Check Out Our New Pad

Today we actually saw some progress on the home front.  I stopped out after work and happy to see all the carpet padding was installed throughout the house.  Tomorrow we get the carpet.  After that it’s “shoes off” for everyone working out there, as far as I’m concerned. 

Squishy carpet padding is everywhere now, along with tack strips - ouch.

I’m not sure of the brand name of the carpet pad, I suspect it’s the typical stuff that goes in a cookie cutter house.  I did ask the guys over at Carpet Warehouse to air out the padding and carpet before they install it so that any harmful chemicals will offgas before the material enters our home.  I could still smell some “stuff” but we should survive.  The carpet is supposedly good stuff made partially from corn.  On Wednesday it’s supposed to be 58 degrees outside, so I asked my brother to open up the windows while they work.  That should air out the place and get rid of some of the chemical trace from the various materials that are off gassing in the house.

The carpet padding in the Master suite.

In addition to the padding, several other trades were busy today.  I noticed the painters touched up a bunch of stuff including some ceiling areas in the boys bath where we’d put down our first coat of green paint.  Tony also touched up the drywall in the boys bath, leveling out a corner and making it look a lot better than it did yesterday.  Elsewhere he also hung all of the doors.  They had been taken off for painting.  I suspect tomorrow he’ll put on the door knobs.  I had wanted to help do this but I won’t make it out to the site this week I don’t think.  No sense waiting for me.

Doors are installed.

The most interesting thing the painters painted today were the steel i-beams in the kitchen.  These beams actually aren’t load bearing, but we felt they lent an industrial feel to our contemporary kitchen and helped delineate the space from its surroundings.  The beams were painted a flat black color.  I think they were painted with something nasty because I could smell the paint, but hopefully this will offgas when we open the windows.  We had a 2×6 placed on each beam to provide a shadow line and to visually beef them up vertically without specifying a taller beam.  Once we move in I may put a faux finish on the beams.  We’ll see.

I-beams in Kitchen are now painted black.

The HVAC guys have been busy too.  I noticed the register vents are installed on all the walls.  The Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator is fully installed too.  This unit is a must have for our tight house.  It preheat fresh air with warm air that is being exhausted.  This should keep our energy bills lower while providing a steady supply of fresh air.  In a perfectly tight house this would  be the only source of fresh air.  Regular houses have enough gaps and holes that the whole house “breathes”.  Ours shouldn’t breathe at all if all goes according to plan. 

All my incandescent bulbs in the basement are burnt out so I can only show you a picture of the box our ERV came in. James can turn this into a fort.


When these bad boys get installed, you know you're near the end of your project.

I know my brother was busy in his shop today fabricating countertops, so those should be going in too.  The material for the quartz counters should arrive at the fabricator tomorrow.  I think within one week most everything should be complete and ready for inspection.  Fingers crossed.
– Chris


In an effort to be productive and proactive we painted the boys bathroom today.  Actually got one coat on.  We’ll put the second coat on probably some time after we move in.  If you’ve ever painted a bathroom you know what a pain in the butt it is to paint behind a toilet, so it’s best to paint before the toilet is even in.  There is some significant drywall work that needs to be done near the shower so no sense putting the second coat on until this can be rectified.

The spouse painting the doorway of the boys' bathroom.

The color for the boys bathroom is Sherwin Williams Edamame, which is a wicked cool green color.  At times it looks grey or brown, and at other times it looks green or olive.  Perfect color for a contemporary boys bathroom.  Should look nice with the white tile, trim and cabinets.
I’m trying to stick to one Sherwin Williams color collection so everything works together.  Color is tough sometimes to figure out and align so why not go with what the experts picked out.  The wife strays a bit but she puts up with me; she selected to color for the bath (and frankly all the rooms so far).  Even when we stray from our Global Spice color card we’re picking colors that are either tones of card colors, or are on trend and complimentary.

Painting boys bathroom.

All the paint we’re using is Sherwin Williams Harmony Interior Acrylic Latex Zero VOC paint.  At $45 a gallon it’s not cheap but there really is no other viable option.  We can’t afford to have our paint offgassing volatile organic compounds, compromising our health and the environment.  Another favorite zero VOC paint of ours is Mythic paint which we’ve used successfully in our current house.  Sherwin Williams is a local company so that should help our regional economy and is generally used by most painters in the area (i.e. not really given a choice).  We’re happy with the quality and color selection, as well as the fact that they offer a Greenguard certified zero VOC paint.

Hallway is painted Canvas Tan from the Sherwin Williams Global Spice style card.

It’s nice to see all the painting done generally speaking.  We’ll finish painting individual rooms once we move in and see how the decor is shaping up.  Painting is a relatively easy DIY project and you can save some money I suppose, doing it yourself.
This coming week will hopefully pick up the pace.  We’re mainly waiting on countertop material; that’s holding up  the kitchen.  The carpeting should go in on Tuesday, as well as firing up the fireplace.  Tuesday will also find the house hosting another VIP tour.  Beyond that doors should start going back in and hardware be installed.
We’re almost there, and it can’t get finished a moment too soon.


I’m making progress.  Thanks to our youngest son, I was being woken up at 3 am.  I would then proceed to toss and turn worrying about every detail of our unbuilt house until about 5:30 am every day.  Now he’s not even remotely sleeping through the night anymore and I get up at 1 am, unable to fall back a sleep.  If I keep my fingers crossed we’ll keep working backwards to where eventually he gets up at 6:30 am and I can just goto work and not have to worry about insomnia.  At some point the house has to be done, and the kids have to move out of the house……right?  Unfortunately there is no reliable indication that either will happen in my lifetime.

We stopped out yesterday (Saturday) for a brief moment to check on progress.  Still not much seems to have been done, but two major things look to be relatively done.  The painters appear to have completed painting the hallways, and bedrooms.  Also the stone is in on the fireplace.

In regards to painting, we’re really happy with our color selections so far. My only concern is there are several places, especially around the staircase that never received the drywall attention they needed. There are holes, gaps and exposed plywood easily visible.  The trangle in-fill below the foyer staircase is an odd 1/8″ inset compared to the surrounding wall.  Generally speaking the attention to detail and craftsmanship in this area is lacking and will need to be revisited.  This is the type of stuff that keeps me up at night, but does not seemingly bother anyone else.  That’s why god invented punch lists I suppose.  As a home owner it’s the best part of the new construction process.  It’s the only time you can roll through the joint and point out every flaw in hopes that someone will fix them.  It’s an instance where you’re better off having a contractor instead of self contracting because that one person kind of has to fix your problems or he doesn’t get paid.  It’s my impression, that when you’re self contracting each trade works in a vacuum and is typically focused on their piece of the puzzle.  So when, for instance, you have big gaps in your drywall no one picks up on it and the painters just paint over them.

The stone fireplace is much the same.  From afar it looks great.  I could have never done half the job these guys did in a hundred million billion years.  But of course I notice all the problems too.  The look is supposed to be a “dry stack” look which means virtually no discernable mortar lines.  I even left a note, but alas, the stone is fairly spacy.  The weird thing is there’s no mortar between the stones so you can see the raw mortar scratch coat I’d put on previously, as well as the stone edges (clearly broadcasting that this is fake man made stone).  Hopefully they’re coming back to squish mortar in between all the joints.  If not, I will.  This won’t be the look I wanted but at this point I need it done.  An even larger problem is they stopped the stone short of the EDGE60’s metal flange.  In reality they should have notched the stone to go over the flange.  Now I have fireplace with bizarro exposed screw heads; I’ll have to figure something out (powdercoated metal covers with magnet fasteners), but you’d hope that it didn’t have to be that way.  A minor lack of attention to detail. I have only myself to blame; I just assumed someone would’ve at least asked before making it so.  There’s a certain degree of predictability as well too.  It’s like watching a car crash happen right in front of you and you can’t do anything.

Which leads me to my insomnia. 

While the house will look great, and from a structural, quality and performance standpoint it’s worth every penny and far superior to your average builder special house, there are a vast amount of design and finish details that were missed along the way (and ultimately need correcting).  I suspect it’s easier to avoid in the future, but this is our last house we’ll ever build.  So all of the mistakes were made on this one and a lot of effort will go into fixing them over the time we spend in the house.  The attention to detail and simplicity required aren’t totally there.  In a normal cookie cutter house a lot of the builder’s sins are covered up by conventional trim, and mass aesthetic conveyances.  I guess to get it right, we should have done a lot more planning and counseling.  Of course we’d know for the next time around to do these things.  I think it’s important to have trades that are on the same page as the home owners,and each other, philosophically as well. I spend each night lying awake in my bed thinking about every detail I wish was different.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great house, but I’m just one of those guys that gets hung up on the details.  I’m not saying I could do any better. I once turned a $5 water line install into a $300 debacle.  DIY projects are not my thing.  But I do know what good design and execution look like so my eye picks up on every little thing.  And 99% of the folks visiting won’t notice anything amiss, especially after I shove a free beer in their hand.  So it’ll be fine, but my subconscious knows no better so it feels compelled to build, teardown and rebuild this house nightly at three in the morning.

The key now is to get all of these people the hell out of our house so Christine and I can move in and start fixing everything to our liking.  And so I can start getting a good night’s rest.

The wife is sweeping up. Less than thrilled with trades cleanliness. Wood floor is getting scratched up prematurely.












Cultured Stone on our fireplace. It's "Southern Ledgstone" in the Aspen color. We like the dry stack look, but in our case it got a little space-y in my opinion. But overall it looks fantastic.


Spacing flanges on EDGE60 should have been covered with stone to hide exposed screw heads. I'll have to now come up with a powdercoated metal flange and adhere it with magnets or adhesive.


Dry stacked cultured stone. The 2x6 is for mounting the mantel. I think it sticks out too far and will ruin the effect of the cherry mantle emerging from the stone wall. We'll see, life's fairly predictable but I'll still hope for the best.


The hearth. It's mortar poured into an inset in the hardwood floor. the idea will be to smooth and polish it up and see if it looks interesting. If not we can pound the shit out of it and replace it with a hearthstone. In our dream of dreams we would have used grey Silestone to match the countertops, but with the short time frame and lack of funding that was proving difficult.


Single Handedly Slowing Down the Axial Rotation of the Earth….

….or “What to Expect When It’s My House Being Built”.

Unbeknownst to me how I’ve done it, I have seemingly garnered the ability to slow time to a standstill.

I became acutely aware of this relatively useless super power today while standing in line at Starbucks.  I stood there not paying attention, in a line that consisted of approximately one person, give or take none; namely it was just me in line.  Patiently I waited while the barista’s bantered on about some trivial nonsense to each other, rubbing their implements (not a euphemism, they were literally rubbing some sort of metallic objects used in making coffee).  A couple of ladies soon followed me in line. Not thinking I jumped out of line, for what I thought was five seconds, to ask a colleague or two if they’d like coffee, (“I’m buying”), but alas they had already gotten coffee elsewhere.  This was fortunate for them, for I unwittingly was practicing my new craft as I jumped back in line.  The two previously mentioned ladies in line were nice enough to save me a spot directly behind them.  Cool. Thanks ladies. I know, I was gone a long time…..I didn’t write.

That’s okay, things were picking up with our baristas, they had resumed servicing live people as opposed to coffee-making implements.  Alas if I’d stayed in line I’d be getting serviced myself at this time.  Then after standing there for another three minutes, no one was moving.  I mean they were moving of course, this isn’t some hollywood concoction where everything literally stops, but everything was moving without much purpose or result.  I have no idea but one barista was stabbing away at a smart phone.  The other had taken up shop fiddling with an empty coffee cup.  Even the patrons just stood there.  I shit you not, I literally stood there a total of about ten minutes start to finish, with only myself in line for the most part, and I saw no reasonable or logical hope that I would be able to utter a word to another human being, let alone order a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte, or whatever the hell it is I order (I always have to look at the damn menu). 

Literally I had inadvertently stopped the Earth from spinning on its axis, (or else I had rendered myself invisible.  I’m pretty sure people could see me….I did look at my shoes just to make sure I wasn’t invisible.)

I never did get that Latte today.  As soon as I left Starbucks the world returned to its normal pace.

Slowing time is essentially what has happened on the house project.  Each day I say “I am done stopping by the house after work” and each day I roll down I-77 in the Rabbit with less and less hope or faith in my heart, and begrudgingly turn up the gravel drive to the house.  And each day it appears that the Earth has stopped on its axis for a majority of the day. 

We’re getting about 1-2 things done a day during a week that was supposed to be the last of the project.  Today they painted one room and grouted 1.5 showers.  We have managed to turn an eight month project into something that feels more along the lines of a thirty-seven year project.  At one time this week we had eleven trucks in the driveway, but beyond that everything has come to a screeching halt.

The Silestone countertops are on back order until next week.  Then it’ll be a week to fabricate them. I’d be surprised if the painters are done before we get into the four letter months.  The fireplace has no stone (was supposed to be today).  Of course I guarantee the masons will show up tomorrow because the fireplace shop guys are supposed to be out to fire up the unit and mount the thermostat.  Then I’ll get a message telling me masons couldn’t do their job cause fireplace guys were in the way.  Next week is carpet, but if you saw the place you know there’s no way they can put carpet in yet.

The wife and I went out to the house Wednesday looking for something to do, even dropped the boys off so we could really work.  I think we swept up a little dirt and then went shopping at Target for cat litter.  Not much we can do out there at the house.

We just need it done.  The novelty wore off a long time ago. We’re slated to blow right past our due date with the bank which means we’ll have to start that process all over again. Which actually isn’t a bad thing; rates have gone down a lot in the last eight months. 

Of greater concern is selling our existing house.  To say the market is weak and prospects of doing so are dismal, is to put it nicely.  I keep saying put ’em both up for sale and see which sells first.  That’s met with a cool reception.  I don’t really mean it….. (okay, actually I do).

I mean, what can I do if some one made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, right? 

(wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

We’d be fine, I have latent super powers after all, and we can take our little guy’s ceiling fan with us.  It’s still sitting in a box waiting to be installed.

Mantel Update

Tentative mantel location.

Tomorrow the masons will install the cultured stone around the fireplace.  I’m hoping it will turn out well.  One last item to take care of before they start was locating the mantel. 
As you know, we’re going to use a piece of cherry from a tree that was on the property for the mantel.  We’re attaching a 2×6 to the fireplace chase, and then we’ll lag the mantel itself to this 2×6. 
The EDGE60 installation manual defines some minimum clearances that affect how close the mantel can be to the unit.  The mantel in our current house is about 53″ from floor to the bottom edge and it’s about 4″ tall.  The guys mounted the 2×6 today at about 60″ from the floor.  I stopped out to take a look and it just feels too high for our liking.  I checked the manual and we need about 8.5″ from the top of the unit to the bottom of the mantel, assuming the mantel sticks out 6″.  I made a black mark on the wall indicating this level…..It falls about 3″ below where the guys mounted the 2×6. I left a note indicating we’d like to move it down that much.  I’m hoping it’ll all look good.  I’m sure it will.
The stonework should take two guys one day to do.  I left a note letting them know we want a “dry stack” look to the stone which means no mortar lines between stones.  We’ll see, hopefully it’ll look good.  The masons did say the stone we picked out was probably the most difficult to work with and get it to look right, plus the would have started from the top, and in fact they would have selected a different type of stone….not sure what kind.   Long story short, probably a good idea we’re paying them to do it since everyone will see the fireplace.
Elsewhere, the septic system got inspected and will be approved later this Spring once things dry out a bit.  The leech (sp?) field needs to dry out, be over seeded, and straw laid down.  I did ask the government if we could over seed with flowers or natural grasses….they said I need to use a typical sun / shade type grass seed.  But they also gave me a link to The Ohio State University website where I can get some additional recommendations.  Additionally there is a septic service that we’ll have to contract with for the life of the system.  They will be able to help guide us as well.  Planting or letting trees grow in the field is a no-no.  I just hope we don’t have to make it look like a manicured lawn.  We’re trying to minimize our impact and would like to minimize the amount of high maintenance lawn area.  I think a field of black-eyed susans or cone flowers would be awesome, but the government may have a different idea.  Long term (years from now) installing a “living machine” would be an intriguing option.  I saw one at Oberlin college and it’s pretty cool.  Living machine’s use plants and holding tanks to treat wastewater and sewage just like nature does (biomimicry essentially).  This would eliminate the need for a septic system (or rather is a type of septic system).  It would cost a lot but is a nice alternative to get back some of our real estate.  I could imagine a nice system in an outbuilding, maybe adjacent to a green house or something.
The water supply inspection has been put off, pending gutters being installed.  We need the entire collection system up and running, gutters are obviously a big part of that.
I’m getting grief from the gutter guys that we don’t have ice guards installed on the metal roof.  They’re guaranteeing that all my gutters will be ripped off by snow and ice sliding down, which is probably true.  I’m going to drag my heels because there are a fair number of options out on the market.  I need to research them and make a decision.  Then I have to talk to my roofing installer and see if they can install them.  Honestly, it’s nearly March and we haven’t had much snow this winter, with three weeks to go in Winter I don’t think we’re going to get anything substantial enough to destroy anything.  And if we make it that far then I’ll have all year to decide on something.  In fact if nothing meets my needs aesthetically and functionally, I could design a system myself and have it fabricated.  Maybe if it’s effective enough I could retire and sell ice guards.
Ok, that’s it for today folks.  Catch you next time.

Cut and Run

Just pics tonight.  I quit on doing the fireplace stone myself.  Worried it won’t turn out okay, therefore easier and more effective to have a professional bang it out in a day at a cost of $600.  One of life’s secrets is to know how to pick your battles.  I’m good at many things, but DIY projects are not in my wheelhouse.  Our (the wife and I’s) contribution to the project will be design and a lifetime of debtor’s prison.  I’ll leave the craftsmanship stuff to the pros.

Ceiling lights in craft room. Two overheads on one switch, six low voltage lights (not installed yet) on a different switch. Overhead lights are old school barn type lights, 10" in diameter, dark grey finish. They look nice.


6" white tile (Daltile) in boys bathroom shower. Should be thrilling to figure out how to work a shower curtain into this picture. I have some ideas...


I attempted to install cultured stone on fireplace. Here I had to notch a piece of corner stone to clear a 2x6 remnant that was sticking out of the wall. I used a grinder with a diamond blade to carve out the penis shaped notch you see here, in my hand, of course. My life and this house, I need a drink.


This is the amount of stone I got up before I cut and ran. It actually was very fun, relaxing and therapeutic. I'm so glad I got that out of my system. Now I can pay someone to do it for me.


Staircase sans its protective wrapping. The floating maple treads are stunning against the white railings.

The House Dream

Last night I had the “house” dream.  No, nothing fun like a fanciful dream of marrying a princess and being whisked away to a large columned mansion in the hills.  Rather the “house” dream is a lot like the “college” dream and the “flying” dream.  See, the house dream is a direct result of the stress of building this house.  The stress overtakes my subconscious and therefore rules my sleep hours, in addition to all my awake hours. 

The last time I had the house dream was just after the foundation was in.  Last night’s version was fairly unique and current.  In the dream we were wrapping up the house and racing the clock.  I’m going to assume the final inspection was the same day as my dream took place.  I was wandering through a frame-work of a house, the fireplace sitting on its own, pulled out of the wall for the umpteenth time.  There was trim nailed directly to the framing, with no drywall.  I’d look at the fireplace cavity and wonder aloud to myself, why are we trimming out the inside of the fireplace chase… one will see that once the drywall goes on.  I ask around as to when the fireplace is going back in, along with some other assorted questions, and Tony (of blue foam fame) pops up and says he’ll get on it. 

Continuing the dream I walk to our Master Bathroom and the glass tile is done.  It looks great.  My brother informs me that he has a bunch of tiles left over so he put them in the other bathroom.  Much to my dismay, in this other fictional Master Bath, is a bunch of glass tile.  I flip out, saying if we had extra tile just put it on the opposite wall in the real Master Bath (we actually plan on doing this some day by the way).  I raise holy hell and storm out, seemingly teleporting myself to another part of our “house”. 

The (virtual?) reality is  the house in my dream never looks like our real house.  I suddenly find myself in a grand ballroom with all kinds of gaudy fixin’s like gold leaf chairs and ornate furnishings.  I step in and notice a hot tub in the corner and then step up one step to one of two landings that flank a grand platform.  The platform hosts a large dining table, and each landing hosts a few ornate chairs, tables, lamps and……get this……two black afghan hounds.  Each dog is done up in some sort of regal garb and are very nicely trained.

Afghan Hound - I know, it's not just you, I think they're kinda creepy too.

As I approach one of the dog’s steps forward as if to beckon me to pet him.  I oblige, and all I can think of is the dogs, which I don’t particularly like but in this room they look pretty cool, are part of the decor of my new house.  Turning back around I take in this huge room, and think to myself “What an awesome f*cking room this is.  I can have a party for like a hundred people in this room.”

I quickly teleport to another part of the house and there are a bunch of house keepers cleaning up the place.  Washing windows, sweeping floors, getting ready for the inspection.  In my dream, I’m thinking this is pretty cool way to prepare.  Now that I’ve woken up, it still sounds like a good idea.  But back to the dream.  I quickly jump to a place down the street and turns out there are a whole bunch of houses going up and being finished today.  Each one is uniquely different.  Christine’s there so we stroll down the street back to “our” house.  On the outside it looks like an old English cottage with a bunch of additions or an old warehouse, but with charm and interest.  Tough to describe, I’d have to draw you a picture.  I’m thinking ours looks the best, though in this dream just like all the others, the house inside and out doesn’t really look like ours.  Regardless though there isn’t much time to waste.  And, without a real plot or conclusion, that’s it for the “house” dream last night. 

As you can tell, we really, really need to get this house put to bed, lest I lose my mind along the way.

Yesterday we bought pretty much everything left on our list.  I think we’re down to just one mirror and four cabinet knobs that we still have to buy.  We bought some slim two light spot lights for outside that should allow me to light up the joint, like a summer afternoon, in the middle of the night.  We got two mirrors for the Master Bathroom at Home Depot.  They are blackish brown, but a bit too black for the bathroom; we’ll make do with them for now. 

All the trim is painted in the house generally speaking.  There are still some areas that need drywall attention, and if we put down any shoe molding, that’ll need to be painted.  Most of the master shower is tiled, including a 6″ shelf that runs along the back wall.

This is how the pros paint your interior doors. There's a special metal bracket they pound into the top of the door to keep them from falling over.











I got back to work on our fireplace today.  My brother showed me how to mix mortar so I proceeded to spend two and a half hours putting a “scratch” coat over the metal lathe that I’d installed a week or two ago. This was my first time doing it, but I think it turned out okay.  I’ll let that dry overnight and then tomorrow after work I’ll start putting up stone. 

I covered up the fireplace to keep falling mortar out.








I mixed the mortar to the consistency of pudding, maybe a little thicker at times.  I made small batches, starting with one inch of water in a five gallon bucket.  I then alternated between adding mortar material and running a drill mixer until I liked the consistency of the mortar.  I then took it upstairs and emptied out the bucket into my wheel barrow.  The wheel barrow made it easier to get mortar on the trowel.  I then applied the mortar to the metal lathe, working it in against the grain.  The lathe has a grain to it if you run your hand across it lightly.  Be careful, it’s sharp.  It’ll feel sharper in one direction versus the other.  That’s the grain.  In reality I just put the damn stuff up as best I could. 

No need to carry a "wet edge", you can jump around from spot to spot putting up the mortar.











At times a lot would drip off the trowel.  So I made sure the hardwood floor was covered up good.  In theory the floor is prefinished so cleaning it up where I did drip, should be easy.  I hammered the painted base boards pretty good so I’m sure the painters will hate me.  I’m to blame but they’re gonna have to fix it. 

Finished scratch coat on fireplace.










So far so good.  There will be a lot going on this week.  All the trades need to finish up.  My counter fabricator better call me or get in there too, as I have no time to wait.  A toilet goes in, and a sink is already installed elsewhere in the house, so we should be all set for septic and cistern inspections this week.  Beyond that it doesn’t seem like a lot needs to be done but it is a lot of work.  Trim wise alone, we need a ship’s ladder, tile, kitchen cabinets, and numerous other tasks completed in very short time. 

I’m sure I’ll be dreaming the “house” dream all week. 

I’d better bring dog food.

Attic painted.

Amazing how much natural light filters into the upstairs hallway of our cape cod home.

Everything in the house is masked off so they can spray paint the trim a glossy white.










P. S. In case you didn’t get enough zaniness, last night was a two-for as I also had the “flying” dream.  I have to fly soon for work, and of course the stress of flying is hitting me about a week and a half early.  In this installment I had the pleasure of the airliner I was in flying about thirty feet off a long two lane dirt road with trees on either side and electrical wires above.  The pilots come on the overhead and explain to the passengers that they’ve just realized the plane we’re flying on is really old and is at 700 hours (my mind makes this up) which is, I guess, a bad thing.  So while they figure out what to do, they’re going to fly really close to the ground at about 300 mph; that way if we crash we won’t plummet that far.

So while I’m freaking out about life, and googling “mental health therapists”, you can sit back and live vicariously through my life, both sleeping and awake.

First Snow……man

We made our first snow man last weekend. 

Our first snowman.

The snow that would go on to wreak havoc on our schedule during the work week, was perfectly benign and conducive to making a little snowman before we departed on Sunday.  To top him off we added clay eyes and twigs for arms.  James was a bit pokey getting his twig so ultimately it ended up as a “horn” on the snowman’s head.  It was about as much fun as I’ve had out there so far.  This place is going to be a perfectly good time for all, year round.
Painting has been dominating the house this week.  Other trades are trying to wrap up as well.  We have less than two weeks to complete everything and I honestly don’t know how it will all get done.  Because the painters have basically take over the place with all their masking and spraying it makes it impossible to get much else done in the main house.

The entire house is masked off for the spray painting of the trim

All the trim is being painted white.  The painters mask all the floors, walls and ceilings to prevent overspray.  Everything should be done painting wise by end of day tomorrow hopefully, so about 3-4 days total to finish sanding, mask and paint everything inside.  As you know, the outside doesn’t get painted until Spring when it warms up.
On the outside the excavator finished hooking up the septic system.  We’ll get a sink and toilet installed so we can get the system inspected next week.  We had a back up system installed for the sump pump as well.  As you know, and especially now, there is a lot of surface water the seeps down into the soil and eventually into the basement.  The back up sump pump is battery operated and will kick on in case of electrical failure.  It should also kick on if the primary pump stops working.  This will give us peace of mind in the long run that we’ve done everything we could to prevent flooding in the basement.  Of note, once the gutters are in they’ll divert most of the water that would currently be getting into the basement.  Landscaping and settling soil in the yard will also help to divert and keep water away.

We went with the heavier duty battery back up for our sump pump. It includes a back up pump, battery which should run the pump for up to 12 continuous hours and a trickle charger for the battery

Also the final hookups for the cistern were made this week and paperwork submitted for the final inspection as well.
In the basement it’s exciting to see the furnace installed now.  The geothermal lines are run from the foundation wall to the unit and each is fully insulated.  The “water furnace” is a hybrid system that includes a 95% efficient natural gas furnace as well as a geothermal system.  I’ll follow-up with more detailed info, but for now I believe the geo thermal system runs most of the time and the gas kicks on when it’s really cold out.  Very similar in principle to a hybrid car motor / engine.  The geo system also provides summer cooling so we don’t need an air conditioner condenser outside the house, for better aesthetics.

Water furnace unit installed. Large tank to the left is actually part of the drinking water supply.

Finish wise, the only thing going on this week has been installation of the 3×6 glass subway tiles in the Master Bathroom.  There are about 800 tiles that need to be installed.  So far it’s been two days.  I estimate another 1-2 days to finish being installed.  They look really nice and my brother has been very kind not to complain about what is surely a tedious chore, installing each tile individually.  We chose a staggered pattern.  The tiles are real glass with a white background.  The diamond grout has flecks of glass in it and casts a nice shadow line across each tile; providing a great deal of visual depth and interest to the shower.
Some of the electrical fixtures are going in as well.  I’m really happy with the lights I picked out for the Master Bathroom.  My goal for the bathroom was to give it a hotel feel so that in a way everyday would be like being on vacation at a really nice hotel.  The lights are retro art deco units from Restoration Hardware.  And the aforementioned glass tiles add a real touch of something special. 

Glass subway tile being installed.



Master Bath lights and cabinets, sans sinks and mirrors.

Beyond this, we’re just wrapping up some odds and ends.  I was going to work on the fireplace tomorrow but the painters need the house for another day.  Fortunately the snow is gone, so while we won’t be making any more snowmen for a while, at least tradesman can get to the house and work.  Goodbye for now.

Gallery wall upstairs has gotten its primer coat.


Fireplace Prep

Mother Nature is making up for the mild, snowless winter by pounding Northeast Ohio this weekend with snow.  There is still a lot to be done at the house so no one is really letting the weather hold us up.  Saturday I slated my time to work on the fireplace. I’ve never done any stone work before but I was looking forward to the task.  With all the snow I decided to take the Wrangler; packing it with some tools and a couple more light fixtures to drop off at the house. I swung by Lowes on the way out to the house to pick up some metal lathe. I’d never worked with this material before, but knew it’s pretty nasty stuff.  Basically welded metal that comes in sheet form, it’s sharp as a razor so work gloves are an absolute necessity at all times.  It folds easy, which is exactly what I had to do to the three 2×8 foot sheets I bought, to squeeze them into the Jeep.







Arriving at the house, I parked and got to work unloading everything.  I was working solo so I’d be getting the walk through via phone to my brother if I had questions.  First order of business was to get the fireplace covered in the metal lathe. The rough framing was covered with 1/2 inch OSB previously.  Upon further examination of the Quadrafire EDGE60 I tried to figure out what the three bent steel trim pieces were for.  Not surprisingly we’d taken the installation manual home so I had to call the wife and she talked me through it.  The fireplace needs 1.25″ of air space between the door front and the protruding stone, so these metal flanges will provide just that.  I took a marker and plotted out where the flanges would go.  No need to lathe these areas.

Marking out the space for the metal flange around the Studio front of our EDGE60. These areas shouldn't get metal lathe.










I started by cutting 13″ wide strips for the sides.  Using regular tin snips it was fairly easy to cut the mesh to size. It’s imperitive to wear work gloves; like I said, it’s razor sharp.  I then tacked it up on top of the OSB using simple roofing nails; trying to hit studs as best I could, and nailing into just the OSB if I had no other choice.  I’m pretty sure it’s important to keep it all flat against the plywood.  It was slow going, but really just because I don’t work very quickly and take lots of breaks.

Metal lathe on fireplace, attached using roofing nails.

The direction of the lathe doesn’t matter.  I basically worked from top to bottom; flattening out the lathe where I’d bent it to fit into the Jeep.  At the corners I hammered it so it wouldn’t stick out too far.  Notching it or removing wires before or after installation is super easy with a pair of pointy tin stips.

Using a hammer to knock down the corners of the metal lathe.

After all the wire mesh was on the fireplace, I noticed the fireplace pitches or leans forward a fair bit.  It was out about 5/8″ at the top vs. 1/4″ at the bottom.  This meant the metal trim pieces for the EDGE60 fireplace couldn’t just be fastened to the plywood.  I’d have to fir them out a fair bit.  I cut and mounted a wood block for the top flange spacer.  The two side flanges would require an angled shim, about 35″ long.  I’d leave those two for more skilled hands on Monday.  I cut the upper shim and screwed it to the plywood.  I then marked and fastened the steel spacer flange.  Predrilling the holes in the wood assured nothing split when I drilled in the fasteners.

Wood spacer above fireplace for mounting the 1.25" metal flange to.


Flange attached to spacer. We'll just have to notch the stone work around all this mess to make it all look pretty.

That’s about all I got accomplished.  I continue on with the first skim coat and then the stone eventually later this week hopefully. 
Beyond that, we cleaned up some more today, Sunday.  Trying to get everyone to migrate into the studio to work so we can control the mess.  The painters continue to fill nail holes and sand.  Monday should start a very busy week.  Christine and I are trying to wrap up ordering stuff like the towel bars and door knobs.  One interesting thing I saw the other day was it looks like the HVAC guys did install the geothermal loop for our hybrid heating and cooling system.  I didn’t take a pic but there are two new pipes protruding through my formerly pristine Superior foundation walls.  Exciting.
Anyway, here are some more pics.  As always, more to come.

The wife calls this my "Caveman iPad". Hey, all I had was a piece of drywall to write down electrical notes.


Master bath cabinets are in.


Jeep in snow


It’s amazing how long ago is feels since the bulldozer first ran through the brush, tracing what would become our driveway, back in June, or July.  I guess eight months is a long time, though about average for building a new home; fairly quick for a custom home.  As we approach the end of the project, the amount of action at the house is picking up significantly.  After a few weeks of only one or two trades on site we’re back to where it’s not uncommon to see three or more at a time.  Phone calls, texts, and emails start to dominate the day as final preparations are orchestrated.  The land looks completely different, 180 degrees different, than it did in mid summer, but the magnetism has only grown stronger.  Tonight, after dropping off tile, I stuck around to snap some photos and found myself, as usual, unable or unwilling to readily leave.  There’s something about the stillness or potential to the land and house as it transforms that fixates me to the sense of place that is being created.  And with every trip, either at night or as I lock up after everyone has left, I have to break myself away; forcing myself back into reality.

In many regards this will change once the pitter patter of little (and big) feet move into the house and life’s needful things are scattered about the yard, but hopefully not completely.  Hopefully, for as long as it stands, in the calm of Spring mornings, the buzz of late Summer nights or the solitude of an empty Winter day that magnetism will still be there, beckoning and calling myself, our family, or whomever has the genuine fortune of being there.

So to serve this purpose, or because of it, we’re doing everything we can to pay attention to all of the details.  We’re striving to finish the house with items that delight the senses.  For the most part this has gotten us into hot water budget wise, but many of the items will never be replaced or even remodelled.  I can honestly say and believe this.  There is a permanence in the land and structure that we are working to instill, even if it’s subconscious.  In an ever-changing world, this house will provide safe, comforting, harbor for all who come in contact with her. 

Or at least that’s the idea. 

Of course it’s eleven o’clock at night and I’m getting slap happy as we approach the finish line so take it for what it’s worth. 

Worst case scenario the door bell is pretty cool.

Pics for your enjoyment below.  HVAC, gutters, electrical, septic all start the beginning of the end to their journeys next week.  This weekend I’m tackling a list of odds n ends including the fireplace stonework myself.  We’ll also be going on our last shopping spree to get towel racks, door knobs and even house numbers. There’s so much to do, even I’ll be ready to leave at the end of the day.

Don't know if I showed you, but all the siding is done, even on the exterior of the loft.



Painters are filling nail holes and caulking all the trim. Caulking the trim will help seal up the house and get us a better score on our blower door test.


Most of the stair railing is done. Simple poplar hardwood rail, we'll have it painted white.


Water line for freezer needs to be moved. We'll seal up the gaping hole where it was before so we don't get air penetration into that cavity. Incidently they discovered that pantry door trim "locks" in the freezer making it impossible to remove once the cabinets are in. This will be solved via removeable trim. The screw heads will be photographed and then spackled over. I the freezer needs to come out we'll just look at the pic, remove spackle, screws, and trim.


Fireplace surround is covered in 1/2" OSB. I'll put mesh and cultured stone on it this weekend. Wish me luck, I've never actually done any of that. No worries, not like it's a focal point or anything.


We had the HVAC guys over at Sissler Heating and Cooling drop off the registers so the base boards could be cut to size.


First floor flight of stairs with rail mostly finished. Railing on middle two flights was compromised due to the shift occuring with the intruding foundation wall. Not much we can do at this point but live with it.


Studio railing in place.


Yes it's our doorbell. It's cast, and finished in oil rubbed bronze. By artist Michael Healy