Having both been swamped at work, we once again delayed our departure until the wee hours, and arrived in time to meet a SIL for breakfast Thursday morning.
The weather forecast was for warm and sunny. At 2 PM we were out on the back deck, in shorts, enjoying a beer. We took a full day for R&R, sorely needed.
Friday morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we began work on the weekend's project: repairing the wall and replacing the second-floor window on the SE side of the house. The frame had separated from the sill by about 3/8", water had leaked into the wall, the framing had become damp and carpenter ants had moved in. Clearly, the problem had been addressed somehow, though, because although we had seen past evidence of the ants when we took possession, there had been nothing since.
We knew this much because we opened up the wall enough to get good window measurements in August, when the window was ordered. It has been ready and waiting since Labour Day weekend.
Here is what we found when we opened the wall:
You see what looks like a brick pattern in the upper left corner of the photo above? If you haven't guessed, that is the inside of the shingles on the outside wall. We got right through to them simply by scratching away the rotted material with our bare hands.
Friday was pretty much spent taking apart the inside of the wall to see the extent of the damage inside, and figuring out how we were going to proceed and what materials we would need. Saturday morning early, it's off to the hardware store with a stop in a nearby village to pick up rented scaffolding.
By Saturday night, the window is out and most of the rotted wood on the outside has been removed. The area of damage on the outside is larger than on the inside, which makes sense.
Also, we now know how the walls are built. Starting from the outside, cedar shingles, black roofing paper, 3/4" x 5" rough-sawn boards, 2x4 framing, 3/4" x 5" boards, black paper, 1/2" sheathing (that light compressed cardboardy stuff with black on one side), strapping, 5/8" shiplap cedar boards. It appears the second-floor end walls are insulated with woodshavings. We know the downstairs and side walls are insulated with fibreglass, and we're not really sure why the difference.
The shower and warm fire are very welcome: the temperature has dropped and we spent parts of the day working in a cold drizzle.
Sunday morning, I get to work on removing the shingles that remain in our way. This is tedious, and involves cutting through the nails holding them on with a hacksaw blade whose end is wrapped in duct tape (so my hands don't get chewed up) from the underside of the shingles. This way, they can be removed without being damaged. This takes me until noon. DS does the re-framing from the inside while I work from the scaffolding. Not long after lunch, we are ready to cut and install the 3/4" ply that will replace the rotten boards we have removed, and cover it with new roofing paper.
It is late afternoon by the time we are ready to install the window. The sun is setting and we're in a little valley, so on the SE side of the house we are rapidly losing light as we carry the window, level by level, up the scaffolding. We are working by the lights from the inside of the second floor. We are literally about to raise the window into the hole when all goes dark. I don't mean the sun has set, I mean everything: the power has gone out. The timing could not have been worse. We quickly reconsider our options and decide not to wait. We lift the window and find the opening because of the high contrast with the white shingles. We get the window in, then I stand there, holding it in place.
DS climbs down the scaffolding and tries re-setting the main breaker, just in case. No go. She finds a flashlight, locates her drill and installs the screws that will hold the window in overnight. We headed downstairs for a well-deserved beer, drinking by candlelight until the power came back on, about 30 minutes later.
Notice the Site Foreman in the above picture doing an up-close inspection of the insulation job. Typical of most foremen, he gets in the way more than he helps.
Monday was spent finishing up the inside of the wall and re-installing shingles and trim in a steady snowfall. We were able to pack up the scaffolding and return it at about 4:30 PM. We didn't get enough of the interior finishing done to be able to reconnect the baseboard heater, so I hope it doesn't get too cold while we're gone.
It was a whirlwind trip, pretty much all work, but necessary, and it feels great to have it done.
Here is the outside view, before and after: