Bob & Ellen's Excellent Adventure

Black Sheep Tower House

Wrap Ups and New Starts

November 11, 2020 Yesterday, I met with an architect, John Tuttle, who was highly recommended by Scott, the original builder of the house. We had a free-ranging conversation with a lot of imagining and cool ideas, interspersed with a few structural concerns, but overall it was really positive and we agreed to consult again. Bob wasn’t here, but I always fill him in as much as possible. It seems we are texting and talking remotely more than in person these days!

The washer and dryer were delivered yesterday (btw, more than a month since they were ordered), but unfortunately they are sitting in the old lab (someday to be my studio), still nicely wrapped in plastic and uninstalled due to an issue with the water hookup (long story). Sigh. This means we have to wait until a plumber can come… I just want to wash some clothes without worry! Luckily the old units are still there, so I can keep using my dishpan leak buster and just open the window in the lab when I use the dryer, since the hot air and lint now shoot directly out into that room instead of the garage ceiling. Hahaha, you can’t make this stuff up!

The weather today was great for painting – a high of 73 and low of 54, but the rain comes back tomorrow, along with the cold, which is just as well since the one week big lift rental is up today. It looks like this time, painting really is done for the year. Wayne and Jerry from Caprioli went around the house with me, making a list of what needed to be completed in the spring. Later in the afternoon, Matt from the Generator Superstore came by to look at our extremely complicated rat’s nest of electrical wiring and give us an estimate (not our first) on a “whole house generator”. The “whole house” part is actually not possible (in any reasonable manner) at this point, for the following reasons (bear in mind that I am a complete amateur and only have just learned enough to make me dangerous): The power from the road to the house is 3 phase, because the main garage was being used for manufacturing and at one point had three CNC machines running 24/7. A regular household generator is a good chunk of change, but a 3 phase generator is a commercial product and runs, oh, say… about $30,000.00 – um, yeah, right – that’s not going to happen. There is a giant main panel, with 4 sub panels in the house, and 4 or 5 disconnect boxes, and so many 100 and 200 amp cables running through the joists that it looks like swiss cheese up there… So, technically, you could figure out a way to get some or even many of the critical electrical needs of the house on one or two sub panels, but that would mean some complicated re-wiring, and even then we would probably have to re-do it when the main house is finally wired, and you know what? We’re just going to take our chances this winter, and if there’s a blizzard, the power goes out, we’re not around, and hell freezes over?? Whatever.

Ok, moving on.

BTW, all the people mentioned above want to be invited to our open house, when the house is finished. (haha, hope we’re all still alive and kicking by then because it’ll take a miracle…) So, the tower remains our main fascination, and we really, really want to have a better way of getting to the top. We’ll call it the “hatch room”, which is really the 6th and 7th floors of the house and tower. The height of this room is 17′ from the floor to the hatch, and currently has an extension ladder leaning up against the wall, which is not the most secure and confidence inspiring method of ascending to the roof. We had been thinking of a wall mounted ladder with hoops, much like on the exterior of a commercial building, BUT, what about a spiral staircase?? That would be awesome, and what if it came through the floor from the observation room (with the windows) right up to the hatch? Lots to think about, and we went on line to research spiral staircases….

It turns out that there are many creative staircase options, but a key fact about spiral staircases is that installation of even the smallest diameter requires 3′ 7″ of depth and width at a minimum. The top section of our tower measures 3′ by 3’6″ on the inside. Grrr. Then we considered cutting an opening in the ceiling of the observation room (in the corner) and having the spiral staircase go up through, which would be cool, and having it go part way up to the hatch, where we might have a landing and then a wall mounted ladder…. so many ideas! But, we nixed that because we want to heat the observation room and the heat would just go up through the hole, and also, surprisingly, the flag pole on top of the tower is really noisy, banging about! We want to be peaceful in the tower, reading, having a coffee or glass of wine, and looking out the windows and such…. so back to the drawing board. These are photos that show how challenging this space will be to finish. And, dear readers, please! If you have ideas and comments, share with us! Make a blog comment or email us directly. We love ideas. ūüôā

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