The Nest Has Arrived

the nest has arrived

Looking down at my phone that’s what the text said.

Sitting at my desk at work I look perplexed at my phone.  “What the hell does that mean?” I mouthed to my self in the fabric cube that is my daily 8-5 existence.

Then it hit me.  Oooooo.

The Nest has arrived.

It actually exists.  About a month or two earlier I had handed over my credit card digits to Best Buy, basically on a whim, on the off-chance such an animal actually existed.  It had been the subject of much speculation, and very little research, over the subsequent weeks.  I was turned onto “Nest” by a co-worker.  It was interesting enough that at least myself and different co-worker were snookered into pre-ordering one.  Demand (beyond just the two of us) was so high that the objects of our desire weren’t slated to be available again until after the new year began.  So it came as a surprise to receive that text during the week between Christmas and New Years.

What’s a “Nest” you say? It’s either the coolest piece of technology that we’re installing in the new house or it’s the world’s most overpriced thermostat.  Depends on your perspective I guess.  I’m voting the former and hoping it’s not the latter.  The Nest is a “learning thermostat” that programs itself.  It cost in the ballpark of $250.  I don’t have the history of the product readily at hand but check out the Nest website ( for more detailed information and history.  As I understand it, Nest was designed by a bunch of really smart people (obviously) with an Apple-like appreciation for good design and products that make the world around you and I a better place.  The Nest’s drool worthy design and interface rival that of anything coming out of Cupertino these days.  The packaging and opening experience is as orgasmic as opening an iPhone, but with more hardware involved.  I haven’t even plugged the thing in yet and I’m in love.  Christine asked if I was going to sleep with my Nest last night.  I say why wait until night-time?

The first thing you see on the Nest package is a printed sleeve containing all the pertinent information for the consumer to make a wise selection including cool logo, jaw dropping image, and all the technical mumbo jumbo. Removing the sleeve reveals the slip cover kraft lid which is easily lifted up.  Behold, the Nest appears in all it’s glory.  It’s shape is evocative of classic round dial thermostats; a nice nod to the past. 

Nest in its nest.

Lifting out the Nest from its light ivory molded fiber nest reveals a couple brochures; one welcoming our objet de désir to its new home, the other an installation guide.  Setting the guides aside brings the next layer front and center.  On this layer one can see something that looks baby’s nasal extractor, a round wire connection module and some screws.  Upon closer inspection the nasal extractor thing is in reality the world’s coolest screwdriver.  I shit you not, they actually included a screwdriver to install Nest into our home.  Pop off the cap to reveal three Philips head bits and one flat head bit.  Over the top cool that they include a screwdriver.  If everything was designed and services with this amount of consideration I swear to god this world would be a thousand times all the better for it.  After battling the status quo of home construction for 6 months, our little Nest appears to be a tiny shining light in an otherwise dismal (at times) experience.
Yes, I am the most materialistic person you will meet in your short lifetime. 

Screwdriver is the little aspirator looking thing on the left.

Underneath the ivory colored accessory tray is the final layer of wonderment in the small Nest package.  Included are several plastic mounting plates, a metal mount, and screws, in case you are retrofitting Nest over an electrical box or the space occupied previously by a large rectangular old school thermostat. 

Nest mounting plates included.

The packaging touts how easy Nest is to install by the average person in less than 20 minutes.  I’ll hold onto the packaging untill the HVAC contractor is ready for it; I’ll let him lend his expertise for install.  Once installed Nest should learn within the first week or two how we like to heat the house (hours, temperatures, etc.) and modulate everything.  Eventually my lazy ass shouldn’t have to do anything.  Money well spent. Especially when one considers that when we built our current house the general contractor nicked us for $125 just to put a digital thermostat in; not even a programmable one.  I swear a vast majority of home builders either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t care.  Unfortunately consumers either don’t know or don’t care so they play along; or worse you’re almost forced to play along because we’ve made house building such a complicated and difficult endeavor.
Nest will be able to talk to our iPhone and iPad so I can track usage and change the temperature in the house.  The packaging is 100% recyclable.  The unit itself is Mercury-free, RoHS compliant.  It has built-in sensors for temperature, humidity, ambient light, near-field activity and far-field activity (whatever that means).
 In other “news” I’ll go out tomorrow and pick up the stone hopefully for the fireplace.  We selected a Cultured Stone with a brownish grey finish.  We’re hoping it’ll look good inside the house.  Only time will tell if we chose wisely.  The switchbacks in my fireplace design will prove challenging but between my brother and me we’ll have the situation under control when we go to install the stone work.

Example of the style of stone that's going on the fireplace.

Christine and I have also made some progress on ordering lighting fixtures.  We’re at the point where we’re going with what we like and trying to do the best we can on price.  More thrifty readers will be mortified but what we like is what we like.  We’re just burning up too much time and energy hemming and hawwing over lights.  Time to pick something and move on.

Bed side 1900's Pharmacy style sconces for Master Bedroom. $99 apiece on clearance from Restoration Hardware.

The only lights left to select are the track lights and a handful of ceiling fans.  The track lights will hopefully be simple white units that “disappear” i.e. not a focal point.  Ceiling fan wise we’re all over the place.  We’re trying to save some money but of course anything worth putting in a house is $400.  Another challenge is the boys’ rooms which necessitate a “hugger” style ceiling fan.  Christine’s not into decapitating the boys via ceiling fan.  I think we’ll be fine as the ceilings are nine feet in height.  The hugger style fan doesn’t have a down rod like a regular ceiling fan which keeps it closer to the ceiling, and away from craniums.
With the cold weather upon us, the screen porch and its light fixtures can wait until Spring.  We’ll cap off the attic ceiling fan as well and out fit that when the weather gets warmer.  What we can work on is the tile for the floor and showers. This work will get underway next week.  Christine and I still have to pick out tile for the Master Bathroom shower. Ugh, never-ending decisions.
Alright, I’m taking my Nest out to dinner tonight so I have to shower and shave.  Check back in the coming days to see how we’re progressing.  Should have drywall fin pictures soon.

Christmas Vacation

Merry Christmas / Happy New Year.  I should be doing something productive house-wise but alas I’ve spent Christmas Vacation being a decidedly unproductive member of society.  Monday I, of course, had to spend the day playing with all the toys Santa brought me.  I at least stopped out at the house and changed some light bulbs.  Today I didn’t even make it down there.  In all fairness though I had the pleasure of watching our youngest whilst the mom / wife team member was out and about shopping.  Were I a good brother I’d have run down to the job site and helped to unload the cement board which will eventually become the foundation for all the tile and stone used inside the house.  And if I were a good homeowner I’d have installed 1/4″ fan board in all the knee wall spaces.  Alas I’m neither of those, nor am I a good whatever it is I am in relation to you….unless of course you’re my youngest boy, in which case I’m a pretty cool dad.  At least for a few hours today.

Things we’re accomplishing since we last blogged together…..let’s see.   We’re holding at about 60-70 degrees for inside temperature so trades are re-emerging on site.  My brother has been working out at the house this week.  First on the list is sanding down all of the OSB sub-flooring to level out the seams.  With the house being open for so long the sub-flooring started to lift at the seams.  The sub-floor needs to be relatively flat before the wood, tile and carpet can go down.  Failing to sand the seams will lead to creaky wood, cracked tile and carpet that wears un-evenly.  He used a simple hand-held belt sander; very loud so wear ear protection if you do it yourself.

Our Mercier hardwood flooring is getting acclimated to the house's environment. To be less harmful to our environment it's Greenguard Certified. This means it won't off gas harmful chemicals into our super tight house. It's also sustainably sourced.

Tomorrow is drywall day 2.0.  We should have water online by 10am.  Until then I don’t know what they’ll do but the drywallers will be out there.  Within a few days we expect the interior walls to be mudded, taped and sanded.  Water will be necessary so they can mix their “mud” for the drywall.  Our septic system won’t be hooked up until the last-minute so any excess water, not used, will have to be routed to the sump pump or hauled out via a 5 gallon bucket.  The cistern should be electrified and able to pump water by early morning (as I said).  We had about 4,000 gallons of fresh water delivered today at a cost of $132.  Once the siding is done we can get gutters installed and stop paying for water.  Of course by then the world (at least our world) will be frozen so no water will flow down gutters.  I guarantee the first sub 20 degree day will be the day the gutters are finished.

Siding is almost done on main house. Awning over my studio is still missing. May be a Spring project I guess. Victim of dragging heels and cost overruns.

On the ordering front, we put in for our fireplace stone order today.  We’re going with a cultured Southern Ledgestone in an Aspen finish.  Stay tuned to see how that turns out and more details surrounding why we chose that.  We’re just stoning the fireplace for now, so it won’t be critical that we match the stone exactly when we go to do the exterior down the road. 
As far as picking out the rest of the lights and bathroom cabinets it’s been like an act of Congress.  Actually worse.  Just need to pick stuff out already.  In the craft room the electricians switched out the 4″ recessed boxes to now accept low voltage trims so I can order the articulating task lights we so desire.  Basically we’re down to just a handful of lights for the master bedroom and all the track lighting left to select.  Cabinet-wise we’ve found it nearly impossible to select a cheap $500 60″ white cabinet for the boys bathroom.  Picking out a divorce lawyer may be the simpler route but we’ll continue wading through the muck that is selecting finishes for our custom-house.  We’re gluttons for punishment.
I’ll keep you posted.  Should have more fun stuff to look at in the coming weeks.
I’ll leave you with some Christmas goodies that Santa brought the boys.  I thought they were nice designs, with some great packaging.

Go Car by Kid O Products. Simple design captures the essence of car-ness. Large handle makes it easy for little hands to race across wood floors, living room carpet and coffee tables. Packaging is 100% recycled paper. Car is BPA free molded plastic.


Automoblox once again capture the essence of the car shape to create a really fantastic toy design. The parts are interchangeable so the kids can use their imagination to create all kinds cards. Kinda pricey but well thought out and appear to be good quality. Wish they had this stuff when I was a kid.

Best Day Ever

The timer just went off on the Nuwave oven.

I just cooked four very expensive steaks in an “As Seen On TV” device plugged into a kitchen wall socket.  We plan on only eating two of them tonight.  I had to cook all four cause they were in a big frozen brick in the freezer.  The other two can be our lunch tomorrow.

The garlic noodles, from a bag, are boiling over in a white foamy mess. 

My can of 7-Up is empty, and the head cold I have uncreatively expresses itself by way of a constant drip from my left nostril.  Our oldest kid oscillates between fits of crying and speaking in tongues.  It’s two days before Christmas and we (or at least I) haven’t wrapped a single present.

It may be the best day ever.

Today I ecstatically bolted from work early, like a kid getting out of school two days before Christmas, and jumped into the crippled Rabbit (see pic below).  Wait, wait, before you call my boss to bust me (cause I know you wanna), work let us out early today. Happy Holidays to me, thank you very much.  With thoughts dancing like sugar plums in my head I leisurely enjoyed my freedom and headed down to the house. 

Just the day before the Rabbit was hit from the side as we backed out of a parking spot. Like a champ, he is hanging in there. I used a wood stake (a la "Stake n Snake" entry) and a rubber mallet to pound the bent metal off the back tire.

All week we’d been battling the status quo and complacency.  We patiently waited to hear reports of some sort of progress or success on site.  Finally today I could get down during daylight hours to see if the rumors of the house coming up to temperature were true.

Pulling up I saw a good sign.  Three trucks on site meant someone was doing something productive somewhere.  I could see right away that most of the siding on the main house was complete.  The studio and front porch look nice outfitted in their red cedar and board n batten siding. 

Proceeding to step inside I could feel it. 


Not a lot because apparently everyone was born in a barn: front door and back doors left wide open.  I quickly tour the public areas of the house and step out on the back porch.  Stepping out I could feel the crispness of the late December day on my face.  My warm breath leaving a trail in the air. A smile on my face, I quickly jumped back inside.  I closed the door with a firm “thunk”; its weather-stripping sealing up inside from outside.  The house was getting up to temperature and was definitely warmer than outside.  Room to room I went.  Upstairs and down. Inside, it was genuinely warm.  No more seeing my breath.  I was warm in my house. 

For a moment my house felt like home.

After basking in the quiet embrace of the warmth surrounding me I examined what else was happening on site.  Our cistern water supply system is essentially complete as of today.  The filters are in place in the basement, electrical is hooked up and all the pipes are run.  Once we’re positive the house is up to, and will remain at, a comfortable temperature, everything will come on-line.  I’ll order some water for the cistern too to get it filled up.  From here on out we’ll have water on site.  It’s funny to think back to my sorry attempt to get water on site via the plastic rain barrel.  I think there’s a big ice-cube in the bottom of it now.  No worries, we’ll use the barrel in the garden next Spring.

Mechanical filtering system for the cistern / rain water collection system.


The hardwood flooring for the first floor is happily getting acclimated next to the four flights of stairs sitting in the dining room.  I suppose if they hang out together long enough I’ll get lucky and they will produce maple tread offspring for my studio. 

Fingers crossed.

Today I ordered pretty much all of the porcelain tile for the house, save the master shower.  Carpet Warehouse in Cleveland gave us great pricing and customer service.  If you’re in the market, go there.  Wet area cement board will be going in next week.  The tile should be here shortly there after.  We’re still working on the tile selection for the shower.  Incidentally the shower is large enough to house a decent size swinger party, not that we would ever think of such a thing….ahem.  (Mom I’m kidding if you’re reading this, honestly.  I need the readers so I exaggerate).  Anyway.  Because the shower is so large it’ll cost a small fortune to line its 9′ tall walls in inch by inch glass tiles.  But we would never let that stop us, of course.  Christine and I are looking to see if there’s anything more expensive than glass.  We’re hoping baby seal tiles exist somewhere out there. 

Fingers crossed.

The floor of the shower will be 2×3  dark bronze colored tiles to match the 18×18’s used on the bathroom (laundry and foyer) floor(s).  If the baby seal thing doesn’t pan out, the walls of the shower will be green glass most likely. Come over, we’ll show you….(seriously, just kidding…..I can hear my wife’s divorce lawyer on caller ID already).

Totally custom and you have to applaud the creativity and effectiveness. We couldn't put the final furnace in because it'd void the warranty. Our guys over at Sissler lent us an electric resistance furnace to warm up the place. Instead of running a bunch of one time use tin, they just strapped the unit below the main trunk line. Works for me.

Now that the house is getting warm, the next major event is getting the drywall finished.  They’ll tape and mud next week.  After that the house goes into full trim mode.  The look and feel will change the most since the drywall went in.  With the holiday, even I’ll get a chance to get out there and do something productive.

Western red cedar on the studio walls. Hopefully it will weather to a natural grey.


We wrapped the board n batten around the front door to amp up the illusion that the center of the house is one block.

So why’s it the best day ever?  Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it and who’s best day ever it is.  Frankly, for me, it most likely loses out to the birth days of my two boys.  And then there was that day I sank a 12′ eagle putt….(kidding again)
But you know what.  We have, and we will, pour a lot of blood, sweat and tears (not to mention love and care) into this project.  And for all we’ve done, especially “insulation wise”, firing up a furnace and getting it warm inside is a big symbolic step in my eyes.  It may be different for you, or some random observer, or heck it may be different for the guys building the place, or the wife. But to me it’s a big deal (plus this is my blog not theirs).  I mean just think, back in July the place was a little unkept overgrown farm field.  In just a few short months it’s transformed into this wonderful structure, made up of all kinds of complex pieces that some how make up a house.
And now that it’s warm inside it’s feels like home.

I Got Nothin’ For Ya

Sigh.  To quote the immortal (and oft-repeated) words of Jeff Probst….

“I got nothin’ for ya.”

There really isn’t a damn thing going on at the house site other than a few VIP tours and the exterior siding is slowly going up.  I stopped out on Saturday to find Tony and my brother scratching their heads in the basement, surrounded by a blue smokey haze emanating from the temporary furnace.  Seems as soon as they flipped the switch the furnace gave up its ghost.  As of today we are still without a working furnace or heat.  This has basically rendered the project dead in the water.  We need heat to finish the drywall.  Until we finish the drywall there’s nothing that can really happen inside.

On the outside the siding is going up, very slowly.  It’s a quality job though, and we’re paying a flat rate for the whole project, so there shouldn’t be any budget issues.  I suspect the siding should be complete any day now.  Painting the siding though will have to wait til Spring.  At least that’s one bill I can put off.  It’s a shame I don’t get to see the house during the week, at least during daylight hours.  I’m not as connected to the house as I was say one or two months ago.  We’re almost done though so I’ll have plenty of time to re-connect once we move in.

The fresh water system is being wrapped up inside and out.  There are various treatment filters and tanks that are being installed this week.  I’ll arrange for a fill up of the cistern once it’s complete.  We do not have gutters yet so there’s no way to fill the system up otherwise.  We’ll have a pretty generous mechanical area in the basement for the HVAC and water supply system.

Most of my waking hours, outside of work, are spent looking at lighting and cabinets.  I’m spending way too much time hem-ing and haw-ing over lights.  I need to just pick stuff out and go with it.  If I look at Home Depot, Lowes or Lighting Universe’s website one more time I’m going to cry.  Now I know why the good Lord invented wine.

Hmmmm….I can’t even fabricate anything interesting or exciting that could be going on out there. 

So like the man says. 

I got nothin’ for ya.

Electric Company

The transition into the home stretch should officially start tonight.  Our friends at Ohio Edison should be installing the permanent electrical meter at the house in the cold and dark of this mid-December night.  What this means to us is that we can fire up the temporary furnace and “bring our ship about”.  The furnace should get the house up to temperature for the first time ever.  Pretty remarkable event considering all that we’ve done to make the home energy-efficient.  And like firing up the engines of a new ship as it lies in the shipyard. Once up to temperature the house, even in its current state, should hold its own against Mother Nature, as she kicks off another Norhteast Ohio winter.

We have a temporary furnace to take us through the finishing phase including drywall taping and sanding, trim work and painting.  Then towards the end of the project the permanent furnace will go in.  If we put the permanent unit in now it’d void the warranty by virtue of all the dust and debris created during the finishing phase.

I spoke with the painter today and laid out the game plan for painting the interior.  The exterior will wait until Spring; too late in the year now to lay down paint outside.  As for the inside, we’re going to go bare bones painting wise to save cost.  Christine and I will want to determine, and paint, the interior palette ourselves anyway.  If we’re feeling really frisky we’ll do some faux painting, patterned or textured painting after we move in.  This would surely temp fate.  The closest we came to divorce so far was during the course of “rag rolling” a den in our first house.  I suspect though that most of the painting will be subtle.  The contemporary nature of the house will dictate a subtle natural palette devoid of much flourish. 

Painting wise, to start with, the ceilings will remain unpainted knock down drywall texture.  The wall will all be flat white.  The trim will be semi-gloss white.  Stained areas will include the window sills, ship’s ladder and staircase treads.  The steel I-beams in the kitchen will be black (maybe distressed?). Anything that’s stained will be a light maple to match the hardwood flooring. By the way, I did specify non-VOC Sherwin Williams paint for the house.  This will minimize the amount of chemicals our family will be ingesting within our air tight home.  Carpet, paint, flooring, furniture and so forth all “off gas” chemicals into the air.  Since our house doesn’t “breathe” as much as a porous cookie cutter house, all those chemicals float around and end up in inside of me and the family.  Hell, after 38 years I’ve got all kinds of crap inside me that no sane human should have, but my two little boys should at least have a fighting chance.  We’ll do the best we can to make sure they’ve got a healthy home to grow up in.  I’ll do a tally of what we’re doing from a health and environmental sustainability standpoint at a later date.

As usual I don’t have any pics cause I haven’t been out in a few days.  I’ll keep you posted.


Brrr….Time to Hibernate

Brrr….. it was cold this morning when I fired up the Rabbit and headed out to the house at daybreak today.  The thermometer on the vee dub’s dash read a finger numbing 24 degrees Farenheit as we chased the rising sun down the valley.  Earlier I awoke with anticipation, for I had not seen the job site in nearly a week.  I was anxious to see what if any progress we were making.  There was a chance too that we’d set the stair case’s today as well.

One man's frost bite is another man's paycheck. Man made snow being blown onto a local ski resort's slopes this morning.

Once at the house I turned off the car and stepped out on the frozen ground.  I was actually a bit relieved that the frost and cold had firmed up the earth a bit making surveying the build a fair bit easier.  All the rain of the previous weeks had turned everything into a muddy mess.  For now, at least, all was firmly held together with morning frost and ice.
Looking around I could see the last of the windows had been installed.  I still had to crimp the expansion tube and should probably pay some attention to the nailing flanges to seal them up but that could wait for another (preferably warmer) day.  I diverted my attention and joyfully gazed upon the house, focusing in on the black rectangles adorning the exterior doors.  Our door handles are installed!

Hardware. Pic of our Emtek Orion front door handle in oiled bronze finish.


Interior view of the Emtek sideplate that adorns another exterior door. The knob isn't the most ergonomic form in the world but it feels solid and suits the architecture of the house.

Beyond the door hardware, not much is happening.  Siding is going up at a pace somewhere between snail like and slow & steady, but they’re doing a quality job and caulking along the way; which means the painter won’t have to caulk.  We still are waiting on the electric meter.  Until we have that the temp furnace won’t be hooked up.  Work on the cistern has stopped as everything is now encased in ice.  The idea of installing the stairs fell by the wayside today; better to wait for a warmer day.  This week the stairs will be dropped of.  We should get the laminate for the kitchen cabinets as well. 
We were fairly successful today selecting finishes.  Christine and I went out and landed upon selections for the exterior flood lights as well as counter material for the kitchen.  Floods will be nondescript units off the shelf of Home Depot.  The counter material will be Silestone quartz; most likely in a Grey Expo color.  The Silestone was pricey but cheaper than pretty much all other quartz brands out there.  It should prove to be low maintenance and look pretty nice.  We also chose all the tile for the entire house.  The nice thing about being tired with selecting materials and making decisions is that you can cut to the chase pretty quickly and pick something.  In about a half hour we had a color combo we liked for the master bath and the tile for the boys bathroom.  If it doesn’t look good we can always rip it our later and remodel.  I doubt this will happen, we’ve been fairly lucky in the past with selecting finishes that work together.  The house will be fairly eclectic so that affords us some levity. 
Seems with the cold weather everyone’s hibernating at the job site but that should change, hopefully, in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile, enjoy today’s pics.

Staircase in the cabinet maker's shop. Maple open treads. The spaces are 4" to pass code (i.e. James head won't fit in there, though I assure you, he will try)


Light fixtures are trickling in. Here's one of the pendants going over the dining room table from Barn Light Electric. It's an old acetylene tank head. It's heavy. It's cooler than any light fixture I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of cool light fixtures. Trust me.


South face of house soaking up some late Autumn morning rays.


First floor tile combo. Dark rust tile for entry, master bath, half bath and laundry room. Green glass tile for master shower.


Miratek trim and red cedar siding on back porch.


Flooring for Christine's studio and craft room. Shaw laminate.


Porch siding


On the off chance you're interested in such thing (as opposed to listening to me wax poetically about the nuances of picking out lighting) you can see here how the sofits are constructed.

Friday Quickie

  Just a quick post.  Should hopefully have more tomorrow night. I haven’t been out to the house all week, but looking forward to getting out tomorrow and setting the staircases.  Today we did accomplish something, we quickly decided on the garage door selections.  Hopefully the doors can be installed soon so that the foul Autumn (winter-like) weather will stay out of the drywalled garage.

Example of the Clopay Grand Harbor style garage doors we selected. Our 8'x8' doors with feature lites just as these have and will be painted all white.

Our doors will be from Clopay’s Grand Harbor collection.  Each is 8′ x 8′ and will be trimmed out in white.  The top panel is the SQ24 style 16 lite.  These are common overhead steel doors but look like they should provide a nice carriage house look to our garage.  Each costs about $1,375 apiece installed which isn’t too bad for the look. They’re insulated to an R6.3 R-value.  Down the road this may hurt a bit but frankly right now the garage has no insulation.  The windows are high octane 525’s from Serious but beyond that the garage is cookie cutter energy waster.  At this time though it’s not heated and it’s separate from the house so no worries.  Down the road we can amp up the insulation and make the garage all warm and cozy.  If need be we can change out the door panels for something more energy-efficient if need be.  To complete the carriage house look the doors feature black handles and step plates.  Kind of old-fashioned looking and not bronze like the main house hardware but it’ll be okay.  We can always change out hardware down the road.  At this time we’ll shop around for a screw drive door operating mechanism  (as opposed to going with the dealer installed units).  May be an opportunity to save a few hundred dollars.

Photo from the Clopay website of a cookie cutter house with the same garage doors we selected. As stated, ours will be al white.


 Door hardware on the main house should be in by now.  I’ll take pics tomorrow to share with you.  As I said the plan is to get the stairs in tomorrow.  Should be pretty cool.  I can show you pics of the real thing next to my computer renderings.

Beyond that I hope to see more siding up.  I have a laundry list of things to do during Christmas break.  Hopefully the drywall will be done by then (mudding and taping).  Would be nice if the house could be primed / spray painted before then too, as then I can spend my time out fitting closets and performing other light duty tasks.  I doubt it but we’ll see.











Enough Already


So building a house is pretty cool.  Self contracting a house is even cooler.  I know this to be an absolute truth cause the lady at Lowes told me so.   As did several of my co-workers.  And various family members.  Hell even my wife told me that, and I told her that, at one point.  Problem is….well….it’s fun to a point.  Granted it’s probably more fun if you’re  into masochism or you self medicate regularly, but alas, barring one of these escape routes, it ain’t that pretty at all.  (bonus points if you now hurl yourself into a wall…….”’cause I’d rather feel bad than not feel anything at all”)

We bulldozed our way down the path of creation back in July.  Here we are in December and honestly, Christine and I looked at each other after I took a quick tour of the project today.  We looked at each other and figured out, we’re kinda over the whole “building a house” thing.  Kinda over the spending all of our money, and everyone else’s money.  Over the worry, the drama, the set backs, the victories, the decisions, the surprises.  We’re tired of trying to sell our existing house, the cleaning up for open houses, the worry and sleepless nights. Tired of the ‘Groundhog Day’ script that is our life during construction. Burnt out from saving the planet one piece of blue foam at a time. Kinda over all of it.

We’re actually ready for the “move the hell in and start painting stuff” phase.  Or the “what in holy heck are we going to do with an entire weekend to ourselves” parts.  Or the “look, James drew a picture of something he calls ‘man’s face’ on the wall with crayons and I have no intention of cleaning it off in my lifetime” bits.  Good news is we’re close to the fun parts and eventually the funnest part which is moving in.

The HVAC guys went to town this week in the basement.  All the ductwork is run for the entire house.  With 9′ ceilings in the basement, even though there are ducts running everywhere, we’ll have a lot of headroom when it’s finished.  The temp furnace is in place but not hooked up.  We’re still waiting on the permanent power for the house.  The reason we use a temp furnace is because the finishing process would trash a regular furnace, and therefore render its warranty useless.  The temp furnace also means we don’t have to use wasteful and dangerous torpedo heaters inside the house.

The cistern is pretty much covered up.  They just have to install the two roof scrubbers.  The scrubbers help clean up the water supply. 

Today we went out and cleaned up pretty much the last of the waste on the outside of the house.  The latest dumpster is the smaller one.  We threw out mostly non-wood waste.  I’m going to save all the 2×4’s and other usable lumber from here on out.  What we did throw today was the last piece of blue foam.  After a short ceremony I dropped a ceremonial last piece of the recycled 4″ rigid insulation into our dumpster.  It was bitter-sweet as we’d grown attached to our blue foam.  But the wretched stuff had to go.  It was dirty, and it seemed like we were constantly moving it out of our way.  My estimate was pretty good on how much we’d need. Even so though, there was a lot of scrap.  Finally it is all gone basically.

I’ll leave you with a plethora of pictures from over the weekend, including some to get you in the Christmas spirit.  Step right this way. Roll up, roll up…..

YAY! It's the end of blue foam for our house. We threw out the last piece of scrap today. We'll miss you. (not really)


Scrubber waiting to be installed.


We're using red fire-proof caulk around the fireplace components. Neat.


2" slip fit receiver for 1.5" sump pump pipe assures we won't have a cracked pipe down the road. Water drains from sump pump out to the yard.


We "ran out" of 4" rigid so we used virgin 2" sheets on the porch.

Oh, one other thing.  Something I have to do is create a better seal in the kneewall spaces.  There’s HVAC ducts that run through there so it will be conditioned space.  We have plastic stapled under the rafters now but there’s some concern on water condensing on the plastic from the heat in the HVAC ducts.  I’m going to have to crawl in there, remove the plastic and replace with 1/4″ fan board insulation.  Ugh, what a job but someone’s gotta do it.  The fan board should be easier and cheaper than drywall and should do the trick.  I’ll just tape and caulk all the seams and staple holes. 

fan board for sale at Lowes

And finally, we went Christmas shopping and put up the tree this weekend.

If you love me you'll buy me this book for Christmas.


These looked good to. Yes, apparently I'm planning for the end of the world on my 6.5 acres of heaven.


Look this guy remodeled a house in Northeast Ohio with his family and wrote a book about it......Hmmm interesting idea...


Tomato plant kid with Christmas tree he helped put up. No worries, it's a fake tree. His dad single-handedly murdered ALL the living trees, remember?

December 1st Update

Just a quick update; it’s been a quiet week.  We’re waiting to get some electrical work outside approved and get the permanent electrical meter installed.  Once that happens the temp furnace can be fired up to get the house up to temperature for the first time.  In a way it’s like dropping a ship out of dry dock so it can finish being out-fitted.  I don’t think I’ll crack champagne over anything, though the thought of drinking alcohol appeals to me on a daily basis, so there’s that….but I digress.

My architect and EnergyStar rater are reviewing the preliminary blower test numbers.  While the numbers are good (better than any “normal” house), and the house still has to be sealed up a fair bit, the numbers aren’t as good as we hoped.  Right now the weak link in the system is the kneewall areas of our cape cod style house.  The roof areas are insulated and lined with plastic vapor barrier, but we’d like to see a more rigid material in these areas.  I’ll go in and probably remove the plastic barrier and then either drywall or use fanboard under the roof rafters.  Then tape all the seams.  Getting rid of the plastic will lessen the chance of heat from the HVAC ducts creating condensation on the back side of the plastic.  The rigid material will provide an airtight seal but not collect condensation I believe.  We’ll see how this goes, as of right now it’s difficult to get material in the kneewall spaces as everything will pass through the small access panels; lest I open up larger openings.  There’s a good chance I won’t do any of this until we move in.  Here’s a primer on blower test’s by the way.

 We’re around 3.0 ACH50 now I believe.  Good but not very good for everything we’ve put into the house.  Should improve once we seal up the areas we’ve already identified.  If I were building a new house I’d probably design it slightly differently to avoid some of the issues arising from the kneewall areas.  The issues were compounded by all the HVAC ducts running through them.  Oh well. We’ll figure it out.  It will be fine in the end.

I did get some cistern install pics from the excavator.  As usual, anytime a crane is involved, it looks kick ass.  Wish I was there.  Basically looks like a cement vault came in on a crane truck and was lowered into the hole.  Too cool.

10,000 gallon cistern being lowered into the hole.

Today I picked up the last window.  This is the 3’x3′ garage window I’d initially forgot to order.  The Rabbit and I rolled out to pick it up at the freight company that was holding it.  It was in a crate so I had to bust out my hammer and dispose of said crate.  No way it’d fit in the hatchback.  I had to be back across town so I made quick work of the crate and stashed the window in back.  The Rabbit then scampered out of the parking lot and lept across town; the two of us jamming to Twisted Sister holiday tunes the whole way.
Upon getting home I was met by our excavator and his father to even up on a bill and bid goodbye for the winter.  Jonathon is on his way out west to work.  His dad will wrap things up including the septic system and final grading.  Some items will now have to wait until spring as the weather in Northeast Ohio has gotten too bad to do much of anything outside of value.
The coming week should pick up in terms of what’s going on out at the site.  We’re also busy picking out more of the finishes including the garage doors.  I’ll keep you posted.