Energy Hog

Ohio Edison sent me a nice little treat in the mail today.  The electric bill for the new house provides a nice reminder of what a disaster this project truly is at times, start to finish.  Inexplicably I’ve got two accounts set up with the utility….maybe instead of moving the meter they just threw a second one on the house.  Actually makes sense….I’ll have to check tomorrow…..maybe the power pole still has a meter servicing the temp outlets that they snaked into the house.  Meanwhile the cheapo temp electric furnace is running off of the main power.  Between the temp electric furnace and sump pump running 24/7 our electrical usage is roughly 6x that of our cookie cutter colonial that we’re in now.  We’re averaging a usage of about 100 KWH per day at the new place!  For reference, we average about 570 KWH a month at our current “builder special” house. So something on the utility’s end is out of sorts or we need to get the regular furnace hooked up and stop using saws as soon as possible.  I can’t afford $500 per month in electrical bills for a house that is supposedly energy-efficient.  We’re also going through sump pumps like candy, I think we’re on our 3rd or 4th one already.  The cost “per mile” for this house is tracking towards an extraordinary number.  It’s like construction amateur hour and the joke’s on me. 

From an ecological and social standpoint, compared to what is going on at our new house, I’d be doing less harm to the world right now if I herded three dozen baby seals into downtown Cleveland and beat them to death with a ball-peen hammer in front of a kindergarten class.  At this rate I’ll make Big Coal bosses blush and Big Oil tycoons want to write alarming letters to the editor.

We were successful in selecting carpet today, now we just need to get it priced out.  I don’t have the information in front of me, but we did select Mohawk Smartstrand carpet for most of the second floor.  It’s partially made from corn derived resin which reduces the reliance on using petroleum to manufacture the material. (Apparently I will need said petroleum to heat my house at some point so win-win). The master bed carpet is also Mohawk.  The attic will have, what I call, a berber style carpet (forget the name) in a snooty grid pattern.  Most importantly all the carpet is Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label Plus which means it meets indoor air quality standards.  This is important because the house is (supposedly) tight and won’t exhale the toxic fumes as readily as a leaky old house would.  All the crap they put into carpets gets ingested and deployed throughout your body via your blood stream.  If I’m going to deploy crap throughout my body it’ll be via Anheuser-Busch products not some off gassing carpet.  Besides, if you know my kids (especially the little one), they spend half their time face down or rolling around on the carpet.  Don’t need them being pissed at me thirty years from now when they’re shooting blanks or battling cancer.

We’ll have to wait and see how much the carpet costs.  We’re trying to get two quotes.  We checked Lowes, and while they have Smartstrand, it’s all different “model” names compared to the distributor we went to.  Once again corporate America makes it impossible to compare apples to apples or make an informed decision.  “Do as we say and everything will be just fine” they seem to be telling us.  None of the carpet at Lowes had the CRI Green Label Plus on the back as far as I could tell.  It was Mohawk Smartstrand so I’m assuming it’s Green Label Plus but no icon so one can’t be sure.  I would have asked but I’m pretty sure no one at Lowes would have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about.  I will say though the display was visually appealing although not really informative.

I’ll have more for you later.  Not much I can do til Monday.


Upstairs Downstairs

I’ve been living vicariously through grainy phone pictures the last couple days.  Fortunately it’s staying lighter later but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily getting out there daily.  I stopped by the other morning to drop a check off for one of the trades but mornings are still pitch black making it impossible to take in anything sensory of value. Today I did sneak out after work, postponing dinner a few extra minutes, to indulge my curiosity.  For I had seen nothing but grainy pictures of what was going on out there.

Waffling over the fireplace surround design continued to be a favored pastime and today was the last possible time to make a design decision.  The plan is to surround the Edge 60 with the same quartz that will be on the kitchen counters.  The quartz material will then “cascade” down onto the floor creating a quasi “hearth”, inset into the light maple hardwood flooring.  Surrounding all of that will be our cultured field stone.  Look, the finished product will either be really nice or look like a complete, over priced, train wreck.  Honestly I have no idea.  That pretty much goes for the entire project at this point.  All we can do is hope we made a few good decisions along the way.

Edge60 with its Studio faceplate in place. Surrounding the faceplate will be Silestone quartz from floor to about 5 or 6 inches above the faceplate. On the floor will be a panel of the Silestone as well. You can see where we left the wood flooring off. Overall about 48" wide. We shall see...















One annoying anomaly is there are reports that cold air is coming in below the fireplace.  I’ll have to investigate this weekend.  Additionally we’ll frame out the breezeway and porch columns, install an ironing board and other miscellaneous odds and ends.

Most of the light maple hardwood floor is installed, including the stair landings and hallways.  Speaking of stairs, the finished stairs are all installed.  Everything is wrapped up to protect the wood finish of the treads but they are remarkably beautiful from what I can tell.  The appear to be structurally sound and of proper design.  It’ll be weeks before they gain their full complement of safety rails and two-tone paint job (stain and white paint).  The stringers are 3 or 4 laminated layers of 3/4″ thick wood (poplar?).  Each floating tread is about 2.5 to 3 inch thick veneered maple.  Code requires there be no larger than a 4″ gap so a strip of wood is added to the underside of each tread.  This helps support the tread and minimizes the opening between treads.  Open treads are preferred because they allow better air flow from the basement to the second floor; helping with the air current that will help keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  They also happen to look really cool and drool worthy.  We’ll wrap them in berber carpet to soften the steps for little ones crawling up and down.  The open tread design should be okay safety wise.  I grew up with open treads and seemingly survived unscathed.

Stairs without their protective covering


Left stringer is one piece of 3/4" material. It will be beefed up with two more layers. Below, that open triangle will be enclosed with an MDF panel painted white.

The interior doors were delivered today too.  I didn’t think we had that many but a quick survey this evening revealed they are all over the place….seemingly multiplying behind tuned backs.  The style looks really nice, which is to say nice equates to a simple three panel “farmhouse” look.

C'mon baby light my fire. The doors arrived today.

The garage doors look remarkably better today.  They installed some more trim and weather-stripping to cover up the 2″ gaps that were present previously.  Looks like they’re slowly working their way around cupola with siding as well too.  As soon as that’s done, gutters can go on I suspect.

Light maple hardwood flooring going in in the Family Room and Kitchen

Hmmm…..reckon that’s it for today.  Doors and trim will start going in tomorrow.  We need to secure mirrors, the last of the lights and get cabinets delivered this week.  There’s some tile that needs to be finished downstairs and we’re struggling to get the glass tile for the Master bath shower. 
Finally, switching gears, check out this book that Linda Killian wrote.  It came out today.  It’s called “The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents”.  I was part of a focus group that Linda interviewed in Ohio.  It was interesting to participate and hear what other independent voters had to say.  I placed my order today via  Check it out there or at your local book store.


A snowy Saturday proved perfect to spend some quality “alone time” with the land.  The wife’s hair appointment and kids preoccupied by the antics of their grandmother left a void for my attention that I had every intention of filling with a visit to the new house.  The house would lie quiet that day.  Eric, my brother and master carpenter, had thrown his back out so it was unlikely he’d be out there.  Expecting as much, and with only a couple of hours at my disposal, I decided to forego taking any tools with me to the job site.  Rather I donned my hat and boots, and threw my camera case on the passenger seat of the Jeep.  With a turn of the key she fired up and we backed out of the snowy driveway. 

Reaching the land the “new” drive lay icy and snow-covered.  I glanced over and noticed the gas meter had been installed the day previous.  Three little meters, all in a row, one for each house on the drive.  From that standpoint the house was done.  Driving up the long drive and arriving at the house I could see we were still far from done.  Pulling my yellow Jeep alongside the garage I was pleased to see the garage doors were installed.  The illusion of carriage doors with the convenience, and savings, of overhead panels.  I could also not help but notice all the siding was done, save the back side of the attic cupola.  The porches still need their steps and columns, but otherwise the outside was done.  At least done until the Spring sun arrives to make temperatures more conducive to painting.

I darted inside to examine the interior while the grey of winter daylight filtered through the windows.  Hardwood was beginning to take hold of the first floor, obscuring the OSB “plywood”.  I had to lift up the protective paper covering to gander at the light maple finish.  It will be weeks before a clear image will appear of how the flooring looks.  Upstairs the laminate flooring is in as well.  This time dark walnut carries the day in the craft room and upstairs studio.  The lavender studio walls dance wonderfully in concert with the charcoal colored floor, under a flood of north light coming through the studios’ 20′ window assembly.  Just outside the studio, the gallery wall is outfitted with its MDF skin.  The gallery door panels sit patiently near their openings, awaiting to be fitted. 

Quickly I dart through the rest of the house, examining every room.  Once assured all is well, or as well as it will be for that moment, I open the hefty front door and stand on the front porch.  It was crisp day, in the low 20’s.  Snow falling gently the entire duration of my visit to the land.  Camera in hand I step off the deck on to the, finally, frozen ground.  For once I don’t have to worry about mud.  I’d spend the next hour circling our 6.5 acres of land on foot in the falling snow.

We have seven neighbors bordering our property.  This time of year I can see at least six houses from the land.  You’d think it’d be tough to feel isolated and meditative being surrounded by man-made structures.  But during, and after, my hour tour I felt wonderfully refreshed and relaxed.  Nature does wonders and I can safely say, one’s soul does not need endless vistas (as argued by others) to find the calmness she offers.  I thoroughly enjoyed my brief trek; pausing to enjoy the solitude, taking the time to capture that which interested my eye with a photo or two.  I was really focusing in on the small details Nature offers. And in those details I can see beauty and possibility.  Realistically though it was cold so I didn’t linger long.  What I did find, or rather confirm though, is that the land has spiritual and healing powers.  It has the power of discovery and reflection.  To allow one to find what they are looking for in themselves.  My spiritual friend Corky and I have talked about meditation during this project and we’ve talked about the power of land (this land) to sooth the soul.  I was glad to be able to experience it first hand this Saturday.  Walking through that snow, past bushes that I’ve picked black berries from, around old trees, over tufts of reeds, I felt connected to something greater than myself.

Now what I need is to get the house done and get the land cycling through its normal flow again.  I need to get out amongst the snow and dormant plants in the winter; and amongst the leaves (and ticks I suppose) in the summer.  This land can sustain, heal and create.  It has done so for thousands of years and will continue to do so.  It has energy and a voice.  I look forward to experiencing both first hand as they grow around me, my family and those who visit.  If you don’t make it out to the land, find your own piece of Nature to explore and find solace in.  Whether it be a Rocky Mountain Vista or a meter of grass in Manhattan, open up your spirit and soul to Nature, breathing in every one of her detailed goodness.

Here are some pics from the day, enjoy. (Obviously the bridge, train and parking lot are from the park…..we have none of those at the new house).




Quick pics from tonight.  Drywall is complete.  Painting and tile work has commenced.  We’re having everything painted white except the Master Bedroom is painted a color.  This will save me from having to errect a tall ladder to paint the tall room after we move in.  Lights continue to trickle in and we’re firming up the final selections.

The budget has essentially exploded for the project as we’re tracking about 25% over budget.  For now it’s looking like $160+ per square foot to constuct, which is bit much for Northeast Ohio.

Enjoy pics. 

Bronze colored 18x18 tile in Master Bath


2x3 bronze tiles on shower floor.


Glass tile samples, for shower walls


Hallway light. Bronze finish. Injection molded frame and diffuser. Kichler lighting.


Sherwin Williams Lemongrass flat paint in Master Suite. At night with a shop light it looks like pea soup or vomit.