Our House Diary #69: Working with volunteers, March 22, 2017

I’ve been working with a new crew these past few days as I volunteer some of my time to the Our House project in the effort to get the building sealed up for the weather and prepare for the next phase of interior finish.

From my past experience, this is one of the worst time of the year to be working outside on the exterior of any worksite as we struggle to complete the siding. Unfortunately, this project is no different as we struggle with weather, cold, damp and last week’s snow dump of 74 centimetres covering all of our materials and creating a mud puddle as big as the lot the homes are located on.


Add to that the dripping of water from the eaves above us, wet hands and feet and slipping and sliding throughout the work site, and you’ve got conditions that are best imagined and not experienced!

Oh well….such is life working around our regular life and finding the time to put into the project.

What have we done? We have closed the ridge on the roof (finally), installed the Maximum roof vents, been connected to the Hydro network, sealed up the foundation connections between the house and the slab and finished the insulation of that connection:

and prepared the site for the installation of cement board for the foundation. We have completed the interior walls and drywall in the interior of both units:


…..completed most of the plumbing and radon connections and completed two of the four exterior wall connection between the upper and lower units.

The goal for the next week or so is to finish weatherproofing the exterior including the installation of the soffit and fascia on the gable ends and if materials and time permit, installing the cement board on the foundation…..We shall see!

I am still encouraging you to volunteer for this phase of the project working with Habitat for Humanity!!


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Our House Diary #68: post-delivery; the Habitat for Humanity phase starts! March 15, 2017

Yesterday was the first “official” day in the Habitat phase of the Our House build. Although I have volunteered with some others for a few days to tidy up some “delivery issues” a while ago, we started the volunteer phase in earnest yesterday.

We were hoping to finally close up the ridge of the roof (yep, it is still open due to ladder issues, time restraints and March break) and install the roof vents. We were also hoping to start the siding transitions to make the home weather tight, but the weather got in the way and we will have to delay these important jobs until mother nature gives us the chance to get to them.

On the other hand, Dan and I were happy to be working with Stacey (the new owner of one of the units), and some of her friends to get some interior details taken care of. So we tidied up, installed some drywall and organized the materials in the homes.

Stacey also thought it would be nice to visit the Centre and say a personal “thank-you” to the students who worked so hard and diligently on the build when the Our House was at the school.

Students were touched that Stacey and her son made individual cards for each of these students and also brought some killer brownies!

She made an emotional presentation of how grateful she was and how much confidence she had in the work the students accomplished…there were tears glistening in pretty much everyone’s eyes, including mine!! It is son nice to make those human connections that validate the work and efforts of dedicated students! I too, would like to second the words of Stacey to give my thanks to these and all the students who worked over and above the call of duty for these homes.

In other news, the plumbing connections are well under way with all the drains between the units now being functional. We are not that concerned that the water supply pipes have not been connected yet as there is still no electrical hook up to the Hydro network, so no heat in the units yet!

I was impressed to see that the homes are not all that uncomfortable in spite of the cold weather….the insulation and air tightness of the buildings are keeping whatever heat is generated by the solar gain in the units! A great testament to the quality of the build!

We hope to finish the final electrical junctions in the next few weeks, get connected to Hydro and start the plaster. Until there is heat, there will be no toilet, water or filling of joints.

Hopefully, I will be working on the siding in the next few weeks and am certainly willing to have help!

Those of you interested will have to register at Habitat’s website and when you come to work sign a waiver form that I will collect and you are good to go!! I hope to see you there!



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Our House Diary # 67, March 13, 2017

And you thought that the Our House project was ended!!

It is in a way, but the repercussions still reverberate! This post is to give you some links to the latest news and videos of the installation of the units:

The day before the move

The day of the move

Also here is a link to a story in the local newspaper fyi: Local news

Also, I would like to warn you that it ain’t over yet, as I will be volunteering on the build periodically (you are welcome to join me too, if you are interested) and I will be updating the progress as we go along….so hang on for the ride!!






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Self-directed enrichment opportunities, March 5, 2015

I’ve directed you, my faithful readers, to this site in the past, but this latest link is pretty pertinent to you as students of carpentry and learners willing to manage your own enrichment activities.

The site is the  Instructables web page, which is a varied “how-to” site that covers everything from carpentry projects to 3-D printing. The articles are diverse and, most often, pretty interesting, so check it out and subscribe, if you are interested.

For this post you can look at the tutorial on using the table saw by clicking on this link: Table Saw tutorial

It is pretty interesting and worthwhile and shows the author’s take on a diverse set of aspects of using the saw, one of the most important and versatile tools in our “toolbox”

I would love your feedback after you watch the “lesson”.


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“After” the Our House, Feb 28, 2017

For those of you wonder why the blog has been silent for the past few weeks, you should know that I was away in chilly San Francisco….pretty much every day was warmer here in the Montreal area than the temperatures in SF. Oh the injustice!

Mark Twain was credited with saying that the coldest winter he every experiences was a summer in San Francisco….apocryphal?

Before I left, I did do a few volunteer jobs on the Our House, working under the direction of Habitat for Humanity, so I will keep you posted on what work we did now that the house is “home”


We left the units with insulation blocking the gable ends, and the roof on the backside of the house 1-1/2″ inches higher than the front. This was because of an error from the truss manufacturer that we had not noticed until the modules were placed against each other.

The goal was to correct the difference between the roofs and close in the gables. Other volunteers and I crawled around the attic cutting the extra 1.5″ off each of the feet of the hinged trusses so that it would slip into it’s correct position and then screw the feet to the plates. We also placed the gyps on the fire wall in the attic, so other than the placement of the ventilation ducts, we are finally out of the attic.

Habitat hired a contractor to close in the gables and to connect the electric panels to the grid.


Inside, we opened up the pathways between the units and have mostly finished the interior drywall.

Over the next few months, the goal, under the auspice of Habitat, will be to: complete the electrics, plumbing and radon; finish the exterior siding and cement board on the building; install the roof finish and ventilators, and complete the HRV system. Then it will be only the interior finish to deal with (and kitchens, of course).

For now, it looks like this:

….and a little artsy shot:


I’ll keep you posted on my volunteer activities on the house, even if CVCEC’c participation is officially over.

It was a great project, and thanks to all the students, teachers, administrators and volunteers who have made this a great success.


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Our House Diary# 66: …And It All Went Well!!, Feb. 11, 2017

Yesterday was the big move day. Our goal was to deliver, assemble and weatherproof the Our House by the end of the day.

We started early on probably the coldest day of the past year…oh well, just another challenge to surmount!

The Trucking company arrived early and loaded up the ground floor units…img_4314

…while the crane was setting up on site:


Then the transport convey wended it way through the street of Ormstown:


…arriving at the end of Isabelle Street with the units. After the initial prep, the crane hosted them up and they were placed on the slab:

…and then we arranged the materials on the ceilings of the ground floor unit that were to be placed in the attic of the second floor:

This all occurred before lunch, and soon after the break, the other units arrived:


The roofs were raised with the help of the crane:

the back upper floor was placed and the insulation and the gyproc for the demising wall was put into the attic:


Everything was cleared off the structure for the last module:


…and then the forth and final unit was placed:


(photo credit: Gerry Rossiter….my camera gave up the ghost!)

The guys from Transport Champion and Grues Bourgeous were patient and professional. The also expressed their admiration for work well done: solid, secure, straight and square! One of them told me it was the best built house he had ever installed. All of you who worked on it and participated in the construction can be proud! Many congratulations!

My sincere thanks to all the students of CVCEC who worked so hard and long on this project!

This is probably the last of the “Our House Diary” series….kind of the end of an era.

The responsibility of the project has been passed on from our hands, and although I will probably be volunteering on site for Habitat for Humanity, my work there will not be part of my tasks as teacher at CVCEC.  I will update you on progress and challenges and solutions, but it will not be part of the student based learning as it was at the Centre.

Those of you who wish to volunteer will have to do so through Habitat! For now, please accept my thanks for what has been a job well done. It makes me extremely proud to be a teacher at CVCEC and to have had the honour of working and learning with all of you.

See you at school as we get back to the normal bump and grind of learning at CVCEC!


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Our House Diary# 65, If All Goes Well – 3, Feb. 9, 2017

Well, so far, the “if” part of this post title has become a “went” because all went well today. We closed the parking lot, lifted the modules and moved 2 more outdoors. We then lifted the last of them up and onto “candles” so that the building is about 40 inches off the ground and ready for transport tomorrow!

The 10 ton jacks worked like a charm and the 45,000 lb. units “floated” off of the foundation blocks we had made for them about 5 months ago

After the truck backed in under the units, the driver actually lifted the module off of the jacks and hauled the module into the great outdoors!


Since we had closed about one half of the parking area off, the driver found a temporary place for the module until the next phase tomorrow. What we are looking at is the ground floor and the rear of the home.

Then, with a lot of will power, after placing the next unit (ground floor, front) on wheels, we pushed it so that it was centred in front of the garage door for the next pick up. Many hands make light work!!

Once more, the jacks came into play, and this unit floated off of the wheels so that the truk could back in.

Then it was a question of moving this second ground floor unit outdoors to find its own temporary resting place in the parking area.

After shifting the last unit over, there was a photo op!

The jacks were placed for the last time and this unit, too floated up and was lowered onto the candles for tomorrow’s big day.


Now the room seems huge with only one unit left!



Tomorrow, two trucks will return and ferry the modules over to their new “home” where they will get an official address number and become part of their community….if all goes well…..


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