Reclaimed Fir Window Sills

A couple of years ago Chris gave us a big stack of old doug fir 2x4s that came out of his 1920s house during a major remodel. I knew these would be good to have, though I wasn’t sure at the time how we would use them. They sat partially covered in the old garage, collecting dust and mouse poop. Invading hop vines became tangled and intwined around the lumber, they sat weathering the seasons.

When it came time to seriously clear out the garage in preparation for demolition, we had to move the lumber again, and I began to wonder if they were more of a burden than an asset. Constantly shifting a stack of wood is no small undertaking. We moved them outside, to really the only place we could find, and wrapped the pile in a tarp to keep out the elements. Despite the rainiest February on record (11″+) and Portland Snowpocalypse 2017, the lumber sat, protected from it all.

During that time we became inspired to reuse they timber in the ADU as our future window sills. The thought of these almost 100 year old 2x4s adding a warm, natural glow to our space really got us excited, as of course did the opportunity to recycle perfectly good material that could have otherwise been tossed.

But how would these weathered, rough 2x4s look with a little love?


I contacted Creative Woodworking NW and scheduled a time to bring the wood down to their industrial shop in SE Portland. The offer “shop time” with one of the staff and for an hourly rate they work with the wood to turn it into what you want. Here’s the process:

Running two sides through the jointer machine.

Gluing up the 2x4s to create the desired depth of the window sill.

Additional sanding and planing the next day after the glue had dried. We did this to get the  wood down to 1″ thick.

The rough cut finished product! It still shocks me to see the rough, worn wood literally be stripped away to reveal the beautiful core. There are few still blemishes, mainly nail holes, but I feel that’s a wonderful reminder of where this wood came from, it’s long history, and how we recycled and repurposed the timber. Can’t wait to see these sills installed in a few months.

Slab & Trench

No, Slab & Trench is not the latest Portland restaurant serving meat loving diners. We’re well into the site work in and around the ADU, piles of soil everywhere, open trenches to hop over.

Roberto and his team prepped the site for the monolithic slab, they added the plastic vapor barrier, rebar and metal mesh, which reinforces the concrete.


They built a temporary hoop house to shield from the rain, and it was all hands on deck while the concrete was pumped into the forms.


They came back later that night to smooth out the surface.


The other activity that has actually been very disruptive, has been the utility trenching that runs from the ADU to the main house. This trench serves a handful of purposes, it’s where the utility conduits run and all told there will be:

  • 3″ sewer pipe (for poop, waste water)
  • 1″ PEX water line
  • 1″ data conduit (for coax and ethernet)
  • 2″ electrical (for power to the ADU)
  • 2″ electrical (for future solar panels)

We added the second 2″ electrical conduit at the last minute, thankfully they could accommodate the request. The south facing ADU roof would be perfect for solar panels someday, and rather than have to dig up the yard for a trench again in the future, we added the conduit “just in case.” Materials and labor for the conduit was $275, which seems nominal thinking about the labor and destruction of the backyard to dig it up later.


Here’s the little guy standing in our future kitchen.



No Shit!

Do you know what a cesspool from 1926 looks like? Neither do I, but we’re about to find out. The City of Portland called our bluff and wants to see if there really is a cesspool 10 feet behind our house. So, as our GC would say “We have a setback”.

This is just the kind of thing we’re learning to cope with, the unforeseen obstacles in our path, which usually equate to some kind of financial outlay. We need a survey? Oh, here’s $1500 for that. We need a cesspool decommissioned? Here’s some cash for that!

Fingers crossed there’s a long forgotten stash of buried treasure in the cesspool.

Sickergrube.jpgNot our cesspool, but could look something like this.

Update: No cesspool was found! They just filled it back in and called it good. That saved us some money.

Adios Garage

IMG_8368.JPGWith the garage now out of the way, so to speak, progress has been swift. The next day the garage was loaded into a dumpster and hauled away. As was all the concrete from the foundation. Next, Jessie the excavator, dug the new foundation trenches, in prep for the concrete. The next day it took all of 2 hours a crew of three guys to set up the concrete forms for our slab on grade foundation. Then the day after that, Ben from Craftwork Plumbing, roughed in the plumbing. It’s cool to see physical spaces start to form, we know exactly where the toilet is going to go because now there’s a pipe there. Same for the shower, bathroom sink, kitchen sink and washing machine.