Tag Archives: construction

Kitchen Counter, reprise

Okay, way back in July I posted about finishing the kitchen counter around the sink. In case you forget, this is what it looked like:

As you can see from that picture, there was still some work to do below the counter: namely build some drawers and cupboards. The drawers were finished fairly soon after the counter but we had a few delays with the finishing of the whole thing.

Let me share that particular adventure.

After we had put the counter in, I immediately went to work on the new drawers. I used the same technique I came up with while working on the kitchen cabinet. So it wasn’t long before I had the basic drawers constructed and ready for a fitting test.

Here is Fizgig trying out the first drawer.

He had to try it while it was pulled out as well. He matches the wood pretty well.

The high back on that drawer will make more sense in a moment. Moving along, I made the other two drawers that were to be installed above that first one. We put them in and it all looked good.

Of course, after that they headed out to the staining department. Our staining department (Kat) was also busy working at her new job this summer, so finding time for her to get some of these projects completed meant things were delayed more than once.

In any event, the drawer interiors were all stained a nice red and put back into position.

At this point, I also installed the interior hardware for that bottom drawer.

Yes, we made it a drawer for all of our baking trays and cutting boards. It is awesome because those types of things are a pain in the butt to put in a stack in a cupboard. If you want one close to the bottom, you have to shuffle through the entire stack. We knew when we had put in a drawer like this when we lived in Ottawa that having a similar drawer in the trailer would be really handy.

After that, we needed to put the drawer faces on along with handles and knobs. We also needed cut the pieces for the cupboards, put their edges on and finish them as well. You wouldn’t think that would take very long, but it did.

The drawer fronts didn’t take too long, but the cupboards sat around for quite a while. Part of that was Kat working, distractions of other projects and the fact that several measuring mistakes were made. The cupboards were cut to fit the space, but once you put the hinges on it forces them to sit within a certain small area. I ended up having to trim and redo two of the cupboards because they ended up being too big to fit once mounted to the hinges.

This also meant that Kat had to refinish the edges that I trimmed, which delayed things even further. As a result, it was the third week of October before we reached this stage.

We finished all three new cupboards and everything looks rather nice now.

There is that small space between the center pair of cupboards and the one on the right that needs to have something put in it. I do have a plan for that, but as it is cosmetic, it may wait until next spring as we do have some other things that we are currently working on.

I should mention that the cupboard on the right holds a little secret: I mounted our recycling bin to it and it is hinged at the bottom.

You pull it out and have easy access to the recycle bin, and it’s also kept out of sight which helps to reduce the clutter. You can see I put in some stops to prevent the cupboard door from dropping to the floor (they’re just below the white recycle bin).

In addition to this, while we’re getting caught up on things, remember that bed frame with the drawers we built last year? It looked something like this:

It sat like that for quite a while, with no faces on the drawers. That has now been resolved as well.

Kat painted them green and I put them on sometime in August. It’s so nice to have handles on those things, having scraped the flesh off my fingers a few times trying to get the drawers open without handles.

That gets us caught up with the kitchen and bedroom. We have a couple of other things going on, but time is rapidly running out. It is getting colder, we run the fire quite a bit now and we’ve even had a bit of the white stuff.

We’ve also started into more cloudy weather, so we’ve been trying to conserve our solar power to make it last as long as we can. This means no long days using power tools.

Winter is coming. Are you ready?

Construction update

With warmer weather upon us, it has allowed us to get back to working our our construction projects.

For the roof over the trailer, Gerald and I finished the beams across the middle and back set of posts. Now we just need to do a bit of adjusting on the front beam, due to some shifting during the winter, and we’ll be all set to start putting up rafters. Once that starts happening, the roof should progress much quicker. Which is good, because we don’t want to be out there working on this in May when the bugs arrive.


I have also been working on our toilet room. I managed to scrape off all the snow and finish the floor at the back. Once that was completed I put up the center wall. A few days after that I added the two side walls. All of this you can see in the picture below.


The next part, is to frame in the wall that will have the door in it. After that, I’m a bit stuck, as the framing of the walls for the closet at the back will have to wait until we do enough work on the trailer roof such that we can remove the bracing, as there is a brace on one of the corner posts that goes over the back corner of the toilet room. Theoretically, I could move it now, but with the ground still frozen and things being as they are, I’d rather not mess with it.

We’re scheduled to do some more work on it late this coming week, so hopefully we can get to the point where we’re rafterizing the roof (I love making up new words :P)

Well, it’s forty below and…

Yup, it’s January and this is the Great White North. It’s cold and snowy. Not the best time to be living in a fifth wheel trailer, but hey that’s what we’re doing.

I realize looking at my last post (like a month ago, sheesh where does the time go) that I don’t really have many pictures up showing what we’re experiencing here, though some of the later construction pics you can see the snow we have been accumulating. Luckily, during December, it wasn’t all that cold, relatively speaking. Most days were above -10C (14F) so not too bad.

Here is a picture I took in early January.


We went away for the holidays to visit some family and we got back on Dec 29th. It was a bit of a shock coming back because we had totally gotten out of the groove you get when you live in a trailer. Thawing it out when you get back takes a while. We managed to do that, but we were soon to encounter some serious winter weather. The first week of January it dropped to -27C (-17F) one night and was pretty cold for a few nights in a row.

We have a number of drafty parts in the trailer and the colder it gets, the worse they are. I was standing by the door on the day before the one where it got really cold and could feel the icy breeze rushing in. That was a bit more than we could take. We ripped off the molding around the door and low and behold, there was around a 1.5cm (1/2″) gap between the doorframe and the wall with nothing in it. What the smeg!

Luckily, I had some left over spray foam insulation. I brought it into the trailer to warm up and then proceeded to fill that space. That helped quite a bit with the draft, but unfortunately, when it gets decently cold, it doesn’t stop it from coming through the wall. As evidence, I present exhibit A:


Above you can see the orange bit where I put in the foam insulation. Unfortunately, the walls of your typical trailer are not exactly thick or well insulated. I was wondering why the ice was coming through the wall at that particular point and I discovered why on the outside wall: there is a hand rail for the steps screwed into the wall there and the cold comes right through that spot. The walls have only minimal insulation and the inside paneling is a really thin high density particle board. So, given the nice gateway through, the ice will come right through the wall.

On those really cold nights, you can see ice creeping in around the corners of the trailer as well, where the floor meets the wall, especially in the slide-outs. Does that sound rough, difficult to cope with? We have a secret weapon though: fire πŸ™‚

Provided you have nice dry wood to burn, we can get the trailer pretty toasty, even on really cold nights. It does take some effort, and you do have to constantly feed that fire during the night (kinda like having a new born baby around), but it works. The biggest trick is the dry wood part.

We moved up here at the beginning of October and spent most of our time trying to get set for winter. Unfortunately, once winter does arrive and you realized you will need a tonne more wood than you have harvested, things get interesting. Especially when you also discover that most of the places around your area are all sold out of wood, should you choose to buy it.

Luckily, we have family in the Ottawa area who had access to wood so they bought us some as a Christmas gift. That was one of the best gifts ever πŸ˜› Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as pristinely dry as we would have liked. Unless your days are ideal, wood will generally pick things up during transit, or, if it’s been sitting outside unsheltered. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess. The wood did burn, but all of the logs sizzled, which means you waste some heat of the fire just boiling out the water.

Ironically, I have also been out cutting some more fire wood. There are numerous dead hardwood trees around our property and the ones I have harvested have burnt really well. You do have to have a good day for it though. Too cold and you just freeze before you can get anything done. Too warm and when the tree drops, all that snow will stick to it, making it really wet. That will make it really difficult to burn. A sunny day around -5C to -10C is good.

How well does the wood stove work? Well, like most heating devices in rooms, it kinda works from the top down. Your feet are the last thing to be warm; we always wear shoes in the trailer. As a result, you may have a thermometer up near the ceiling that says 20C (68F)…


… but your feet will feel quite different.


Yes, that says 8C (46F). So, in cases like this, crank up the stove and add some more heat. Ahhh, this looks better.


26C (79F) makes things much more comfy.

There is constant work in keeping ourselves warm and fed, but it hasn’t been overwhelming. Of course then you have the unexpected things happen that you have to deal with as well. Like when your fridge dies. Ours died about ten days ago, but luckily, it’s cold outside. Anything we had in the freezer, we put in a cooler and put it outside. The room in the trailer where the built-in toilet was (I ripped it out) is always really cold, we we took everything that was in the fridge and put it in a cooler in that room. I have a fridge/freezer thermometer that I keep in there and it generally around 4C (38F). Pretty decent refrigerator temperature, but we will still need to find someone to come fix the fridge before spring.

As far as the roof construction goes, my friend Gerald and I have made some progress, but I don’t have any new pictures. They wouldn’t be very exciting anyway, as we only put up the center posts and the beam across the back. Once we get the beam across the center and start putting up rafters then things will start to look more exciting. I promise to take some pictures and I will post them, I just can’t guarantee that it will coincide time-wise with the actual construction πŸ˜›

Where is that post you keep telling us about

Yeah… certainly there has been a lack of activity on here. I wish I could say that everything is going well, the roof and toilet room are finished, the solar is hooked up, we have a tonne of dry wood and we’re living comfortably, but we’re not. Well, we are at the moment as we aren’t in the trailer. We headed down to the Ottawa area to visit with family for the holidays, but we will be heading back tomorrow.

So where exactly are we at? That is an excellent question. Out of all of those things I listed above, the best I can say is they are all a work in progress. How can that be? you may ask, as it has been over a month since the last update. Well, we’ve had weather delays, and scheduling delays, construction set backs, other obligations that take up your time, general living and so on. It is not for lack of working, that’s for sure.

So what exactly have we accomplished? Well, we have somewhere to pile wood, for now. It’s not super exciting, but it does the job… for the most part. I put it together using the straw bales we had lying around, some logs and a really big tarp. Here is a picture of the front of it.


As I said, it doesn’t look like much, but it does help keep the wood dry. It also faces south so if the sun decides to come out, it helps to dry out any wood that is there. Here is a picture of the back.


As you can also see by the above picture, we also have a bird feeder setup. That picture was taken the day after we put the bird feeder up, so it didn’t have much traffic yet. However we did have one quite remarkable visitor. He is in the picture above, but here is a closer view.


We originally thought this was a white winged crossbill (which is a stupid name for a red bird :P), but after further searching it turned out to be a pine grosbeak. He wasn’t shy at all either. I took that picture with the camera on my phone. You can imagine just how close I had to be to get that picture. He found the seed in the feeders and he wasn’t going to move. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been back since that first day. This doesn’t mean that our feeder is lacking in birds. Once the chickadees found the feeder, they have been feeding non-stop from sun up to sun down. We also have blue jays, red breasted nut hatches and a pair of hairy woodpeckers as well. The red squirrels have attempted to get up the pole a few times, but gave up after it was clear the birds were knocking enough seeds on the ground that they couldn’t gather it fast enough to keep up.

Moving on… we have been working on the roof over the trailer and we have made some progress. We measured and planned and staked all of the support spots for the posts. I say support because the posts are not dug into the ground, they are floating. The support holes are 60cm cubed (2′ cubed), filled with drainage gravel and then a foundation pad is placed on top. What is a foundation pad, you may ask? Well, let me show you some pictures.

First, this is drainage gravel.


It is a larger gage gravel with no sand in it so water can drain through it. Next is a picture of Kat digging the first post hole.


As you can see, there wasn’t any snow on the ground when we started that. That was the 12th of November, 2014. Yes, all of that snow we had received earlier ended up disappearing. For a while. Anyway, as I mentioned above, once the hole is dug, it kinda looks like this.


I will admit, the depth is almost impossible to judge from the photo. Once you have it dug down to 60cm, you fill it with the drainage gravel and throw a foundation pad on it. Here is the first one completed.


The foundation pads are made of concrete, are 40x45cm (15.5″ x 17.5″) and weigh a tonne. Well, maybe not that much. I’m guessing upwards of 45kg (100lbs). The wheel barrow comes in handy for moving them around.

Anyway, rinse and repeat and eventually you have more holes you’ve dug and filled. We did three that first day.


It took us six days to dig and fill all 17 post holes and by the time we did the last ones, there was a significant amount of snow on the ground again. Luckily, once the digging was completed, we didn’t have to worry too much about the ground freezing.

So, now that we have all of these post holes, it would help if we had posts to put on them. This is where much of the delays happened. Originally, we were going to cut spruce trees off our lot to use as the posts. I had cut nine already, but after discussing it with my friends the builders (same friends who are helping me build it), it was determined that the trees I had cut weren’t big enough. I ended up only have two that were big enough. So, I had to go cut some bigger trees. So that’s what I did.

Unfortunately, once I cut the trees to the size that was needed, they ended up being so big that you would need a team of elephants to move one. Plus, I had to go further and further into the forest to get cut the trees and we really had no way to get them out. This was a bid delma, so I called up my friend Andres, who is the one helping me with all of this building.

Andres, and his wife Sophia, have a large 61 acre lot with a large red pine plantation on it. Many of those trees have been felled for their own building purposes, but they were extremely generous and donated to us pre-cut logs we could use for posts. All we had to do was get them over to our place. That meant renting a big trailer, which wasn’t available right away; we had to reserve it. But the day came and we headed over to their place and loaded up the logs. I have a screen shot to prove it too.


That’s me in the helmet and Andres doing the photo-bomb πŸ˜› We’re working, but we’re having a good time.

Okay, so we now have post logs. What about the rest of the building materials? In fact, I had ordered those a while back and they had been sitting inside of our truck shelter, leaving the poor truck outside in the elements.


So, it wood seem (pun intended :P) that we’re all set to begin. So we did, but it was Dec 9th by that point. As Andres is helping us without pay, we are subject to his availability. We certainly can’t complain about that. He and his wife have been very awesome friends and very helpful. I should also mention that Andres runs a builder/handyman business with a friend of his, Gerald, who is also helping us during this build project. Friends helping friends are the most awesome thing ever.

Now those of you who know a thing or two about building are probably wondering how we get the posts to keep from slipping off the foundation pads? I have a simple answer for you: rebar. We drilled holes in the middle of the foundation pads and drove a #4 rebar through it. Seeing is believing.


The plan from there was to drill similar holes in the posts, squirt them full of industrial glue and plunk them down on the foundation pads. Here is a picture of us putting up our first post.


Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. We had a really difficult time standing the post up and then it immediately fell over. Frozen logs 5.5m (18′) long at that size are really heavy. We decided that, the safer way to go would be to build the posts out of 2x4s. The problem with that meant ordering more lumber (not to mention spending more money). I went out the next morning to the lumber yard and ordered the wood; that was Wednesday, December 10th. Here we ran into more delays as the lumber yard was out of 2x4s and they couldn’t deliver any until Friday. Then it decided to dump a big pile of snow on Thursday, which further delayed my lumber delivery until Monday, due to their shipment not arriving when it had been scheduled. The weekend was out for us anyway as Kat and I headed to Ottawa for previously scheduled family events.

So it was Monday, December 15th when we finally got back to it. We built the posts and started working on the beams. This is as far as we got.


What you can’t see in that picture are the posts we also put up at the back and the posts we had built for the center supports. I also had begun construction on our toilet room somewhere in the middle of all of that. This is as far as I got on that project.


Not very far, unfortunately. We worked Monday and Tuesday of that week, then on Wednesday, Andres truck broke down and he couldn’t leave home. The rest of the week was a write-off and then we headed out for the holidays. I’m sure you’ll hear similar stories from anyone trying to build or fix something themselves. Things are always behind schedule. This is really only a concern if you get bent out of shape about trying to stick to a schedule. We try to take it one day at a time and do what we can. You survive with your sanity intact much longer that way.

I could go on, as there are other fun things that have happened, but I think I’ll end it here and save those other things for another post. The new year is coming up quick and we will be in the trailer to greet it. That will be another first for us πŸ™‚

Stay healthy, everyone.