Whew !

This has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks. Blog posts have been few, but buildings going up have been many. When this much work gets done in a short period of time, it’s not magic; it’s about coordination, planning, smart work, hard work, and really good people.

Mortise and TenonUnity House, OPEN_2, is up, and the exterior is completed, thanks to the efforts of Phil Henry, Paul Boa, Joey Szuch, Hans Porschitz, and Caleb French. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Residential Architect carried the story.

CAD doorsThis week the interior finishes are underway and will be installed by Kevin Bittenbender, Paul Tuller, and Drew Kurimay. Last week, the woodworking team was very busy preparing the millwork, and gave a good demonstration of our flexibility and craftsmanship as they created some prototype finishes for an exciting, contemporary home that breaks new ground, both inside and out.

Unity Window trimWith the work teams dividing up the responsibility and with orchestration by Kevin Bittenbender, most of the work was accomplished very quickly. Scott Bosworth, Josh Conley, and Collin Clifford are building the interior doors, while Scott Frazier and Mike LeBlanc are doing entry doors. Joe Szuch and Dave Chase made the wainscot and wall finish panels. Paul Tuller, Randy Roberts, and Nick Kranowski ran the window trim and ceiling system materials. And it’s no surprise that Skip Singer is masterminding and building our innovative, removable wall.

Unity Trim

Unity in the shop


Weston House Cupola, prebuiltOur This Old House project is completely enclosed, roof is going on, siding is being completed, plumbing and electrical systems are ready for inspection, and finish work is underway. It continues to be great fun to work with the TOH team!

Lifting the Weston cupola with a crane

Cupola getting setTom Silva, Norm Abram, and Rich Trethewey are the “real deal” professionally, while also juggling TV requirements; whereas we are building professionals, only, and are pretty clumsy about the demands of documenting the process for the show. But they are patient, thankfully.

Cupola, from below

Setting the cupolaWe had a couple of good TV sequences when we attached the ceremonial evergreen bough on the ridge, after the last rafter was placed, and again when the cupola, copper roof and all was picked into place, literally topping off the home and completing the enclosure.

Tedd, Christine, and the This Old Houe crew

Stair CAD Stair design

Pete Favat (homeowner) wrote a wonderful blog post about the tree ceremony. He recites a story I told him about the death of my brother Stephen, who was also my original business partner. I’ll make you read Pete’s story, but I will say here that I will always do my best to carry the spirit of Stephen with me, especially in celebrations of our achievements, because that’s when I miss him the most.

This Old House Site CrewOur on-site crew for the Weston project has been Jay Lepple, Mark Roentsch, Luke Marcum, Dennis Wright, Toby Wandzy, Duane Beiler, John McElroy, and Kevin Stowell. I also helped a little, but these guys did a mountain of work, in some very challenging circumstances. Our architect on this project is Chris Adams; the project manager is Tony Poanessa. Heroes, all.

Squam Lake houseTuesday of last week, Norm Abram and I were filmed doing a tour of one of our homes on Squam Lake in New Hampshire. It was fun, but I’ll keep my day job. Norm is more than a consummate woodworking craftsman; he’s just a fine person and we’re privileged for both reasons to work with him. Here’s a sneak peek at home we visited. The filmed tour will be a part of the first show in a sixteen-part series on This Old House, starting this fall.

Squam Lake interior

Squam Lake Interior 2 Our team also completed the enclosure of the BrightBuilt Barn in Rockland, Maine. You can see sequences of photos that show the raising and assembly process, which was completed over the course of just a few days on the BrightBuilt Blog. Our team on BrightBuilt was Project Manager Lovell Parsons and crew members Jesse Gallagher, Seth Ashworth, and Daniel Wirth. It has been a pleasure to work with Kaplan Thompson Architects. We plan to follow them wherever they go next.

Timber CADMeanwhile, Duane Beiler, Eric Selmer, and C. J. Brehio completed work on an addition for a home in Harvard, Massachusetts, which was engineered by Fire Tower Engineered Timber. It was demanding work, as it always is when new construction attempts to match up with old buildings. Connections and interfaces need to be very precise, but in a random, distorted, non-planer way.

Timberframe CADWe have yet another crew out working on a local project designed by the architectural firm Weller & Michal, engineered by Fire Tower Engineered Timber. Our collaboration with these firms has always produced excellent, remarkable buildings. Our crew on this one was Chops Polcari, Dan Rennoldson, Jesse Gallagher, and Guyton Ash.

Church SteepleWhile Norm Abram and I were doing the TOH filming last Tuesday, another crew was putting up a new steeple on a church in Brattleboro, Vermont. The original was demolished by lightning about this time last year. It was a very quick, but dramatic raising: one steeple, one crane pick. The photos from the local paper show the steeple, but not the remarkable framing underneath.

Here’s a CAD drawing of the timberframe.

On-site timberframeLast, but not least, this past Saturday some of us were a part of a volunteer project to put up a timberframe for a local automobile repair company whose shop was swept away in the Alstead, New Hampshire, flood of 2005. The trees for most of the timberframe were donated by a local farm and timberframers from around the Northeast contributed labor for cutting and shaping the individual pieces. Our company donated salvage timbers and labor for one of the tall central wall section…and LOTS of people came out to help with the raising. Here’s a link to the Keene Sentinel story, NHPR coverage, and a couple of photos. Chris Carbone (Bensonwood engineer) designed the timberframe and provided information to all those who donated their work, and Mark Roentsch masterfully orchestrated a smooth and safe raising day.

Working and celebratingOnward!

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