Sunday, January 1, 2012

Warning: Non Vineyard Content Ahead...

Here at Bluff Creek Vineyards, we've always got one or more projects in the works. Over the summer we decided that we need to think about putting up a pole barn to store vehicles and vineyard equipment, and it needs to be planned in such a way that we can eventually convert some or most of the space to a commercial winery. We got things rolling in terms of where to put it and how we were going to prepare the site but for multiple reasons did not get much further than the dirt work before the weather got too cold to bring in the concrete people and the builders. We considered doing this project ourselves and we still might but it's quite a large building and we'll need some specialized equipment to tackle the roof and so forth so this may end up being one we farm out to the pros. Anyway, we've postponed that project until spring, and I've seeded the bare ground around the building site with winter wheat to help prevent erosion in the spring when the snow melts. The sheep can mow it down once it's established, if the deer don't get it first.

Since Greg is making wine in the garage on a fairly large scale but still in the "hobby" category, we really need some space for storage, particularly since we're going to need to fit at least one car into the garage this winter. We've been discussing building a studio next to the house that would allow me to set my pottery wheel up and have a heated place to work during the winter months. Once we decided we probably weren't going to get things rolling on the pole barn before winter got rolling, we decided to put up the studio, and build a loft big enough to move a lot of stuff in the garage out to the studio for storage. This will give us some space in the garage to work with the wine and still get one vehicle in there when necessary.

I'd drawn some plans out for what would be an ideal studio and then got to thinking about how that building could serve double duty and be a guest cottage when we have visitors. My folks visit several times a year and they stay in a cabin up the road at a campground. The cabins are nice but it would be a lot nicer if they could be here at the house. Once I got this idea, the studio plans were adjusted to allow for this. I've always wanted a Murphy bed and I think it will be the perfect solution for when we have guests. After looking at plans on the Web, I think I can make one myself for less than a hundred bucks not counting the mattress. Since the studio needs storage anyway, I'm going to use off-the-shelf Menards cabinets on one long wall, and fit the Murph into this wall so that it all looks like one big built-in. When Murph is flipped up against the wall, the underside will be plywood spraypainted with chalkboard paint so I have a big area to sketch projects and write down glaze recipes and so forth. Double Duty!

As most of you know, I love me some Craigslist and once I had a plan, I started shopping for some of the things I would need. Greg of course is the brains behind the actual structure and how to go about getting the materials to build it so I've left that part up to him, but things like doors, windows, cabinets, and so forth I'm searching for on Craigslist and the Habitat Restore.

Best find so far is the 32" steel entrance door I found on CL. I saw the ad pop up and immediately called and was the guy's first response so I got the door. Thing is, it was listed as Free. He just wanted it out of his house immediately. I said I'd be right over. I drove down to Centerville, which is about a half hour away, and when I got there he asked if I wanted a storm door and some bi-fold doors as well. "Of course" I said, so we loaded them up to.

The next score was four huge casement windows that came out of a restaurant up in Ankeny. Not free but only $25.00 a piece and they're in great shape. I had to drive over an hour to get them but that was a huge savings over new windows. They're casements, about 38 tall and 60 inches wide. They will let lots of light into the room and will go on the south wall so I can use the sun to help heat the place in the winter.

While I was near Des Moines, I also picked up a couple of gliders (rocking chairs) for 30 bucks each. I only needed one but the ad said 40 bucks each or both for 60. If I end up not needing both, I'll just sell one on Craigslist.

Finally, I got all the paint for the interior of the studio at the Habitat store for about 4 bucks per gallon. You have to be careful there because sometimes stuff is not marked down much below what you can find at Home Depot or Menards, but sometimes there are really good deals, and this paint was one of them. Plus, your money goes to a good cause.

Anyway, as usual, I got the cart before the horse and had several of these items before we even got started on the actual building but we finally broke ground on the studio and here are a few pictures of the progress so far.

We decided to put the building up on posts to avoid the labor and expense of pouring a foundation (the frost line here is at about 42 inches so we would have had to go down below that). Once we had everything plumb and square, we set the corner posts in concrete and hung pressure treated 2 x 12s on these post. In the pictures, you can see that the ground slopes under this building. We had to take out one big tree that was literally "looming" over the house. I wanted it gone before it blew over on the house or we had another ice storm that caused limbs to crash down onto the deck. I had the tree service I'd used before come out and take it down. This left a perfect spot north of the house for the studio.

We attached OSB (oriented strand board) to the beams. The OSB has a vapor barrier on the underside. We attached the floor joists to the beams, screwing them through the OSB. We put these 12 inches on center. We then put insulation in the cavities between the joists, and then screwed down the floor sheathing on top of the joists. This created a solid, sturdy, well-insulated floor.

Once the floor was finished, we framed the walls and erected them and braced them in place. We used the same OSB sheathing on the wall framing, and once everything was plumb and square, we started on the rafters and the ridge beam.

We basically built a 12 x 16 foot box with a 6 foot covered porch. The roof took a lot of time and wasn't easy to figure out, and trusses would have been a whole lot easier, but I wanted the vaulted ceiling, and we wanted a loft where we could store a lot of stuff without climbing over and through trusses to get to it. Greg installed the Craiglist windows and doors, and started on sheathing the roof.

We sheathed the roof with OSB and then ran nailers across it and attached the metal roofing to the nailers.

The final step for the roof was attaching the ridge cap, which Greg is doing in this picture. The roof is now dried in and we're starting on the inside.

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