Waiting For Spring

Writing-wise all is at a standstill. Tuesday evening finds me burnt out. After a week of travel for work, this week finds me up to my eyeballs in work – both paying and the behind the scenes stuff that doesn’t pay anything but hopefully sows seeds that will amount to something someday. Nothing is going on around the estate as we wait out the remainders of Winter – it snowed yet again today.

I have spent some time working on a few maintenance items including a new filter and ionization wires for the air cleaner. Cost is around $75 annually to replace these items. And I’ve made arrangements to have the septic tank pumped; glamorous yes, I know. One note in case you’re curious, pumping is around $350 dollars for 2,500 gallons. I believe our tank is closer to 3,000 so I don’t know if that means we get 500 gallons free or they leave 500 gallons in there. Pumping only is needed every 2-3 years. Maintenance on the septic is $250 per year too. So while we lack a sewer bill, there still are costs involved. 100′ is the cutoff from tanker truck to tank so I’m hoping we’re closer than that – something I never thought about when we built the house and had the tank installed.

We’ve started making our Spring chore list for outside if the weather ever breaks. Included on that are finishing the sand box and cleaning out the veggie garden. Once warm weather arrives we’ll venture in the garage and find all the seed starting supplies. I bought sunflower seeds, and the wife bought a variety of tea related plant seeds…like camomile? Does that sound right?

Beyond that it’s work, work, work 24/7.

I won’t be writing much in the foreseeable future. I’m even too tired to come up with anything profound, inspiring or otherwise. Be kind to each other everyone. Stay active and involved. These are exciting times to be alive. Take the time to hug your loved ones and enjoy every minute of every day. Soon we’ll all be able to flee the confines of our homes and run around in the sun chasing sprouts and butterflies. Or at least I hope so.

I’ll give Dixon a hug for all of you. He’ll like that a lot I bet.

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Washer and Dryer

We’ve finally gotten some badly needed rain around here the last few days. Everything is growing nicely for the most part. Unfortunately the weeds are taking over and the grass desperately needs cutting. The veggies are growing well, but it’s the same story back there….lots of weeds. The service berry bushes do not look well so add to my “to do” list, look up what might be wrong with those. The rose-bush I sprayed looks horrible as well. And don’t even get me started on the apple trees. Long story short, not working in the yard for several days means everything goes to hell in a hand basket out there. Well there’s nothing I can do about that.

This weekend was consumed with an art show, which was probably Christine’s best ever. But that just means she’s out of commission, in terms of helping with anything other than her boys and art, as she needs to restock her inventory. Meanwhile I’ve been busy with regular work, and I need to get in the studio as well to prepare for an upcoming show too. The yard is just going to have to fend for itself until the weekend, other than maybe cutting the grass one evening if the rain ever stops.

One thing that did happen last week was our new washer and dryer were delivered. We replaced our 14-year-old top load washer, and dryer with a Whirlpool set featuring a high-efficiency front load washing machine and dryer. The old units were showing signs of age, but more importantly the new units are more congruent with the new house’s mechanical systems. The new washer for example uses around 15-18 gallons a load vs. 40 gallons a load in the old unit. The average family does 300 loads a year, so this saves us 6,600-7,500 gallons of water annually. This is great because we’re on a finite water source in between rain storms. Also less water for laundry means less water going in the septic system. Top loading washers can easily overpower a septic system. It’s recommended we only do 1-2 loads a day max with the top loader, which means we’d do laundry every day with our family. Another plus is the front loader, or horizontal axis, washer uses less soap. This is another plus for the septic. On a recent inspection of our septic tank we were reprimanded for the amount of phosphorus that was in our septic tank, much of which was probably coming from laundry detergent. The new high-efficiency (HE) detergent, used in lower quantities should provide some relief to our septic system.

Electricity wise, both of the new units should lower our electric bill every month as well. I have to look but there may even be a rebate from our electric company for buying more energy-efficient models. Other pluses include the fact that the washer squeezes more water out of the clothes which reduces drying times, which in turn saves energy and money. The units are also gentler on clothes so they’ll last longer. The Energy Star website states “It’s estimated that there are 76 million top-loading washers with agitators, 25 million of which are at least 10 years old, still in use across the country. Washers manufactured before 1998 are significantly less efficient than newer models. Together, these inefficient washers cost consumers $2.8 billion each year in energy and water.” One last comment, dryers are all generally the same efficiency and haven’t improved much, where you save energy is through the reduced drying times. We also air dry a lot of our clothes as well.

The guys at Lowes delivered and installed the our shiny new white units, and even hauled our old ones away to the garage. I’m holding on to the old ones and going to try to donate them to charity as they still have some life in them, and something is better than nothing. I had them hook up all the water lines, electrical and the dryer vent. It’s interesting that dryers do not come with electrical cords. We had to buy one and have it installed. Granted installation was free, but if you’re doing it yourself you may want to keep it in mind. Also our dryer required a water line for the steam function, so keep in mind you need to “Y” that off of the cold water line going to the washing machine.

For the dryer I was going to convert it to side vent, myself, but now that the unit is installed, it is actually 33″ from the wall to the front of the unit, which is what my design had planned for. So I could side vent it and try to squish the washer and dryer back 2″-4″ more but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I think I’ll return the Whirlpool 4-way vent conversion kit and leave the vent coming out of the back of the dryer.  This will save me $50 for the vent kit and save the hassle of converting it (either by myself or paying the appliance guy $100). The finished  location of the washer and dryer should suffice for our design, as is.

The wife’s been reading the manuals to figure out how to work her new toys. It’s Monday and we’ve yet to do a load in the new units but that should change tomorrow. Regardless, the yard and cluttered house…and even the laundry will have to wait as best they can as we’re up to our eyeballs in stuff to do.  Never a dull moment.

Yet another deer picture, this time a buck bedded down in our front yard like he owns the place.

Yet another deer picture, this time a buck bedded down in our front yard like he owns the place.

This is the big buck that lives by the VW I think. His antlers are getting big.

This is the big buck that lives by the VW I think. His antlers are getting big.

So many buttons, so little time. Trying to figure out how to work the new washing machine.

So many buttons, so little time. Trying to figure out how to work the new washing machine.

The new Duets patiently waiting to clean all the ticks off our clothes.

The new Duets patiently waiting to clean all the ticks off our clothes.

Case Study: Annual Energy Usage In An Energy Efficient Home

[editor’s note: I changed the title to ‘energy efficient home’ from ‘passive solar’ – this post doesn’t talk about passive solar that much, I can delve into that at another post]

Wow that’s a pretty boring title for a blog post.  I figured “Murdering Fewer Mountains and Trees So I Could Play My XBox” would be a bit to melodramatic for a Saturday night.  My new year’s resolution, which I decided upon last night was I wasn’t going to spend the day on the computer.  Well I made it ’til dinner time before I just had to hop on and fire up an Excel spreadsheet, and for your benefit, a blog post.

I spent the last hour or two pulling all of our utility bills for the last year or so, and entering them into my spreadsheet.  Also I cracked open a bottle of 2010 Joel Gott California Cabernet…it’s pretty good.  Whoever brought it over, thank you.  You’re welcome back here any time. [editor’s note: my sister said she got me the wine so I wouldn’t have to drink Yellowtail.  Thanks sis.]

2010 Joel Gott 815 California Cabernet Savignon makes everything better.

2010 Joel Gott 815 California Cabernet Sauvignon makes everything better.

So I looked at the energy costs from 2009 at our old house.  This was the last year I have complete records for on a previous spreadsheet.  The records I pulled for this new house span from March last year when we were still finishing the house through this month’s bills.

The old house was a cookie cutter colonial, about 2,700 sq. feet.  In 2009 there were just 2 of us and a baby.  Heating was natural gas, electric everything else including cooling.  The furnace had a humidifier too. We had city water and sewer at the old place.  Why this is important is for two reasons: city water and sewer means water magically shows up and leaves the house and we pay a bill to the utility to make that happen.  This also means we’re not really expending any electricity to get that water and send it back, as far as I know.  The old house also had about half the number of light bulbs compared to our over the top new house and it’s hundred or so light sources.  Cooking was natural gas predominantly.  Washer and dryer were electric just like in new house (we have the same appliances in the new place).  Most of the light bulbs were incandescent but many were CFL’s and a few halogen bulbs; no LED’s. Finally we had a gas fireplace but we never really used that.

The new house is about 3,000 sq. ft. and there are 4 of us in here living.  Heating and cooling comes by way of our hybrid system employing geothermal and natural gas. Our fancy system also had an air exchanger and full house air filtration system.  Water and sewer is handled by our cistern and septic systems.  Both of these run off of electricity to pump water in, filter it and send it back out after our bodies filter it a little more.  The new place also has a sump pump which runs all the time basically to keep us from going under water during wet periods.  Cooking is handled by duel fuel range, and electric appliances.  As I said the new place has a ton of light sources, i.e. bulbs, so that alone is a huge load.  Only 4 of the bulbs are LED’s (not including the range hood’s 4 LED bulbs). The rest are all incandescent light bulbs.  The fireplace is our handy-dandy pellet burning unit, and we’ve barely made a dent in our free ton of pellets we got from Northfield Fireplace. It’ll be 2014 before I have to buy pellets.  We run the fireplace every few nights when hanging out in the family room.

Usage and lifestyle are about the same in both homes, for example in terms of watching tv and play video games.  The new place does not have any electric garage door openers though, not that it matters a whole lot.  I’ve just been too cheap / broke to put them in yet.

R Family Company, LLC estimated we’d use $2,413 annually on gas and electric when they did our Energy Start rating last year.  The engineer and architect estimated the usage to be around $1,500 – $2,000 a year just for HVAC…I think.  I’d have to delve into the paper work a bit more to confirm that.  In reality we’re pretty darn close to those numbers, after considering a few things.  I added up utility costs across the four major utilities most of us pay: electric (E), natural gas (G), water (W) and sewer (S).  Other utilities are lifestyle like phone, cable and internet so they’re not important in my calculations.  So adding up EGWS we’re at about $3,080 for the year 3/12 to 2/13.  Our 2009 total in the old house was $3,129.  So actually a little LESS in the new place.  Now there are some expenses not added into the new house such as septic service like getting it pumped out or fixed if it broke.  Same for the water system and sump pump in terms of repairs.  I did include bleach and filters for the water purification system.  HVAC filters would be an added cost in the new home too (the old place had a washable filter).  There is one bill for electric in March of last year that was $800 when we had the resistance heater in place I believe.  That throws our new house total off a bit.  If you take most of that out of the equation then we’re spot on with the $2,400 estimate Bob gave us from Energy Star.

Here's what we paid in 2009 and what we paid in our first year in the new house (most of the year at least)

Here’s what we paid in 2009 and what we paid in our first year in the new house (most of the year at least)

Our Natural Gas (G) usage plummeted off the face of the earth.  Dropping a whopping 90%, I don’t even think the gas furnace kicks in all.  You can see it rises in the winter, so some heat usage and probably more cooking usage as well.  Most of what we pay for gas is fees, taxes and the privilege of having access to gas.  The geothermal heating is just fine for us.  It’s not too cold or clammy like some people claimed it to be.  The fireplace is offsetting some of this too, so figure if we had to buy pellets (a $100-$250 a year maybe?) our heating cost would go up.

Electrical (E) usage is way over the top at nearly 3x the usage of the old house.  But consider: that wild March bill last year, the septic, sump and cistern all running off electric, electric oven and the biggest culprit all the light bulbs…all add up to higher (E) usage and costs.

Water (W) and Sewer (S) costs are a fraction of what they were but once I have to maintain the systems it’ll be a wash I bet….think about replacing the septic tank, field and cistern and there isn’t enough wine in the world to make that not be a major bummer, man.

First Energy now has this cool energy usage graph that customers can utilize to see where they are spending money on electricity

First Energy now has this cool energy usage graph that customers can utilize to see where they are spending money on electricity

Here's another First Energy  graph that highlights electric usage

Here’s another First Energy graph that highlights electric usage

I logged onto First Energy’s site and they have a new energy summary that will show you how much energy you’re using and where at.  It looks pretty good though it works off of a lot of assumptions, I’m not sure you should get too hung up on the exact numbers.  I filled in all kinds of info about my appliances and house.  I like all the color coded graphs and bars.  It even compares my house to the average house.  For electricity we barely beat out an average house ($27 per month) but for overall energy we win by a large margin ($700 annually). It’s actually embarrassing see our costs pegged all the way to the left on the little cost graph……not.  Granted these numbers are just one month’s were of data I think.  I’d have to delve into it deeper to see what a year would really save us.  Also I need to go back and look at our Energy Star docs and engineering docs to see what they estimated and where we landed.  For instance I think the engineer said about $1,000 annual saving on HVAC alone.

By the way, we keep the house at about 70 degrees throughout the year.  The fireplace thermostat gets set at 75 degrees in the evenings just in the family room area.  Personally I need to be in a certain thermal band to be comfortable so I’m not one to dial the temp up or down to far, even to save cost and planet.

I wish someone invented a smart meter, that my utility companies would support and use, that would do all this monitoring for me and just output a report on my computer or phone. Maybe I should design one.

We can save costs in the coming year a couple of ways.  Convert more bulbs to LED’s, especially the bulbs we use the most.  I plan on insulating the hot water tank. I did that in the old house.  We can insulate the basement walls even more, insulating the top 4′ that are at or above grade.  There are some air holes at the corners of some of the exterior doors that I need to close up as well.

One note, when we go to install a solar power system, having this historical electrical usage will be helpful in sizing the system. Right now it’d be difficult to go zero energy (use as much or less than we produce) because we’re at about 17,250 KWH per year.  Let’s say we had 15,000 KWH per year…that translates to a 15 KW solar system.  That would take up about 1,500 square feet of space….our garage roof is probably about 600 square feet (the part that faces southwest).  So we’d have to cover the house bits up too with solar panels.  Cost would be somewhere between $40,000 and $80,000 to install.  Not too bad considering there’s a Jeep I’d love to have that costs $40,000.  Savings over 20 years could be as high as $20,000 to $40,000 (including tax breaks and factoring in the cost of the system i.e. above and beyond).  The system would save between 400 and 800 thousand lbs of CO2 as well.  These are just wild ass guess numbers I gleaned from Dove Solar & Wind’s website while drinking my wine.  Our system would ultimately be smaller; we’d reduce our usage quite a bit and employ other goodies like solar water heating and LED’s everywhere.

Also today we went to the zoo.  They had a cool exhibit talking about collecting rain water and rain gardens.  Around this building there were two rain gardens with a “bio swale” connecting the two.  This inspired me.  We’ve got this surface water problem in the front yard that I’m going to tackle this Spring.  It’s late so I’ll talk more about it in a future episode.  For now you can look at a  couple pictures of the front yard and our temporary pond so to speak.  Night kids.

This is the little pond we get between the lawn and front bed, every time it rains or the snow melts.

This is the little pond we get between the lawn and front bed, every time it rains or the snow melts.

Spring project will be to address the surface water issue by reworking the topography by hand to get the water to drain.

Spring project will be to address the surface water issue by reworking the topography by hand to get the water to drain.

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.
 
-Chris

Thanksgiving

Board and batten siding on north wing of house.

 
 Happy Thanksgiving!
 
Obligatory greeting because today is the fourth Thursday of November and I live in the USA.  So, full disclosure, I am not a huge Thanksgiving fan.  From a culinary standpoint the holiday, manifested primarily through the Thanksgiving meal, is less than desirable in my eye.  Too many brown items on my plate.  This is regardless of who prepares the meal.  Chef Ramsay could prepare dinner next year in our over priced kitchen and it probably wouldn’t be my favorite (bonus points to you for realizing I picked a Brit as my chef example, irony or poor pop references are my middle name). In my case, this year was better than most as we kicked back at my brother’s place and partook in the deep-fried turkey he made for the family.  But generally speaking, brown food doesn’t cut it for me.  Other pain points of the day include liberals protesting revisionist history and the fact that I’m usually hung over on Thursday (and Friday) morning.  And no, I will not be in front of Best Buy in my tent tonight waiting for Black Friday sales.
 
Sure the food gets all the press, but for me the point of Thanksgiving is to take a day amongst the other 364 each year and give thanks, and hopefully hang with folks that I haven’t seen in a while.  And to think warm thoughts about those I can’t hang out with today (many of whom are in states warmer than Ohio incidentally).  I try not to limit my thanks to one day but if one has to binge on something today I say “thank you’s” are just as good to binge on as food or booze.  (Full disclosure, despite my luke warm admiration for Thanksgiving dinner, I did go up for seconds, and I burnt through my fair share of wine and beer today.) 
 
Before I get to the touchy, feely stuff, let’s talk house.  I had the opportunity to check out the job site on Wednesday before it got dark.  The yard looked a lot different as it was torn up and pipes are running every which way.  Our 10,000 gallon cistern is in and pretty much all of the water collection pipes are installed.  There were two sections of roof we’re not collecting from so those downspouts run on a separate line.  Everything outputs to one of the pools collecting on either side of the driveway.  It’s exciting to see all of the infrastructure going in.  When complete we will have the equivalent of a water collection and treatment plant on site; a small-scale version of what larger civilization centers use throughout the world.  Water is managed on site from the second it lands to the time it exits the property.  Every drop of water we use essentially is “rented” by us and the output back into the yard where it is purified again and sent packing back into the environment.  Pretty cool and completely self sustaining.  We’ll use nature as our model (google “Biomimicry” to learn more) to collect, process and dispose of water on site.  We’ll be creating natural habitats that will support a variety of native plants and animals. 
 

10,000 gallon cistern. Lid and two scrubbers will be visible above ground. We'll have to get creative with the landscaping so you can't see them very well when you come to visit.

Finally we are done with the blue rigid insulation foam on the outside of the house.  Four months later, from the day we unloaded the sooty 2×8 panels, big Tony finally installed the last panel.  I wasn’t too far off on my estimate.  We did have to buy and install 4×8 sheets of 2″ in the screen porch area.  We had a lot of scrap foam, but the cutoffs weren’t appropriate for the large wall section.  All in all I did a good job estimating square footage (yes, I’m patting myself on the back.) 
 
Siding is coming along faster now that they are on the ground.  The attic still needs its siding but for now they’re back on the ground.  We went with 12″ miratec boards for the “boards” and 4″ miratec ripped down to 2″ for the battens.  All the joints are sealed  with caulk to keep moisture out of the ends.  The trim boards throughout are miratec too.  I consider the miratec to be a synthetic wood based material.  It has a smooth side and faux wood grain side.  We went smoot side out for the trim.  It will paint up real nice and give us a clean modern look.

Septic tank is back filled. We'll be able to see the tops, but once again, some creative landscaping can obscure these items.

 
 Tomorrow Christine and I will work on caulking all of the electrical outlets and penetrations.  The following day will be our preliminary blower test. 
 
We’ll have the pleasure in the coming days of giving Corky, Barb and another friend tours  of the property.  Will be the first time they’ve seen it since Corky helped clear the house site and they blessed the land back in June / July.  Our other guest has an acute interest in practical sustainability and energy efficiency; so I’m sure he’ll be delighted to learn more about what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re achieving it.
 
 I love showing off the property and sharing all the great things we’re trying to accomplish, it’s a great learning opportunity, so no arm bending required on my part to show off the joint.
 

A PVC pipe network underground collects ALL the water off of the hard roof surfaces and manages the water in a controlled manner. About 85% of the water collected will be the house's sole water supply.

So that’s about it for the house today.  As expected everyone had the day off, though I think even Shane was out there working on the cistern lines this morning. We’ve been fortunate with many of the people pouring their time and effort into our project (yes, I get that I’m paying them, but c’mon it’s Thanksgiving and the dude was probably out there gluing pipe and slopping mud around; more than any of you will get out of me on any given holiday). 
 
Today is a good day for reflection; and even an insensitive jerk like me has been known to reflect on my life and world around me every once in a while (when not drinking or eating.)
 
 As I’ve said, Autumn is my favorite time of year.  Thanksgiving is a nice way station between the saturation of Halloween and the sentimental overload of Christmas. It’s a holiday second only to Christmas, I think, in terms of reflection and self reckoning.  Afterall I truly believe even the most jaded amongst us have something to be grateful for. And here’s a day focused on gratitude.  Much like the settlers around whom the holiday is founded, I guess Thanksgiving is a point of debarkation from where we’ve been and an opportunity to chart what lies ahead.  In contrast, it’s easy to feel optimistic while the Easter season lays waste to March and April and replaces them with daffodils and ham sandwiches.  You want to really

Detail of downspout routing for use as water supply or diversion to natural pools near driveway.

get to the nuts and bolts of your brief existence there’s no better time than whilst chipping frost from your windshield, raking dead leaves in the yard or digging through turkey left overs.

 
 I’m thankful for everything that makes up the thirty-eight orbits around the sun that I’ve had on this blue marble. This includes the good, the bad and the ugly.  The mosaic that is my life is not necessarily extraordinary; at least to the average person.  But what is extraordinary is that it is my mosaic. 
 
 I could never type an all-inclusive list of what I’m thankful for.  I’ve been extremely fortunate in my lifetime; more so than any one man deserves I suspect.  I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had. More so I’m thankful for the people I’ve had in my life.  Some I’ve known my whole life.  Others I’ve known for what seemed to be a blink of the eye.  Some I had the pleasure of spending this special day with; others that I could only spend time with in my heart today. Still others that will forever be available only in memories.  I’m thankful for those that brought me into, have nurtured me in and that I’ve brought into this world.  I’m thankful for what they’ve done, and not done, for me.

Blue foam is done!!!! The entire house is encased in 4″ rigid insulation. We ran out so we had to use 2″ new foam doubled up in the screen porch area.

 I’m thankful for them all.

  
Instead of saying “Happy Thanksgiving”, I should be saying “thanks” to everyone.  I’ll plan on trying that a lot more next year on Thanksgiving day; and the other 364.
 
“Thanks.”
 
-Chris
 
 
 
 

Board and batten siding. Overhang of foam and siding onto foundation is a bit much. Will ruin the look we're going for on the foundation when we go to install stone. We'll fix it down the road though. Need to get siding done without delay.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cool goggles I'm ordering from Restoration Hardware. What? I had a free $100 to spend. I will rock these come snow shovelling season.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Not So Heavy Metal

I don’t know what’s going on or who we pissed off but virtually nothing is happening at the house. In all fairness I’ve only mustered enough energy and time to wrap and finish off four more windows.  Beyond that not much is happening.  The blue rigid insulation continues to be put on, along with the firring strips for the siding.  Most of the dormers are done and the west gable is complete.  The porch roof also now has underlayment.  Our roofer recommended, and installed, ice guard over the entire roof due to the shallow 2.5/12 pitch of the roof.  The screen porch roof is a lot easier to walk on than the 12/12 pitch of the main house.  Almost like walking on the ground.  All this work is in preparation for the other roofer who will install the metal roof.

recycled blue Dow 4″ rigid insulation on exterior of house, with firring strips on top for siding and sealing of joints.

Which leads us to today.  They started installing the standing seam metal roof today!  Rejoice!

Standing seam metal roof on garage.

In case you were dying with anticipation, we went with Sheffield’s COOLR Energy Efficient Metal Roofing Material in a Pre-Weathered Galvalume color.  Thickness is 24 gauge (as opposed to a typical 26 gauge material.)  This metallic color is a Kynar 500 finish and looks like a charcoal grey in regular light.  Today it looked light grey due to the overcast rainy skies.  This color, like most COOLR colors is EnergyStar and LEED 2009 compliant.  It has an ISR (initial solar reflectance) of 0.30 and an EMI (emissivity) of 0.79, and finally an SRI (solar reflectance index) of 27.  These numbers are fairly respectable and should help keep the house cool in the summer.  The durable metal finish will outlast me, even if I stopped drinking and started exercising.  We’ll never have to replace our roof unless, god forbid, we get hit by a massive hail storm or tornado.  Only worry might be a scratch or rust but the Kynar finish is pretty durable.  I’m not worried.

The finish will be good to for collecting rain water as our primary water supply.  I did some research and decided that a metal roof was the best finish for collecting rain water for my family.  You can use pretty much anything other than cedar shakes.  The cedar will leach stuff into the water that’ll make you sick.  Asphalt shingles don’t sound like an appealing surface to drink from so that, in conjunction with having to replace them every 10-20 years, nixed that option.  Copper, Aluminum, and slate all would have been viable options as well I suppose.  Plastic roofing was a possible option too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally I stopped out early this morning to post up notes for the AWOL electricians and noticed our excavator (the guy) out working in the dark, the lights on the excavator (the big yellow machine) illuminating the back yard.  Today was a double-header of success in that in addition to the roof, the septic tank was installed.  Not sure if it was inspected but at some point they’ll truck in 1,800 gallons of water to test the system and get the inspector to sign off on it.  The septic system won’t actually be hooked up to the house until virtually when we move in to assure it stays “clean” and free of debris that might compromise the system.  We’ll also get a list of stuff we shouldn’t throw down the drain.  If we throw bacteria killing agents or chemicals down the drain it will negate the bacteria in the system rendering the system useless.  I think we should be fine, but will be interesting to see the list.

I of course was so engrossed by our new roof, I forgot to take pictures of the septic tank for you to enjoy today.  If it’s still uncovered tomorrow I’ll take  a pic.  It’s actually pretty cool looking.  I think it’s plastic and it’s finished in a racy green color.  The location is half way between the house and septic field.  Waste will be pumped up from the house to the tank, then up to the field.  The actual location may wreak havoc with our landscape plan but at this point I don’t even care anymore. Just get it in there and we’ll deal with the impact to the master plan later.  As noted early on, the house is shifted about 20-60 feet west so our landscape plan would need adjustment anyway.

Goodbye sewer bills! (of course we’ll have septic maintenance bills, but I suspect those will be less or at the very least fairly constant……we’ll see.)

Hopefully someone starts working again on the HVAC and electric.  We also have some framing to finish too before insulation can start going in.  Exterior doors were slated to show up today too, but didn’t.

But I can’t complain too much because I’m just as guilty.  We have a laundry list of things to design and detail and select.  I thought at some point it’d be easy or more enjoyable.  Enjoyable at times, easy never.  There’s also some labor I can do out at the site as well so maybe a few days off work are in order.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Here I’m putting on a strip of 4″ Vycor Plus over the head and jamb nailing flanges on the windows. Another option would have been to install the windows when framing the wall and encase the flange, buck and onto the wall with 12″ rolls of Vycor. 12″ would be a special order. The 4″, 6″ and 9″ we’re using are readily available at Lowes.