Building the house is a series of seemingly mundane processes and “work” punctuated by the rare fun task to give the project its seasoning.
I went out to the house today to work on some odds and ends with my brother, who’s also our master carpenter for the project. The pocket doors are all installed except the Master Bath pocket. That door ended up being a 2′-10″ door which is a rarity in the pocket door world so we’re backordered on that one. No big deal. We also installed blocking for towel bars and toilet paper rolls. Not the sexiest part of the job but necessary none the less. I also moved the Dining Table pendant plates to be more in line with the lighting plan I conjured. They were mounted outboard enough off plan for me to notice.
Overall we’re humming along. Inspections passed for all the rough ins. Siding will start going up on Monday. The final color scheme is a pretty poorly kept secret, but you won’t know until I post it here. Actually final paint won’t go on untill Spring because we’re in the heart of frost season now and the afternoon temperatures no longer reach any manageable height. And finally the largest window in the house will go up in the loft sometime this week. How it will go in is something we’re still working on. Hopefully with the help of the siding contractor we’ll get it installed. The 45 degree metal roof makes it quite the task. One other thing we did today is we installed a couple more LVL joists under the loft / attic ladder opening. I like that the opening is still letting in a fair amount of natural light into the otherwise dark Cape Cod hallway upstairs. In my dream of dreams and maybe someday I’ll install a glass floor in the attic and let even more light in.
I do need to check ProjectCam though. I think he’s being neglected; his memory card may be full.
Once we wrapped up our chores inside my brother and I jumped outside and started looking for logs. The fireplace is going to need a mantle to hang stockings from so I thought it’d be nice to craft one out of the timber we cut down when clearing the lot. We only cut five trees down so we had a limited selection. My first choice was the cherry tree I cut down myself, with Corky’s guidance. It was actually standing pretty close to where the fireplace is today. Unfortunately it proved to be too narrow. Our mantle is 48″ wide, about 5″ tall, and between 3″ – 6″ deep. The mantle will curve in a gentle arc to make it more approachable / pass-able. The fireplace is in the center of the room and is in a traffic area so to have a solid rectangular slab, while more congruent with the style of the house, would project too far in my opinion.
We walked over to a larger pile of timber that was felled and stored near the east preservation area. Amongst this pile are a handful off cherry trees and one maple tree. We selected the lower trunk of a cherry tree as it gave us the most material to work with and would be softer to cut with the chain saw than the maple. If I had to guess I’d say this is the cherry tree Corky dropped with the help of Jonathan the excavator. It was a pretty gnarly tree that required some roping to assure it fell in the best direction.
Been out-of-town so I missed out on a few days at the building site. Insulation has begun and our EnergyStar consultant has been visiting the house. The rigid insulation is being wrapped up outside and the front porch is on as well. While I was out they didn’t run the insulation all the way down my studio wall when they put the front porch on. I’m contemplating removing the porch, install the rigid and then lag the north side of the porch through the foam into the studio studs. On the other areas of the house the ledger board is against the house, my prefered method for structural reasons. Thermally though this is a train wreck mitigated only by the fact that where the ledger board ends up vertically it’s at or below the floor joists. We’ll over compensate inside with lots of spray foam in the joist bays atop the Superior Walls. I can’t do that in my studio. The issue is compounded because there are water lines that run in that studio wall where the porch meets. Best thing may be to start over on the front porch.
The fireplace is in, just waiting on the inspection. I’m getting some feedback on the housewrap on the outside of the chase, but need to check with the inspector, I’m not sure what the issue is. I also need to bring out the air intake 4″ so it will project past the rigid insulation. Finally the fireplace installer inserted some pink batt insulation in the chase areas. We’ll pull that out and make sure it’s insulated properly.
Cost is becoming an issue so we’re cutting back where we still can. We’ll delay the air cleaner and humidity control on the furnace. They can be added if necessary down the road. One nice thing about doing them now was getting the 30% tax credit on the entire geothermal system including these add ons. But omitting them now saves some money. We’re also omitting all the stone on the house and will install that after we move in. Stone is planned to go on the foundation, fireplace, chase, garage and front porch area. We picked out a really nice cultured stone product that gives a nice stacked stone effect. No big deal waiting. Need everything to grow back in before the house is book / magazine photo shoot ready anyway. Inside we’re reevaluating the kitchen cabinets and may switch to laminate door fronts. Laminate will be less authentic, but more durable and may be able to get a better match / consistency of color and visual texture vs. playing with real wood. Countertops may switch from concrete to laminate as well. Though there are several other materials we’ll look at.
The greenest thing is to buy durable materials that you don’t have to replace down the road. But with every plan, flexibility is the key to success. There comes a time when various points on the quality, quantity, cost triangle have to move in or out. We’ll omit the front hall built in for now too, that can wait until we’re moved in. Items like the screen porch, certain light fixtures and transoms above the bedrooms will wait as well. Other items can be upgraded down the road such as the lighting in the boys bathroom. Several fundamental items were never up for consideration such as the HVAC hybrid geothermal system, appliances, roof, siding and insulation. We’re balancing as best we can.
Some items will have to wait til Spring regardless including exterior painting. It’s just too late in the year to reliable paint the house on the outside. Siding doesn’t start going on for another week.
Insulating the house takes about 5 working days. The first few days are spent spraying expanding and non-expanding foam in the joist bays and windows respectively. ALL wire and pipe penetrations between floors get sprayed with expanding foam. And all the seams between framing members get caulked to stop air penetration in its tracks. Seeing this in person is awesom, not the act but rather the result. I’ve actually dreamt of this day and I’m downright gitty I get to see all the caulk lines in person. This is so above and beyond what cookie cutter builders have been doing for decades (centuries). It’s also simple and cost effective.
Here are some pics, enjoy.