on it to make you feel okay about the $22 you’re about to pay for a hamburger. (Just so you know the “Ultimate Burger is the cheapest thing on the menu.) So the conversation once we sat down went something like this.

Sister-in-Law: I’m getting the burger!

Editor responds: Me too!

Mother-in-Law: I wouldn’t be caught dead paying $22 dollars for a hamburger!!! (Saying it loud enough so everyone in the place can hear her I might add)……I’m getting the duck for $32 dollars!!!!

A big cheshire cat smile crosses her face as she looks my way.

Me: I’ll just have a water and some bread.

The whole thing went downhill after that. I got through it though. What was that old saying my Father used to tell me? Something about no matter what happens the sun will come up tomorrow…..Hmmm….Can somebody out there check and see if it did for me please.

Check this out.

The resident stink bug.

So this is our other pet. Sort of. We have this stink bug who has been hanging around our house it seems forever. I think everybody in the house has actually put this guy outside of our house at least once to quote unquote, “Get rid of him”. He always manages to get back in though. There’s something about a stinkbug that doesn’t let you kill it though. It’s not like a fly  or a mosquito. There’s a difference. (Not really sure why I’m telling you this.) Anyway. I think the stinkbug figured out how to use somebodies cell phone because a bunch of his relatives are now living here too.  How else would a stinkbug show up in the middle of the winter???? Yeah that’s right. Something’s weird. Anyway I picked up one of these guy’s the other night to “Get rid of him” and I think they know what’s happening. So I take him outside and put him on the porch railing and say my goodbyes.  As soon as I turn my back on him I think he flies and lands on me to get back inside. I turned to see if he was where I left him but he was gone and as I walk in I see a stinkbug flying in front of me! I’m not sure but I think the stinkbug flipped me something as he was flying away. If you catch my drift.

Okay it was a little long but that really happened. Stinkbugs are a crafty bunch.

Back to the Hobbit already will ya!

So I worked almost exclusively on the front door all week. It really was a lot of work. A lot of little things as well go into it which are kind of technical but it took a lot of effort to get this done. Let’s go to the pictures shall we.

Door in shimmed and spray foam the gaps.
Air seal the door.
Marking the wood that will surround the door.

So I used a ship lap cedar siding for this part of the door. I primed both sides with an oil based primer and then temporarily nailed them in place and scribed the radius of the door trim onto the back of each piece.

The scribing continues .

Once this was done I took the pieces down labeled them as I did and then painted them. Then I installed them the next day.

Beginning installation

Almost finished.
Setting up to cut the radius trim.

So I cut the trim out of 3/4 inch Azek. Setting this up, cutting the pieces, dry fitting them and then painting them took a whole day. I installed the trim the following day along with the lanterns.

Not 100% sure I like the lanterns I picked out. They’re the right size but a little dark.

Also worked on sheet rocking the skylights. Very slow as well. All extension ladder work. Had to frame them, insulate them with styrofoam, spray foam the gaps, then sheetrock them. Four in total.Check it out.

Skylight ready for taping.

I used MR boards here cause it gets a little stuffy up there.

I had Ethan securing the cement board around the skylights. So what will eventually happen around the skylights is the stone guy is going to put up 1 1/2 inch thick veneer stone onto the cement board. In order to do this we had to secure the cement board to the skylight a lot better than it is now. We used half inch threaded rod epoxied into the concrete. Remember there’s 10 inches of styrofoam around the concrete. Here he is having at it. Quite a few days work there when all was said and done.

Ethan working on the skylights.
Three days later it was 80 degrees out! Amazing!
Cement board on skylights secured.

That’s all folks!


PS: Just wanted to take a picture of an architectural detail that’s in Mckinney. Look who photo bombs the picture! Jeez!

Mothering-Law photo bombing my picture!

Of Mysticism……

Hello once again friends of Middle Earth and those interested in learning the ways of Hobbit house construction! Welcome once again to the Hobbit Hollow Construction blog! Thanks for stopping by as always and I hope all is well wherever you may be.

Just a few things before I get going here.

The wife and I went to Mystic Connecticut for the weekend to celebrate 28 years of marital bliss.  (How did a dope like me marry such a wonderful woman? I’m truly blessed. The best years of my life truly.) What a nice time we had there. Mystic is actually known for it’s aquarium and its famous Mystic Seaport. We had been to the aquarium when the family was younger but I never knew that the actual town of Mystic was so cool. There’s a drawbridge that separates the town and there are a ton of shops and restaurants. Everything is in walking distance to each other but the town is not really close to the Seaport or the aquarium. So the town was  a real eye opener for me. We stayed at the Whaler’s Inn. Very nice. What was surprising about the place was how busy it was in the middle of February. Which was nice. I was thinking that we would be the only people there but you needed reservations for almost all of the restaurants. It must be super busy there in the summer once all the boats are in the water. A great weekend getaway trip if you’re ever in the mood.

The Editor hiding behind a couple of delicious martinis at the Ancient Mariner.

They had a really good list of specialty cocktails at this place. If you get thirsty that is.

Anyway I’m driving over to the house the other day and I notice a huge bird high up in a tree. I was able to pull over but me being the legally blind fifty something that I am I really couldn’t tell what kind of bird it was. I took a picture of it because it was so huge but of course me being the dope that I am I forgot to use the close up on my phone. It was only after I got home and zoomed in on the picture that I could see that it was  a bald eagle! I knew it was too big to be a red tailed hawk but I’ve never in my life seen a bald eagle sitting in a tree before.

Bald eagle over by the house.

If you look close you can see his white head. Pretty cool. I probably need to get one of those seeing eye dogs that speaks so that it can tell me what the hell I’m looking at. By the way the Editor is making me an eye doctor appointment so we can find out how fast I’m going downhill in the eye department.

But I digress.

So on the Hobbit house home front we finished the durock in the bathrooms and the siding out front among other things. I also got started on the framing of the skylights which is going to be quite an endeavor. Let’s go through some pictures and I’ll fill you in on a couple of details.

The prep for the durock.

So believe it of not I’ve never installed Durock before. Haven’t done a bathroom in a long time. The last one I did I had the plastic wall sections put in so there was no need. Anyway I watched a video of a guy installing Durock and he went off about how it isn’t affected by water but how it does absorb water. So that was disturbing. I wound up talking to a couple of tile guys and I guess there’s differences of opinions as to how to proceed. My take on things was that if the cement board can absorb water the last thing you want is for that water to get absorbed by the wood studs. I look at it like a belts and suspenders kind of thing. I used zip sheathing tape (which is waterproof ) to cover the studs 24 inches up from the bottom of the shower. One tile guy said that he waterproofs the cement board 24 inches up after installation. We’re going to do that too later on.

Durock is easy to install though. Just like sheetrock. You score cut it with a sheetrock knife a couple of times to break through the fiber mesh and then you break it along that line. Simple. I used a drywall keyhole saw to cut the hole I needed in it as well. Check it out.

Durock installed in the Master bathroom.

So the skylights have to be framed out and insulated before we sheetrock them. I picked up the stuff one day and figured that I would work on them in the mornings before it got light out. The weather was good last week and I wanted to finish the siding out front during daylight hours.

Framed skylight ready for insulation

What I had to do was secure a 2×4 to the lower part of the sheathing box that formed the skylight. It’s all ladder work which is a pain in the neck.Once that was done I cut inch and a half thick styrofoam to fit in-between the skylight and the 2×4.

Styrofoam insulation installed.

This one is now ready for rock.

The last item for the week was the siding. Terence did the Lion’s share but the finish was a bear. I had the scaffold set up which was great but with the way the overhang of the house was and the way I had to work I was hunched over most of the days I was working on it. I also cracked my head  against the concrete bad a couple of times. (Sort of reminiscent of when Gandalf cracks his head inside Bagend.) A few foul things came out of my mouth when that happened which I shall not utter here.

But boy there were a lot of cuts. I mean a lot. Very very time-consuming. I’m not looking forward to the North side siding. Check it out.

Siding on the front now complete.
The last few rows everything had to be cut to fit. A lot of little pieces.
Terence did most of the cuts around the circular door. The boy did good!

I also started preping for the front door finish. I picked up the wood  the other day and primed it.

1×8 shiplap cedar for the front door. Primed both sides with a stain kill oil based primer.

I also preped the opening for the door as well. I had to trim back some concrete so that it would sit in the opening properly. Forgot to take a picture but I’m hoping to get that door in and painted this week. We’re supposed to have warm weather in the low 70’s on Wednesday.

On another note I did get the kitchen cabinets delivered but I am going to work outside this week on the door and North side trim and siding. Hopefully we’ll be installing kitchen cabinets the following week.

We shall see!

“We travel light…….let’s hunt some Orc!”

Aragorn after the breaking of the Fellowship.

See you all next week.


Of HRV’s and Salamanders……Hey!!! I went to the Island of Spice Too!

Aragorn:  I do not know what strength is in my blood, but I swear to you I will not let the great City fall. Nor our people fail.

Boromir: Our people….. I would have followed you my brother…my captain…my king.

Boromir’s last words as he lays dying defending the Hobbits against a raiding band of Urukai and Aragorn’s promise to him.


One of the best scenes from the movie “The Fellowship of the Ring”


Welcome people to the saga we call the Hobbit Hollow construction Blog! Ta Da!!!

Yeah well okay Jim take it easy  with the hats and horns stuff. You ain’t nearly done yet. True. But I feel like we’re heading into that final tunnel and once we’re in we are going to see that far off light.

Heading for the tunnel now.

So smart phones are smart. Right? Okay, let’s not get too wordy now. But they are. I think I’m probably the worst guy on the planet with a smart phone. I really don’t know how to use this thing. The sad part about it is I really am not interested in the smartness of my smart phone anyway. Okay the thing is great. Especially the weather stuff. The Doppler radar stuff is incredible. But then something happened that the Ring did not intend. I mean the smartphone did not intend. Well as I was saying these things do stuff that I had no idea that they did.

So we got home from Grenada and of course you go on vacation and you take a bunch of pictures that you think are cool that nobody else really wants to see. But these pictures are in your phone somehow somewhere just sitting there. So the other day the Editor has her phone out and somehow she hits something and the phone starts playing music and begins to show a slide show of all the pictures my wife took on our vacation in Grenada. Kind of creepy but it was really cool. (I guess everybody knows this already but it was news to me) So the Editor tells me about this and sends me the slideshow. Turns out I was never in Grenada. My wife went there all by herself. Looks like she had a great time as well sipping drinks by the pool at sunset and taking in the sun on the beautiful beaches of Grenada. I think I was in one picture paying a cab driver at JFK airport. Amazing. Smartphones.

Oh yeah back to the tunnel.

So a lot of interesting things this week over at the house. Little stuff. The main thing that took up most of my week was setting up and connecting the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator). So that took a lot longer than anticipated. Which I was kinda thinking it would. Almost 4 days. It was one of those things that you’ve never done before so you make sure you’re doing everything the way it’s supposed to be done.

So the directions for this thing weren’t the greatest. Not the worst either but there was one thing at the start that I had to call for technical support. So I hang this thing on the wall and start connecting the tubes to it and I realize that I can’t make the electrical connections if I continue. They kinda left that step out somehow. I did find that step in the directions later on but it wasn’t in the right order. Strange. Anyway I call the guy and he’s says I can get access to the control panel later after it’s installed but it’s just a little more difficult to get at the connections. Okay so this guy doesn’t know that I’m legally blind but that’s okay. Put it to you this way there’s know way on God’s green earth that i would be able to make these connections once I put this thing together. So I had to take everything I put together apart and make the electrical connections. Annoying and frustrating. Let me show you what’s going on.

The smallbox on top is where the electrical connections have to be made.

So the silencer box over that little box is in the way of making that connection. You can see from this picture that I haven’t made the electrical connection yet. The wires are hanging out of the wall on the left.

So this machine brings fresh air into the house distributes it to the bedrooms, living room and dining room and exhausts stale air from the kitchen, bathrooms, and mechanical room. Pretty simple. Couple more pictures.

Putting it together.

So after attaching the box to the wall and making the electrical connections I connected the main supply and return ducts to the unit. Very time consuming putting this together and making sure the ducts are connected properly.

Once the main ducts are in place you have to run the 3 inch lines to the unit one at a time securing them as you go.

Duct connections complete
exhaust connection going through the roof of the Hobbit House.

So we’re going to build a chimney around all this stuff so it looks good. That’ll be in the spring. All Hobbit houses have chimneys.

So I had Ethan remove the styrofoam where the shower drains have to go. Look what he uncovered in the darkness of Khazad-dum.

A salamander 5-6 inches long.

I let him go Sunday. The lady at the pet store said to let him go by the water and he should be okay. I hope so. He must have come in through one of the electrical pipes I had exposed in the Fall. Pretty cool. Biggest one I’ve ever seen.

Drain connection where we found the salamander.

So this connection took a good  day to figure out. I’m putting a linear drain here and finding the right location away from the wall took a little bit of doing. Hopefully I have it in the right place. Very little wiggle room for this drain location. I had to go to a tile store to get the info I needed. The drain waterproofing system that I’m going to use is from a company called Schluter. Pretty cool detailing of the shower assembly. It will be fun to put it all together. It should come this week.

I also had the floors of the house leveled with a Sika product. I was able to get it delivered this week from the city. The hardest thing about installing this is the prep work Clearing out the floor and priming the floor with the adhesive. The installation only took 2 hours from start to finish.

Had two skids of level set delivered. Only used one.

The operation is a guy mixing another guy opening the bags for the mixer and a third guy spreading it out. You could probably do it with 2 guys if you had to.

ethan’s friend Mike preping the floors.

The floor has to be completely dust free before you prime it.

Ethan’s the bag man. Tom is mixing.
Antonio is spreading it out.

So why are we doing this? We need as flat a floor as possible to put the tiles down. We are more than likely going to put large format tiles in that look like plank flooring. The floor has to be within an 1/8 of an inch over 10 feet for these to be installed properly. This is what we’ll get by using this product.

Pete the taper is going to get going again this week. He’s moving along.

The taper started skim coating the hallway.

Have a great week!


Return from the Isle of Spice…..

Yes I’ve been away friends to the Isle of Spice to be precise. Grenada. A little gem of an island in the south of the caribbean. The Editor and I enjoyed ourselves for a week there. So nice. I brought the laptop so I could write a post on the plane ride over but I ran into a problem downloading my pictures so it was never meant to be. After a few rum punches the thought of writing was off the table anyway. But I digress. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods and the winter months aren’t treating you too harshly. Glad to have you back. For those of you who have been with the blog for a while you might recall that I’ve been to Grenada before. (I actually tried to leave my mother-in-law there once but after 5 minutes with the people in customs they gave her back. It was a valiant effort on my part as I recall.) Very few Americans there. Mostly Canadians and English. Although we heard German and Russian methinks. I actually went diving with  a Canadian, a Russian, and a guy from  the United Kingdom.  Just a picture or two and I’ll move on.

Banana of the island

So the bananas that were served at breakfast were all small. As you can see they were way smaller than the ones we get at our supermarkets at home. And these ones taste way better. They’re like creamier. Delicious!

View of the beach from the pool bar.

It’s weird. We got back home and I drove around a bit. The colors down there are fantastic. It’s so nice to just be outside without a coat on.

Anyway let’s get started. The Super Bowl is today and I’m going to run out of time later on. Hoping for a good game at the very least.

So they finished up the fireplace while I was away. It was pretty cool to see it all go up day by day. I’m happy with the way it came out. Check out the process.

Setting the base.

Get the stone in.
Build a temporary wooden arch
Work around it.
Top it off with a bluestone cap and bluestone hearth.

Hobbits love arched fireplaces. Not bad. It fits in well with the size of the room.

I also had the taper start while I was away. He’s got a ways to go. I think he only worked two or three days.

Before I forget the sheet rocking nearly killed me. I was working 11 hour days trying to get this done before I left for Grenada. There are still a couple of things that need to be addressed. I did use water on the sheetrock to bend the rock to fit the archways. It took a lot more time than I thought it would but it did work.

The next step is to get the HRV installed. I’m going to be doing that this week if all goes according to plan.

Good luck with your Super Bowl picks and I’ll see you next week.


PS: A few more pictures from the Isle of Spice.

Sunset from the pool bar.
View from our spot on the beach.
I saw these baby coconuts fall off the tree next to me. I don’t know why they fell off so early on. I thought they had to get big before they fell? Sally H.?


Of Sheetrock and Insulation

The Ring brought to Gollum unnatural long life. For five hundred years it poisoned his mind……

…….and in the gloom of Gollum’s cave it waited.

Darkness crept back into the forest of the world.

Rumor grew of a shadow in the East whispers of a nameless fear and the Ring of Power perceived.

Its time had now come……


Yes friends the time has now come. We are on the brink of making this little  old Hobbit house get the look and feel of the real thing on the inside. And welcome as always. It has been a busy week over at the Hobbit. A trying and frustrating one at times. As you’ve guessed by the title we’ve started sheet rocking in earnest. It’s a painfully slow process though and is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. Before I get to that I just want to share some pictures of the insulation operation that went on before we were able to start the sheet rock.

So like I was saying we went with the open cell spray foam option. It really is an amazing thing to watch. It yields an R-value of 4.5 per inch of depth. So my wall depth is 9.5 inches which gives us an r-vale of 42.75 plus the 4 inches of styrofoam on the outside of the plywood gives us an overall R-vale for the wall assembly of 62.75. Impressive. Most impressive as Vadar would say. A typical 2×6 wall has an R- value of 19. So we’re 3 times more energy efficient than a typical house. I was thinking that these guys would be here all day doing this install. It was basically a half a days work. Most of the work being protecting the floors, windows, and walls. And then the final cleanup. Once they got going it proceeded quite quickly. The lead man sprayed the insulation on the walls and then as it dried another man cut back the overspray with a sawzall with a really long blade. A third guy spent most of the time cleaning up. A couple of pictures.

Getting started with the spray gun.

They spray it in a series of layers. He did an initial shot and then went back a number of times to get the right depth. I was actually surprised at how much overspray there was. Once they started cutting the overspray there was quite a mess.

I also had them spray a bunch of interior walls.This is the hallway.

The idea here is to isolate each bedroom from themselves and from the  main living space. Hobbits like quite. And they like their naps as well. Nice quite ones. This stuff really works well. It gets into all the nooks and crannies of the wall assembly. It definitely changed the sound transmission.

Soundproofing the master bathroom from the common bedroom.

The sawzall he’s using has about a 36 inch blade on it.

So as I was saying installing the sheetrock has been a bear of a job.  Quite technical. The curvature of the ceiling really makes for a difficult install. Even standing up the sheets is an issue. I was working in the hallway standing up a sheet and I somehow managed to get it jammed between the floor and the ceiling. Like jammed where I couldn’t get it out. So there I was with this sheet that I just spent a half hour cutting to fit stuck there between the floor and ceiling. The last thing I needed to have happen was to break the sheet and have to redo it all over again. So after a few choice words which I shall not utter here I got a ladder climbed up and got it unstuck somehow. Thank God.

Originally I was thinking that I would be able to do two sheets an hour. Which would be pretty good time. It’s taking me more like 45 minutes a sheet. Like I said it’s a slow process. I have to make a a separate template for the top of every sheet and then take very careful measurements for the height of each sheet. In addition to that there are tons of outlet and wall switches that I have to cut out for. Because the house is small there really are no long runs of boards anywhere. There always seems to be a corner or nook that has to be cut out to make things a little more difficult. On top of that there were multiple spots where the framing had to be either fixed or modified. Also the insulation was not cut back enough and was protruding beyond the framing in certain locations as well. So as I was saying it’s taken me more time than I anticipated. A few pictures.

Sheet rocking the hallway.

This is where the sheet got stuck. Check out all the outlets.

Living/Dining room almost done.

I had Ethan help me put the balance of the sheets on horses so it would be a little easier on my back and legs to work on the sheets. (They were previously stacked on the floor.) Those are all 4’x12′ sheets. The only place I’m really able to use 4×8 sheets is at the low ends of the house. (The far end of the picture above.) If you look closely you can see the brick for the fireplace on the floor. The stonemason is going to start the fireplace possibly Monday.

So right now I’m hoping to finish the sheetrock this Friday if all goes well. I’m getting some pricing for someone to tape the house for me. That’s a must and a pretty big job as well. The good thing is that I ran all the sheets vertically so there are no butt joints. This will make for a really nice wall finish.

Keep the faith.



Getting To the Finish……..How Much Pizza Should We Get??????……….

Hello once again friends of old and strangers from distant lands. So glad to have you all back for another edition of the Hobbit Hollow construction Blog!

Was having lunch over at the Hobbit the other day with Jude and Terence and started talking about how fast time goes by. Jude being in his final semester of college and all. It really did go by fast. So I stated the obvious. “Yeah everything really does go by fast.” to which Jude replied, “Yeah except for building Hobbit Houses.”

Hmmm. A wise old sage the boy is isn’t he? Or as they say in the Bronx a wise a_s! Just take a moment to fill in the blank there. If you’re having trouble the middle letter is an s. It’s always annoying when people point out the truth. There really is no argument there. He’s right. I would say, in my defense, that the last three years at work have been pretty stressful and tiring. It’s a poor excuse but an excuse nonetheless. Really what you need is time. Time is not a commodity so easily purchased. And to be quite frank  the house has been a lot more difficult to build than I ever really anticipated.

So. What to do. Well we have finally had a break in the action in Manhattan and I talked to my boss about taking some time off to finish this epic house that I’ve been working on for the past 7 years. And he said okay.

And so it begins. The final push to finish the Hobbit house. The beginning of the end.

So there are approximately a million little things to do. And about a million little stories I could tell you about since I started working full time over at the Hobbit. Just a quick one for starters.

So I’m working over at the Hobbit and nature calls, if you catch my drift. So  that mother-in-law of mines house is literally 60 seconds away. So off I go. After I’m done she asks me if I want a cup of coffee, which at the time sounded like a great idea. She has a Keurig so it’s not like she has to get a mortar and pestle out and grind the coffee by hand. So me being a sweet guy I ask. Do you have any sugar? Sure she says right in the sugar bowl. Of course I go to the sugar bowl and the thing looks like it’s never been used. Not even a grain of sugar is in this thing. So she goes to the pantry to get me sugar.

My mother-in-law looking for the sugar in her pantry closet.

Oh! Here’s the sugar!” she says. And proceeds to hand me a bag of flour. And this is all true people. She does this three more times!!! There I am with my black coffee and four bags of flour. Now this is where it gets interesting. She goes to another closet and gets one of those miners lights that miners wear on their hard hats so they can see in the dark,straps it to her forehead and starts to crawl into the back of the pantry looking for the sugar! It doesn’t look possible from the picture I know but that’s what she did. The sugar was so far back in the pantry that she actually lost her footing and all you could see were two little legs sticking out of the closet!.  I had to pull on her legs to get her out of there!

She did get the sugar though. It was one of those moments when you’re thinking “Am I going to have to call 911 to help me get this woman out of here?” Moral of the story…..get a toilet in the Hobbit house as soon as possible.

That really happened people. No joke.

This is what she pulls out of the pantry.

So there really is too much to go over in one sitting so I’ll just give you a bit of a run down on whats been going on. It’s longer than usual.

I’ve been working on the electrical and plumbing for the last two weeks for the most part. It was great because it was bitterly cold out for quite a while in the Northeast. So even though the boys were home on their college winter break they weren’t able to help all that much. Jude couldn’t help at all because of the treatment he was having for his staph infection.(Intravenous antibiotics 24 hours a day for 14 days.) The plumbing is a slow process with a lot of thought going into putting the puzzle together if you will. It was actually a lot of fun.

During this time when I was nearly done with the electrical and plumbing I went to order the kitchen cabinets. I’ve done a few kitchens over the years and this one woman over at HG Page is an ace. She takes one look at my design and says. “This is not going to work.” Great. So in order to make things “work” I had to move a whole bunch of stuff electrical and plumbing wise. This was mainly because I had the frig adjacent to the wall and the door wouldn’t open properly if it was next to the wall. She also moved my dishwasher and my range to make everything more user friendly. On top of that the vanities that I had planned for the bathrooms were not what’s typically done as well as the lighting around the vanities. So there was definitely more than a days work fixing all that stuff. I think it was well worth moving everything.

Oh. Almost forgot. The plumbing supply lines, hot and cold water, I used the PEX pipe. What a dream to use. So quick and easy. You use  clamps and a crimping tool to connect all the pipes and fittings. I also used these “Shark Bite” fittings and valves to make a bunch of other connections. “shark bite” are push to fit. You just push them into the piping and you’re done. No cleaning fittings, brushing flux and soldering. I cut at least two days off the install using this stuff. It was great.

Getting the plumbing done.Note the PEX piping.

I also started getting into the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) I set up some of the supply and return vents the other day as well as the incoming fresh air supply. check it out.

HRV supply temporarily supported so we can insulate the outside walls.

So I needed to make this connection for the insulator. He’s coming over this Wednesday to insulate the front and back of the house with open cell spray foam. He’s also going to insulate a number of interior walls as well for sound proofing purposes.

I originally wanted to use dense pack cellulose for the exterior insulation but the insulation guy said the dense pack will be hard to get into the nooks and crannies around the windows. Also there is the possibility of the insulation settling on the high wall areas. He said I would have to install plates between the studs every four feet to ensure that the cellulose wouldn’t settle. So it will be interesting to see their operation come Wednesday.

Just a few pictures and comments to finish out the blog.

Started a little drywall the other day. Everything has to be cut to fit on a radius.

Sheet rocking the house is going to be a slow process. Just because most of the sheets have to be scribed to fit is all.

Ethan adding an electrical outlet in the circular hallway.

The electrical inspector wanted a couple of things done in the house. One of which was adding an outlet in this hallway. Another thing he mentioned that was new to me was that the dishwasher line has to be an outlet that is in the cabinet where the kitchen sink is. Also all of the bedroom circuits must be protected with arch fault breakers. That’s a new one as well. I also need a GFI outlet within 25 feet of my mini split heat pump on the roof. Like I said, a lot of little things.

Ethan wiring for the smoke alarms.

The electrical inspector also mentioned that the smoke alarms have to be hard wired on their own circuit. One in each bedroom and a smoke/carbon dioxide detector in the hallway. If one detector goes off they all go off.  Pretty good idea.

Jude uncovering the entrance to the septic.

So I had the plumbing inspector come over Thursday to do an inspection on the vent system and the supply system. So way back when I had a water test done on the under slab piping before we covered it up with gravel. Unfortunately the inspector wanted another pressure test done on the system. Which I wasn’t ready for. The problem is I have to plug the end of the system in order to pressurize it. Which means we have to plug the pipe that goes into the septic inside the septic. Only problem with that is that the ground is completely frozen over the septic. Luckily I had some extra styrofoam that I used to cover the septic with to thaw out the soil. So Friday, believe it or not the temperature hit 54 degrees and rained torrentially all day. I had Jude remove the styrofoam and uncover the entrance.

It’s another long story in which we had a couple of false starts but we finally got the water into all of the lines. I ran a water hose up to the roof and put the hose into the 3 inch vent stack and turned the water on until it came out of the vent pipe at the top of the house. Check it out.

Water test on the vent/drainage system of the house.
The tarping of the front of the house.

We tarped the front of  the house so that Terence could work on the siding during the rain on Friday. It turned out to be a great idea.

Terence working on the siding during the rain.

He really did a great job on the siding

Siding coming along quite nicely.
Drywall delivered and unloaded by Jude and Paul. Ethan helped with the 4×12 sheets. 120 sheets delivered.

Terence working on the siding. A very technical job I might add.

The curvature of the roof and the windows pose a special problem.

Like I said there’s a lot to go over.

I know this was really long but just one more story before we go.

So the other day we went over to my sister in laws for pizza. There were eleven of us. How much pizza should we have gotten? I looked at my father in law and we both came up with 4 pies. Eight slices per pie gives you 32 slices, divided by 11 people gives you 3 slices per person and we all know that the Editor and my sister in law are only going to have one slice. Simple math. (And there will probably be a couple of slices left over.)That would leave 4 slices  for the big eaters like my three sons. So “they” go to order the pizza and I hear my wife say “Lisa come here!” In my head I’m thinking these two are up to something. They order five pies to our surprise.

Did you ever hear the story of Jesus and the five loaves? Well basically there was this huge hungry crowd of ten thousand and Jesus asks for whatever food they have which is about five loaves of bread. He blesses the loaves they pass them around and when all is said and done there are tons of baskets of bread leftover.

Guess how many slices were left when we finished?

Twenty three. Probably could have fed the ten thousand.

I’ve never been involved with a pizza dinner where there was that many slices left over. Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

Turns out there were a lot of people in that crowd who didn’t tell Jesus they had bread. Or one of the apostles ordered way too much bread!

Have a great week!



Happy New Year!!!!!……….Where Were We?????

Hello fans of Middle Earth! Welcome to 2018!!! Happy New Year and I hope you all had a merry Christmas as well.

Where were we???

Well the holidays are a busy time and I hope to get back into the blogging once again. I am sorry today. It’s already past my bedtime so this is going to be really short.

Son Jude got a staph infection the Saturday before Christmas. Apparently a bad one. He was in the hospital Christmas Eve until the Wednesday after Christmas. So being in the hospital is always a blast. Especially during the holidays. He also had to go on intravenous antibiotics for 14 days after he got out. A dose every 6 hours. So Jude is having a banner semester break from college.

Georgia headed back to Spain. Boy are we gonna miss her. It was really really nice having her around. Good luck Georgia. We love you.

Be safe.

Or in Lord of the Rings speech. Keep it secret…keep it safe.

Gotta go. Just a few pictures of what we’ve been working on.

A little taste of siding.
Jude and Terence working on the furring strips out front
Terence getting quite a laugh.

Apparently Jude was making an analogy with me and the father from the show “Orange County Choppers”. Not really relevant as far as I’m concerned. You have to have seen the show.

Jude trying on hats.
Jude working on the sill extension for the front door.

Looking to get my electrical and plumbing inspections this week. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I hope you all have a blessed and prosperous year.

Best wishes!


PS: Mike. Negative 10 here the other day. Hope you are enjoying the sun!