Friday, July 31, 2009

Rain is the name of the game

I just had to post this cute pic of Nola taken while we were blueberry picking last week.

I gathered up some fans and our dehumidifier and took them to the house so we could try to dry up the drywall compound. It's been so wet and humid the drywall job is taking longer than normal. We're also drowning in mud. We've been waiting for the excavation contractor to come back and finish the grading. Right now we have about 10 huge piles of dirt (imported fill; yes, we needed more!!) waiting to be spread out. I'd love to post some pictures, but it hasn't stopped raining long enough for me to poke my head out the window and take some pictures (sorry, Mom, we'll try tomorrow.)
The past several weeks we have been consumed with 1) trying to catch any errors before they were covered with drywall, and 2) trying to get everything lined up so we can swarm into the house after the drywall is done. We decided to splurge and hire a painter. We got an incredible price to have the whole house painted and the exposed beams oiled. Our frustrations have mostly involved the installation of the ventilation system in regards to quality and timeliness. We've ended up doing portions of the work ourselves to keep things on schedule. I've been working on ordering/buying everything we need to do the first bathroom (downstairs) and the kitchen. I made a pilgrimage to IKEA and ordered our kitchen cabinets. After looking for used cabinetry in reclaimed stores and online for the past 9 months, we finally gave up trying to find something that was going to fit in our space/fit our needs. We also looked at some "sustainable" wood products, but cost and additional labor for finishing the wood made that option cost prohibitive. So we had to make a sacrifice on the "green cabinetry" and go for the IKEA option. They now have a solid wood, oak door that we like that should wear well. I was impressed with the kitchen department at IKEA. They were very helpful (don't ever go on a weekend, though) and put my order together promptly and correctly (so far). I ended up getting my oven and microwave from IKEA - they are Whirlpool products that cost a bit less than the equivalent models at Sears and have a more stylish look. I also was concerned about getting appliances to fit in the IKEA oven wall cabinets. One more recommendation on IKEA. Go to the store prepared with a full list of cabinets and accessories, or upload your custom design to their website using the IKEA Kitchen Planner software. I made the mistake and took a CD, but they won't accept outside data media. My other success this week was finding a reasonably priced slate from Vermont, without driving to Vermont to buy it. Suprisingly, I found some nice green grey Vermont slate through Home Depot at a very competitive price. Most slate, usually multicolored, you see is from Brazil. That's a long trip for some chipped rocks.
Tomorrow, Jer will be picking up our strand bamboo flooring. Today I installed the shower pan liner and sandmix mortor base for the tile in the downstairs shower stall. It was cheaper than a base, but more work and will look much better than a solid base. That's the theme for this house. Why skimp out on the details now...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sweating the Details

In the feverish pace of putting the many pieces in place that constitute this project, we realize we simply aren't going to catch everything. Coordinating all the various tasks while solving the problems as they pop up leaves little room for ruminating on the process and there will be things we wished we did or caught or changed or.....

Even though we are getting towards the tail end of the project, it seems the amount of decisions to be made have increased. It's all the finishing details; stair components, concrete stain, lights, cabinets, tile, backsplash, yada, yada, you get the idea. My mind is in texture overload. And there is Karann on the computer researching pendant lights. She's unstoppable. 

I'm working on the stairs tomorrow. Scored some old barn wood, 2" x 12" of various lengths that I'm going to have milled at a local lumberyard. More recycling and monetary savings. I love that combo. 

We're going to be constructing the components for the stairs at the shop next week and getting everything set so when the painters are done and we stain the concrete everything is set to go. Karann's focus has been the bathrooms and kitchen (surprise!) and she's been getting all the ducks in a row to outfit these rooms in short order.

I've arranged for the painter to get going on Monday but we may have an issue with the taping/mudding contractor running late due to the humidity slowing the drying time. It's been an extremely wet July which hasn't helped. Fortunately, the only thing that has been against us is the weather, oh, and the contractors who don't show up when they're supposed to. But we're managing.  We've got a lot of other things to be thinking about.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blue Jean Insulation

This is my car, completely stuffed with UltraTouch insulation.  This insulation is made from 100% cotton, 85% which is post-industrial recycled cotton (blue jeans, maybe??) and contains no VOCs or formaldehyde.  I purchased the product at DeVries Building Supply in Sheffied, Ma.  Very nice people and they deliver to Connecticut.  We're going to use it in the walls and ceilings for sound suppression in the music room.   The great thing about the stuff is that while Jer and I are installing it, the kids can be sitting on a pile watching a movie in perfect, safe comfort.
Today, all the subs finished with the rough-ins and I worked on the shower base in the downstairs bath.  I learned the difference between mortar and cement.  We'll be working hard the next couple days getting ready for the drywall contractor.  Also tomorrow we are having an intermediate blower door test to see if we have any air gaps that need filling.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


We haven't posted in a while because we are always at the house.  For the last 10 days we have had the plumber, HVAC, electrician, carpenter, excavator, and well driller all there at the same time working.  While progress is being made very quickly, it is difficult to keep up with all the decisions that need to be made, and keep up with everything that we need to be doing to keep on schedule.  Oh, yeah, and our jobs, home, and kids have to fit in there somewhere.  It's exhausting and mistakes happen.  After a week on the roof, Jeremy has decided he made the right career choice (anything but a roofer).  Our friend Paul did a great job managing the roofing installation.  It looks awesome.  When the sun shines on it, I'll bet it blinds pilots.  The windows are also installed and the siding is going up.  Had some issues with windows (how to insulate properly without extension jambs (we selected to have drywall returns).  And today we had some problems with the siding.  Luckily, I think we've solved the problem.  The exterior is still going to require a bit of paint touch up, corner boards, and possibly some trim.  We want to wait until the siding is up before we decide the final touches.
On the inside, the rough in is done for the electrical and radiant, and the plumber will finish tomorrow.  The HRV will be installed later this week.  We decided on the Venmar Eco 1.5 HRV.  It uses only 40 Watts of power verses around 150 Watts for other similar cfm rates.  
On Sunday, Oslo and Jeremy installed cable, CAT5, stereo, and phone wiring.  The electrician and I talked him into doing this even though he believes everything will be wireless eventually (he's probably right).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cupola Raising

Yesterday was an exciting day.  We watched the final piece of the SIP puzzle being lifted into place.  The cupola was assembled on the ground, with windows installed, and then Ben from North Timber Associates, lifted it with his crane and attached it to the roof.  It looks great, like whipped cream and a cherry on top of a sundae.  It's been a bit chaotic on the site this week...the SIPs team is finishing up; the framers are working on the interior walls; the drillers are drilling the well; and the excavator has been working on the septic system.  Oh, and I also walked through the house with the electrician to work out an electrical plan.  I guess it's time to call the bank for another appraisal and advance so we can pay all these people.  Keeping the money flowing is key to keeping the job moving forward, especially in these economic times, where cash flow for contractors is a challenge.
We decided to have a work-in-progress house tour on July 11 from 3 to 5 pm.  We've had requests to show the house before it's complete and I thought it would nice to draw attention to the "skeleton" of the house - the really important features that make the house energy efficient.