Thursday, June 25, 2009

Up, Up, and Away (Again)

Despite the rain, Ben Ellis from North Timber Associates, has moved right along on our second floor.  The rest of the walls went up quickly; then they started on the roof, ridge beam and one purlin beam first.  They assembled three roof panels then lifted the whole piece into place.  The goal was to get the purlin beams covered as much as possible before the next rain storm moved in.  Tomorrow they will finish the roof and hopefully install the cupola before the weekend.  Our windows arrived yesterday from Anderson (via Forestville Lumber, Plainville, CT).  I've been in charge of the windows from the beginning (design, placement, ordering, etc.) so I am quite nervous and very anxious to see them on-site and installed.  So far I feel pretty good about how the placement of the windows, or should I say openings, have turned out in the house.
Nola and Oslo are getting used to spending lots of time at the jobsite watching (or in Nola's case exploring the various construction debris scattered around on the ground.  She really likes those plastic strips used to wrap building materials (she's 2 for those who don't know her personally).  Oslo, age 8, had the privilege of operating the crane today - he moved the hook up, down, and swung the arm once.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our Bubbling Brook is a Raging River

After 10 days of sporadic rain and thunderstorms our cute little brook is a raging river.  We could hear the water from our house, not a usual occurrence.  The rain hasn't slowed down construction of our house, but I do worry about all that moisture that went straight down into our foundation earthbox.  Hopefully the water will drain down though the sand and find it's way through the joints in the insulation.  We did install a vapor barrier on top of the earthbox, so the moisture should not come up into the slab.  Last week the mechanical subs were busy laying drain lines, water lines, electrical conduit, and radiant tubing which will all be within a 5" concrete slab.  The picture above shows Oslo next to the radiant tubing manifolds (protected inside the OSB boxes) and the water lines coming up into the mechanical room.  The smaller manifold box contains the tubing for the earthbox (it's actually not smaller, it's lower because it's within the sandbed).  The PEX tubing that crosses the other lines will actually house a slab temperature sensor.  The slab was skillfully poured yesterday by our concrete subcontractor.  Those guys (Design Concrete from Danbury, CT) knew how to work with concrete!  Our slab is so smooth and even - the floor is going to look great after we stain it.  The kids loved watching the concrete trucks and all the different spreading/float tools the guys used.  Then, of course, the obligatory hand print in the concrete floor was the highlight!
Today the carpenters started the interior framing; installing the beams, posts, and floor trusses for the second level.  The glu-lam beams and posts in the kitchen and living area will be exposed - we'll sand and treat them with oil to bring out the color.  Things are moving really fast now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Up, Up, and Away

Less than a week later and look where we are!! The SIP installer arrived on site on Tuesday and was done putting up the first floor walls by Wednesday evening. It was amazing to watch the crane lift the panels while four workers wrestled the panels into perfect position. They started on the north side of the house and moved clockwise around. The larger portion in the center of the south side contains structural supports due to the windows and thus extends to the roof in one piece. It was great to stand in the middle of the house and look out the window openings at the trees and surrounding landscape.
I love the positions of the windows, both their proximity to the ground and their height. It makes you feel like you are standing outside. We really agonized over the window positions and sizes during the design of the house, and so far they look great. In the picture to the right, the view is looking south out the living room windows toward the kids playscape. That is where I spend much of my time swinging Nola and watching the progress. We will be starting all the mechanicals in the slab (plumbing, electrical, and radiant tubing) next week. After consultation with our Energy Star (HERS-Home Energy Rating System) rater, we decided to put a vapor barrier between the earthbox sand layer and the poured slab. We hired the HERS rater to do the Energy Star certification for the house. This has to be done in order to qualify for all the state and federal incentives (cash rebates and tax benefits). We also found out last week that our house was chosen as a finalist in the Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge. A website will be launched soon, by Connecticut Light and Power Co. and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, that features all the finalists and their projects. We'll include more information and links when we know more.