Once we had our plans set and were ready to move forward, we needed to choose a contractor. Although Countrymark provides general contractor services on a project, they will allow you to choose your own contractor if you desire. Stuart is very talented and capable of building an entire cabin, but the task of framing and completing the entire exterior structure, called “drying in,” was simply too large and daunting a task for any one person to tackle! The Demarees gave us the names of some framing crews with whom they had previous experience. We ultimately chose Samuel Girod (SDG Investments LLC – firstname.lastname@example.org) and set a tentative start date. Stuart had already begun excavation and planned to have the concrete poured for the basement floor and foundation before that date. He had also worked out with Ed to use some old reclaimed beams for the first floor supports rather than the normal material. As I said in a previous post, we realized that with new construction, it was up to us to infuse this cabin with character.
In search of the aforementioned beams, Stuart found himself at a lumber yard on the Kentucky River. He spoke with one of the employees about what he wanted and they settled on a product. When he went back to pick it up a few days later, he met the owner and told him what he was picking up. When the owner inquired what the supplies were for, he had another suggestion for my husband. He asked Stuart to hop in his pick up truck and drove to a different part of the yard. There he had an old construction mat. A construction mat is a platform made from huge pieces of timber bolted together to hold large construction equipment on a job site when not in use. This timber was old and weathered with cuts and nicks that gave it lots of character and made it perfect for our project.
To make our foundation as insulated and energy efficient as possible, Stuart first made a bed of gravel with drainage pipes for runoff water to flow under, rather than over the floor. Next, he put down a rubber surface for further protection against water. Then, he laid rectangular pieces of hard foam insulation to help keep the floor from getting too cold in winter. Last, before the concrete would be poured, he built and installed forms for the footers for the basement walls, wing walls, patio and vertical wood beams. Once the concrete of the wall footers were cured, he began to build the forms for the walls themselves. If we had our druthers, the basement walls would be solid stone, but alas, it was not in the budget. Stuart decided to use a product that does dual duty. It is a foam block system called ICF (insulated concrete forms) that is easy to build and provides insulation and the stability necessary to hold the walls in place. Once the forms are in place, rebar is added for reinforcement before pouring the concrete. After the wall forms were assembled but before the concrete arrived, Stuart measured each of the horizontal beams (each is somewhat different in size and shape) and custom made inserts to put in the walls forms in order to save space for insertion of the beam. The beams are solid and massive and required a crane to lift them into place.
Finally, after all my husband finished all of this prep work, it was off to the races, as they say – especially here in Kentucky, with the framing! Samuel and his crew worked tirelessly from the beginning of November through the cold winter months to get our cabin dried in, finishing in late February. Samuel was wonderful to work with and was very open to customizing the interior door openings to accommodate our various sized reclaimed doors and using cedar beams from our property for a variety of interior and exterior support posts. Other than hiring someone to install the insulation and having Samuel install the interior log walls in the great room and bathrooms, the project was now all us!
More to come, stay tuned!