Campaign Donations
We continue to accept donations for the Capital Campaign Building project. Smaller contributions can be paid by check or credit card on our donations page.  We encourage a payment by check for larger contributions because of the fees we are charged for credit card donations.  Payment by check can be mailed to:
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse
PO Box 9342
Moscow, Idaho 83843

January 12, 2022

Elevator. HVAC, Ceiling

Have you ever wondered what is behind the button when you push one of them inside the elevator to select your floor, or to hold the elevator for someone rushing to board? There’s a lot of stuff – looks like enough to build a whole computer. They are putting final touches on the elevator today. Perhaps it will be fully functional by tonight.

Remember the supply chain delayed bracket for the heat exchangers? They came yesterday and they are installing them today. Each heat exchangers will sit on four six-inch legs – you can see one of them near his left elbow. The legs raise the units so any condensation will drain into the sewer system by gravity.

With the cover off you can see the innards of a heat exchanger.  The diagonal thing is where the exchange happens. The compressor behind the church will deliver hot or cold fluid to the mesh of copper pipes. The return air duct (yet to be installed) will deliver air to the bottom of the exchanger. A fan at the top will pull in the return air up through the copper exchanger and push the heated/cooled air up and out to the sanctuary or Fellowship Hall.

They finished the sheetrock firewall ceiling in the balcony foyer. The firewall is intended to separate the two barely attached buildings in case of fire. The ceiling is a double layer of 5/8 inch sheetrock – at about 100 pounds per sheet. The firewall ceiling is sloped, following the drainage slope of the “flat” roof above. It will also be a double ceiling. There will be a regular suspended ceiling, somewhat below the sheetrock ceiling that we will see. It will still be a very tall room.

They will continue the firewall sheetrock ceiling into the stairwell, an area about as big as the foyer. The challenge of the job will be the scaffolding they will need in the stairwell so they can handle 100 pound 4×10 sheets sometimes 20 feet in the air. When I visited this morning they were mostly out of sheetrock, but another 50 sheets probably came this afternoon.

January 10, 2022

Snow, Drywall

With no deliveries for a few days, there has been no reason to plow the foot of snow from the parking lot. Now there needs to be another delivery of sheetrock, especially for the kitchen, the church basement ceiling, and wall patching here and there. Tom Golis decided to try out the almost new plow on his pickup. It took a few running starts, but Tom got the lot clear.

They started taping drywall last week. Two men worked on Saturday, and today there are four. I find it fascinating to watch the confidence with which they cut the 4 by 10 sheets with just a box knife, a tape measure and a T square. It takes a cut on the front holding the knife at the end of the tape measure slid across the sheet, then a bump with the heel of the hand to break it, a cut on the back to sever the sheet, and a final cut to length with a T square. The strip he’s cutting will go high on the wall of the nursery room wall.

Properly mudding and taping drywall joints and screws is a real skill. I have tried it enough to prove that I do a terrible job. My excuse is that I don’t have all the specialized gadgets – like this device for smoothing interior corners. He’s working on the corner of one of the classrooms.

I also don’t have this tool for smoothing exterior corners. He’s finishing the pre-shaped corner tape on the soffit that will hold the track for the folding doors which will divide the double classroom. He uses a similar device (without the little black wheels) to finish all four corners around each window opening.

Mudding and taping is a precise process that can’t really be hurried. It must dry between multiple layers. It will certainly extend beyond next week as they move to the church kitchen, ceiling soffits, and general patching. This will be followed with primer paint, and then a light texturing before the final paint. There should be progress with the HVAC systems later this week, and maybe the final steps to finish the elevator. Flooring and the suspended ceiling are on the horizon.

January 5, 2022

Supply Chains and Sheetrock

There is a post-holiday feeling around the construction site. The sidewalks that were ready to pour are now on hold since it is too cold – and they are now under 16 inches of snow. The exterior painting and the installation of the rear stairway are also waiting. Any bets on when the snow will go away?

The electricians are mostly done until the drywall is complete and painted so they can get to work on outlets and switches in the walls, and light fixtures in the suspended ceilings. The HVAC people are also waiting for the finished walls in the addition so they can install the wall mounted units in the offices and classrooms. In the church, the HVAC workers have encountered yet another supply chain issue – the lack of mounting brackets for the heat exchangers they will mount in the old furnace room. These units will exchange the heat or cold from the compressors behind the church to the air that will be circulated around the sanctuary and basement. This exchange often results in condensation, so the units must be elevated a few inches using the now missing brackets, so the condensate can run by gravity to the sewer line. I suggested they could probably fabricate the missing brackets, but that got vetoed since the brackets are specifically engineered to limit vibration and noise.

The few workers around this morning were hanging sheetrock in the elevator shaft. The back and sides of the elevator shaft received a double layer of 5/8 inch sheetrock before the elevator was installed inside – part of the required elevator firewall.  The side of the shaft toward the hallway was left open for access. Today they are working inside, using the now functional elevator as they install the double layer on the remaining inside wall. They are also hanging sheetrock on the hallway side around the elevator door frame. Of course the elevators will not be fully usable until the hall drywall is finished and painted because they need to wire in the control buttons by the door.

Taping and mudding the joints should begin very soon since the offices, classrooms, bathrooms and hallways now have their sheetrock. However, there are two remaining areas needing sheetrock. Start with the patches needed in the church. Removing the rear wall and offices and adding the balcony to the sanctuary has left many places where the original lath and plaster will have to be patched with sheetrock. The same is true of the basement where the removal of the offices has left gaps to be patched and ceiling soffits to be extended with sheetrock.

There is one remaining big drywall task in the addition – the ceiling of the third floor foyer. This ceiling is planned to be part of the firewall envelope of the addition. This means that the entire underside of the foyer ceiling will get a double layer of 5/8 inch sheetrock. I think they are waiting for their workers who specialize in this daunting task – screwing in place 100 pound sheets of 5/8 inch sheetrock overhead. Once the firewall is complete, a different subcontractor will install the suspended ceiling.

It is going to be a beautiful room with its gothic window facing the 1912 Center and its 10 foot ceiling. Visualize the final ceiling height at about the level of the bottom of the tunnel to the flat roof above. In the plan this room was labeled “Study Hall”. I can visualize a grouping of comfortable seats, perhaps with a low table next to the window.

December 29, 2021

Doors, HVAC, Elevator, Balcony Door

We’ve been gone for Christmas week, but construction has not stopped. A day before Christmas Eve all the interior doors arrived – a stack of at least 40 of them.

The HVAC people have moved the heat exchangers into the old furnace room. These two units will connect to the two heat pump units behind the church, either heating or cooling the air as needed. One of them will connect to a maze of air ducts to deliver the heated or cooled air to the sanctuary. The other will serve the basement. The fans in each unit will draw the air back through the return air ducts to complete the circuit.

The placement of the heat exchangers must allow room for all the air ducts and room to service the units. They are discovering that the necessary air ducts will push the unit on the left uncomfortably close to the north wall. That is a problem because it squeezes the route to the mop sink – so the sink may have to be moved again. A location in the closet just outside the furnace room door is a possibility – and the plumbing would be feasible.

The drywall is perhaps 90% in place. What is left are the little places, the bathrooms and closets, and the high places that are hard to reach. Most of the scrap has been cleaned up, along with the dust. As the elevator gets close to done, the doors on each floor are being installed. The metal doorframes must also be framed in wood so drywall can be nailed around the doorframe. Phil has been working on that. As soon as the elevator doors get their drywall, it will be time to start taping and finishing the seams, corners and nail dimples.

The elevator cage is being assembled piece by piece. I suspect they probably finished the walls and put on the roof this afternoon.

Roger and Phil have been puzzling how to finish the door cut into the balcony. There is just enough headroom for the door, but it had to go through the decorative curved metal trim that goes all around the sanctuary ceiling. The metal is backed by thin 3” fir boards nailed to curved framing. The seams of the metal sheets have many small nails into the wood. When the door opening was cut, they carefully removed the nails to preserve the sheets.  The preserved sheets will be reused over the curved fir wood to each side of the door. I haven’t heard what they plan to use for the curved ends or the bit of ceiling. Perhaps drywall, or is there enough reusable metal to cover the ceiling?

December 21, 2021

Fog, Drywall, Lights, Elevator

It is now officially winter. The solstice happened at 7:58 this morning, making this the shortest day of the year. Six inches of snow on the ground and a wet, cold fog added to the feeling. The delayed sidewalk concrete pour will be delayed some more, along with the final painting of the addition. Will these be on hold until spring? Still, I thought the building looked beautiful in the midday fog. Don’t miss the chalice window and the icicles growing on the eaves. There’s also things going on inside.

The new track lights should brighten the stage so the choir can see their music. A couple of tiny suspended mikes should help pick up the piano and the choir. These had to be in place because new insulation in the attic will soon block access for most wiring work above the ceiling. The AV committee has been working furiously preparing materials and running some of the wires.

This was my view as I was standing on the top row of the new balcony. I took the picture to show our old suspended light fixtures – rewired, provided with LED bulbs, and now hung back in the ceiling. The fixture closest to the stage has been moved north about 2 feet, and the chain has been shortened to raise it above the view line of people sitting on the balcony. I was worried about this modification and relocation of our iconic light fixtures, but I am pleased with the result. Down on the stage, that is Roger working out the location of the hatches and mike connection boxes that will be cut into the top of the stage so wires can be run down below.

This is the view straight down the elevator shaft from the third floor. They spent much of yesterday and this morning working with the balky telescoping hydraulic cylinder that will lift the cage. They had the hydraulic system working beautifully at noon when I left and had just shifted to assembling the elevator cage. In this picture you are looking down on the new cage floor nearly 30 feet below. Everything comes as parts in big wood crates along with assembly instructions.

The classrooms and nursery room have been hung with drywall and are now ready for joint mud. The drywallers have moved to the third floor, where the conference room walls were about half done when I left at noon. I’m glad we decided to go ahead with finishing this floor. It is going to be a beautiful space.

December 16, 2021

Drywall, Electricity, Heaters, Hydraulics

We are getting drywall. Two workers fastened up most of the drywall in the three classrooms today. It is amazing to watch them handle the heavy 4×10 sheets. It makes the spaces feel a lot more like actual rooms. I expect they will put up most of the wallboard on the three floors before they begin to finish the joints.

I enjoy looking at the neat array of perfectly curved wires connecting to the circuit breakers. These are a work of art. It is also functional – the new Avista service to the addition is now connected. There are a few lights connected to the system now, but most lighting will come later as LED panels are installed in the suspended ceiling. More important, the temporary heaters are now connected to the new electricity, and it actually feels less cold inside. That’s important to keep the sprinkler system and the drywall mud from freezing.

Today the third floor attic space acquired some electric heaters. These are needed to protect the sprinklers from freezing in case of extreme cold weather. The thermostats will be set to come on if the attic space drops below 40 degrees, which should be rare – but it’s good insurance given the dire consequences of a sprinkler leak.

The elevator installation is stalled until next week. One of the telescoping hydraulic cylinders that will lift the elevator was not working correctly. The cylinder has to lift the cage about 20 feet between first and third floors. A telescoping cylinder consists of 3 or 4 nested steel shells or pipes, each with a brass ring at the bottom to provide stability, and a rubber ring or gasket to seal against leakage of hydraulic fluid. As fluid is pumped in, first the largest inner shell is pushed out, then the next smaller, and last the smallest – raising the cage. One of the brass rings was binding, so they took it with them home to Spokane to be milled a bit smaller. They will bring it back on Monday and try again. The outer shell over 4 inches in diameter, minus its inner components, is visible in the center of the picture.

December 14, 2021

Snow, Heat, Other Progress

This was supposed to be the week to pour sidewalks. Unfortunately, this week turned out cold and snowy. New concrete has lots of water, and if it freezes the ice crystals will destroy the concrete. It takes a week to ten days for all the water to react with the cement, so the concrete becomes resistant to freezing weather. As we wait for warmer weather, the intended sidewalk area is covered with plastic to retain the summer heat still in the ground so the area doesn’t freeze.

They will probably start hanging drywall later this week. Drywall won’t freeze, but the mud to smooth the joints will, and it is getting cold inside. The heat pump heating can’t be fully installed until the drywall is in finished. If it gets near freezing inside, they will use some backup electric heaters. These antiques are recycled heaters from old mobile homes that should put out enough heat to keep drywall mud from freezing.

The landing by the northeast exit door is taking shape. The stairs down to the sidewalk must wait until it’s warm enough pour the sidewalk. The landing is designed with a railing and Trex surface to match ADA the ramp nearby. A new door is coming soon.

Several other inside projects are proceeding. The elevator installers are back at work now that they have electricity to hoist the heavy components of the system. Soffits are now being extended into the new areas of Fellowship Hall. Later his week, the HVAC heat exchangers will get installed in the old furnace room. A scaffolding has been set up on the stage so the electricians can install some new track lighting suspended from the ceiling.

December 9, 2021

Soffits and Sidewalks

The UUCP “Fellowship Hall” has grown in size by about 50% by incorporating the offices along the south wall. It is amazing how big it feels – and how light with the inclusion of the three south windows. We have become accustomed to the ceiling soffits which cover the HVAC ducts and the rows of light fixtures that illuminate the space. To tie the new space with the old, the soffits will be extended. They got a start on that project today.

Work is proceeding on the forms for the front sidewalk. In the distance is the walk between the parking lot and the city sidewalk. Up closer, the wide sidewalk will lead to the front entrance. Note how both the new sidewalk and the city sidewalk will be lowered a few inches to channel water properly. Both the landing and the steps outside the south basement door will be poured concrete.

The forms are in place for the sidewalk outside the northeast sanctuary door. In this case, the landing and the steps will be made of wood and Trex to be compatible with the ramp. This is primarily an emergency exit, rarely used in the past. A new door also comes with the project. Concrete for all these projects will probably come early next week, weather permitting.

In case you haven’t already seen them, here’s two pictures of our new chalice window. The first is Ginger Yoder’s, taken in a snowstorm. The second is Duane DeTemple’s, taken at night.

December 8, 2021

Main Breaker, Stage, Sidewalks

The supply chain has delivered!! The main electrical entry breaker arrived this morning and is being installed. Avista will make the final connection at the transformer in a day or so, and then comes heat, lights, elevator and drywall.

Today’s other important milestone was the lid on the stage, covering up a maze of electrical, data and AV connections. This view is looking down from the balcony.

Work continues outside. The main sidewalk is a bit of a puzzle. The floor in the addition is almost exactly the same elevation as where the new entry walk would meet the city sidewalk – a potential problem in a downpour or when it rains on snow. The engineer’s solution is to remove several yards of the city sidewalk and replace it a few inches lower. The sidewalk and patio pavers will also have a swale to direct any flowing water across and to the west. The two strings mark the edges of our new main entry walkway.

My recent blog showed a concrete saw sitting unattended in the snow. It turns out that the snow was not the problem. The saw had quit running. Today they successfully finished the cut with a different saw. Century old concrete can be very hard. Note the bottle to squirt water on the blade to cool it. This saved a rectangle of concrete that we’d otherwise have replaced.

They are building sidewalk forms this afternoon. The pour will probably happen next week, depending on the weather. This will include a replacement sidewalk by the northeast exit from the sanctuary. The northeast project will include a new exit door and an outside landing made of wood in the style of the existing ADA ramp.

December 6, 2021

Sidewalks, Snow, Insulation and Good News.

The good news first – the electricians hardware delivery tracker app reported that the main breaker has been shipped and may arrive tomorrow. That would mean we could soon have heat, lights, an elevator and a host of other useful things. Also, we recently passed the electrical inspection for the wiring inside the stage – meaning that the top can be sheathed – a milestone.

When I arrived at the church at mid-morning, a big yellow machine was preparing the crushed rock base for the sidewalk connecting the parking area to the city sidewalk. It was not a great day for concrete work – it was 28 degrees, a light snow was falling, and more was forecast. The project included slicing off a bit of the sidewalk where it branched toward the Yellow House. The snow is increasing, and the concrete saw still sits there. It is hard to follow a chalk line when it keeps disappearing in the snow.

Still, they can move crushed rock in a snow storm. They need a base for the landing that will go outside the south door from the church basement. There will also be several steps that descend to the level of the pavers. It must all be well compacted.

I didn’t get a picture of the third sidewalk project. They will replace the old broken walk that connects the Van Buren sidewalk to the northeast exit from the sanctuary. By the time I walked by this pm, they had removed the broken pieces of cement, but there was so much snow, there was not much to see.

I did snap one insulation picture. It is an indication that the insulation is mostly in place that they are sweeping up the fragments from the floor.

December 3, 2021

Wiring and Insulation

Fridays are slow days at the construction site. Many of the workers are on a 10/4 work schedule – ten hours a day and 4 days a week. Roger was there this morning and some electricians, but the main activity was insulation. They have mostly finished applying a 6-inch layer of insulation batts on the exterior walls. Now, they are adding 6 inches of sound-blocking insulation to the interior walls and ceilings. This should minimize sound transmission between offices, classrooms and meeting rooms.

The supply-chain hiccup caused by the delayed main electrical breaker is beginning to stall things. There is hope that the device will show up next week – but has been promised before. The breaker is a prerequisite before we get power, heat, the elevator, water testing of the sprinklers, and drywall.

I am guessing that the hole he’s making in the church north wall will be a control connection for the heat pump units.

There are things that can proceed (mainly in the church). This includes finishing the HVAC system, the ceiling soffits, the stage and AV booth, the northeast exit door, and the balcony. Still, I think we are all waiting for drywall because that will be a visible milestone in our building project.

December 1, 2021

Insulation and Balcony Door

The insulation guys spent time today spraying foam insulation into the cracks between studding. Roger explained that a recent code change mandates this practice. For real cracks and gaps it makes sense – but I doubt if blocking the heat that escapes between 2 firmly nailed 2x6s makes up for the environmental damage caused by the manufacture of this stuff.

The ladder is sitting in the hatch to the flat roof. The structure will frame an opening through the actual ceiling – which will be about 3 feet below the rafters and foam insulated roof that you now see. I think the flat roof had to be that high to get above the peak of the trusses in the addition. I expect there will be more insulation added between the ceiling and the roof.

The opening to the balcony is about to get an actual door – it’s been covered with a plywood sheet for months. This is a challenge because there is almost a 12 inch gap between the two buildings. It is also hard to decide how to reshape the opening in the metal ceiling sheets that had to be cut to fit in the door. They saved the metal sheets they cut out – it will be interesting to see what they do with them.

November 30, 2021

Insulation and Siding

We have insulation! Truckloads of it started to arrive this morning and now sit in stacks on all three floors. These insulation batts will go between the 6-inch studs in the sidewalls. This contrasts with the 10-inches of foam insulation that is already in place between the roof trusses. Roger points out that a disproportionate part of a building’s heat loss is through the roof.

This morning they had moved the lift to the parking lot and started siding the west side of the north shed roof. This little bit was the last remaining wall in need of  siding. I assume they finished it up today. With roofing, windows, doors and now siding, the building is now tight. Now for some paint.

November 29, 2021

Supply Chain, HVAC, Siding and Lighting

Like most construction projects we have experienced some supply chain problems. For example, we had the doors and the glass, but not frames to fasten the glass in the doors, which were delayed for some weeks. The lack of doors was a security and weather concern. When they finally came about 2 weeks ago, the frames were used to mount OSB panels in the doors rather than glass. That’s safer than glass which might get broken during construction. Now, with doors, the building can be secured for nights and weekends. The latches are not installed yet, also for construction reasons, hence the medieval version of a door lock.

There have been other supply chain issues. The batt insulation for the sidewalls has been delayed for some time – but it arrived in town on Friday. The really important issue is the delayed main breaker where the 3-phase electricity enters the addition. No electricity means no heat, which means the sprinkler system can’t be tested, which means no drywall. No electricity also means that the elevator installation is stalled. There are rumors that the breaker will come soon.

Both electricians and HVAC people have been at work, mainly in the church basement. The new heat pump system will move more air than our old furnaces. That will require modifications to the old air ducts, mostly in the basement ceiling.

This morning was very wet, but the guys doing the siding were anxious to finish the job. They rigged up a roof for the lift and got on with it. They should finish up the siding on the south side today, and the bit that’s left on the north side tomorrow. After working in the rain this morning, I suspect they will be happy to turn to some inside projects for a while – like finishing the stage, the balcony, and the soffits in the basement ceiling.

As the electricians are nearing the end of bending conduits and running wires, they too are turning to other projects – like light fixtures. The six hanging light fixtures from the ceiling of the sanctuary are being preserved. They date from early in the era of incandescent lights, although the Unitarians switched them to compact fluorescent bulbs. They each originally had one big “moghul” bulb – perhaps 300 watts – and several more normal sized bulbs. The heat from all those incandescent bulbs in the enclosed fixture has degraded the insulation on the wiring, so all six fixtures will be rewired, fitted with LED bulbs, and hung back in the ceiling.

November 23, 2021

Installing the Chalice Window

Many things were going on inside – electrical wiring, HVAC work, door installation – but the highlight of the day was the installation of the chalice window. The first step was to mark a 48” diameter circle on the gable wall and then cut along the line with a saber saw.

There was already a framed opening through the truss inside.

The window is heavy – about a hundred pounds – so it was a two-person job to carry it from the church basement where it has been stored since it got moved from our garage.

And, it was a four-person job to lift it carefully into the basket of the lift – cushioned by strips of blue foam insulation.

Then came the part that made me nervous, two people 30 feet in the air lifting the heavy window out of the basket, fitting it into the opening, and holding it in place long enough to secure it with a couple of screws.

Actually, the window looks rather disappointing now that it is in place. One can hardly see the rainbow and chalice design.

As we anticipated, the window needs a backlight. Earlier, we bought two 24”x48” LED light fixtures which Roger fitted close behind the window. We may fiddle a bit more with the placement of the backlights, but the result is spectacular. I expect the chalice window will become a landmark for our UUCP church.

November 22, 2021

More Siding and Stuff That will be Covered Out Of Sight

They probably completed the siding on the west peak this afternoon. They told me that there is a good chance they would put in the round window tomorrow, but they didn’t give me a time. Of course, there is a possibility of some snow tomorrow, and even more on Wednesday. However, they do want to do the window while they have the lift machine.

When they were demolishing the Yellow House and parts of the church, we were frequently surprised by things we found inside – old knob and tube wiring, a sharp chisel, rusted support posts, unidentified plumbing, and so on. That caused me to think about the things that we will be burying inside the walls of the remodeled church and the addition. They will soon be putting insulation batts in the walls and drywall to cover it up, along with ceiling tile everywhere. It is a good time to note the stuff that will be hidden from sight – maybe for another century. See if you can identify the stuff that will soon be buried in the following collage pictures. I’ll identify them later.

In the first collage clockwise from top left: 1. Wires in the church breaker box, in the front right closet in sanctuary. 2. In the kitchen, exhaust hood ducts in the north wall, conduits and HVAC ducts routed in joist space above the ceiling. 3. More conduits above the kitchen. The big one runs from the addition, under the floor, to feed the breaker box above. 4. Conduits embedded in the wall above the north exit door. I’m not sure where they go. 5. The diagonal black and white insulated HVAC lines run through the space between the addition and the church.

In the second collage: 1. These very big electrical cables feed from the transformer to the main breaker box, 2. These look more like organ pipes than conduits. They are in the same utility closet as the previous. Conduit bending is an art form. 3. This is the ceiling of a nearby storage closet. The hanging box seems to be a controller for the HVAC system. 4. See what the ceilings will cover up. There is an abundance of black sprinkler lines, black and white HVAC lines and red fire alarm wires. 5. This gives another view of the HVAC controller, viewed through a wall of embedded conduits that separates the closet from a restroom.

November 17, 2021

I’m Back

Mary Jo and I spent a refreshing week on the Oregon coast. Oregon lived up to it’s aquatic reputation – a direct hit by what they called an “atmospheric river” dumped about 10 inches of rain in 5 days. We read books, watched old movie CDs, and avoided the flooded roads. We even managed to walk on the beach a few times without getting drenched.

I understand it was wet here too. The siding had progressed only a little in the week, and the south gable is still waiting for the chalice window. The arch around the gothic window is a major accomplishment. Framing and siding these curved surfaces was not easy, but I like the result. I’m glad it’s not me working on that scaffold.

They need a more secure platform to work on siding the highest walls, so they brought back the lift machine this morning. They started working on the west end, where they need to finish the soffit, and then the siding. After they finish the west end, I expect they will move to the south side to finish the siding and soffit above the gothic window. The gable may be last – with its anxiously awaited chalice window. The timing for the window is uncertain – somewhere between tomorrow and next Wednesday. (Remember that next week has three working days because of Thanksgiving.)

The heat pump compressor units that will heat/cool the church sanctuary and basement were delivered this morning and now sit on their slab behind the church. These will connect to heat exchangers that will heat/cool air that will be distributed by air ducts. The heat exchangers will reside in the old furnace room.

 The other recent delivery was the Avista transformer, now mounted on its pier behind the addition. There is still one crucial supply chain problem that must be resolved before we get electricity – we are waiting for the heavy duty master breaker switch that will control the entire system. Until that breaker arrives the inside construction lighting will rely on extension cords plugged into the old Avista connection that served the church.

That is not our only supply chain problem. It turns out that insulation is now hard to find. The sidewalls all need batt insulation, and there are other places where insulation is needed as a sound barrier. Obviously, the insulation must come first before the walls can be covered with drywall. I have not had a chance to ask Roger for his guess on delivery timing for the breaker switch and the insulation.

Supply chains do sometimes deliver. We have been waiting for door parts for several weeks. Obviously, since the metal door frames are already in place, it would be good to mount the doors. Doors would provide security for the site. Doors would keep out the rain and keep it warmer inside so things don’t freeze. Doors would keep the wind from displacing the insulation – whenever we get insulation. Today Roger picked up the missing pieces – the frames that will secure the glass in the doors.

November 4, 2021

A Very Busy Day

Lots of rain today, almost a third of an inch, yet it was a very busy day. One of the highlights was moving the chalice window. Mary Jo wanted her garage back (she doesn’t like scraping the frost off her windshield). The earliest it will get installed is next week when they get a lift that will reach that high. Roger and Phil came out with a pickup and took the window to the church. It’s heavy. It grew from about 50 pounds to probably a hundred with the added colored glass and epoxy resin.

The chalice window temporarily resides in the church basement – in the space where Ginger’s office used to be. It’s cushioned with cardboard and foam slabs, with the LED panels sitting on top. We’re really anxious to get it installed.

They started putting in spray foam insulation. Note the 2 black hoses – the big one carries the insulation fluid, and the little line has 180 psi air pressure to propel the stuff.

This is the view looking up into the attic from one of the second-floor classrooms. The white insulation has about the texture of Styrofoam packing peanuts and fills the spaces between the roof trusses to a depth of perhaps 10 inches. Almost the entire underside of the roof will be coated, so there will be very little cold attic space.

Most of our drywall requirement arrived yesterday – a very heavy load. Roger estimated that each sheet weighs about 150#, and they come bound in pairs. The heavy-duty semi made significant ruts in the crushed rock that had been compacted in preparation for the asphalt parking lot.

Here’s the frame for our new audiovisual booth. There is room for 2 or 3 operators and lots of hardware. Note the space where the tempered glass will go to provide visibility of the door and let in light from the windows. Pat, Sam and Rod are working with the electrician to assure that the right wires and connection points are in the booth and the stage.

Between rain squalls, siding is proceeding up the tower toward the gothic window. It will be an interesting framing and siding puzzle to construct the arched walls that will enclose the big window, echoing the arch around the old church entrance door.

The center of attention today was paving. The first step was a well compacted layer of crushed rock – graded to properly shed water and meet ADA slope requirements.

Yesterday Archie pruned back the lilac bush that was encroaching on the east-west alley. His timing was perfect because today they used the alley for the paving machine and for the big dump truck to bring in hot asphalt – so they wouldn’t drive over the new sidewalk.

The paving machine gets hot asphalt mix in the hopper in front and leaves a trail of perfectly shaped paving as it slowly advances. I am told that the stuff comes out of the mixing machine and into the truck at about 350 degrees – somebody said “hot enough to cook a pizza”.

This machine is their little one – the one they use in small spaces, but it is still big and clumsy and can’t get into corners. So, for awkward spots the machine dumps out a pile and the crew attacks it with shovels and rakes, making a uniform flat surface. Remember, the stuff is hot, so they keep a distance. As it cools the stuff solidifies, aided with some epoxy materials, so they follow up immediately with a big roller machine and a smaller tamper for tight spaces.

The paving machine goes over to the dump truck occasionally and refills the front hopper.

This is the final product, looking south.

And, looking north. Note that the new sidewalk has been lowered so it should no longer scrape the bottom of every low clearance car. It should be much more usable than the old alley exit.

November 2, 2021

Siding, Etc.

The siding work is proceeding up the south side, part way into the gable. This is about where the big round hole will be cut to hold the chalice window. They need to cut a 47 ½ inch diameter round hole and frame inside the hole to hold the window. However, the timing of that milestone event remains uncertain. The scaffolding is about as high as it will go, so they plan to rent a lift machine, probably early next week to finish up the gable, including the window. They will move the scaffolding so they can side the tower around and above the front door. Then they will use the lift to finish off the high parts of that. It will be interesting to watch them frame and then side the curve around the gothic window at the top of the tower.

Things are happening inside too. The sanctuary floor has been patched and he has taken a first pass at removing the glue in the areas where the foyer carpet was glued down. With a lot more sanding and some new finish the red fir flooring should look beautiful. If you look far into the picture below (taken Friday) you can see that the sound booth framing had begun. That work continued Monday and today.

Here Lawrence from Strom Electric is installing the posts which will hold the meter box that will measure our electricity use and the output of the solar panels that will be mounted on the roof of the addition. With the meter box in place, everything is ready for Avista to bring the transformer, so they can activate the wiring in the addition.

There is supposed to be a big heavy load of drywall board arriving Thursday. Some of it will be lifted to the second floor and unloaded through the remaining open window on that floor. Some of it will be lifted to the third floor exit door. The timing is crucial since the heavy drywall truck can’t drive on new asphalt. As soon as the drywall is unloaded, the asphalt parking and alley can be completed – probably Friday.

Drywall hanging and spray foam insulation are also in the timing puzzle. The drywall could start very soon, although the mudding should probably wait until the building is a bit more closed in case the weather turns cold. More doors would certainly help, and they supposedly have found the windows that will go in the doors, the doors can be installed. The spray insulation (R45, I think) will be applied to the entire underside of the roof. Roger is scrambling to figure out where to locate the foam truck so it doesn’t interfere with asphalt paving, so they can get 50 amp power,  and so their 200 foot hose reaches.

October 27, 2021

AV Booth, Floor Patching, Siding

The carpenters have finished the rough framing of the kitchen and have turned their attention to the sound booth. The new booth needs to be substantially larger than the old one because we expect it to accommodate more hardware and several operators to deal with both sound and video. This will be especially important if we expect to livestream Sunday services in the future. The floor of the booth will be raised a foot so the operators can see over people’s heads. The stub wall between the booth and the entry door will hold a tempered glass panel extending up to the underside of the balcony to let in outside light.

A flooring specialist has arrived to begin patching the floor in the sanctuary. Part of the task is to put down recycled clear fir flooring over the area where the stairway to the basement was removed. A large supply of old fir flooring was salvaged from the office floors in the basement and some from the yellow house demolition. The carpet in the church foyer hid several odd areas that will also need patching. There are places where wood other than clear fir were deemed adequate since it would be hidden by carpet, and even several spots where the boards ran east/west rather than north/south like the rest of the flooring. There were several places where ring shank nails were used on the face of the boards. These nails are impossible to pull, would do a job on a sander belt, and would show as a shiny spot on a finished floor. It’s going to be a big job. On the other hand, ours is an antique building, and I suspect that most of you have never noticed the floor patches that have been exposed and visible for decades in our sanctuary.

The siding scaffolding has been moved to the south side of the addition. The first task is the Tyvek vapor barrier, and then more trim wood and soffit. They will probably add some more siding tomorrow. Since they work a 4-day week with Friday off, it will be next week before they reach the gable. That will be the time to cut a 48-inch round hole, finish framing around the hole, and fit in the chalice window. That will probably happen the middle of next week. It will be some time yet until the chalice is illuminated – the new Avista electrical service is not hooked up yet.

October 22, 2021

Concrete for the Driveway

The concrete was poured yesterday afternoon and the forms were removed this morning. In the foreground, note the 3 feet of street curb that had to be replaced where the storm water will flow to the “bubbler” at the gutter. In the background, the curb defines the north side of the driveway. The new sidewalk is several inches lower to make the exit more usable. If the weather permits, the asphalt will arrive next week. The trick will be to get the big asphalt trucks and machinery in and out without destroying the new sidewalk. The east/west and north/south alley extension are too narrow to accommodate big traffic. Roger is working on the problem.

It is good to see our long drought coming to an end, but this intermittent light rain is not good for outdoor work. However, things are still going on inside, at least as indicated by the subcontractor trucks I see parked nearby. Strom Electric (from Troy) is doing the electric wiring. Cosco Fire Protection (from Spokane) is doing the sprinklers. Gropp (from Moscow) is installing the HVAC heat pump system. I think the carpenters doing the framing and siding come from Baysinger Construction (of Moscow). The excavation and concrete work are done by Germer Construction (of Moscow). It is up to Roger (with Golis Construction of Moscow) to coordinate them all and keep them out of each other’s way.

October 20, 2021

Some Progress and a Question

The elevator came in crates full of parts, and it takes an elevator expert to put the parts together. I have no idea what all of this is, except that the black pipes with red couplings are the hydraulic lines that will power the lift systems.

This is the control center for the elevator. Tom Golis referred to it as “the world’s smallest utility closet” – an ordinary hallway door will open into this 8 inches deep space. Again, I don’t know what any of this does.

Here they are building the forms for the city sidewalk and for the curb that defines the edge of the parking area. The sidewalk will be lowered several inches, so cars don’t scrape their undersides. Note how the curb makes a curve using thin flexible boards bent to shape. The concrete is scheduled to arrive tomorrow afternoon.

The kitchen walls are taking shape. The walls they removed were made with studs placed flatways against the rough rock foundation. Because the foundation was so fragile it was reinforced with a layer of shotcrete. The new wall will follow standard practice, with 2×4 studs oriented perpendicular to the shotcrete walls. This means that the north and east walls of the new kitchen will be about 3 inches closer in – a small reduction in kitchen space. They need the walls in place to accurately measure for cabinets and appliances.

In the southeast corner of the church basement (in what was the RE Director’s office) there used to be a rather nice cabinet. It proved necessary to remove the cabinet because the underlying floor was rotting and the lath and plaster wall itself was unstable. A new concrete floor is now in place that replaces the rotting floor and stabilizes the wall. This leaves an interesting alcove in the corner. The question is what should we do with the alcove? I should measure it, but my guess is that it is about 4 feet along the south wall, 3 feet along the east wall, and nearly 8 feet tall. Is this a place for library books in Fellowship Hall? Perhaps a cabinet below and bookshelves above?

October 19, 2021

More of the Same

There are a lot of things going on but some of them are hard to see. The elevator, electric and HVAC teams are all at work inside. I saw Roger arrive with a load of 2x4s that will probably be studs in the new kitchen walls – covering the foundation walls that had to be reinforced with shotcrete. More visible were the loads of crushed rock that were delivered for the parking area and alley. They are almost ready to pour the newly contoured sidewalk.

Siding is happening on the south side. They finished the first floor siding this afternoon – what they can reach from a stepladder. To go higher they will need to bring around the scaffold they used on the north side. I am especially watching their siding progress here. When they get up to the gable, they will cut a round hole to install the chalice window. However, the timing is uncertain because Roger indicated that the siding team may get drafted to work on the kitchen walls. Also, there is rain in the forecast.

Since the doors have arrived, the next step is to install the metal door frames. This is an exacting process, requiring careful measurement, a level, and lots of shims. We want the doors to swing freely. This afternoon saw frames installed for the north doors on all three floors. This is an important step because, with the frames in place the last of the siding trim can be finished, the wall can be painted, the steel stairway can be installed, and the scaffolding can be brought around to the south side.

October 18, 2021

Doors, Elevator, Wiring, Gravel

Things are moving ahead on many fronts, now including the elevator. This is a very heavy 15 foot long crate that contains the tracks that the elevator will slide on. It has been sitting at the curb for several weeks. This is an unusual grab for a forklift – he lifted one end and supported the other with a heavy-duty strap. He picked it up at the curb and stuck it in through the new front door.

The doors finally came. They have been back ordered for at least a month. More supply chain issues. A stack of doors and a stack of door frames. They will start installing them tomorrow. It will be good to have the building properly closed.

The electricians are still at work. They have a big job, including tying the old and new buildings together in a coherent way. These conduits are part of the tie.

 The crushed rock south of the buildings is being shaped and compacted to provide a base for pavers and our new play area. The new landing and steps from the south basement door will be coming soon.

The parking area and the alley exit to 2nd Street have caused problems since the plans and the corresponding slopes and elevations have been moving targets. The area contains fire and domestic water connections, surface water pipes and catch basins, the electrical service, and the neighbor’s sanitary sewer line. It is critical to watch out for these when dirt is moved. Everything was complicated by the decision to lower the city sidewalk at the exit by about 6 inches so cars would no longer scrape bottom when they exit, and it was further complicated because Roger was sick for some time. Today brought out steel stakes, string lines, the laser level machine, hand levels, a slope measuring instrument and Roger’s feel for what made sense. The dip in the sidewalk is limited by ADA to less than 8%. By noon they had a plan, and this afternoon they started to configure the crushed rock. They anticipate that the asphalt will come next week. They need to pour the sidewalk and some more curb before then.

October 13, 2021

Siding, Grading, Concrete 

The siding work has moved to the west end. I expect they were happy to work under the overhang given the nasty weather – a mix of cold, snow flurries and rain. Once they finish the lower area, they will move the scaffolding around from the north side so they can reach higher.

Today they graded the area south of the addition. That meant taking out a lot of Palouse clay to make room for the 5 or 6 inches of crushed rock that will be spread over most of the area as a base for the kids play area and the patio pavers. In front of the old church this meant getting ready for the landing and steps that will access the basement door and the planting bed that will be extended to protect the fragile foundation. This bed will continue to focus on Idaho native plants, and since lilacs don’t qualify as native, this one had to go.

On Monday, concrete was poured north of the church for the pad where the heat exchanger units will sit. The temperature has been down as low as 22 degrees the last 2 nights. That is cold enough to damage uncured concrete. As concrete cures it generates heat, which the tarp traps to help prevent damage.

October 7, 2021

Siding, Sprinklers and Heat Pumps

They will finish siding the north walls early next week and begin another side. This afternoon they are up on the roof, starting to put siding on the tall flat-roofed and shed-roofed areas. In the foreground, note the fresh concrete sidewalk. The concrete truck arrived early this morning, delayed a day by yesterday’s rain.

The heat pumps for our addition will have two parts. The outdoor units that will sit behind the addition and pull heat from the air and transfer it to a fluid. (Think of how your refrigerator pulls heat from the stuff inside and moves that heat to the air in your kitchen.) The hot fluid runs through insulated tubes to the inside units located in the various rooms, where a heat exchanger (radiator and fan) transfers the heat to the room air. The units will be reversible to provide cooling in the summer. In the secretary’s new office, the mounting bracket shows where one of the inside units will be mounted. To each side, the black insulated tubes are ready to be attached.

This is the ceiling of the secretary’s office. It just gives a hint of the complexity of the electrical wiring. Note the 2-part sprinkler head. On the left the sprinkler head will extend down a foot to pass through the suspended ceiling. Note the second less prominent sprinkler head placed above the ceiling in case the fire runs up above. Both heads have glass bulb triggers that shatter at a target temperature, releasing the water.

This Christmas tree is where the water enters from the city water main and is routed off to sprinklers on all three floors. It’s a complex and expensive system that we hope to never use.

October 6, 2021

Concrete Delayed, More Siding

This morning was wet with a steady light drizzle. Two spots were ready for concrete, the sidewalk between the addition and the parking stalls, and the pad for the HVAC compressors behind the church. However, the scheduled early morning concrete delivery was cancelled because of the weather and those workers departed. They are still waiting for elevation numbers from the engineers before they can proceed with patching the city sidewalk and configuring the alley exit to Second Street.

The electricians were not bothered by the weather. I resisted the urge to go in to look, but I think they are still working mainly on the first floor of the addition. It takes a lot of wires and boxes to make a building like ours.

The men working on the siding got a late start because of the rain. By this evening, I expect they are up to the level of the third floor. It’s an interesting process to watch. One man cuts the cement boards to length, sometimes with a guillotine device, something with the chop saw for angles, and sometimes with a jigsaw for more complex cuts. The other man fastens the boards in place with a staple gun, and calls out the length of the next board. Notice the little black jigs just below the staple gun? They clip on the previous board to help position the next board exactly 5 inches higher. (One of the workers yelled to me several days ago that they would be getting the job done a lot faster if they were using 7-inch siding instead of 5-inch siding. However, the 5-inch siding matches what’s on the church.) Notice the light colored squares a bit lower down on the wall? These are where the support posts for the steel stairway will be attached to the wall.

October 5, 2021

Inside Work, Siding and Paving

The HVAC people have been running connections between the compressors that will be north of the addition and the heating units that will be wall-mounted in the offices and classrooms. The electricians are running conduit and wires, mainly on the first floor so far. The elevator people went over to another job site as they waited for a firewall to be built in the shaft. When they finish that other project in a few days they will return to install our elevator. The fire sprinkler people have the main lines in place, but the little side branches will come next.

Outside, the siding is coming along after slow progress last week when they spent some time at another job site. Now they are working their way steadily up the back wall. The back is being sided first to make it ready for the installation of the steel fire escape stairs, which should come very soon. The siding is a cement board composite, the same that Jeanne Jacobson helped us buy for the south and west sides of the church two decades ago. It should last (and hold paint) for another century.

The parking area is taking form. They put in the curb last week, and now they are laying a gravel base for a couple of inches of asphalt. A sidewalk will run between the curb and the building and will extend to the city sidewalk. They are waiting for the engineers to provide exact elevations for the exit driveway and sidewalks. The sidewalks may get poured tomorrow. The asphalt will cover about 19 feet of parking width plus 12 feet that is designated as alley. Another 12 feet next to the fence is county-owned land and will remain gravel.

October 1, 2021

Siding, Driveway and More

The carpenters made a start on siding several days ago. The first steps were soffits and trim around doors, windows, and corners. Then they applied a few tiers of siding. That was several days ago, and now I think they may have shifted to another of the contractor’s building projects. Our addition is rain-tight now, except for the missing doors delayed by supply-chain problems. One can almost think of siding as cosmetic – they put siding on to protect the Tyvek, which is the real membrane to seal out  moisture.

This is also a good view of the scaffolding they will use (instead of ladders or a man-lift) to apply the siding. There are 3 metal posts supporting 2 sets of platforms connected by the yellow safety net. With a lever at each post they can raise or lower the contraption as needed.

Here is a modification that I have been lobbying for. They are lowering the sidewalk at the driveway exit from the parking lot. For years this has frustrated users of the alley – most cars would scrape bottom as they exited to the street.  The sidewalk was cut once to trench for our water connection, and cut again to trench for the surface water drain. It was an easy step to remove the in-between remnant of sidewalk and ramp it down a bit to lower the exit drive. This walk and the walk from the parking area to the city sidewalk will come very soon, followed by the asphalt alley and parking.

There are actually lots of things going on inside the building. But since they are inside and I am trying to stay out of the way, it’s hard for me to track progress or take pictures. Various subcontractors are working on electrical wiring, HVAC systems, and fire sprinkler systems. The plumbing lines are mostly in place. The elevator shaft now has a gypsum board fireproof lining in preparation for the elevator itself. There’s a stack of drywall board ready in the hallway.

September 28, 2021

Concrete, Sewer Line, and Grading

The concrete floors in the church basement are finally complete. The kitchen and the offices were demolished months ago, but the replacement concrete floors were deferred so the addition could be framed, roofed and made watertight before the fall rains. It seems inevitable that the first significant rains this fall coincided with pouring concrete for these two floor areas. The trucks arrived at 6:30 am, or so I was told. I arrived in time to see the last of the finishing.

The sanitary sewer line for the addition is finally connected. The line emerges from the southeast corner of the addition. It runs east for just 20 feet to connect to the line that has served the church for years. From there the pipe serving both connects to the city sewer line in Van Buren Street.

They have begun to reshape the surface in front of the church and addition. The east end of the space will be paved patio, and in front of the addition will be play area, sidewalk, and bike racks. Machines will excavate to 9 or 10 inches below finished grade and then add back about 6 inches of compacted crushed rock. On this base we will add about an inch of bedding sand and finally the paver blocks. Reinstalling the pavers now in piles east of the church sounds like a good project for a work party next spring.

September 26, 2021

Sprinklers, Electricity, Audiovisual and Grading

More subcontractors have started their work on the addition. On Thursday and Friday the electrician began to run wires and conduit. The fire sprinkler system is also taking shape in the addition (see the black pipe up next to the ceiling joists).

Last week they finished burying all of the needed cables, conduits and plumbing in the alley and parking area. That means they can now grade this area to the final finished elevation, and put down final layers of crushed rock, sidewalk and asphalt. On Friday they even made the first passes to grade the area south of the addition – where the kids play area and the paver patio will eventually happen.

Getting the audiovisual capability we need must be a joint effort of the carpenters, the electricians and the UUCP audiovisual people. The stage frame is now in place. Service boxes and access hatches have been selected. The electricians will run the hot wires. Pat, Sam and Rod got a start running AV wires on Saturday. Once that’s all in place the stage will get its layer of sheathing – and eventually carpet.

September 23, 2021

Trim and the Last Trench

The surface water trenching has finally reached the street. This leg goes from a catch basin to the “bubbler” that will release rainwater at the gutter to flow to a grate in Adams Street.

The carpenters are beginning to work on trim, a necessary step before applying the siding. This includes some soffits like this under the roof on the tower. The carpenters defer to Roger for final decisions on how to do it.

Most of the windows are simple rectangles, and easy to fasten on the trim. The gothic arches take a bit more time, using bits that must be custom cut and painted before being nailed in place. They are nearly ready to start applying siding on the rear wall.

Pam did another small pour of casting resin on the chalice window last evening to smooth out some rough spots. I think that is the last, so the next step is to deliver the finished window to the church.

September 21, 2021

Trenches and Commercial Wrap

The addition is now about 50% wrapped with a moisture barrier. The “commercial” Tyvek is just a bit thicker than the “house wrap” product. The joints are all sealed with tape. They are starting in back because they want to get the back sided so the steel fire escape can be put up. They want to put these heavy stairs in place soon so they can use big equipment without damaging the west sidewalk and the paved parking they hope to do soon. The chess game of what tasks to do in which order is enough to drive Roger crazy. Coming up very soon – siding, electrical wiring and elevator installation.

The subcontractor has made significant progress with the surface water drain system. There’s a spider web of surface water drain pipes that come together in this box near the street.

Looking inside you can see the 6 inch pipe centering the box. Tomorrow they will extend the trench into 2nd Street for a “bubbler” that will release water into the gutter to flow to a sewer grate in Adams Street. The tape you see in the trench is a material that can be detected by the sensor device they use to locate underground utility pipes. These tapes are required so they can locate and determine depth of buried utility lines before they dig.

September 20, 2021

Elevator Arrives, Trench for Surface Drain

Today’s highlight was the arrival of our new elevator. It arrived in a long red semi trailer. The big heavy looking crates still sit at the curb. Over the next several days the crates will be unpacked and the elevator pieces assembled in the shaft.

The other visible activity was another trench, this one for surface water. This system collects water from the roof, from foundation drains around the addition, from the base drain behind the retaining wall, and from the sump pump that helps keep it dry under the church basement floor. All of this surface water is collected and will flow to a “bubbler” at the curb, where it will eventually flow to the storm drain in Adams Street, and then to Paradise Creek. The man in the trench is holding a measuring stick. There’s a device on the stick (several feet above his hard hat) that beeps when it detects a laser leveling beam. This helps them keep the bottom of the trench (and the drain pipe) at the proper grade.

September 16, 2021

Gas Line, Chalice, Gravel and Grading

The HVAC compressor units will sit behind the church in a 6 inch thick concrete pad. The pad will be about 8 feet by 12 and will cover the old window wells. In a way this will be good, because the concrete pad will seal out the water that has been percolating in here for the past century, seeping through and under the ancient foundation, and keeping it moist under the old kitchen floor. Before they can pour the concrete pad, they need to pull out the old natural gas regulator that our new heat pump system won’t need.

They dug to expose the natural gas line that came in from Van Buren Street. Apparently, they cut and capped the line, left the stub under the curb and sidewalk and then filled the hole.

The carpenters finally got back to working on the stage yesterday. Two months ago, they made a start, and then got caught up in the race to finish framing the addition before the fall rains started. They won the race with the fall rains but their first attempt to frame the stage didn’t provide enough room for a wheelchair to negotiate the stage ramp. Correcting the problem, they widened the clearance on the right, modified the ramp, added the steps and incorporated a 45 degree corner. It should now be ready for electrical and audio-visual wiring before it finally gets the coat of sheathing and handrails that will make it look like a stage.

Several tons of crushed rock were delivered this morning. It came in a truck I haven’t seen before. It had a conveyor on the back. He backed the conveyor through the door to the basement, and then unloaded rock into wheelbarrows. They wheeled the rock load by load to fill the office and kitchen floor areas so a concrete slab can be poured on top.

After they compact the rock, I expect they will use a similar wheelbarrow system to carry the concrete to the pour areas.

They finally finished the utility connections under the street. The trench carries a big pipe connecting our fire sprinkler system to the city water main, a little pipe for the potable water connection, a medium sized pipe for our internet connection and a second medium pipe in case we need it. Three big electrical cables for the Avista 3-phase electrical service are a bit to the side. The trench is backfilled with gravel and compacted. It may even have gotten an asphalt patch this afternoon. I haven’t looked, but the street may finally be open.   

Pam poured what we hope is the final layer of epoxy casting resin on the chalice window. A week ago we put a gallon of epoxy over the rainbow. Today we put a half gallon over the central chalice area. The stuff works its way down through the jumble of colored glass to bond to the window itself – tying everything together and to the window. Depending on what it looks like in a day or so, we may decide to add a bit more to the central area. From the optimal vantage point – on my back on the floor underneath, with a bulb above for backlight, it looks spectacular.

September 12, 2021

First Pour of Casting Resin

To assure that everything sticks together, some of Pam’s creations get a coat of casting resin. This is an epoxy material that comes in two parts – the resin and a hardener. These are measured in equal amounts, and then mixed well for exactly 3 minutes.

Pam poured the mixture over the entire rainbow area. The material is amazing. It works its way down through the mesh of glass pieces to the underlying window glass. This is good – it assures that the chalice image will stay stuck to the inside face of the window, in spite of the hot summer sun and the passing years.

Pam, Duane and Mary Jo spent a few minutes popping little bubbles and helping the resin penetrate by poking with skewers. It turned out that the help was not really needed, but it was fun.

The colored glass is on the side of the window that will face the interior of the south gable and the side that people will see is still the bottom. The best way to view the results is to hang a strong light above – and then lie on a little wheeled dolly and scoot underneath. Eventually the 2’ by 4’ LED panels will light the window from behind.

Addendum: September 13, 2021

The Resin is already hard to the touch this morning, although it is supposed to take 3 days to fully harden. It looks beautiful from the top and beautiful from underneath. We only covered the rainbow area yesterday. Pam plans to come Wednesday after work to finish up the central chalice area. That means we might deliver the completed window to the building site next week.

There wasn’t much to see at the church when I went down Monday morning. I caught Roger up on the roof explaining how the solar light tubes need to be installed in the roofing.

However, things are happening inside. The electrician is supposed to be getting started this week and the HVAC crew also. Apparently, the city is ready to proceed with testing our new water lines after a Covid scare in the water department delayed things.

September 10, 2021

More Roofing and Windows

It makes the building look very different to have the windows in place. They are all in now except for one on the west end. I assume that one is saved as an opening where they can get big and heavy stuff inside. Would that be parts for the elevator, and perhaps sheets of drywall? I really like the way the gothic window looks above the front door.

The shingles are all in place on the south roof, but the roofers still have a little to do on the north side. There is still a bit to do on the top of the shed roof where the solar light tubes penetrate through the roof. After a lot of discussion, we decided to go ahead with the light tubes. Installing them is a complicated puzzle given the maze of trusses in the way. They won’t be quite in the center of the room, but it will be nice to have some natural light in the conference room.  Besides, the vendor has a high restocking fee if we return them.

Note that the window with the gothic top that used to be in the southwest corner of the sanctuary has been reused in the landing between the second and third floors. We are hoping to also reuse one of the light fixtures that was in the church foyer in this same space, since there is plenty of vertical room.

The building is now waterproof, just in time for today’s rain – that if you can call 0.05 inches a rainstorm. What the building needs now is doors. There are five door openings, a front door, the west door, and three doors that exit out the back. Doing them will secure the building.

September 8, 2021

Roofing and Windows

This is a big roof so it will take them several days to finish. The valley, with its woven pattern between the south gable and the main roof will definitely slow them down. They also have a good start on the shed roof on the north side.

They started putting in windows today. They first prepped the openings with a layer of water barrier membrane over the bottom of the opening. Then, a bead of caulk around the opening to seal the flange to the sheathing. Finally, the window is lifted into the opening and the flange is screwed tightly into place.

September 3, 2021

A Roof for the Addition

The first step in roofing is the waterproof membrane. At the eaves and up the valley is a black strip. This is thicker and somewhat gooey to seal any punctures and resist ice dams. Higher up the sheets are thinner but tough. The men are sliding the bundles of shingles down into position for installation. They are heavy, about 75 pounds each. At each side the membrane extends up under the siding.

To be a roofer 25 feet above a concrete slab you must trust your rope. They are starting the waterproof membrane on the north side. It is a trick to make a continuous coverage with all the foot-boards fastened to the roof. Here they have slid pieces between the brackets. They will have to come back later and patch the gaps. As they move up the roof, they remove a 2×4 step to make room for the white sheet, then nail it again about 8 inches below the top edge so the next sheet has room to lap. I expect they finished the entire roof membrane today – so if it rains the addition should shed water.

Look through the arched window opening. The light comes from the hatch opening in the 12-foot foyer ceiling. The flat roof above is accessed by an extension ladder through the hatch.

Roger sent me this picture he took from the flat roof. They have installed layers of insulation board followed by another kind of waterproof membrane. The seams are heat-sealed – hence the LP gas tank. You are looking south at the roof of the 1912 Center with its pup tent skylights. It is a shame that a place with such a view is not a public space.

September 2, 2021

Three Ring Circus

There are three things going on here:

  1. They are starting to roof the addition. The first step is the waterproof membrane, and a double layer up the valley. This is the real defense against water – the shingles are to look nice and protect the membrane. The shingle bundles are stacked at the peak and will be applied very soon. As someone who doesn’t do heights, I was pleased to see that the roofers are wearing safety ropes on the steep roof.
  2. The guy in the basket is framing the parapet around the flat roof area. He will apply sheathing just like a little roof and eventually the parapet will get a layer of roofing.
  3. The pipes up on the flat roof are drainpipes. There are two drains in the corner – a regular drain and an overflow drain. They come down through the towers to each side of the front door. (At last I see the real purpose for the towers. They are not purely for visual effect – they will contain pipes.)

Today was supposed to be pressure testing of our new water lines, followed by water contamination tests. All these tests are on hold because of Covid-19. Several workers at the Moscow water department have tested positive for Covid. These were not the people who worked on our pipes, so hopefully none of our workers were exposed. However, the Moscow water department staff are being tested for Covid, and finishing the certification of our water line is on hold. The trench will stay open for a while longer, and steel plates will allow limited auto passage through Second Street.

August 31, 2021

Plumbing, Trimming and What’s Next

Lack of a “saddle clamp” has delayed the hookups to the city water main. They finally located one of the scarce items – supposedly in Tennessee or Kentucky and had it shipped here. The Moscow water department did the hookup today.

The action took place across 2nd Street in a 4-foot-deep hole between the curb and sidewalk. The saddle clamp is the shiny thing under his arm. The red thing is a valve. The black and orange things are a hole cutter device. Somehow this device extends through the valve and cuts a hole through the water main pipe – all under water pressure and without leaking water. (This way the water service to the neighborhood is not disrupted.) Then the cutter is extracted and the pipe to our addition is connected to the valve. Next, the line must be checked for leaks under pressure and checked for any contamination.

Note also that the black potable water line (on the right) looks different. They decided that our old supply line was too old, and both the line and the water meter should be replaced.

Today the carpenters have been putting up trim around the perimeter of the roof. The trim needs to be in place before the roof is shingled. Roger said that the shingles might be delivered tomorrow.

This is a picture of the secretary’s future office floor. Apparently, water from the little shower we had a week or so ago collected here and slowly evaporated leaving an interesting design. Roger is very anxious to get the addition shingled and watertight.

The next step to button up the building will be windows. Most of the windows have been leaning on the wall in the minister’s future office for several weeks. The big gothic window that will go above the front door was delivered yesterday. I expect to see window installation happening over the next few weeks.

August 25, 2021

The View, The Under-street Plumbing

The trench is dug, and the pipe is mostly in place, but there is a problem. Our fire sprinkler 4 inch water supply pipe is supposed to be connected to the side of the city’s 8 inch steel water main with a pipe fitting called a “saddle clamp”. They thought they had access to the required saddle clamp, but apparently someone else got it first. They are looking for another, but with the nationwide construction explosion, apparently saddle clamps are among the construction items that are hard to find. It may be a while before the fire sprinkler water supply gets connected to the church. I will keep you posted.

Looking down into the hole, you can see the 8 inch city main. Our 4 inch pipe (now in the trench but obscured by the curb) reaches almost to the main where it will be connected with the saddle clamp. To the right, on top of the main, note the small fitting and bit of black pipe. That is the potable water supply line that served the Yellow House. This is still pressurized and connected to the water meter across the street. The potable water line still must be connected from the meter to the addition, but since it will go in the same trench it is also delayed by the saddle clamp shortage.

The Rainbow is done! There are still some things to do to finish the new round window, but the rainbow is essentially complete. Here are the workers who helped under Pam’s leadership.

And this is my attempt to photograph the window from underneath. With the camera on the floor, it is still not far enough away to get it all in, and it needs more light to really see the colors.

The roof sheathing is in place above the third floor foyer. That means that the carpenters are now working on framing details on the new almost-flat roof.  This is the highest flat point on the addition and provides quite a view of Moscow. Phil took these pictures this morning. Don’t get the idea that this is going to be a publicly accessible viewpoint. To get to the roof you would have to crawl through a small hatch in the 12 foot ceiling of the third floor foyer – probably after climbing up a ladder. Still, it is quite a view.

August 24, 2021

Water Trench and Foyer Ceiling Joists

This trench runs from the city water main to the addition. The pipe for the fire sprinkler is in place except for the final connection to the main (visible in the foreground). The potable water line and internet connection will come next.

The excavator stretched out across the street makes a convincing sign that the street will be closed for a while.

The framing of the addition is approaching completion. The last ceiling joists are being added to the third floor foyer. All that is left is some work to frame the flat roof that will cover this area. This milestone is bittersweet since with the addition of a few more sheets of sheathing, much of the work on the addition will be done inside, so it will be harder for me to document the ongoing progress in my blog.

August 23, 2021

Water Connection, Foyer Framing

There will be two water connections – the ordinary one to provide potable water for both church and addition, and a second larger one to serve the fire sprinkler system in the addition. They are digging the trench to connect both lines to the city water line across second street. The wire for internet service will also go in this trench.

They cut the asphalt with a big circular saw before excavating the trench across the street. They will run the pipes under the curb and sidewalk somehow leaving these undisturbed. The street will be closed for several days as the lines are connected and tested.

These pipes are stacked nearby. Are they water pipes or internet conduit?

Framing the third floor foyer continues, with studding for the east wall visible through the scaffolding.

The lead carpenter saw me and commented that I had caught them in a mistake – the east studs were 6 inches too long. Here they are trimming them to length. Too long is better than too short. Too long can be trimmed but too short is a problem. They are about ready to begin the roof framing.

August 19, 2021

Firewall, Front Façade, Chalice Window

The back is one of the few places I can still peek into the interior of the addition. This angle gives a view of the firewall installation – see the white gypsum board sheets against the clapboard siding. Note also the two workers visible through the farmed opening. When that opening is fully framed upward it will hold the relocated tall arch-topped window removed from the southwest corner of the sanctuary.

We finally have a framed doorway onto the balcony.

The framed details to each side of the front door have reached the top. They will arch to frame the large gothic window to go on the third floor.

Note how the addition, including the arch, extends somewhat closer to the street than the old church building – probably a bit more than the ordinarily required setback. The rules provide for an exception when nearby buildings are also closer to the street. The arch lines up almost exactly with the McConnell Mansion.

The Widow is getting its rainbow. Tomorrow should start the greens. This was another picture with my phone camera positioned down on the garage floor. The colors should be more vibrant with proper illumination.

August 17, 2021

Chalice, Foyer and Keys

This morning we had a meeting to talk about keys. The topic is surprisingly complex for a building like a church. Keys for entry doors, for the utility and mechanical doors, keys for the RE rooms, individual keys for the offices, a very few master keys that fit all the locks, and so on. We may get both a key lock and a keypad with a changeable code for the main front door.

The chalice window is progressing, although it takes time to apply all that colored glass. The red is complete, and the orange arc is nearly done. Pam is doing the assembly, but others of us have sorted and cleaned glass pieces.

The north shed roof has some more sheathing. This makes it easier to see the opening for the fire exit door.

There seems to be a planning session on the third-floor foyer. They are probably discussing how building the door to the balcony will interface with the soon to be installed firewall.

August 16, 2021

Chalice, North Shed Roof, Upper Foyer

Pam started the rainbow with red. Since the colors blend gradually from one to the next, she’s applying some reddish orange as transition to the full orange band. I took the picture looking up from the garage floor, so you also see the background of garage door opener, bits of Pam, and other stuff through the glass. When the window is installed in the south gable, it will be backlit, probably by a bright (but dimmable) LED sheet.

The north shed roof (with a hallway to the exit stairs) is almost ready for sheathing.

They are back to working on the third-floor foyer. This room will be about 12 feet tall – in part to make a visual transition between the addition and the taller church, and partly to accommodate the tall gothic window and the tall elevator shaft.

As each level has been framed, the required firewall is extended up to provide a 2-hour separation between the addition and the church. He is removing rain gutters and is trimming back the roof to make room for the 2-inch fireproof sheets. The firewall will span the entire contact between the addition and church – from side to side and from foundation to roof with no openings except fire-rated doors. I expect the next step is to open the doorway to the balcony, so the firewall can be made tight to the door frame.

Here’s where the door will come through. He’s started to pull off the tarpaper, so the light shines through the cracks, and the first bit of diagonal sheathing has been cut loose. The door will be 36 inches wide as required by ADA and some parts of the balcony will be wheelchair accessible.

August 12, 2021

More Roof Framing and a New Sill for the NW Corner

They are almost done framing the third floor shed-roof. Soon they will add roof and exterior wall sheathing. Next week I expect they will move on to framing the tall foyer and the flat roofs above.

These are remnants of the sill under the exit door in the NE corner of the church. Golis subcontracted this project to Wasankari Construction. The century old 8×8 sill beam has suffered from water infiltration around the exit door, aggravated by an invasion of carpenter ants sometime in the past. Since we are getting a new exit door it makes sense to also repair the sill.

This is a tricky project since the considerable weight of the NE corner of the church sits on this sill. They built these stacks of 6x6s as piers to use to hold the weight of the corner of the church as the sill beam was cut out. This is the view from inside the now gutted kitchen, looking out through the slot where the sill has been removed.

There are several of these “screw bottle jacks” to lift the church corner. I remember my dad using jacks just like this remodeling a barn on our farm about 60 years ago. Some technology doesn’t change.

They debated whether to use an 8×8 beam salvaged from the yellow house, or use new wood to replace the sill. The new material finally won out. They stayed with the convention that a pressure treated plank should be the first one resting on top of the foundation. They nestled this 2×8 plank in a bed of mortar to smooth out the irregularities of the rock foundation. This is to be followed by 4 more 2×8 planks to make a new sill beam. When they release the jacks, this will all be clamped in place by the weight of the church.

The new sill is in place and should hold up the corner of the church for another century. There will be a new exit door that should do a better job of keeping out moisture. There will be a concrete landing outside the new door, and 3 or 4 steps down to a new sidewalk. There will even be handrails along the landing and steps.

August 11, 2021

More Roof Framing and Window Progress

Today’s project was more framing on the north face of the roof. It is essentially a shed roof placed on top of the main gable roof to accommodate the exit hall from the third floor conference room. The lift machine is essential to hoist workers and materials to the roof – although it does obscure our view of the work, especially with a sheet of roof sheathing in the hoist basket.

I arrived just in time to see the first rafter fitted in place. The main roof has a 10 in 12 slope, and the shed roof they are building on top has a 4 in 12 slope, making space between for an exit hallway from the conference room. You can see the future door opening on the far right. The door will exit to a landing at the top of a steel stairway attached to the wall. The stairs will run down to a landing outside the second floor door, and then down to a concrete pad. Note that the main roof trusses are stubbed (eliminating the eaves) between the second and third floor landings. The outside wall will continue up here, providing headroom as people descend the stairs. The eaves and rain gutter will be overhead on the shed roof.

Note also that the worker on top is wearing a safety harness – which allows me to breathe easier. I don’t do heights or steep roofs.

Pam is making progress on the chalice window. The chalice is formed of opaque black glass, as are the double rings. The background between and within the rings are filled with fragments of clear glass with a dense pattern of fine bubbles. Pam started the flame several days ago, and today she is adding a halo of light around the flame with yellow glass. Once the adhesive hardens and some smudges and a dusting of wildfire smoke precipitate are cleaned off, Pam is just about to start working on the rainbow.

August 6, 2021

Progress on the Chalice Window

Yesterday they finished framing the south gable and extended the sheathing up to the eaves. Note that they did use pre-built trusses, rather than conventional rafters, which must have been hidden away somewhere inside. Eventually a few bits of 2×4 will be added to the square opening in the first truss to make the round opening to fit the chalice window.

The round window is now screwed to the top of a pair of sawhorses in our garage where Pam can add the bits of colored glass that will make it our chalice window. Her first step is to sketch the design on the front side of the window with a Sharpie. The marks come off easily with water and a rag. The chalice, a familiar UU icon, is framed by 2 interlocked rings representing the merger of the Unitarians and Universalists. Outside the rings will be a rainbow, representing our commitment to diversity. Pam is sketching alternative sizes of the rings and chalice, which eventually ended up a bit larger than shown here.

We used a bathroom scale and verified that the window weighs 44 pounds before Pan adds any colored glass or glue. That’s light enough that we can move it, but heavy enough that it’s good to have 2 people. We wondered how much it will weigh when she is done. Maybe double? When Pam has settled on a design and sketched it on the front of the window, the next step is to turn it over. The task is to glue colored glass to the back following the pattern that Pam drew on the front.

Pam spent some time cleaning the back of the window. Any fingerprints or other marks will become permanent if colored glass pieces are glued over them. Pam decided it would be appropriate to select the chalice as the first piece to be glued in place. It consists of several pieces of opaque black glass. To shape the glass pieces, Pam sometimes uses a diamond stylus to score and break straight cuts. For curves Pam uses a special band saw that uses an abrasive wire. To trim the edges, she uses a mini vertical spindle sander. My job is to sort the glass supply by rainbow colors.

August 3, 2021

Some More Concrete and a Round Window

They poured another load of concrete behind the addition this morning. Some of it was for the pad where the big Avista 3-phase transformer will sit. It was a tradeoff putting the transformer back here, since the required pad dimensions diminish the size of the potential play area. The transformer could have been in front of our new building, but we vetoed that as ugly.

Some of the concrete went to the pad (in the foreground) where the heat pump units will sit near the corner of the church. The rest was used for the landing and steps outside the first floor exit.

Work is progressing on the doorway between the balcony and the foyer. It is slow work since they want to do minimal damage to the adjacent metal soffit and preserve the metal sheets they remove so they can be used to rebuild the opening. The task is slow because the joints are nailed every 6 inches to the curved backing of 1×4 boards.

I was puzzled why several sheets of roof sheathing at the eaves seemed to be missing. The answer came today when I saw a worker cutting off the toes of the trusses where they hang out beyond the wall. This is where the south gable framing will go – this area should be wall, not eaves. It seems that the makers of the custom-built trusses missed that detail. Remember the roof brackets I mentioned yesterday? You can see them in place higher up on the roof. The metal brackets fastened to the roof hold a 2×4 on edge to keep you from sliding off the steep roof.

With the truss toes trimmed, the special truss that has been leaned against the front of the addition for several weeks could now be fitted into the gap. (Thanks to Al for this photo.) I don’t know whether there are more trusses to step back up the roof to complete the gable, or if they will use standard rafter roof framing. Note the big opening in the center of the truss? This is where the round window will fit. This window is an architectural reference to the rose windows in the south and east peaks of the old church. The building committee considered rebuilding and using an old rose window still in the church attic – the one that was once in the west peak of the old building. Instead, the committee settled on a round window using Unitarian symbolism.

We have been waiting months for the round window to arrive. It came today. The creation of the window will be led by Pam Arborgreen, using her technique of glass fragments glued to the back of the glass window. Many of you have seen her work at her Moscow Farmers Market stall. It will incorporate three symbols common to Unitarians and Universalists – the chalice, the rainbow and the two interlocking rings that reference the union of the Unitarians and Universalists. Pam needs a large workplace for the window assembly process, so it will be happening in the Hamilton’s garage. I’ll blog the progress. Today Pam did a draft sketch on the window, which you can mostly see below.

August 2, 2021

I’m Back in Town

We are back home from 10 days in Montpelier, Vermont, visiting our son and family. Steve Flint posted some pictures of the construction progress, including a picture of the completed roof peak trusses and he mentioned the grading and start of work on the retaining wall north of the addition.

With the roof trusses in place, the workers have started to apply the roof sheathing. This is a job I would never want to do. The roof has a 10/12 slope, 10 inches for every 12. These sheets are also very slippery. As they continue to work on the roof, I expect they will use roofers’ brackets that hold 2x4s to keep from sliding off the roof.

Beyond the blue arm of the lift, you can see the studding of the foyer wall outside the door to the balcony. The foyer will be 12 feet tall – partly to provide a height transition between the old church and the addition, and partly because the adjacent elevator shaft must be that tall.

This is what it looks like behind the addition – as viewed out the northeast sanctuary window. If the picture looks a bit grainy, it is because I took it through the glass and screen.  The grading is mostly done and the block retaining wall was probably completed this afternoon. The area between the foundation and the block wall will be a concrete sidewalk. On the left, the steel fire escape will descend from the second and third floors, ending on the concrete pad just this side of the first floor door.

We are planning to return the area above the retaining wall to its previous use – as a kids play area. It is a bit of an odd shape, long and narrow and squeezed in the middle by the Avista electrical transformer. Still, it is larger and more accessible to the RE rooms than the alternative play area location south of the addition, and its odd shape may make it more interesting. We still need to devise a low fence for the top of the wall before we can use it for play. In a day or two this area will be backfilled with drainage rock, then with dirt and then topped with bark and watered heavily.

Installing the blocks is exacting work. They sit on a gravel bed and must be perfectly leveled. The ends come somewhat angled, so they can fit in a wide arc, but for short radius corners or right-angle corners (like near the transformer) the ends must be cut with a masonry saw.

They are using blocks recycled from our patio – so they had acquired a patina of moss and dirt. This means work with a hand scraper and wire brush.

The pillars that will stand to each side of the front door are primarily decorative. They will be empty and on the cold side of the insulation envelope. In the picture below they are being extended straight up. As the third floor foyer is framed over the next few weeks the pillars will bend and meet – framing a Gothic window.

So far the door into the balcony has seen only exploratory work. They need to know what they are dealing with before they can cut a standard size door opening through the curved metal at the edge of the ceiling. It appears that the metal sheets are supported by 1×4 backing and fastened by many little brads. It will be interesting to see how they design the opening.

The grading behind the addition extended to the northwest corner of the church. This exposed the remnants of what was once another window well into the area we have always used for storage. The window was plugged years ago with concrete, and the well partly removed, probably to keep rainwater from seeping in. The grade changes we are making should improve the moisture situation even more. The question remains however, just what use do we want to make of this corner area and on behind the church?

July 28, 2021

I haven’t sent anything out for the last few days, and the addition really looks different now! I think the picture says it all.
Also progress on the retaining wall north of the addition. Once it is completed we have permission from McConnell Mansion to use their hose to irrigate the Sequoia tree.

July 22, 2021

Now that the main part of the trusses are up, much of the work involves bracing. The west wall on the third floor has been framed in and framing continues to go up around the elevator shaft.

In the NE corner of the church, one of the 8″ x 10″ beams that sits on the foundation has rotted under the emergency exit door. A portion of this beam should be replaced, and the current plan is to use a similarly sized beam that was salvaged from the Yellow House.

July 20, 2021

More Details on the Roof Trusses

The roof trusses went up fast last Friday. Now there are miscellaneous details to take care of. Remember the gaps in the trusses by the elevator and the fire escape hallway we saw on Friday? Now they have been filled in with “ladder” joists. The subfloor is now in place for the big conference room, except for a couple of sheets when they ran out. They have installed a couple of small trusses to the north of the elevator shaft that they left for later last Friday. Everywhere they have firmed things up with more nails.

The lift machine is a godsend to get materials up to the third floor. Much of this lumber is probably for the framing of the tall third floor foyer stricture that they need to build next to the church – to make the entry into the balcony. I think they are also anxious to get all this material up so they can frame this west opening  a bit more closed. For working comfort there needs to be a wall here with just a window opening instead of a 25 foot drop.

They need to bring up some more materials and frame the west wall, but they are nearly ready to install the peak trusses. I am curious whether they will proceed with the peak trusses first or turn to framing the foyer. Roger is also contemplating some of the complications of framing by the elevator shaft, so that may also be a priority. I think I just answered my own question – I see the peak trusses sitting on the foyer floor, so they must get them out of the way first.

I like the pretty clouds today, with not too much smoke. The temperature today is comfortable, under 90 degrees for only the second time this month, and this morning we had our July rainfall – just 0.01 inch.

July 16, 2021

The Roof Trusses Come

I arrived just as the truckload of roof trusses arrived. The longest were over 40 feet long and filled the flatbed trailer. The truck with the hoist nosed in through the gate and the trailer blocked the street.

The load included several different shapes of custom-built trusses. These half-trusses fit near the elevator, and the open space will be the hallway and the restroom.

This is the first of the 42 foot full width trusses. Note the bottom of the truss – called a “bottom chorded girder truss”. Roger assures me these are much stronger than a 2×12, because of the strong triangle shapes and because there are no knots or defects. These sit on the top plate of the hallway walls and provide a platform for the floor of the big conference room. The room will be about 18 feet wide and over 25 feet long.

As the trusses are set in place they are screwed and nailed in position and kept vertical with braces and temporary 2x4s nailed across. One man at each end checks the overhang at the eaves. I was amused to hear “1/4 inch your way” or “1/8 inch my way”. These eaves will be straight.

Roger spent much of his day on the trailer attaching the cable as the trusses were lifted, and then on the ground helping guide the truss with a rope. This is Roger’s photo from the flatbed.

This is another of Roger’s photos as the last full width truss was fastened in place.

When I arrived back midafternoon, they had the last wide truss in place and the truck was ready to depart. This gives a nice view into the space of our new conference room.

I assume that by now you have noticed that these trusses are flat topped, not the peaked gable roof you probably expected. Do you know the reason why? Full height trusses would be 20 feet high – and a 20 foot wide truss sitting on a flatbed trailer would be a wide load with all the highway restrictions that implies. So, there are peaked trusses that will sit on top to complete the roof. The carpenters will put a subfloor in the hallway and conference room, and some more bracing, so they can use ladders and scaffolding to install the peaks. These peak trusses weigh less than 100 pounds so they can manage them without the crane. In contrast the heaviest full width trusses approached 600 pounds.

Look how much the view from streetside has changed. Note also the 2 gaps in the trusses. On the west end this opens clear space for the fire exit hallway. The bottom chorded girder trusses to each side will provide attachment points for a “ladder” of I-joists to support the hallway and conference room floor. Roger explained that the other gap is where the engineer fell asleep. If a truss like the adjacent ones were used, the vertical member would come just outside the middle of the elevator door. The solution is some more ladder I-joists and some conventional framing.

There are 2 peak trusses leaned against the building. One will become the peak at the west end. The other is part  of the south gable peak that will sit on top of the new south roof. This piece is the frame that will hold the 48 inch round rainbow/chalice window.

July 15, 2021

Ready for Roof Trusses

Today was another for doing things that were put off for later. I was right that one of these put off things was some more sheathing. Behind the addition this meant lifting the big sheets into position using ladders rather than the man-lift.

From this position you can see more new sheathing, including the strip under the overhang. The sheathing on the west gable end will be put off until later, since the sheets will run up onto the end truss. Note also that they started the process of opening the door into the balcony – they stripped off the siding where the door will go.

This view of the building should change radically tomorrow – with the arrival of the roof trusses. I expect at least some of the heavy trusses will be lifted into place before the weekend.

July 14, 2021

Getting Ready for the Roof Trusses

Today was devoted to the necessary fiddly things. Odd bits of subfloor. Some more nails here and there. Finishing up around the new stairway to the third floor. Sweeping up the piles of sawdust. The roof trusses will be coming Friday, so they want to be ready.

I was startled when I visited the site in the late afternoon. The building looked different, but it took me a minute to realize why. They had cut the sheathing out of all the window openings. I understand that the sheathing helps to give stability to the wall framing, and it is easiest and fastest to just sheath over everything and cut it out later. I asked the carpenter about the windows. He agreed with the stability reason. But even more important, he said it’s cooler working inside during our month-long heat wave. Note the haze in the clear sky and the red tint to this photo. It’s real. Today was close to 100 degrees and the air had lots of wildfire smoke.

The roof trusses don’t come until Friday, so what will they do tomorrow? It seems like there are two choices. They could cut and frame the doorway into the balcony where the window used to be. Alternatively they could frame the stud walls for the foyer where they just put down joists and subfloor. I suppose they could also finish the sheathing up to the eaves.

July 13, 2021

A Third Floor and Some More Stairs

It is getting harder to see much from my perch on the LCHS fire escape. I am looking just about straight across the top plate on the second floor walls. Soon I’ll be looking up instead of down in. What I do see close to the church is the start of the third level floor. This is the floor for the foyer that provides access to the balcony and the big third level meeting room. Will this become our “Upper Room”?  Instead of I-joists, the rest of the area will be framed with engineered roof trusses. These trusses will enclose the meeting room – the room down the center and the roof to each side. This room will be about 18 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Look closely and you can see black plumbing sticking up. Most of these are vents for the bathrooms below, but the pipe to the right of the central hall will serve the third floor bathroom. The roof trusses will be arriving Friday.

In the picture below you are looking at the rim joist for the foyer. This will be a tall room – 12 feet tall – with a nearly flat roof just below the flat roof segment on the old church. There will be a gothic window matching the big south window in the church. The windows will line up – the double entry doors below, double windows on the second floor and the tall arched gothic window on the third. To the left will be roof trusses enclosing the meeting room, and a smaller south facing peak with the chalice/rainbow window.

In the hot afternoon, and mostly out of sight, the sounds indicated that stairs were being built. These will provide access between the second and third level. I suspect the carpenters will appreciate using stairs rather than ladders when they start installing trusses on Friday.

In case you have forgotten what the addition is supposed to look like, here is a reminder.

July 8, 2021

Stairs, Sound Booth and Joists

One set of stairs is now in place. Workers can now get up to the second level without using a ladder. The steps will eventually get rubber treads.

Pat Fuerst marked out the proposed position of the sound booth. The bit of finished floor marks the footprint of the old sound booth. The space will need to grow to accommodate the people and hardware required to livestream our Sunday services.

Since it has cooled down a bit – into the 90s – construction can move outside again. The second floor walls are mostly in place, so the next step is up. This means areas of floor jousts and subfloor for the foyer outside the stairway, elevator and balcony, and the area that will become the third floor meeting room. Off to the sides will be the trusses that will shape the roof. I am curious how it all fits together. This stack of I-joists is enough for a start. I expect more I-joists and some trusses to arrive next week.

I believe there was some insulation that has now been removed. In the future it will be an interior wall. I wonder whether it dates from the 1980s when the UUCP remodeled the building or was it even older than that.

July 6, 2021

Avista, Building Stairs, and a Balcony View

Avista was back this morning to do more work on our 3-phase electrical entrance. They cut the power to the 1912 Center for a time as they rearranged things on the pole. This is Roger’s picture, since the woman blocking traffic warned me away and I didn’t want to make a scene.

This box will apparently serve as a connection point for the cables that will run our way through the buried conduit.

Today was another scorching hot day (over 104 on my thermometer) so everybody was happy to work inside the addition. They need to build stairs so they can quit using ladders to get up and down. Stair construction is a complicated and precise business – actually requiring some math. Here they are discussing the process as they lean on the start of the first landing.

The zigzag piece that holds the steps is called a stringer. Given the heavy use these steps will get, the stringer needs reinforcement. He’s nailing a 2×6 stiffener to each side.

Roger also gave me pictures of the view from the balcony (another place I’m not supposed to go). This is the view looking down to the northeast.

This is the view to the west toward where the entry door will be cut through the remnants of the window. The balcony has 3 levels or risers. There will be glass railings across the front, and around the two bump-outs at the big window and by the transom window above the south sanctuary door. These should let considerable daylight into the balcony.

July 1, 2021

Balcony Framing and a Firewall

The heat wave has subsided a bit. It was only a bit over 100 this noon – much more comfortable than 110 degrees. There was noisy thunder last night but no rain in Moscow. Still, a better day to do work inside.

By late morning the first layer of balcony joists were in place and they were nailing subflooring on top.

The I-joists are held in place with metal joist hangers. Note how the balcony frame is blocked out away from the big window and the transom window above the old entry door. Up above, there will be a glass railing around these window wells.

The balcony floor will rise in steps to the back. This picture shows the framing of the second riser. The lowest level sits on the I-joists, which run north/south. The second level sits on the 2x6s that run east/west. The highest riser sits yet above that.

Today was also the start of our new firewall. Code required either a sprinkler system in both the church and the addition, or else sprinklers in the addition and a firewall separating it from the church. Retrofitting sprinklers in the church would have been difficult, expensive, and aesthetically inconsistent. The shotcrete and foundation are adequate retardant down below, but a firewall must be built above the shotcrete. Meeting code requires 2 inches of a drywall like material. That is, a double layer of 3’ by 8’ panels each 1” thick, held in place by metal channels and brackets. Roger is pondering how to construct the door openings and thresholds while preserving the fire retarding envelope.

June 29, 2021

Balcony Work Continues in Heatwave

I arrived at the church at about 11am, so the work had a good head start. The temperature had climbed over 110, so it was good they were able to work inside.  I missed seeing the heavy balcony beams lifted into place. The south beam looks a bit odd because it sits atop the header for the door into the sanctuary. In addition to the heavy beam, this header supports the weight of the old steeple (the smaller of the two towers) overhead, so Roger increased the size of the header and the posts on each end.

By being late I missed seeing the beam jacks in use. They had at leas 5 of them. They run along a standard 2×4, and with a pipe handle, inch their way up, lifting the beam.

Once up, the beams rest atop 6×6 posts – posts that will be hidden within the finished walls.

The south beam, both longer and heavier must have been trickier to lift. Its west end had to go over the header for the new door. I’m guessing this picture shows a track to stabilize the east end as it was lifted. Once it reached the top it nestled on top of the 6×6 post embedded in the wall.

Next, the beams will be supported by four 6×6 wood posts that match the position of the four new steel posts in the basement below. This means opening the floor to position the posts.

The post is secured into custom made steel brackets both top and bottom. It fits perfectly, with only a little persuasion from a hammer. The floor will be patched with matching old fir, joining all the older patches in the sanctuary floor – a map of the history of our building.

The first post is in place. I expect the other three will be completed this afternoon, but it is really too hot to go look. I’ll go look tomorrow morning. For now, I will contemplate this picture taken from about where the piano will sit. I imagine the balcony complete, and the chairs and audience in place, it is a pleasant thought.

This picture also fits a contemplative mood. It was a bit of trim that was removed with a window. I think it says “Swed Luth Ch, Moscow, Id”. I wonder if it dates from the original construction 115 years ago, or a later remodel.  It is being saved in case it is needed when the window is reinstalled in the addition. Otherwise, it goes in the artifact pile.

UPDATE: Roger’s Pictures of Lifting the Beams

I discovered that Roger sent me pictures of the north beam being lifted into place – the pictures I didn’t take because I arrived too late. See how the 2×4 sandwiches the beam against the 6×6 post, holding it upright as they work the levers on the jacks.

The same thing is happening on the other end. The beam must be just about high enough to shove it sideways and let it down on the post. Heavy screws will be used to secure the beam to the wall framing.

June 28, 2021

Installing the Avista Electrical Connection

We need a heavy duty 3-phase electrical connection to serve our new elevator. This means a connection up the power pole across the street beside the conduits serving the 1912 Center. Our wires will be in underground conduit. This machine bores the hole and will pull the conduit.

This hand-held device detects the tip of the boring head – it is now almost to the hole but a little to the east. The operator 160 feet away will turn the head a bit so it hits the hole.

The tip entered the hole dead center.

They removed the boring head and replaced it with a pulling head. The mud is lubricant supplied by the machine to ease the path through the Palouse clay.

The three conduits are 160 feet long and flexible. The joints use a special glue so they don’t come apart in the pulling. The machine is capable of applying 6000 pounds of force pushing or pulling.

The loops glued on the ends of each conduit are linked by heavy cable to the pulling head. The pulling head rotates to ream enough room for the conduits as it pulls.

The three conduits slide very slowly into the hole.

The tips finally emerge 160 feet away.

At this stage the conduits are empty. Eventually, this end will run wires up the poles connecting to the power line. The other end will be extended a bit more to serve the transformer behind the addition.

We are in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave. This is our third day above 100 degrees (presently 107 at 3pm) and several more days coming. The workers have moved inside where it is slightly cooler to get started on the new sanctuary door and balcony. I may brave the heat in late afternoon to see how they are progressing.

June 24, 2021

A Window for the South Peak of the New Addition

The architect’s plans for our new addition to the church make it clear that the UUCP will provide the window that will go into the south roof peak of the addition. The contractor will build a 48 inch round opening in the south peak, but it is up to us to come up with something to fill it. The building committee has discussed the design of this window at several meetings. There are several alternatives.

The window in the south façade of the addition is intended to reference the rose windows presently in the south and east peaks of our 115-year-old church building. There was once a third rose window in the west peak, although that one deteriorated (probably leaking rainwater) and was removed during the west wall re-siding project – and the opening was sided over. The remnants of that window are still propped against beams in the church attic. This suggests the possibility of fixing the window and using it in the addition. Unfortunately, the old window is in very poor shape. Dan Schmidt has some of the parts, I have some others, and there are probably other parts still missing. The wood that’s still there is very weathered and brittle. The dowels and screws that hold it together are mostly loose and sometimes gone. The window would probably have to be mostly rebuilt with new wood.

Because of the poor condition of the third rose window, the discussion has ranged more broadly, looking at alternatives. First, this is a new addition that we are adding to our 115 year old church building. Despite plans that reference the style of the church, no one is going to mistake the addition for a historic building. A major reason we chose to proceed with the building project was to accommodate our burgeoning RE program and our ideas for outreach. Our facility is no longer a Swedish Lutheran church. These are reasons why the addition should acknowledge the physical heritage of our old building but also note that we have a separate identity in the community.

So where does this lead? We could commission a leaded glass window, but that might be expensive with a long time lag. There are several UUCP members who have dabbled in leaded glass (including Mary Jo and myself) but a 48 inch round window would be a daunting prospect. However, we do have a UUCP member who is an actual glass artist, regularly selling her work, including weekly appearances at the Moscow Farmer’s Market. Pam Arborgreen’s art is based on found materials – often fragments of glass bottles epoxied to the glass in old window frames. Her themes are quite varied, but often botanical. I approached Pam about the project, and she expressed an interest.

I also talked with Roger (the contractor’s site manager at our project). He, of course, was very interested in the window itself, and was concerned with my initial idea of using a single 48-inch glass panel. He argued for a double pane 48-inch round window from the same series as the rest of the windows in the addition to address concerns about insulation and rain penetration. Pam agreed that a double window should work with her art style, so long as it is backlit, which is the plan.

What should be the theme of the window? Any internet search on “Unitarian images” will show many and varied images of chalices. This seems to be the undeclared icon of the Unitarian churches. The internet hits range from jewelry to coffee mugs, to t shirts, to church stained glass windows. The other theme that is common is a rainbow, symbolizing our professed support for diversity. Many combine the chalice with the rainbow, often as a border around a chalice.

Pam is thinking about the materials, design and assembly of a window. The Building and Aesthetics Committees are currently working with Pam to finalize a design for the window. Pam has access to the stash of colored glass that Mary Jo and I collected nearly 50 years ago when we last did leaded glass. There are lots of colors, although we’re short of orange and indigo/violet shades. Pam has found some black glass for the body of the chalice.

The time schedule remains uncertain. The 48 inch round double pane glass window has been ordered. It will probably come along with the other windows. Delivery dates for everything are uncertain because of the building boom and material shortages. If you have unused colored glass you want to donate to the project, or if you want to offer financial support, please let me know at

In the south elevation drawing from the building plans you can see the placement of the old rose window and the new window to be made. We will keep you posted.

June 22, 2021

Pathways, Framing and Pumping

The interesting stuff today was happening behind the addition. The excavator was backfilling against the foundation and reshaping the area. The ultimate goal is a walkway from the parking area, along the back of the addition and connecting to the rear exits from all three floors (the second and third floors via a steel stairs). The path will also access the raised area on the right which we hope will become a play area. The grading is made more complex by the big Avista transformer (and all its connections) that will be placed just north of the path, by the heat pump units that will sit on a pad back near the church, and by the need to protect the roots of our neighbor’s trees to the north.

I liked the way the trees frame this view of the project. The carpenters have now rough framed most of the second floor walls. They still have things to do before they go on to the third floor. They need to construct a firewall in the space between the church and the addition. The exterior sheathing is needed to provide rigidity before they go higher. With that, and a few more things, they will begin to add roof trusses, which will nestle the third floor meeting room under the roof.

Roger Shattuck took this picture of the concrete pour I missed last Thursday. The concrete pump truck is an amazing machine. It delivered concrete to forms near the back door of the addition, and then reached the length of the addition to fill the wheelbarrows used to fill forms in the kitchen and office areas. Thanks, Roger, for sending me the picture.

June 21, 2021

Backfilling, Framing and the NE Exit

Today they began backfilling the foundation trenches with crushed rock. They start with a perforated drainpipe at the bottom, with a fabric sleeve to keep rocks from clogging the pipe holes. They paused this afternoon to let the electrician install some conduit to the Avista transformer. When they finish they will compact all the backfill.

Remember those 43-foot beams that were sitting at the curb? This morning they were lifted to the second floor deck with a forklift, and set on several 4-wheel dollies. (See one upside down on top, one under the far end, another in the middle, and probably another out of sight to the right.) They just cut a small hole in the wall and wheeled in the heavy beams. The hole and nearby window will soon be opened to become the double door between the foyer and the sanctuary. The beams will form the under frame for the new balcony.

Here is another surprise that our 115 year old building presented us with. This is the NE exit door from the sanctuary. The door is scheduled for replacement and will lead out to a new landing and steps. What we didn’t know was how rotten the sill is underneath. Roger thinks a beam salvaged from the Yellow House can probably be slipped in as a replacement.

The walls of the second floor are taking shape. Most of the perimeter walls are in place and they are starting on the elevator walls. Note on the far end where they left a gap so they can use a fork lift to slide in stacks of materials.

June 18, 2021

Some Concrete, Some Walls and Some Big Beams

A delivery of concrete mix arrived early Thursday morning. The pumper truck with the long boom pumped concrete over the addition to forms near the back door. Then they reached even further to pump concrete to waiting wheelbarrows through the church south basement door. This was then wheeled to forms to make berms to separate the (yet to be poured) concrete kitchen and office area floors from the floor that was renovated over a decade ago. Mary Jo and I are not morning people, so I missed concrete pumping, but Roger promised to send me a picture.

Thursday, after the concrete pour, they also made progress framing walls. The complex south wall looks mostly complete, but is still flat on the deck. I guess they didn’t want to stand it up (and vulnerable to wind) before their 3-day weekend.

The site was quiet when I visited late morning Friday. What I noticed immediately was the package sitting at the curb. There was a label on the west end that said 5 1/8 by 13 inches and 43 feet long. This must be the beams that will become the understructure of the new balcony. Roger has mentioned that he was anxious to have the sanctuary-level floor in place so he can cut the new door into the sanctuary so they can bring in the long beams and start work on the balcony. These are those beams. The new double doors will replace the right-most window (the one that once opened into the stairwell). That also explains why they stopped with only the south wall flat on the deck. They need a clean deck so they can lift the heavy beams and move them through the opening into the church.

The exposed end of the beam reveals its structure. The 5 1/8 inches is a bit less than the width of a 2×6. You can count the nine 2x6s that have been laminated with glue and pressure. The slight reduction from 5 ½ to 5 1/8 inches suggests the edges have been planed to give the beams a smooth surface.

June 16, 2021

Sanctuary Level Subfloor Finished

Yesterday’s rainstorm stopped work on the flooring at about 3pm. After drying things out a bit this morning they completed the laying the sanctuary level subfloor. This afternoon they completed the safety rail around the perimeter and around the elevator pit, and then got organized to frame more walls. In the photo below, black shirt is marking out the locations of interior walls. Grey shirt is kneeling beside the 2x4s that will become the top and bottom plates of the south wall. He’s marking the locations of the second floor windows, so they will align with the windows below and the gothic window above.

First thing tomorrow will be a concrete delivery to some formed spaces by the rear door of the addition, and to some small areas in the church basement – still getting the kitchen and office spaces ready for the big concrete floor pours. Then, I expect they will get a good start on the sanctuary level wall framing.

June 15, 2021

Laying the Subfloor for the Sanctuary Level

Yesterday they completed the blocking to reinforce the joists where more walls will stand. Then they got a start on laying the 4 x 8 sheets that will become the subfloor of the sanctuary level of the addition. Since the stack of OSB sheets and the table saw are on the ground, any cutting is done down below, and the sheets are handed up. Here a heavy, whole 4 x 8 sheet is lifted up. Roger keeps a close watch that the arrangement of sheets matches the spacing pattern of the joists. Note the safety rails on the perimeter.

The sheets are fastened with both glue and nails.  This should prevent squeaks and add to the strength of the floor.

The subflooring is 4 x 8 sheets of tongue and groove OSB wood. It takes a bit of encouragement to engage the tongues with the grooves. This is provided with a scrap board to protect the panel edge and a big sledgehammer. It rained hard just after I took this picture – perhaps ending the workday. At least it sent me home.

June 10, 2021

Still More Joists

Our architect Laurence Rose was in town on Tuesday and that morning he took the following picture from the third floor of the 1912 Center. His picture shows the rim joists and on the far side the first of the 40-foot long I-joists.

Now it is Thursday evening, and the I-joists are all in place, some running east/west, and some north/south. On the north edge you can see the blocking to reinforce where the second floor wall will stand. Similar blocking is just started on the south edge. The Golis carpenters work 10/4 – 10 hours a day and 4 days a week, so not much will happen on Friday. At the right edge of the picture, the green is one of 3 new stacks of subflooring and sheathing. Next week they will make a floor and frame some second floor walls.

June 9, 2021

More Joists

By mid-morning they had added the short joists that cantilever over the west entry and were measuring for more 40-foot-long ones. Can you see the long yellow tape?

The I-Joists are quite limber in this direction, but stiff when stood on edge.

This laminated plank will help support the outer end of the joists above the west door. It will be joined by another plank running the full width.

June 7, 2021

The First Floor Joists Installed

The process started this morning with rim joists around the perimeter of the building. This joist sticks out almost 2 feet, since the second floor will be cantilevered 2 feet over the sidewalk along the parking strip (giving us a bit more classroom space). The joists around the perimeter are 2×12 planks, while those that will go in the interior are 2×12 I-beams – both types made of engineered wood.

Most of the perimeter joists were in place by evening. The pattern of interior joists will be quite complex. They must span wide spaces such as the central hall, offices, and entry foyer, and they must extend out to support a cantilever. Depending on the space, some joists are spaced 16 inches apart (1/6 the length of a 4×8 sheet of plywood). Other times the spacing is 19.2 inches (1/5 the sheet length). The complexity of the pattern should be visible tomorrow.

June 3, 2021

A Bit of Concrete and More Walls

Several yards of concrete were delivered late Wednesday for the piers under the four new steel posts. Note that the posts are still a few inches above the pier surfaces, locked in place by 4 J-bolts down into the piers. Roger explained that the gap will be filled by a special hand-mixed non shrinking concrete. Ordinary concrete shrinks a bit as it cures – and would leave a small gap under each post and some oddly stressed concrete piers. When the slab is poured, it will cover about 4 inches of each post, locking everything in place.

Some of the concrete mix delivery went behind the addition to make footings for the emergency exit stairway. By tonight more forms had been added to make the foundation for a landing and some steps, and for piers to support the steel stairway above. On Monday more concrete will come for these foundation walls, and some more bits for the basement. It is also getting close to time to backfill against the north foundation and reconfigure the earth bank behind the addition.

The carpenters are also making good progress with wall framing despite temperatures as high as 94. At midday they were working on the wall around the elevator shaft.

By late afternoon the wall framing for the first floor is almost complete. To the left of the hall is the RE Director’s office, then two bathrooms and a mechanical room where the electrical panel will be, then a hallway to the rear door, followed by the elevator shaft and behind it a big storage room, and finally the stairs up to the sanctuary. Next week, expect to see the joists set in place for the second floor.

June 2, 2021

Its Hot, The Basement is Cooler

Its even hotter than yesterday, 99.3 degrees at 2:00 pm. I was in the cool basement for a meeting with the contractor people, so I took a few pictures. The four new steel posts are now suspended from the ceiling beams, ready for the concrete piers to anchor their bases. The floor above is now supported by the two temporary wood posts.

The rusted cast iron posts are still in place nestled in the kitchen wall – but they will be replaced very soon with steel.

The plumbers have made a start on kitchen piping. Apparently commercial dishwashers always discharge into little basins like this – perhaps as an air break? They worked hard to route the pipe around one concrete pier, so the basin would not end up embedded in concrete when they pour the kitchen slab.

This conduit has been here since they poured the slab outside some time ago. It will bring electricity from the utility room in the addition, under that slab, under the door to the basement, under the wood basement floor, now under the kitchen slab, and finally up to power the breaker box in the east sanctuary closet. I find it ironic that this conduit sits in exactly the same spot where I took the picture of the century old knob and tube wiring they found under the rotting kitchen floor.

Despite the heat, work did progress outside. They are getting ready to pour the footings that will support the metal fire stairway on the back of the addition. It might be cooler here than in the addition framing walls.

Roger showed me the first bit of building plan confusion I have seen. The picture below shows the secretary’s office windows, looking out to the foyer. The big pass-through window will have sliding glass doors. The two windows on the side are the problem. An earlier version of the plans showed the windows but a later version eliminated them. So, they ended up framed in. I don’t see any reason for these two windows, and the one on the right doesn’t exactly fit, so they will probably end up covered up with drywall.

June 1, 2021

More Interior Walls

When I dropped by just before noon the carpenters had erected two segments of the east wall. This wall was placed just a couple of inches from the church, leaving room for the required fire-retardant panels, making it a 2-hour firewall. This separation and the thickness of the foundation will make the door to Friendship Hall a 3-foot long tunnel.

By afternoon they were working on the north wall. I had been wondering how they would frame along the elevated parts of the foundation. Look closely and you can see that they are building a second frame wall of 2x4s just inside the concrete wall. This will make the first-floor north wall about 10 inches thick. Should be good insulation.

Looking down into the addition, there are offices on the right – the minister’s office closest, then the music director’s office, and last the secretary’s office. There are many walls yet to build on the left. The RE Director’s office is first, followed by a warren of small rooms – bathrooms, utility rooms and the elevator shaft.

At the far end are the entry and foyer. Look through the wide front entry doors to the spacious foyer. On your left is the window to the secretary’s office. A turn to the left brings you to the elevator door, and straight ahead are the steps to the sanctuary.

The temperature today peaked at 94 degrees, perhaps a record for this early in June. The carpenters kept working in the heat, but they didn’t object to a turn in the still cool basement. Several things were happening there – sorting out the sewer plumbing for the kitchen and installing the new steel columns. The columns were the more interesting. The top end of the steel pipe was fabricated as a yoke to cradle the beam. The bottom will be held by a concrete pier poured around it. Before the concrete pour the bottom hangs in space. Without bottom support it took two strong straps to pull the heavy pipe with the top yoke tight up against the beam so lag screws could hold it in place.

May 28, 2021

Memorial Day Break

I went down to the church not expecting to see much activity since this is the first of a four-day Memorial Day break. Roger was there, so I decided I wanted a picture of the new steel posts that will hold up the sanctuary floor. The two posts on the right will go to either side of the pass-through window into the kitchen and will replace the rusting cast iron posts that have supported the right-front sanctuary floor. Of the other four posts, two will replace the rusted cast iron ones that have supported the rear sanctuary floor, and the other two are new and will support the new balcony.

I also wanted a picture of the old cast iron post that was embedded in the wall near the door to the minister’s office. The bottom was about half rusted away. One of the old posts by the kitchen pass-thorough is about as badly rusted.

As I walked out into the addition with Roger, I noticed the anchors that fasten the wall bottom plate to the slab. These are powder driven nails – nails driven into place by a tool that uses the explosion of the powder in a 22 shell (minus the lead). Roger noted that he called the police to explain he was using this tool so if they got reports of gunshots they would know what was going on. These nails are only to initially hold the bottom plate in place. They will be augmented later by bolts epoxied into drilled holes.

I was considering going home to mow my lawn when a truck arrived with a load of lumber and I-joists. The bundles were unloaded with a boom, a tricky operation with the biggest bundle – 40 feet long, 4 feet wide and very heavy. The I-joists will become the floor of the sanctuary level of the addition.

May 27, 2021

Building the Interior Walls

Sometimes when a slab is poured the heavy slurry of concrete manages to move some of the plumbing that they worked so hard to get into the right place. If the dislocated pipe is one that must go inside a wall, then this is a problem. A 3-inch pvc pipe is about 3 ½ inches wide and a wall built out of 2x4s has about 3 ½ inches of space inside. The pipe in the picture below should go through walls up to the 3rd floor bathroom. However, the concrete shoved it about ¾ of an inch to the north. Bill is working with an impact drill to open a space on its south side so it can be moved a bit.

Remember the long 5/8 inch bolts that went 18 inches down into the foundation to tie to the rebar? These are required by code to protect against earthquake or wind damage. There is one earthquake bolt beside each window. A nut ties the metal bracket down to the bolt and four 3-inch lag screws fasten it to the triple studding beside each window. I like the little angle impact driver he uses to drive the lag screws in the tight space.

The north walls and doorways of the minister’s office and music director’s offices are being assembled on the slab. Note the large closets that will separate these two offices.

Note the differences between the interior and exterior walls. The exterior walls have a treated 2×6 in contact with the concrete and then an untreated 2×6 as a bottom plate. The interior walls have only the treated 2×4 as a bottom plate in contact with the concrete. Thus, the interior studs must be 1 ½ inches longer than the exterior ones.

I am realizing that in a few days I won’t be able to look down into the building from my aerial perch. When they are building the second floor, the view will be straight across the top – not down in. When they build the third floor, I’ll be looking up.

May 26, 2021

Framing the Pillars beside the Front Door

Much of Wednesday was devoted to framing the pillars on each side of the new front entrance. The one on the right is where Roger and I think there should be a small compartment for a time capsule. The idea is to document this moment in the history of UUCP. We will seal it up – to be opened in a decade or so. My contribution will be a volume of all these blog entries. What would you put in? Anybody willing to chair a committee?

The pillars are taking a considerable amount of work. As usual, the segments are assembled on the flat, and then lifted into place and fastened.

Wednesday they also completed the north wall framing. I am trying to imagine the math that has to run through their heads as they think about the different stud lengths as the wall progresses across the different foundation heights on the north wall. (The different heights result from the up-slope of the path behind the addition.) The cluster of plumbing marks the location of the bathrooms and utility room near the north door. In the corner to the right, imagine the landing half way up the stairs to the sanctuary level. Further right, the foundation of the church will probably be covered on Thursday as they frame the east wall a few inches away.

May 25, 2021

The First Wall Framing is Erected

I was late to the construction site, so when I arrived at 9:30 the first wall was already vertical. The frame for the south wall was assembled flat on the slab in four sections. What I didn’t see was the process of lifting the sections and bracing them in place. The sections sit on the sill, where nails and some of the longer bolts hold then in place. A 2×4 is nailed along the top to tie the sections together. Braces hold the wall vertical. Notice the gaps in the top 2×4 where the top 2x4s of the interior walls will fit to tie things together. Something I find intriguing are the massive 6×6 beams used as headers over the windows and doors. This addition is being built to last for a century like our old church.

Even as one worker was finishing up the framing of the south wall, another was assembling the pieces to build the next wall segment. This segment will run from the southwest corner to near the center door in the west wall.

I went to a meeting and when I returned at 2:00, two segments of the west wall were in place, leaving a gap where the door will enter. It had been drizzling lightly and there were puddles on the slab but the carpenters had continued their work.

When I returned at 4:30 the first segment of the north wall was standing in place. The carpenters were truing everything to vertical with a 6-foot level and adding braces at the corners to hold things in place, probably worrying that the recent high winds will pick up again. They will probably complete the exterior wall framing tomorrow. Which comes next – interior wall framing or exterior sheathing?

Meanwhile there are flowers in the wild plant bed – beside a pile of old subflooring and plumbing waiting to be hauled away. The growth is vigorous despite the dry spring.

May 24, 2021

The Wood Framing Starts

The framing started at the southeast corner. The sill is what attaches the walls to the foundation. Treated lumber is used for this, since there is possibility of moisture at the interface between concrete and wood. This is the footprint of the eastern of two pillars that form an arch to frame the main entrance door and the Gothic window above. Remember this vertical bit of foundation? It serves to buttress the corner of the church foundation.

This is the footprint of the other pillar. I think I have convinced Roger that the base of one of these pillars would be a good place to put a time capsule. The sill of treated wood follows all the turns of the foundation. A thin layer of foam plastic blocks drafts from sneaking between concrete and sill. Holes are drilled so the wood can fit over the bolts that were embedded in the concrete. With the addition of a big metal washer and a tightened nut the sill is tightly secured.

Once the sill was completed all the way around the addition, they started building walls this afternoon. It is easier to build walls on the flat and then tip them vertical. This will be the south wall of the first floor, complete with openings for windows and the main entry door. A nail gun is a great time saver. Hammers are mostly used to persuade things into alignment.

The south wall is taking shape. It is too long to tip up into place all at once. I think it is being made in at least four sections. I expect the plywood sheathing will be nailed in place to provide rigidity before the sections are tipped up .

It will be a profound change in the view as the walls are put in place. I am curious whether they erect the walls as they are finished or whether they assemble several walls before they erect any. I’m also contemplating the puzzle of the optimal order to construct the walls so there is floor space to build them in.

May 21, 2021

The Slab is Poured and Lumber Arrives

When I arrived this morning they had almost finished pouring 3 mixer truckloads of concrete. I was told that the pumper truck had arrived at 6:30 am. After yesterday’s half inch of rain, today was overcast and not much above freezing, but there was no more rain. The big crew waded in the concrete as they pushed it around and screeded it level.

Concrete slab poured. Some lumber coming in a few minutes.

There’s lots of hand work with a trowel, sometimes nearly on the level and sometimes draped over the stem wall.

Of course, most of the slab can’t be reached from the edge. I didn’t get a picture of the long-handled trowel – a 6 foot wide blade with a 20 foot long handle. I admired his skill with that thing. As the concrete started to set they ventured onto the slab cushioned by a pad to trowel around all the plumbing extending above the slab.

A smooth finished slab requires an aggressive working of the surface bringing up the cement-water slurry and pushing down the aggregate. As the slab gets firm enough to walk on the machines take over.

Remember the worrisome church foundation and the shotcrete they used to stabilize it? The next part of the plan to stabilize the connection between the church and the addition was the slab. Where the new slab butts against the foundation it is 12 inches thick across the width of the addition.

Our first delivery of lumber was brought to the site today. The lumber was purchased some months ago when prices had not yet jumped to present outrageous levels and was stored in a warehouse. Today’s delivery was for the first floor only.

With the slab now completed, framing the first floor should start next week. Work has also been proceeding out of sight in the basement. All four of the precarious cast iron posts have been removed – including a second one with a rusted hole. It will be good to have them out of there. The forms for the piers under the replacement posts may be ready for concrete next week. The replacement steel posts are being fabricated. The concrete floors for the kitchen and office spaces should be coming soon.

May 19, 2021

Almost Ready to Pour the Slab

Yesterday they dug some trenches in the compacted crushed rock. The trenches mark where interior walls will be built on top of the slab. With the trenches, the slab will be thicker under these bearing walls to support the weight of the stories above. Hand digging in the compacted crushed rock is a challenge, requiring both grub hoe, shovel, and a wheelbarrow to haul the gravel back out of the foundation area. Note the two different compactor machines – the plate compactor to use on the flat areas and the one they call the “jumping jack” used to firm up the trenches.

The next step is the vapor barrier. Here Roger and Bill unroll the 15 mill sheet plastic which will cover the entire surface. Given the trenches, the surface is uneven, so there is a lot of cutting, piecing and taping of joints. The workers are getting wet since there is a very light drizzle.

Then comes the rebar. There are ladders of rebar in each of the trenches and a grid of rebar across the entire surface. Everything is tied together with short lengths of twisted wire. The final touch is the little 2 inch cubes of cement that are placed here and there and wired in place to hold up the rebar so it stays in the middle of the slab when they pour the concrete on top of everything.

Another picture from my favorite perspective – this time with threatening storm clouds. The site is nearly ready for the concrete, but the weather forecast for tomorrow is a likelihood of rain, so Roger has requested that the concrete come on Friday. I heard a discussion about lumber delivery, so I suspect we may see some sills and walls begin to appear as soon as next week.

May 13, 2021

Support Posts and Plumbing

Work was proceeding both inside and outside today. The inside work focused on preparation for the concrete floors in the kitchen and office spaces. These areas include the support posts that hold up the floor above, and soon will hold up the balcony. Two posts were embedded in the kitchen wall, two inside the office wall and two new ones will be in what was office space. The four embedded posts are century-old cast iron ones.

The picture below is a close-up of the base of the nearest (dark) post in the picture above. It’s hard to see the rusted hole in the base of this post – big enough I could stick 3 fingers into the hole. I could feel the rust-thinned metal well beyond the actual hole. Old cast iron pipe is not only subject to rust, but also brittle. The contractor intends to replace the two posts in the kitchen and two embedded ones from the office wall with steel posts. The temporary wood posts in the first picture were installed to support the floor above while the cast iron posts are removed, and steel ones fabricated and installed.

The workers outside installed under slab plumbing.  The water and sanitary sewer lines go in trenches dug with a shovel and grub hoe into the compacted crushed rock – it looks like a nasty job. The array of vertical pipes must be precisely placed since each of them will be embedded in walls or attached to fixtures. Correcting pipe location is near impossible once concrete is poured around them. The subcontractor has just uncoiled 1” black tubing that runs the length of the addition, through the door and then fished under the basement floor. Both the church and addition will be served by a single water meter instead of the two that served the Yellow House and the church.

May 11, 2021

A Crushed Rock Bed in the Foundation

Much of today’s activity was spreading truckloads of crushed rock inside the new foundation walls. This will be the bed on which the slab will be poured – probably early next week. The layer of rock has been compacted and tested for compactness. Parts of the rock bed will now be disturbed again to add some plumbing, and to make some hollows along the paths of the interior walls so the poured slab will be thicker under the walls – then compacted again.

The slab will be about a foot thick where it butts against the bottom of the church wall to help stabilize the foundation. This thick slab edge will also be the base for the east wall of the addition, which will be built close to but not touching the church wall – separated by fire retardant panels.

I like these elevated views, especially with nice clouds. You will note that the area west of the foundation has not been backfilled. There will be more digging here in the next few days to run new water lines, electricity service and internet lines to and under the street.

May 10, 2021

Some Progress Both Inside and Outside

Work is progressing on the things that must be completed before the slab for the first floor can be poured. An asphalt coating has been applied to the exterior of the stem walls and panels of Styrofoam insulation are being positioned on the inside below the level of the slab. When this is completed the trenches, both inside and outside the stem wall will be backfilled with crushed rock – a process that has just started in this picture.

Eventually a layer of crushed rock will be spread from wall to wall, but first some under-slab plumbing must be completed. This will include water lines and the sanitary sewer line. This picture shows the beginnings of a trench for the sanitary sewer line. You can also see bits of wood forms that will block the slab concrete pour from flowing out the front door gap, the rear door opening, or into the elevator shaft.

In the church basement, the dirt in the kitchen area has been removed down to a firm clay base. This is hard work and slow, with a shovel and wheelbarrow since there is no way to get machinery into the basement. It remains to be determined whether the I-beam and cast-iron posts that span the pass-through opening will be judged adequate by the engineer. If not, they will also need to be replaced along with their cement piers.

The basement bathrooms have both been gutted. The space from the east one will be added to the kitchen, providing a second kitchen entry. The west bathroom will be rebuilt as a bathroom, but with the door returned to the west side where it was years ago, rather than opening directly into Friendship Hall.

Shovel, pick and wheelbarrow work has also excavated the level of the south end of Friendship Hall down to solid clay. The south wall dangles in the air after it was detached from the decayed floor joists. Just beyond the wheelbarrow, a partly dug hole will become a pier for the post to support the new balcony up in the sanctuary.

We had hoped to save the nice cabinet that was in the corner. Unfortunately, the decayed floor extended into the corner, so the cabinet had to come out. We may want to build a new cabinet in this corner, and perhaps library shelves on the wall to the left.

May 4, 2021

Concrete for the Elevator Base

I wandered down to the building site just in time to see another concrete pour – this time for the foundation under the new elevator. The concrete pump with the long boom is expensive, and this pour was quite small, so they decided to use gravity. The delivery truck backed up as close as they dared to the trench and extended its long spout. They positioned another 20 feet of trough on a temporary stand and let the mix flow.

A plasticizer had been added to the mix to make it flow more easily, but the troughs were flat enough that it was necessary to help it along with a push.

The plasticizer also helped the mix flow more readily in the forms, but a vibrator was still needed encourage the flow and avoid air pockets.

The kitchen is still being cleared of floor debris. These bricks and rocks were the supports for the floor of the kitchen. These are not real rocks – they are the concrete piers that helped hold up the floor. They apparently dug a hole about a foot wide and a few inches deep and mixed concrete by hand to fill it. The bricks generally failed to keep the joists from resting on the soil.

I couldn’t resist the flowers blooming in the bed west of the big front stairway – yellow lupine, tulips and native gooseberries. This bed will be preserved in the remodeling and will be expanded across most of the church front to protect the less than solid foundation.

May 3, 2021

The Realities of our Century-Old Church Building

Peeling back the coverings reveals all sorts of interesting issues in the church basement. This is what was under the office floors. The floor joists sit sometimes on beams and sometimes on dirt. The beams sit sometimes om concrete piers, sometimes on rocks, and sometimes are embedded in dirt. Up through the 1920s when the floor was added to the basement to make usable space, the roundish pier in the center held a post that helped support the sanctuary floor. Some of the floor joists seem to have missed the beams to either side, sitting on rocks instead.

Decay was inevitable where the beams or joists rested on dirt.

The area under the kitchen had similar problems – too much wood resting on dirt. Here, however, is another issue. These almost buried cement tiles probably once ran from a drain at the bottom of the stairs outside the door near the kitchen. The drain must have been closed many years ago since the tiles are in no condition to carry rainwater. The question is, do the cement tiles contain asbestos?

The northwest corner of the kitchen is also a mess. The original electric wiring was “knob and tube” wiring under the floor – typical of the 1920s. It is a wonder that it didn’t set the church on fire. The contractor is still considering the alternatives, but it seems likely that both the office area and the kitchen will end up with concrete floors.

The stairs to the basement were removed from this space. We had thought this space would be added to Fellowship Hall, but the wall is a bearing wall and cannot be removed. Add a floor and it will become a  12 foot by 30 inch closet – a perfect place to store chairs on wheeled carts.

April 30, 2021

The Forms are Stripped from the Stem Walls

This morning the forms were removed from the foundation walls, as shown in this photo by Al Poplawsky.

Looking across the site, you can see the gap in the foundation where the north exit from the ground floor will go. Once the north wall is backfilled, the door will open out onto a platform and then go up a few steps to reach the pathway behind the addition. The workers are building the forms for the foundation walls in the elevator pit.

This gives a better view of the elevator pit. There are several spots that will get concrete in the next pour.

We met this morning to discuss the configuration of the stage in the sanctuary, and the audio and video connections that will be required. The meeting included Pat Fuerst, Rod Sprague, Steve Flint, myself and Roger Shattuck, the site manager for the contractor, Figuring it all out is a complicated process.

April 29, 2021

The Stem Walls are Filled with Concrete

The pumper truck and cement truck arrived at a bit after 11am. They started pouring at the southeast corner. I was curious how they would do this so the fluid concrete wouldn’t just sluice down into the lower stem wall. They filled the lower part first and came back to fill the upper part 15 minutes later when the lower past had started to set up and wouldn’t flow.

A key quality control is the cement test. This guy has filled what looks a like a small pressure cooker with a sample of the cement. The test is to apply pressure and see how much the sample compresses. If it compresses too much, this means it has been mixed too vigorously incorporating air bubbles and will make weak porous concrete. This sample passed the test.

Here they are pouring the north stem wall, and since these forms are taller, several of them must work balanced on the top.  The man on the left has a vibrator, which he runs all the way down to settle the fluid concrete into the corners and eliminate air bubbles. The man in blue has the wireless remote strapped around his waist so he can control the overhead boom that delivers the concrete.

Concrete sets surprisingly quickly so it is a priority to allocate many hands to very quickly trowel it smooth and level. They are also checking the alignment of the forms and adjusting the braces when necessary. The fluid concrete is extremely heavy and capable of bowing the forms even with all the ties and braces.

I like this view of the site. The forms are full, the cement truck left a few minutes ago and the pump truck is about to leave. One of the last tasks is to insert J bolts part way into the wet cement to fasten down the wood sill of the new wall. It is easy to imagine the slab floor to be poured in this space, but there is lots to do first – more work on the elevator space, the under-slab plumbing, the compacted fill, and a lot more. It may be several weeks before we see the slab.

April 28, 2021

Putting Final Touches on the Foundation Forms

There are many details requiring attention before the forms are ready to be filled with concrete. Roger is still working on the earthquake tie-down bolts. Their placement must be measured carefully, or else a bolt will protrude upward through a door sill or vie for space with a wall stud. Note the vertical bit of the foundation forms on the right. This will make a pier to brace the corner of the church foundation where there was one big stone with little visible remaining support.

The plan is to pour the cement for the stem wall at 10 am tomorrow. They hope to pour the footing for the elevator at the same time, but they still have work to complete before then.

April 27, 2021

The Stem Walls Take Form

It takes a lot of work to put together the forms for the foundations or stem walls. Below you can see the plywood sides of the forms, stiffened by 2x4s, held in place by braces, and the two sides tied together by metal cross ties. They are not done yet. The workers have been measuring, checking dimensions and adjusting, because the structure above will come together much easier if the dimensions are exact. Among the last parts to be added are the ties that will bind the foundations and the walls above together more tightly in the event of a future earthquake.

The foundation walls are different heights. The south and west walls are lower, near the elevation of the interior floor. The north foundation wall is higher – somewhat higher at the west end, and then even higher near the church. The backfill and walkway behind the addition will ramp up gradually to the level near the back fence. There are a number of things to be done before the forms are complete, but they may be ready for city inspection and a concrete pour late tomorrow, or else Thursday morning.

April 24, 2021

The Plywood Forms for the Stem Walls

Yesterday the forms were removed from the footings and new forms were started for the stem walls (or foundation walls). These will be 2 to 3 feet high, and high enough to cover the vertical reinforcing bars now covered with the orange caps. It will take a while to put the plywood forms in place and perhaps longer to put in place the plumbing and electrical conduits that need to pass through the foundation. The cement pour will happen Tuesday or Wednesday.

April 22, 2021

The First Pour of Concrete – the Footings

The concrete pump arrived a bit before 10 am. This vehicle has a powerful pump and a very long arm that can reach clear across the building to disgorge liquid concrete into the footing forms. The concrete truck arrived a few minutes later.

A hand or two on the heavy hose guides most of the stream into the footing forms.  The shovel evens out the fill and settles it into the forms.

Two workers, one on each side, use trowels to smooth the surface. If the form is filled too high, a bit is flicked off to the side.

Al Poplawsky took this picture. The workers are filling the forms in the area where the new front door will be. The orange caps cover the sharp ends of the reinforcing rods as a safety measure. In a few days the rods will be incorporated into the stem walls (foundation walls), to be poured on top of the footings and 2 to 3 feet tall.

The pour went very fast – two truckloads totaling 17 cubic yards of concrete was pumped into forms in less than half an hour. It was not until the process was almost done that I noticed this guy standing around at the edge of the action. I finally realized that he was controlling the pumping truck and the great long arm – with a wireless joystick belted to his waist.

April 21, 2021

Footing Forms & Progress Inside the Church

The workers spent most of the day completing the forms for the footings, including conduits for electrical wiring and some plumbing connections. The first loads of cement will probably arrive sometime tomorrow morning.

Things are happening inside the church. The stairs to the basement have been removed, and the hole has been patched with framing and subflooring. This is the corner where the door will enter from the new foyer in the addition. Without the stairs this leaves a long narrow closet down below, which we will probably use for chair and table storage.

I am sure I needed a historic picture of the shuffleboard markings under the secretary’s office carpet before it gets sanded away.

The stage at the front of the sanctuary is now being framed. If you look closely, you might see the shims under the frame planks. The old floor is almost 2 inches lower at the west end of the stage relative to under the east end. With shims, the new stage will be level. There remains the question of whether a front railing is needed. There will be handrails for the rear ramp and for the front steps. The stage will be about eighteen inches high, so a front railing is not required by code. The spindles were saved from the demolished railings which could be used in a front railing. Eighteen inches is a big jump – or fall – but a front railing would impede visibility.

April 20, 2021

A Building Permit and Forms for the Footings

I don’t have a picture for this important piece of paper – our building permit. The work to this point has been based on an excavation and demolition permit. The issuance of the actual building permit by the City of Moscow has been slowed by the many details and by the pandemic, but today we got our approval. That’s a call for celebration.

The picture below shows the footprint of the addition marked in white paint on the compacted crushed rock base. The location for the west door is visible. The white 6” pipe will be buried beneath the footing to make a passage for the water supply for the fire suppression system. There will be other utility connections – some above and others below the footings. The tripod device is the laser level machine, to get all the footings in line.

The forms for the cement footings are held in place by 3’ long metal stakes driven with a hammer into the compacted crushed rock. The stakes are positioned with a string line tied at the corners of the addition.

Here the 2×12 wood plank forms are in place. The Moscow building inspector needs to approve the forms, and then metal reinforcing rods and sill bolts will be put in place. Depending on timing, the cement may be poured tomorrow or Thursday. The footings in the bottom of the elevator shaft will probably be poured at the same time.

There are still sounds of demolition coming from the church building. The stairway from foyer down to the basement is now gone. I have not seen it yet, but I understand that when they demolished the secretary’s office, they found remnants of the shuffleboard lines that characterized the building’s tenure as a senior center. I need to document that history with a photo.

April 16, 2021

I Can See the Footprint of the Addition

The big yellow machines have completed a trench around the perimeter of the addition and filled it with crushed rock, which is moistened and then compacted. Early next week they will build forms on top of the crushed rock layer and then fill them with concrete to make the footing of the building. In this picture note that they have excavated a hole where the elevator mechanism will extend below the level of the first floor. The elevator hole is partly obscured by the top of the excavator arm. Note also that the little structure that once housed the door from Friendship Hall to the patio has been removed.

I was intrigued by their device that measures the degree of compaction of the moistened crushed rock to be sure it is adequate to support the weight of the new building. The vertical probe is driven into the compacted crushed rock, then removed to be read in the yellow console. I didn’t understand either the physics or the mathematics of his explanation, since he was getting readings of 105% to 110% when the readings had to be at least 100%.

April 14, 2021

Progress both Outside and Inside

I took the picture below from my favorite perch – from the top of the fire escape stairs on the McConnell Mansion. Note several things. Most important, the trench for the north wall of the addition has been dug and filled with compacted crushed rock. The reinforced concrete footing will be poured on top of the gravel base. The jog to the north is where the north door from the first floor will exit. Note also that the church exit door to what was the patio has been mostly removed. It was well made and will take a jackhammer to sever the rest of it from the foundation. Also note the dumpster full of rubble from the demolition at the rear of the sanctuary.

In late afternoon today I managed to get a better view inside the sanctuary. Again, it is amazing how big the space seems when the rear is opened up. It will be interesting to see how that perception of space changes as the balcony is added.

April 13, 2021

Jetcrete to stabilize the Church Foundation

Jetcrete, which is also called shotcrete, gunite or sprayed concrete, is used for a wide range of construction purposes. It was applied today to stabilize the foundation of the church. The mixed concrete is pumped through a 3-inch hose and air flows under 180 psi through a second smaller hose. They meet at the nozzle and are propelled out to coat the surface and fill voids.  As the concrete begins to set, multiple layers are applied.

Scaffolding was used to reach the top of the foundation. Most of the time he carries the hose over his shoulder. Imagine the weight of the 3- inch hose full of liquid concrete.

When they moved to the kitchen, a train of four men, each 10 feet apart with the heavy hoses over their shoulders marched through the door. He filled the old kitchen windows, covering the plywood backing and rebar mesh to a depth of perhaps 8 inches. The entire north and east kitchen walls received a coat.

I was not in the basement very long taking pictures, since there was lots of cement dust in the air, and I try to stay out of the way. However, I was there long enough to marvel at the big room with the office walls removed. It is going to make a great Fellowship Hall. I was amazed how big the room felt, and how nice it was to have the natural light from the three south windows.

Demolition has moved to the sanctuary. Because work was going on I couldn’t look inside, but I did peek in through the east window adjacent to the handicapped ramp. It is hard to see much since I was looking through the screen, but a man on a scaffold is removing the upper part of the wall between sanctuary and foyer. I expect the wall will be mostly gone tomorrow. Outside, I expect footings and foundations will begin to take shape soon.

April 12, 2021

Preparing for the Jetcrete Treatment

Today was mostly devoted to preparing for the jetcrete application to stabilize the foundation walls. This will be applied tomorrow on the west exterior wall, and the north and east interior walls of the Kitchen. The kitchen window wells have been blocked with plywood, which will be coated on the inside with a thick layer of jetcrete – and across the adjacent walls to tie them all together.

They are preparing the exterior foundation.

The west window of the foundation will be blocked by the addition. Note the rebar used in this window and the windows in the kitchen to tie things together.

Demolition has been going on in the office spaces in the basement. Since the basement was off limits when I was there, I took a picture of the basement walls now in a dumpster.

April 9, 2021

Dealing with the Foundation of the Church

Most of the past week has been spent dealing with the realities of our century old church building. In the picture below you will note the absence of the monster vacuum machine. It has completed the removal of the toxic insulation from the attic. It is good to have all the hazardous materials gone – that was a very noisy machine. The other thing you can see in the picture is the exposed foundation where the addition will attach to the church.

The picture below shows what the contractors found as they dug around the foundation. The upper white line is the level of the floor in the Fellowship Hall and will be the top of the concrete slab floor in the addition. The lower white line, just 6 inches down, is the bottom of the boulders that make up the foundation wall. There is no footing, just dirt below the foundation rocks. Digging 36 inches down below frost line with heavy and vibrating machinery adjacent to such a foundation is to risk collapse. Fortunately, there are some fixes to proceed with the project.

Below is a closeup of the foundation wall. It’s a classic rock wall from a hundred years ago, except that if it ever had mortar between the rocks, it has now dissolved away. A way to stabilize such a wall is to coat it with shotcrete, or sprayed concrete. This is concrete sprayed form a hose at high pressure and may include a fiber as reinforcing. Next Tuesday the exposed wall will get a layer of shotcrete which should penetrate the cracks and stabilize the wall so they can proceed with the foundation of the addition. The window will also be closed by shotcrete before it is covered by the addition.

Since the company that does the shotcrete will be here on Tuesday, it’s a good time to have them do the kitchen also. There’s little evidence of mortar around the old window wells in the north wall of the kitchen. The idea is to remove the lid, put in a sheet of plywood as a form, spray the plywood and the rest of the wall with shotcrete, and fill the outer part of the old window well with crushed rock.

The picture above is the window well on the left and the one below is on the right. The right one is clearly in the worst shape. Several big rocks have already fallen away. This one will require some bracing and perhaps a steel post to reinforce the right edge. Both the north and east walls of the kitchen will be sprayed with shotcrete. I guess it is reassuring that the shotcrete guy indicated that he had worked on rock walls that were in worse shape than ours.

April 1, 2021

Filling the Hole

Much of today was occupied filling the basement hole. The hole must be filled to a few inches below the level of the floor in Fellowship Hall to make a base for the concrete first level floor of the addition. This means about 3 feet of crushed rock, compacted to make a stable base. That’s a lot of truckloads of rock.

After the loads are dumped in a pile, they are spread around with the monster excavator machine. I never tire of watching the delicate precision of the operator. It’s almost as if he uses the long appendage of the machine as an extension of his own hands.

As each layer of gravel is added, the compactor tamps it down. This extremely heavy roller-vibrator is operated with a controller on the end of a 10-foot cord.

The excavator was busy during its free time between loads of rock. It removed the soil and shrubbery against the southwest corner of the foundation of the church. This is the first time in a century that this rock wall has seen the light of day. Soon they will remove the entry way between the patio and Fellowship Hall. The addition will be built tight against the west wall of the church.

March 31, 2021

A Hole in the Ground

Most of the debris of the Yellow House was removed yesterday. Most of today’s work consisted of removing the concrete basement walls, cleaning up the hole and planning what comes next. Since the first floor of the addition will be about three feet higher than the floor of the Yellow House, a next step will be to add several feet of compacted coarse crushed rock to the hole and loads of rock have been arriving all afternoon.

March 30, 2021

Goodbye Yellow House

The following reflections from Ginger Allen, our Director of Family Ministries, seem like a good place to begin today’s blog on the UUCP building project. This was a momentous day, the day when our beloved Yellow House was demolished to make was for our new addition to house offices, RE spaces and meeting spaces. First come Ginger’s thoughts, then some pictures:

On Monday I watched the Yellow House slowly be dismantled.  I stood on the fire escape of the McConnel Mansion as the cold wind blew snow out of the sky.  The pieces came down slowly – parts of the roof, the back addition where the old garage had stood, the wall the children had painted in the basement. 

During a construction break I asked if I could take one more look inside.  As I peered in the front bay window, I was astonished at what the demolition had reveled – layers of the house that had not ever been apparent to me now stood in the bright light of day. Wallpaper dating back to the late 1880s came forth, each layer peeling back to reveal the next.  One was white with yellow pansies.  Another was off white, thick, textured flowers with geometric designs. The floorboards were taken up showing timbers that had supported walking feet for 140 years.  Outside, the yellow siding gave way to black tar paper, which gave way to the original siding which had one clear bright coat of paint. It was yellow.  Covered since likely the first decades of the 1900s the Yellow House revealed what we somehow already knew – it had always been the Yellow House.

The demolition was hard work.  It took large machines and sweat and muscle. For me it took the hard work of courage and it took tears.  The building that had housed so much of my childhood was coming down. The walls where I was loved and cared for and safe were to no longer be.  I knew that my memories and those foundational supports would always live in my heart.  I expected all this.  But what I didn’t expect is what gifts the house gave as it was letting go.  It showed me how beautiful and revealing dismantling work can be. Pieces of the house that could never be seen without taking it totally apart were open now to the sunlight of that day.  It was if the house was speaking to me, “Here, under the layers of what you could see, is more than you could have ever imagined. As I move on I offer you this – the work of undoing is beautiful.”

As a church we are removing the house so that we can more fully live our dream of being truly radically welcoming.  The steep stairs and narrow doorways kept people from the spaces inside.  Flooding, old wiring, and strangely shaped classrooms were not effective for our children or adults to learn. Our new space will let us live out our mission as a church in ways not yet possible, to widen our reach to all people.  And to do this we must take down the existing structures that no longer serve us, no matter how beloved they are.  The future spaces we will build are to be the foundation to bring our wildest hopes to life. 

This transition is occurring as I enter my sabbatical.  For four months I will be away from my role and church community.  As I sat watching the walls of the Yellow House come down, I realized that this was the universe offering me a metaphor into my time away.  The calling is for to look inside at my own structures and wonder, what exists inside of me that needs to come down to make room for the person and life I want to build?  How can I move more fully into the dream of expansive, open-hearted living, and what needs to be moved out to do so?  Watching the careful demolition process also let me know that this is a slow, complicated process, that it is not be rushed through.  The gifts of letting go will be revealed if I am open to them, there are layers and layers to these structures that have beauty and worth and they no longer serve me. One of the largest pieces of my time away will be to be present to these and say, as I said to the Yellow House on that cold spring day, thank you and goodbye.  I love you.

There were several other tasks going on simultaneously with the Yellow House crunching. they are using this huge vacuum cleaner to suck asbestos contaminated vermiculite insulation out of the attic.

And they were removing the block wall at the SW corner of the church and stacking the blocks on pallets to be reused in the wall that will go behind the addition. Note the blue vacuum hose that goes up to the eaves to suck out the vermiculite.

March 27, 2021

Moving the Play Structure

The last thing that had to be moved before the start of building demolition was the kids play structure. The thing is very heavy, so it needed a Saturday work party. The plan involved some 2x4s – three across as handles and 2 on the legs as skids. So, with three people on each side it was carried across the patio, over the curb, and onto the trailer. From there it was on to its new home and another heavy carry to its new back yard. Note the shell of the Yellow house in the third picture, ready for demolition starting Monday morning.

March 25, 2021
A Look inside the Church Basement

The dismantling of the yellow house continued today with a Wasankari crew removing windows and subflooring boards. The boards are 1×4 tongue and groove vertical grain fir. Consistent with the era, they were fastened with square nails. Of course, they have lots of other nail holes where the hardwood floor was nailed down on top. They will probably end up as distressed paneling on the wall of somebody’s recreation room.

Roger, our contractor representative, was there when I visited this afternoon, so I got a tour of the church basement. The kitchen area is now completely gutted. The next picture is of the north kitchen wall. The two plywood panels were once window openings, which were covered up when the building underwent a major kitchen remodeling. The plywood gives a hint of the date – plywood came into common construction use immediately following WWII. The sheets hide two window wells each 3 feet wide and extending 4 feet behind the plywood. They appear to be now capped with concrete to keep out moisture. They are totally hidden outside now – covered over by the ground north of the church.

The next picture looks west toward the furnace room. Why was there was once a door there? Perhaps the kitchen once had a wood/coal stove, and the door gave access to the coal bin. There are two locations where stove pipes went through this wall to connect to the chimney beyond. The subflooring is still mostly in place and seems solid, and it is nicely dry underneath. The pass-through cabinet is still in place. It has a potentially attractive vertical-grain fir top that could be refinished, but the cupboards and drawers would need significant work.

I find it fascinating to look at the bones of old buildings. This spool and tube electric wiring was modern technology when the Swedish Lutheran Church was built in 1905. Wiring Moscow homes for electric lights was still a new thing. Electricity distribution had just started in 1897, powered by a generator located at a sawmill at sixth and Jackson streets.

The basement project for tomorrow or Monday is to remove the steep narrow stairway. Up and down traffic will use the stairs or the elevator in the new addition. I doubt anyone regrets eliminating this dangerous bottleneck.

March 24, 2021

Not Much Going on Outside Today

The yellow shingles with lead paint are all gone from the house now, and the man-lift machine has gone away. Wasankari is planning to remove some windows and lumber from the building over the next few days. Final demolition of the building is planned for next week.

The interesting work is going on in the church basement. They are gutting the kitchen area. I’m not supposed to go inside the construction areas, but I can hear the hammering and crunching. The plan calls for reconfiguring and enlarging both the kitchen and a single bathroom. My view of what’s happening is from above the NE basement door, now covered with dust-control sheet plastic and with an exhaust fan blasting.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Did They Finish Removing the Lead Paint?

When I stopped by the church late this morning the hazardous waste people were working on the south side of the Yellow House. They had about finished the peak before taking a lunch break.

The piles of shingles must be picked up by hand and tossed into the dumpster. I figure the guy on the man-lift has a much more interesting job.

When I visited again in late afternoon they were very nearly done. There were a few shingles left on the NW corner along the alley, and a bit more under the canopy by the SW stairway.

Notice the dark storm clouds to the NW in that last picture. As I was driving home there was a downpour of hail or snow or grapple, or whatever that stuff is called. I’m curious whether they finished up. I will have another look tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021
The Yellow House Loses its Yellow


As is true of most houses of this vintage, the shingle siding on the Yellow House had at least one coat of lead paint. The EPA requires that these contaminated shingles be removed by specially qualified workers and disposed of in a hazardous waste disposal site. This must be done before the rest of the building can be demolished.


The contaminated shingles go into plastic-lined dumpsters for transport to the disposal site. They stripped the shingles from about half of the yellow house on Wednesday and hauled away their dumpsters. I’m not sure whether they are working on Thursday.


I picked this four-leaf clover in the tracks where the dumpsters come and go. I take it as a good luck omen for our construction project.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021
A Look in the Church Attic


It is a tight squeeze up a ladder to the door and then up boards nailed to a beam as a rickety ladder. There is no floor, just some boards on the joists as a path. There is just insulation over the tin ceiling of the sanctuary. To see what we came up for, we walked on the edges of the Joists. It’s interesting to contemplate what would happen if I misstepped and put my full weight on the tin ceiling.

This is what we came to look at, a third rose window like the other two presently in place. One currently faces south and the second faces east where trees partly block our view. Where did the third rose window come from? Perhaps it once faced west. Obviously, this one is in bad shape. It is missing at least 6 pieces of glass and 4 pieces of wood frame. We had talked about placing this one in the peak on the south side of the addition. Is this one worth fixing? What would people think if we used a stained-glass chalice window instead for the addition?


This is the mystery item in the attic. As far as I can find out, it is based on the coat of arms of the Lutheran Church of Norway. The actual coat of arms would have a battle axe on each side and a longer base of the cross. Lutheran makes sense. However this church was Swedish Lutheran from when the present building started construction in 1905 until 1961 when the Swedish Lutherans and the Norwegian Lutherans merged to form Emanuel Lutheran and begin the process of building their new church on the west side of Moscow. So, why do we have a Norwegian Lutheran cross in the attic?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Paver work party

At least a dozen people turned out to help move the patio pavers. We moved about 25 tons of paver blocks to a storage place on the east side of the church. The paving blocks will be reused to pave the new patio to the south of the church. We rented a Bobcat machine to do the heavy lifting. Thanks to all the workers, this was a highly successful work party.

Building Update, March 3, 2021

The Capital Campaign Building Committee has been working hard behind the scenes moving the project ahead, dealing with many delays beyond our control. The church and Yellow House have been vacated. Summer Stevens, our secretary (new email, is working from home and the Methodist Church. We’re doing our best to keep in touch with neighbors to the north, to let them know of construction plans, parking-related issues in the alley, and whatever else comes up in the future. Patio pavers, playground equipment, and native shrubs are being moved. Jenny Kostroff from the 1912 Center invited us to put a camera there to document construction progress. John Pool and Pat Fuerst having been setting that up.

Yellow House: We celebrated the Yellow House history in a worship service (A Home for the Heart) and memories and photos will soon be posted on our website. Mementos have been, or will be, stored, such as the interior glass door and door molding corner blocks that depicted different religious traditions. These items will be used in the new building to bring a sense of the Yellow House with us. Everything possible is being salvaged or repurposed by UUCP, Habitat for Humanity (range, shelving, ramp) and Wasankari Construction (oak hardwood flooring, wooden doors). Some exterior doors and windows will be salvaged just before demolition, which is expected later in March. The exterior siding contains lead, and must be removed and disposed of before demolition can begin.

“Delay” is a catchword for this project. Although we have a contractor engaged in the project, the contract has not yet been signed. That may depend on the city issuing the final Building Permit, which in turn, may depend on a final version of the parking agreement with county (McConnell Mansion), city, and UUCP, which may take weeks. The contract, when we sign it, allows a one year period of construction. Meanwhile, construction materials are getting more expensive. Lumber prices are 2 to 3 times higher than a year ago, and this will affect cost of construction.

Construction “alternates”: Previously, the solar panels and balcony were referred to as optional “alternates”. They are now part of the plan. Generous donors have pledged to cover solar panels, and another generous person has offered to install them. The building and finance committees agreed we should stretch and build the balcony. Cost is less than 10% of the total cost of construction. We thought we could afford that, and at this particular time the city has issued us a Variance allowing its construction without adding more parking. However, the latter decision will be re-evaluated if there are cost-overruns early in the project.

Construction Begins!

How We Finally arrived at this Day – a Short History

– Rev. Elizabeth Stevens


We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us. – Winston Churchill

These are exciting times. In the coming months, the yellow house will be torn down, and a new, three-story addition to our church building will be constructed, to hold offices and accessible classrooms. We’ll have an elevator! And showers! And a nice, wide staircase, with space for people to pass each other as they go up and down!

As we embark, I want to pause and remind you all what it took for us to get to this point. In the Summer of 2015, the board, under the leadership of then-President Archie George, put out a survey to get a sense of people’s attitudes toward our facilities. The survey found that “The board concludes that there is a general desire of the congregation for significant change to the facilities.”

A facilities task force was formed, consisting of Al Poplawsky, David Nelson, Joel Hamilton, John Poole, Duane DeTemple, Donna Bradberry, Suzanne Seigneur and Craig McCleary. They came up with the four basic options, and some price estimates. Then it was the turn of the Facilities Discernment team: Mary DuPree, Chuck Harris, and Diane Prorak. They designed a process to allow the community as a whole to decide which option to pursue.

Once the decision was made, two committees were formed, one to work on the building plans, and one to raise the funds. These two teams have worked incredibly hard for the last three years. The building committee (ably led by Al Poplawsky) has worked with the architect to incorporate congregational ideas, dreams, and feedback into the plans, as well as getting all relevant permits and hiring a contractor. Members of this committee include Joel and Mary Jo Hamilton, Steve Flint, Donna Bradberry, Duane DeTemple, Nils Peterson, John Poole, Archie George, Mary DuPree, Pat Fuerst, Rich Alldredge and Bill Webb.

The Capital Campaign committee, meanwhile, worked with Stewardship Consultant Rachel Maxwell to design and implement our successful fundraising campaign. We owe thanks to Martha Schmidt, Judy LaLonde, Marisa Gibler, and Rich, Mary and Archie, all three of whom, at various points, pulled double duty, serving on both the building and the capital campaign committees. Four board presidents have shepherded the project since Archie got that ball rolling: Pat Fuerst, Marisa Gibler, Joe Pallen, and Rich Alldredge.

Meanwhile, I am 100% certain that I have missed names of people who have served on one or more of these committees or task forces (let me know!). Nor would it be possible to list all of the names of everyone who participated in the surveys or discernment process, contributed to the capital campaign, gave input or answered questions as we slowly found our way to the starting line (!) of actual construction, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to proceed. (Special thanks to Archie, Steve, Margaret Dibble, Rod Sprague, Pat Fuerst, Judy LaLonde, and the other volunteers who packed and moved and stored the contents of our two buildings, too.)

Five years. Thousands of volunteer hours. Countless meetings, conversations, and acts of generosity. It is deeply humbling…in fact, awe inspiring. The new building will be a testament to dedication, faithfulness, and love. You all are simply the best.

From February 2021 Newsletter

Building Update: November 19, 2020

As we previously reported, the Moscow City Board of Adjustment granted our church, on September 29, a Conditional Use Permit for our remodel and construction project, as well as the Variance for parking requirement if we construct a balcony. We received bids for the work and intended to accept a bid in early November. But we’ve had to put this process on hold, because our neighbors filed an appeal to the Board of Adjustment’s decision. That appeal will be heard by the Moscow City Council at its meeting on December 7. Based on the prior approval of our permits, we hope to move forward promptly after that meeting.

Members of the Capital Campaign Building Committee are reaching out to these neighbors to understand their concerns. We have adjusted the location of the retaining wall north of the annex to protect the neighbors’ tree roots. As soon as the appeal has been heard by the City Council, we can move forward with bid acceptance and subsequent construction. We will continue to keep the congregation informed about progress towards our construction project, including the results of the December 7 City Council meeting.

Past Videos on this topic are available on the YouTube UUCP Building Updates playlist. Questions and comments can be directed to Al Poplawsky,, chair, or other members of the Building Committee: Mary DuPree, Mary Jo and Joel Hamilton, Steve Flint, Archie George, John Pool, Bill Webb, and Pat Fuerst.

Update from the Capital Campaign Committees September 2, 2020

After many meetings and revisions, the architectural plan for the addition and remodel have been sent to the City of Moscow for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), and this permit will allow us to proceed with construction. At this time, the plan has also been sent to several contractors for bids. Bids from contractors will be opened on approximately September 17. We hope to award the contract by the end of September but that would require covering any additional funds needed if the quote exceeds funds pledged. We have a 45-day “price hold” during which we can do additional fund raising if that is needed to cover the alternate (optional) quotes, such as the proposed balcony.

If all goes according to this plan, construction could begin before the end of the year. The remodeling of the current church would be first. That can proceed during the winter and spring without interfering with church activities, obviously because nothing is happening there (except Summer is running the office!) because of the pandemic. Excavation and removal of the Yellow House would begin next year.

Other recent activities:

1. The legal agreement with the County has been finalized. The County owns the McConnell Mansion and the agreement covers shared use of N-S and E-W alleyways, as well as parking between the McConnell Mansion and new parking places on the west side of the new addition.

2. The “Geotechnical Evaluation” of the church property was conducted and no sub-surface problems were discovered. The two sites were backfilled but not restored.

The base bid includes construction of the three floor addition, foundational elements for a balcony, and wiring for the solar panels. The base bid also includes going 100% electric, no fossil fuels! Alternate/optional quotes will be provided by contractors for (1) installing the sanctuary balcony, (2) final finishing of the third floor of the addition, and (3) finishing the church exterior siding replacement (part of south, east and north sides), and replacing the south facing window in the church foyer. Regarding solar panels, we plan to install these as a separate contract at a later date because of offers from congregational members.

If we were to install the balcony, which contains seating for an additional 43 people, the city requires that we provide an additional 11 parking spaces. Since that is not practical, we are applying for a “Variance” that would allow us to install the balcony without the additional parking. The balcony construction will only proceed if the contractor quote for this optional project is something we can afford and if our Variance application is approved by the city.

Capital Campaign Finance Update: The original cost estimate for the building addition was $1.68 million, and pledges are presently within 2% of the total needed. In addition, approximately two dozen individuals have indicated that they still intend to pledge, or that in the future they may be able to increase their pledge. So we are optimistic about

meeting this basic cost estimate. We encourage anyone who has not yet submitted their pledge to do so. Donations thus far have been strong. A total of $753,600 has been donated and expenditures are $21,650.

Possible Sequence of Events:

1) Presently awaiting City approval of Conditional Use Permit. Subsequent approval of the Variance would allow us to proceed with balcony if that is financially practical.

2) Bid opening, approximately September 17. If bids exceed pledges, we need to secure additional pledges and/or loan before awarding the contract, which we hope to do before the end of September.

3) Award the contract (late September).

4) 45 day price hold to decide on whether we can proceed with alternate (optional) quotes such as the balcony.

5) Indoor work, remodeling of current church might then begin at the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021. Prior to this, we have to remove and store everything inside the current building. We also have to make arrangements for operation of the offices during construction.

6) Removal of Yellow House and excavation for the addition might begin later in 2021.

7) Other items to do at appropriate times include (1) Remove and store pavers that are used in the current patio, to be re-used, and (2) Rescue native plants if those beds must be demolished.

An earlier draft of the architectural plans is mounted on posters in the church foyer. You are free to visit and look at them during Summer’s office hours, Monday & Friday, 10-3, Tuesday & Thursday 2-4. Please wear masks if you come to visit.

A complete report is available on the UUCP website,

Questions and comments can be directed to Al Poplawsky,, chair, or other members of the Building Committee: Mary DuPree, Mary Jo and Joel Hamilton, Steve Flint, Archie George, John Pool, Bill Webb, and Pat Fuerst.

May 20, 2020 update from the Capital Campaign Finance and Building Committees:

The construction plans for the addition and remodel are moving ahead. Many architectural changes previously suggested by congregation members have been made. The Building Committee met with the architect Laurence Rose May 13 and we are going through another round of revisions. We expect to receive a revised draft of the plans on June 8. After committee review of these plans, the architectural design team will begin the final phase of construction plans.

The most recent architectural plans are mounted on posters in the church foyer. You are free to visit and look at them during Summer’s office hours, Monday & Friday, 10-3, Tuesday & Thursday 2-4. Please wear masks if you come to visit. There will be a limited number of printed copies available to take home.

A “Geotechnical Evaluation” of the church property will be conducted very soon. A backhoe will dig pits at two sites — one in the front lawn and one to the west of the Yellow House — to test the subsurface soil conditions as necessary to determine structural design parameters. The sites will be backfilled but will remain disturbed until excavation and construction begins late this year or next year.

Capital Campaign Finance Update: The original cost estimate for the building addition was $1.68 million, and pledges are presently within 2% of the total needed. In addition, approximately two dozen individuals have indicated that they still intend to pledge, or that in the future they may be able to increase their pledge. So we are optimistic about meeting this basic cost estimate. We encourage anyone who has not yet submitted their pledge to do so. Donations thus far have been strong. A total of $753,600 has been donated and expenditures are $21,650.

Before excavation and construction can begin the following items must be finished*

  1. Finalize architectural plans (late July or early August)
  2. Finalize legal agreement with county on shared use of alleyways and parking.
  3. Obtain permits from the city
  4. Finalize plans for the Yellow House: either removal following sale, or salvage and demolition. Demolition is far more likely. We need to plan for removal and storage of contents of the Yellow House. The Yellow House will not be disposed of until we have a contract for excavation and construction.
  5. Remove and store pavers that are used in the current patio, to be re-used.
  6. Rescue native plants if those beds must be demolished (likely).

*Numbers 1-3 must be completed before we request bids from contractors, so the earliest the request for bids might go out is in July. If bids fall within our pledged funding levels, then excavation and items 4-6 can proceed.

The timeline: is difficult to predict, but it seems likely that the earliest we would begin excavation is this fall.

Agreement with County mentioned above: The county owns the McConnell Mansion and we are close to finalizing a legal agreement for shared use of N-S and E-W alleyways, as well as parking between the McConnell Mansion and new parking places on the west side of the new addition.

Questions and comments can be directed to Al Poplawsky,, chair, or other members of the Building Committee: Mary DuPree, Mary Jo and Joel Hamilton, Steve Flint, Archie George, John Pool Bill Webb, and Pat Fuerst.

March 5, 2020 Update from the Capital Campaign Finance and Building Committees:

The original cost estimate for the building addition was $1.68 million, and pledges are presently within 2% of the total needed. In addition, approximately two dozen individuals have indicated that they still intend to pledge, or that in the future they may be able to increase their pledge. So we are optimistic about meeting this basic cost estimate. We encourage anyone who has not yet submitted their pledge to do so.

The Capital Campaign Building Committee is moving ahead with the architects to incorporate changes in the building plan based on the congregation’s input. If all goes as planned, we will send out for bids in early June, and if bids come in within budget, then construction could begin as early as July/August with completion by mid – 2021. That would be the earliest completion date we might hope for.

This summer, there will be considerable work needed to vacate the Yellow House — removal & storage of its contents – and then demolition. We will try to keep the congregation updated as the project moves along.

Rachel’s feasibility study presentation video:





UUCP Building Project Steering Committee (BPSC)

Update for Congregation July 14, 2019

Recent and Current activities:

  • We have approved site and building plans with architect Laurence Rose and graphic designer John Paul, and are awaiting final drawings and an updated cost estimate. These plans are not final and are subject to review and changes following input from the congregation in August and early September.
  • We are working on a shared parking agreement with Latah County, which manages the McConnell Mansion and grounds. The city requires us to provide additional, on-site parking spots since we are adding seating in the sanctuary, and this parking agreement would make that possible.

In the near future:

  • August: Present the current plan to the congregation, followed by weekly meetings, discussion of plans, and possible changes needed.
  • September 14-15: Rachel Maxwell, who visited us in October, 2018, will visit again to gauge more exactly our potential for fundraising.
  • Late 2019 or early 2020, apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the city which is required for any construction. We may also need to apply for a variance for parking regulations if we choose one of the plans to be discussed.
  • Initiation of construction would follow if we have a successful capital fundraising campaign and a contractor bid is within our means.

A previous report from the BPSC is posted below.

April 14, 2019

Updates on our future remodeling of the church and education wing

A Brief History:

  • Based on a perceived growing need for RE and worship space, in 2015-2016, a building task force led by Al Poplawsky developed four alternatives for the future of our buildings. Architect Laurence Rose provided draft architectural plans.
  • During March-May, 2018, input was solicited from the congregation regarding possible future building options. A survey was conducted and 88% of survey respondents chose “Alternative 3” as their first or second choice of the four options. The Alternative 3 plan was to keep our church building, make a major addition to it, expand the sanctuary, and remove the Yellow House.
  • In October, 2018, UU Stewardship consultant, Rachel Maxwell visited UUCP and met with staff, the UUCP Board, and Building task force; she provided guidelines for proceeding with changes to our buildings.
  • At the December 2018 Annual Congregational Meeting, we approved staying at our current location.
  • In January, 2019, the Board of Trustees solicited participation from the congregation for two committees: what is now called the Building Project Steering Committee, and the Capital Campaign Committee.

The UUCP Building Project Steering Committee (BPSC) is chaired by Al Poplawsky and has met four times between February 27 and March 27, 2019, including one meeting with architect Laurence Rose.

Items and issues discussed: Our discussion with the architect and as a committee began by reviewing draft floor plans developed by Laurence Rose and Joel Hamilton in 2016. Items discussed included how the sanctuary would be expanded while retaining current aesthetics, where parking would be located, elevator and ADA accessibility, safety and security, new heating system, play area, a commercial grade kitchen, and Fellowship Hall expansion. The plan is to utilize green technology to the maximum extent we can afford, starting with choices that have a near-term return on the investment like insulation, LED lighting, and passive and active solar. If sufficient funds are raised, additional green technology will be added. The new space will include accommodation for Family Promise and other community outreach efforts.

Architectural plan: A survey of land boundaries was conducted recently and Laurence Rose is now developing an architectural plan that he will provide by June. The congregation will review this and vote on the project this summer, if all goes as planned. The Capital Campaign will begin in earnest at this time as well, when there is a cost estimate.

BPSC members: Joel Hamilton, Bella Pekie, John Pool, Pat  Eaton, Donna Bradberry, Stephan Flint, Krista Kramer, Mary DuPree, Bill Webb, Pam Arborgreen, and Pat Fuerst.


Building plan and construction: Joel Hamilton and Pat Eaton

Furnishings and aesthetics: Donna Bradberry

Communications: Bella Pekie, John Pool, Pat Fuerst

Finance: Bill Webb

Capital Campaign liaison: Mary DuPree

Board of Trustees liaison: Mary DuPree

Meetings: The BPSC meets the 2nd & 4th Wednesday at 5 pm in sanctuary.  A link to meeting minutes and other pertinent information will be provided on the UUCP website.

Presentation: Kurt Rathmann (Pat and Dan’s son) will give a presentation about Green construction on April 17 at 7 p.m. in Fellowship Hall following a 6 p.m. Feed of Dreams hosted by the Green Sanctuary Committee. It would behoove us all to hear what Kurt has to say.