Monday, December 25, 2006

House Facts

Square Footage: 1910
Bedrooms: 3 (plus office)
Bathrooms: 2
Primary Heat: Radiant Hydronic
Water Heating: Rinnai tankless
Energy: Propane/Electric
Wood Stove: Jotul F400 Castine
Foundation: Slab-on-Grade
Insulation: R23 Walls, R38 Attic
Siding: Hardiplank/Cedar Shingle
Windows: Jeld-Winn Vinyl, Low-E
Roofing: 30-year Composition

My sincere THANKS to the people who've brought my house into existence:

  • Cary Mapes - husband & best buddy

  • Debbie & Dennis Pobst - my parents

  • Dave & Anita Mapes - Cary's parents

  • Mark Schramer - General Contractor

  • Robin Schramer - Interior Design Guru

  • Steve Latham - General Carpentry guy

  • Jack Schramer - General Carpentry guy

  • Grant Myers - House Designer

  • Dave Bradley - Structural Engineer

  • Tim Manke & crew - Framing Contractor

  • Andy Hanson - Electrical Contractor

  • Frank Learned - Electrical Contractor

  • Jack & Deek - Burns Plumbing

  • Clark Casey - Northwest Insulation

  • Rich Harris - Loan guy at CVB

  • Larry Benson - Loan guy at CVB

  • Patti Mullen - Septic Designer

  • Lee Breakey - Excavation, Septic installation

  • Jake Breakey - Excavation Septic installation

  • Katrina Jackson - Wetland Specialist

  • David Reynolds - Propane Gas Industires

  • Paul & Barry - B&B Lumber

  • The hombres from Topside Roofing

  • The crew at Barron Heating

  • The guys from VanBeek Drywall

  • The folks at Chuckanut Lighting

  • The staff at Cabinets by Cline

  • Jeff Porter - Cabinet Installation

  • Jim Wilson - Flooring Installation

  • Joel & Chris - Exterior Trim

  • Brad Martin - Painter

  • Al Hale - Laminate Installer

Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Solstice/Christmas/New Year's Greetings

I'll be out of the office (notice I didn't say "on vacation") tomorrow and all through the following week, so there will be no updates to the blog over the holidays. This time off is going to be used to move into the new house! Yay!

I'll be back with an update on how it all went on the 2nd of January. In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas, a generous Boxing Day, Ring in the New Year with style, and Enjoy knowing that the days have started getting longer!

All Wrapped Up...

The whole downstairs of the house is masked off and ready for the trim to be painted (scheduled to happen this morning). All the masking makes the house feel even more like a giant Christmas present. And a particularly awkward to wrap one, at that. :)

Here's Cary checking out the masking in the Office. You can also see where they primered the cut edges of the trim boards. It's also all been spackled and caulked. Quality all the way!
The Jotul wood stove was installed yesterday. I carefully unmasked it so that we could take a peek:
Here's a close up view of the front of the stove. This particular model, the "Castine" is described in the Jotul catalogue as having a "nautical" theme. I was a little worried when I read that - after we had ordered it of course - because I thought maybe I had overlooked some big anchor and rope design when I visited the showroom. But nope, this is the stove I wanted. There is a little tiny boat (about 1" square) on the side pannel, so I guess that's it. It's a good thing I didn't choose this one because I had my heart set on a nautically-themed stove - I'd be pretty disappointed! Somebody should let their catalogue blurb-writer know not to beleive the design department's hype.
I would describe it more as a classic stove design. Pretty, isn't it? I can't wait to see it with a fire inside.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Interior Finishing Finished

Things are happening so fast now! So many different things get done every day. For example, yesterday:

1. The slate tile backsplash in the kitchen was grouted, and it looks amazing.

Here's the tile along the bar. That tile there on the left is my favorite tile. It doesn't show up as well as I'd like in this picture, but in real life it looks like a landscape painting, like picture jasper that you'd see a jewelry setting. I'm glad that it was given such a prominent setting.
2. The hearth was grouted as well, and except for the light switch is ready for the wood stove to be put into place. I think that may be on the list for today. Those whitish splotches in the center look like fossilized lichen, which is pretty cool even if that's not really what they are.
3. The entry way, downstars bathroom, and much of the livingroom and kitchen were masked off and are ready for the trim to be painted. Masking this much area off is a HUGE job, in and of itself.

4. The upstairs doorknobs were installed.

5. The wooden forms that surrounded the slab have been removed. I had actually forgotten that they were still there. I guess they must leave them on to protect the slab edges - like along the front of the porch - from getting chipped or something during the construction process.

6. The stairway railings were cut to length and the angle ends were glued on, so they are pretty much ready to install.

And on top of all of that, a bunch of site cleanup was also done. There are probably a bunch of other things as well that I didn't notice!

I'm not certain what exactly is on the roster for today, but probably 5 or 6 of the of the following:
  • Electrical finish
  • Carpet
  • Closet & pantry shelves
  • Gutters
  • Interior trim painting
  • More doorknobs
  • Cabinet knobs & drawer pulls
  • House numbers
  • Stair rails
  • Wood Stove installation
  • Appliance Hook-ups
  • Closet doors

    And more... Three days to go, counting today!
  • Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Now we're cookin'

    FIRE! Wheeeee! The stove is all hooked up and working - we could cook something, or else just look at the pretty blue flames for a while. Sooooo.... Pretty... Blue... Flames...
    Ok, back to reality - stop wasting the propane!

    The burner controls work very nicely. Each burner is a little different, designed for different types of cooking, and the knobs are set up a little differently for each one too. It'll take a little getting used to which one does what, but it is clearly a sweet setup. The burners light like magic, just a little 'click' and it's on. They also have a simmer setting which is something that will come in really handy - not like the old farm stove, where it seemed the burner was always either in danger of going out or of burning the rice.

    I haven't tried the oven yet, but the controls look pretty straightforward for it. I guess I'll have to sit down and read through the documentation that came with the unit at some point, if for no other reason than to figure out how to set the clock. :)

    The downdraft exhaust fan seems to work pretty well. Since we didn't come prepared to burn some food, Cary just held his hand over the opening. It draws a pretty good breeze.

    Slate Entryway Floor - Done!

    The entryway slate has been grouted, washed and sealed. The colors are just amazing now. Steve really did a nice job randomizing the patterns and colors, and putting the best tiles right where they will be the most visible.
    Also, the cat door has been installed! Our feline masters will be so pleased.The room has also been trimmed out and the pocket door which separates the entry from the main living space has been installed. The only thing left is to have the trim and the door painted...

    Kitchen Backsplash & Faucet

    Here is our marvelous new kitchen faucet. It is the opposite of the kitchen faucet we have in the apartment in every way. Since the kitchen faucet in the apartment is The Worst Faucet In The World, logically this faucet must therefore be the best. If it isn't perfect, well, it's pretty dang close.
    Behind the faucet there you can see a little bit of the slate tile backsplash. Below here is a shot of the corner to the right of the sink, where the backsplash steps down in line with the front of the upper cabinet. This is still a work in progress, hence the bucket, masking tape & tools, but it's really looking nice. Robin has done all this tile work herself. I don't think this is usually one of her jobs, but she and Mark & Steve are all really kicking ass in order to get us in before Christmas, as promised. I really appreciate all their efforts.
    Here's a shot of the tile where it wraps around the edge of the bar. I really like how that one rectangular tile looks, it is just the right touch to continue the line of the bar countertop into the backsplash.
    Natural slate is just so pretty!

    Indoor Plumbing - teh R0x0rz

    As you can see below, I remembered my camera last night. So here's pictures of all the bathroom plumbing fixtures & faucets for your viewing pleasure. First, the lovely downstairs bathroom vanity, with its glass tile backsplash all grouted:
    Here's a close up of the faucet, photographically proving that when you turn the handles, actual WATER comes OUT. Gotta love that!
    Here's the clawfoot tub, in its nook in the downstairs bathroom. The drain and input lines are hooked up, but the faucet is not - yet. But it will be soon. I'm pretty impressed with how NICE the tub looks. For comparison, here's a post on the restoration process. Or you can click on the "clawfoot tub" tag at the bottom of this post to see a round up of all the posts about it.
    Also, there is the toilet. I can't think of anything particularly interesting to tell you about the toilets, except that I'm happy to see them. Most people take them for granted, but not me. See, when I was little, we lived in a one room cabin out in the woods which did not have a toilet. We had an outhouse instead. (Why yes, my parents were hippies. Why do you ask?) Let's just say I have a thing for flushing.

    In the upstairs bathroom, we have the mexican sink, looking lovely as always with its brightly colored tile backsplash - now with grout! - and its oiled bronze faucet. This is actually the same faucet as the one for the downstairs sink, the only difference is the downstairs one has porcelain handles.
    Here's the shower head we chose, in oil-rubbed bronze of course. I can't wait to try it out...
    This is the faucet and temperature control knob thing for the shower/bath. It's part of the same line as the sink faucets, so they all go together.

    I've got about a million photos to post today, but I'll do separate posts for different topics. Check back later!

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Getting Closer...

    Lots of progress to report over the last three days! We're really closing in on that most elusive of house adjectives: finished. Just 5 working days left, counting today, until the final inspection.

    So, in no particular order, here's what's happened since my last update:

    Plumbing finish: On Friday the plumbers came and installed the sinks and toilets, and hooked up most of the faucets. We've got running water! The clawfoot tub hasn't been installed, but the feet and faucet have been assembled and the whole unit is in the living room ready to move into place. There are few other things that need to be hooked up as well, so they're coming back today to finish up.

    Hot water: The Rinnai on-demand propane water heating unit was hooked up on Friday also, so y'know that running water I mentioned? It comes in cold AND hot. Wow!

    Tile Grout:
    Robin grouted the slate tile in both the front entry and the sunporch on Saturday, and both spaces look really great. She also did the grout for the upstairs bathroom tile backsplash (that's the one with the multi-colored tiles) which also looks beautiful.

    Hearth: The slate for the hearth backing has been mounted to the hardybacker on the walls. We had originally been going to mix some China Multi slate in with the Brazilian Black but didn't have enough of it and so went with just the Black alone, and I think that was a good decision. It really looks great, and I think the Multi might have made it too busy. As it is, the black slate should set of the wood stove very nicely without drawing too much attention to itself.

    Trim: More trim! Always more trim.

    Appliances: The stove has been set back into its space, and connected up at least partially to all its hook-ups. This doesn't sound like much, but I gather that it is a tricky and time-consuming thing to do. I think the electrical hookup will still have to be done later this week, but the downdraft vent is connected. Also, the exterior outlet vent opening has been flashed and finished.

    There are no pictures today because I forgot to take my camera with me when we went out to the house on Saturday to deliver the house numbers and toilet paper holders which we purchased. D'oh! But don't worry - I'll make it up to you tomorrow, internets!

    Friday, December 15, 2006

    Tile Backsplashes

    Yesterday Robin glued the tile backsplashes in place in both bathrooms. Here's the upstairs bathroom, with the Mexican sink. I really think it looks amazing. So bright and cheerful! I look forward to staggering groggily into the bathroom to brush my teeth some monday morning and being greeted by this happy little space. It may not make waking up easy, but it can't hurt, either.
    Downstairs, the almost-clear glass 1" tiles were glued in place, but she didn't have time to finish putting up the skinny black edge tiles. This bathroom is going to be so classy, with the clawfoot tub, oil-rubbed bronze fixtures and everything except the walls black or white.
    Here's a close up of the one section of black edging tile that was in place last night. Of course, it will look somewhat different once the grout is done. Right now you can still kind of see the webbed backing that the individual tiles are attached to, but it's still just beautiful.
    Today, the plumbers are there putting all the sinks & toilets & faucets and things in place and hooking them up. In fact, Steve just called to find out if Cary and I are right or left handed. I was a bit confused until he told me it was so they would know which side of the kitchen faucet to put the lever on. I can't wait to get out there and see it all...

    The French Connection

    Yesterday my brother Jon and his wife Nadege visited the house for the first time. It was a momentus occasion, because they actually live in Nice, France - hence they don't just "drop by" very often. They are here in the states for just 10 days, staying with my parents mostly. Yesterday the two of them, my Dad, and Samantha (the dog) drove over Steven's pass - during a huge storm with up to 3 feet of new snow expected - to take the house tour. It was really great to see them.

    Jon is a finish carpenter (he works on fancy yachts, mostly) as well as my little brother, so he managed to find several things he would have done differently about the house. And he pointed them all out, too. :) Here he is examining the kitchen cabinets, which mostly met with his approval. Overall he really liked the house, and I'm mature enough now (really!) not to get upset at his nit-picking because I realize it's really his way of expressing his love. (Awwww.)
    Nadege is such a sweetie. I really enjoy our all-to-infrequent visits. Here's an interesting insight she shared with me: this style of kitchen, open to the main living area, and with a bar and island, is refered to in France as a cuisine american (I probably did NOT spell that right, but you get the idea) which means, essentially, "american kitchen". I suppose it isn't that earth-shattering of a revelation, I just didn't realize the rest of the world recognized this as a STYLE. It's just a normal, open kitchen to me.
    In front of her on the countertop, incidentally, you can see some of the slate tiles layed out in preparation for installing the kitchen backsplash.

    It was also great to see Dad and Sammy. Dad brought me a christmas tree, which was really sweet of him. We'll put it up on christmas day with the family. Call me crazy, but we're going to host a christmas day family gathering at the new house. And then we'll start moving in on the 26th. What?
    Sammy enjoyed her visit too. You can't tell so much from the picture, but that's one OOOOLLLDDD and arthritic doggy. She was nearly frisky with excitement from getting to come to a new house, wagging her tail and posing for pictures.

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Starting the Hearth

    Yesterday Steve finished laying the slate in the entryway and started working on the hearth! Here's the hardybacker that the slate tiles will attach to, attached to the walls.

    Here's a close up of the air space between the sheetrock and the hardybacker, showing the 1/2" copper pipe spacers. It's a pretty clever system. He uses long screws, slides the pipe over them, and tightens it all down to the wall. It's very sturdy. There's an air gap at the bottom and the top will be left open, which will create a convective air current. It'll simultaneously keep the sheetrock from getting hot and act as a heat exchanger to warm the air in the room.

    The brazilian black slate tiles will be attached to the hardybacker, and also will wrap around the sides so the air gap doesn't show.

    I better think about getting some firewood!

    More About Appliances

    The rest of the appliances moved into (well, close to) their final positions yesterday. Here's the stove, ready to slide into place in the island: I think I mentioned before that it's a Jennair Downdraft gas range. Product Specs here. We had it converted to run on propane. You can see our wonderful new fridge there in the background, behind the stove. My ravings about how much I like it can be reveiwed in this post from last week, if you are interested in that kind of thing. Or, for you just-the-facts types, here's a link to the specs.

    Here's the dishwasher. It's a pretty standard model, middle-of-the-road efficiency and expense. Product Specs here.

    Here's the washer & the dryer, upstairs in the laundry room. I'm really looking forward to using that front load washer and gas (propane) dryer. Both are highly energy efficient - the tag on the washer says it will only cost $12/year to run! Specs on the washer are here and specs for the dryer are here.
    Damn, but this is Fun!

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Slate, Beautiful Slate

    As I had hoped, Steve layed the slate for the entryway floor yesterday, and it is every bit as lovely as I had hoped. As you can see below, there are a couple peices left to put in place - about 3 tiles worth - right at the border where it meets up with the cork flooring. I'm sure that those last peices will be done today.
    I couldn't walk on the floor to really look around the corner at the mudroom, but I held the camera up and this is what it saw:
    This "China Multi" slate (so called because it is multi-colored and comes from China - how DO they come up with these crazy names?!?) is just gorgeous stuff. And Steve did a great job of randomizing the colors and textures on the tiles, as well as working with the different thicknesses. I can't wait to walk on it!
    Coming up next, aparently, is the tile backsplash in the upstairs bathroom. Robin's idea - which I think is going to work beautifully - was to get these hand-made (thus slightly irregular in shape & color) tiles in each of the most prominent colors of the mexican sink. So I was excited to find the Red, Yellow-orange, Green, Blue and White 4" tiles, layed out and presumably ready to install around the top of the vanity counter. The colors of the tiles really do match well with the colors on the sink. With the navy blue countertop I think the whole assembly is going to really look great.
    Robin called today, to let me know that the window washers would be coming soon to do the windows, and that she'd vaccummed the sawdust out of the kitchen cabinets. I was totally stunned, I never even considered that they'd clean the windows - let alone the rest of the house - for me! What a bonus... not only do we get to move into a brand new, perfect house, I don't even have to clean it first! :)

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    Much Progress

    The end of last week (been a while since I posted, huh? oh well...) I mentioned that due to the warm dry weather the painters had gotten out and primered the exterior trim. Well, not only that, but they came back over the weekend and put on the finish coat as well. Boy, does it look SHARP:
    Here's a close-up of the porch rafters, you can see the subtle details like the corner blocking/column toppers. Not to mention the clean lines. I had gotten so used to the overspray from when the siding was painted that I stopped really seeing the separations.
    Inside, more trim & doors were done. Here is the office door (left) and the bathroom door (right) off the main living space, all trimmed out and with the cork flooring completed as well. The trim isn't painted yet, but doesn't the wall color look nice with the floor? So warm.
    And what's this? Steve is using the tile saw... which can only mean...
    He's started laying the entryway slate! Pretty nifty.
    He expected to finish cutting and laying the rest of the tiles today, so I expect to see a big "don't use this door" sign on the front door when I get out there tonight. I can hardly wait...

    Also today, Robin was going to meet with the closet shelving people and measure all the closets & the pantry. We're using the coated wire shelving systems in all the closets, which are nice and utilitarian.

    Robin also pointed out that Cary and I need to go pick out & buy our bathroom fixtures, things like TP holders and towel racks and the like. They aren't in the budget for the Schramer's to buy but if we get them they'll install them for us. Which is definately worth making the effort to get out to a hardware store and pick something up later this week.

    We're so close to moving in now I can just about taste it!

    Thursday, December 07, 2006


    Sorry about the shouting, but I'm pretty excited about the fact that all the major appliances have been delivered. The fridge is just magnificent. Here it is, just a few feet from its future home in the kitchen:
    And here's the inside - so large & spacious! And those shelves are so sturdy. It was shocking, after years of rental fridges, to see a brand new one. There's no stains, no funny odors, no broken or flimsy shelves...
    The freezer is on the bottom in a pull-out drawer. I've never had a fridge of this type before, but I'm very excited about it. Amana (the brand) is supposed to be very energy efficient. If nothing else, the design is obviously more efficient -keep the cold on the bottom (heat rises,cold falls). The drawer should make it much easier to find that last package of frozen peas. Plus, I'll never again drop a frozen roast on my foot.*
    The rest of the appliances are still in their boxes, stacked up on the sunporch. I'm especially excited to see the stove, it's a pretty fancy one - for me at least. It's a Jennair gas (converted to run on propane) 4 burner range with a downdraft vent.
    All this fun with the appliances is tempered by one disappointment: The carpet is not going to be installed this week after all. Robin thought she had our carpet but actually it was the almost-exact-same carpet for another house. Whoops! So our carpet is not here yet and probably won't be until the 20th. It's not that big of a disappointment for me (I have a new fridge! I have a new fridge!) but I guess the painters really busted ass to get the trim painted over last weekend so it'd be ready for the carpet to go down. D'oh!

    Speaking of painting, yesterday it was warm and dry so they were able to primer the rest of the exterior trim. Most of the trim was pre-primered but the facia boards were un-primered cedar so it is great that they were able to get that covered. I wasn't able to see it because it gets dark at about 3:30 these days, but I'm sure it looks really nice.

    Inside, Steve completely trimmed out the office and hung some more doors, including the pocket door to the pantry. It's really cool, slides very easily on its runners. Pocket doors are just awesome. I wish we'd been able to use more of them, but we just didn't have that kind of wall space. Kind of ironic, I guess, to have a house too small to use the most space-efficient type of door. :)

    *Or if I do, it won't be the freezer's fault, just my own clumsiness.

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    Carpet! Well, not exactly...

    But we have tack strips & rolls of underlayment!
    While not as exciting as actual carpet, I'm trying to keep a positive attitude by viewing them as indicators of imminent carpeting. In fact, Jim the flooring guy was there last night when I got out to the house arranging & gluing the tack strips along the base of all the walls upstairs.
    He said the carpet would be delivered today, but he didn't think he'd get back to actually lay it in until Thursday. Oh well. I can be patient, if I have to.

    Downstairs, the cork floring was finished and several more of the doors were hung. That means that Steve can now finish the trim, not just around the doors but also the baseboards too. My understanding is that once the trim is painted in the bathroom the plumbers will come (nobody wants to try and paint the trim once the bathtub & toilet are sitting in front of it). THat will be a huge milestone, not only in the livability of the house but also because we can then get rid of the port-o-potty!

    Near the stack of doors I found a bucket of the oil-rubbed bronze hinges. Aren't they pretty? It's a shame that they will hardly ever really be noticed or looked at.

    No slate was laid, but the entryway was cleared out and swept so maybe today. Or maybe something completely different will get done. Either way, it's all good. :)

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Clean Slate

    Well, the slate's not really clean. But organized, very highly organized. Mark and/or Steve have sorted all the multi-colored slate tiles (for the entry way) into piles by color and by gage (aka thickness) in preparation for laying them. Not only will they be arranged in an asthetically pleasing pattern, but the gages will be matched to avoid noticeable edges between the tiles which could be a trip hazard.
    If you click on the picture it will get bigger and easier to read. Below is the extra special category of "Cool Patterns". And yes, they are.

    Mark is going to be laying the slate himself, and I am sure that he's going to do an immaculate job. Steve is continuing with the cork flooring installation, I think he will probably finish it today. The kitchen and the living room are already done, so the only area left is the office. It's just turning out beautifully. It feels really good to walk on - it has just the right amount of "give" - and it's really quiet compared to hardwood.

    As promised, here are pictures of the finished laminate on the kitchen counters. It's a dark grey base with olive, orangey-pink, and dark grey speckles arranged in overlapping mottled clumps. In this image, the pink seems to really stand out (maybe from the flash?), but the color changes are actually very subtle.

    This image of the bar gives a little better idea of how the laminate looks. The overall effect is dark without being cold. It has enough visual texture not to be boring but it's not too strident. It doesn't jump out and make you look at it, or distract the eye from the beautiful wood of the cabinets.
    Upstairs, all the scraps and whatnot have been cleared away, the floor has been swept clean, and everything generally looks ready for the carpet installation. Fingers crossed for when I get out there tonight!