Friday, September 29, 2006

Munchkin & Rinnai in the house

The Rinnai on-demand (aka tankless) hot water heater was intalled yesterday, as was the Munchkin boiler for the radiant floor. Both run on propane and are super efficient. It costs more up front to install these types of appliances, but the energy efficiency will be worth it in the long run. There is a little further hook-up still to be done, as you can see in this picture, the water hasn't been connected yet to the Rinnai:

Here's the Munchkin and its associates, various pressure gages, nozzles, valves, tanks and vents. I'm not sure what all the parts do yet, but at some point I'll get somebody from Barron Heating to go over the whole system with me, because not only am I curious but I figure as a homeowner I should know which valves to turn and other maintenence tidbits. There are still some wiring and other connections to make with this as well.
Here it is with the cover opened, so you can see all the "guts".
On the inside, the mudding and taping has begun, which looks like this:
Fortunatley the weather has continued warm, so the mudders aren't suffering any fall chilling while the heating system is being completed.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ready to Mud & Tape

While I was gone the Scrappers did their thing, cleaning up all the sheetrock scraps and getting everything ready for the mudding and taping to begin. There's paper down on the floor all through the house, as you can see in the picture below.
Also, they've started putting the corner-angle-reinforcement things on the corners. You can see them in the picture above, but here's a close up:
The mud and tape are all stocked in the house, ready to go.
Cary took these pictures Tuesday night, and last night we both got home too late to go out and see if the mudding and taping had started. So I'm really excited to get out to the site tonight after work and see what's new since I left on Monday. This is the longest I've gone without checking in since the construction started - I miss my house!

Update - Which is not to say I didn't miss Cary too! But I was able to talk on the phone with him while I was away. My house, on the other hand, is not yet able to use a telephone. Or talk. :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weekend Update

So, over the weekend I completed all the steel-wool scouring and TSP scrubbing of the bathtub. I also touched up the chips with a brush-on epoxy chip-fixing compound. It has to cure for 5 days and then may require a little bit of touch up and/or sanding, so the final coating with replacement enamel will have to wait until next weekend. It's looking a lot better than it was though.

Also, Cary and Bo shoveled some left-over 2" drainrock into a sort of pathway leading from the driveway to the front porch.
The idea is to elimate or at least reduce the amount of mud tracked into the house by filling in one of the major mud pits with rocks. I know drainrock's not really the "right" stuff to make a path, but it was sitting right there and it'll work for while until we get around to a more permanent solution. Although it's nice and dry and sunny right now, we've already had a taste of the fall rains and it was obvious that something needed to be done before the mud got out of hand. The mud out there is uber-sticky. You get taller every step you take, because another half-inch of clay cakes onto the bottom of your shoe every time it hits the ground. It's next to impossible to scrape or wash it off too. So, a big thankyou to Cary and Bo for making things better!

Updates to the blog are unlikely the next couple of days, as I'll be traveling around a bit for work. Cary's going hold down the fort and take pictures of any progress while I'm gone, so I'll post up the picutres on Thursday when everything's back to normal.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Ah, the weekend. It's so close now I can taste it. I'm looking forward to working some more on refurbishing the interior of the clawfoot tub, as well as Solly & Iris' wedding. Actually, I might be a teensy bit more excited about the wedding. :)

I have aquired everything needed (I think) for the tub project. I've got the chip-fixing compound, the TSP and the steel wool for prepping the surface, the plastic and masking tape to mask off the outside, and the two-part epoxy spray-on enamel restoration kit. The instructions for the enamel stuff are pretty crazy. Fist, the surface isn't considered sufficiently prepped until you've washed it with TSP and then scrubbed it with steel wool three separate times. To mix the epoxy you've got to put one can in the fridge for an hour and a half, and meanwhile submerge the other one in warm water. Then you link the two nozzles together and spray the warm stuff into the cold stuff. It has to sit for at least an hour before application. I figure it won't hurt to also do a chant while circling the bathtub 3 times hopping up and down on one foot with my eyes closed. Oh, and between coats (12 hours minimum) you have to keep it the fridge, and then put it in warm water for a half hour or so after you take it out. All joking aside, I'm sure that following the instructions to the letter will be very important to the sucessful outcome of the project, and so I intend to be very careful and go through all the steps exactly as described. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Progress Report

Folks keep asking me if we're almost done. "Surely there can't be THAT much more to do" they say. "How can it possibly take 3 more whole months?" (Hardly any of our friends have ever built or remodeled anything before - how'd you guess?) So, I thought it would be useful to detail what's left to be done, roughly in the order which it will all occur, on the way to completion. (At least as far as I understand them. I'm probably oversimplifying and leaving important stuff out.)

On the exterior, we've got a crew coming sometime soon to do up the siding & the rest of the trim. The soffits need to be closed, and then everything needs painting, except the shingles. After the painting, gutters & downspouts will be installed and that will about do it. So really, most of the work still to go is on the interior...

...where we're currently at the sheetrocking stage. Yesterday the hangin' crew finished up, as you will see in the pictures below.

Next, the Scrapping crew will come take away both the unused sheetrock and clean up the scraps. They'll also put plastic down on the floor to prepare for the mudding.

The Taping crew will then come mud and tape all the seams and corners and stuff of the sheetrock. This is aparently very messy. It will then take a while for all the mud to dry. It will help the mud to dry (and make the taping crew happier) if we can get the heat turned on, which means connecting the propane (scheduled for next Monday) and installing the boiler (Tuesday?). It will take the radiant heat floor a couple of days to come up to temperature. We also need to have the attic insulation put in asap so we don't waste too much of the heat.

When the mud is dry, the Sanding crew will come through, and as you might have guessed, sand down the mud. This is also rumoured to be very messy.

After that, the whole mess gets cleaned up, and then the whole house will be masked off in preparation for painting. First everything will get a coat of primer, which will probably have to dry for a day.

Once the primer is dry, the texturing goes on - "orange peel" is what we've chosen.

After the texture dries, they do another coat of primer to help seal it.

Then the actual wall paint goes on. When it's dry, they'll unmask everything, and clean up from all of that.

Then, Andy & Frank, the electricians, will come back and install all the light fixtures and outlets and stuff, so we'll have light and power accessable in the house.

Around this time they'll probably put in some of the plumbing fixtures too, like the toilet for instance. Because no-body wants to spend more time in a port-o-potty than necessary.

Interior trim and doors is the next thing. Once all the trim is in place, it needs to be painted, so that's more masking and drying time and unmasking and clean up.

At some point here towards the end, the flooring gets installed. Cabinets, shelving appliances, the rest of the plumbing fixtures and the wood stoves are also towards the end, but once they're in, we're done! :)

So now for the pictures (sorry about the dirty lens! I promise I'll clean it before taking more pictures) here's the kitchen and main room:
Here's the finished arch in the upstairs front bedroom:
And here are the windows in the sunroom, looking out on the swamp at dusk on a rainy day. Ahh... so peaceful and wet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Drywall & Sheetrock & Wallboard, Oh My!

Whatever you call it, they started hanging it up yesterday! I know it's just one of many steps in the whole house-building process, but psychologically it's such a HUGE one. Not to knock the plumbing or the wiring or any of the other things which have been going on, but this is the most exciting thing I've seen since framing. I was so excited I did a little happy dance as soon as I saw it. It's still a long way from finished, but it's so cool I had to take (and post) a bunch of pictures.
The house had a strange feel to it, not just because of the mess of drywall fragements all over the place, but also because many of the windows and doorways haven't been fully cut out yet, so it's strangely dark. This is the doorway into the living room from the front entryway. Looks like a sasquatch just busted through...
Here's the upstairs hallway. To the immediate right is the stairway down. Straight ahead to the right at the end of the hall is the laundry/craft room, to the left is the back bedroom. Between the stairway and the laundry door you can just make out the bathroom doorway.
In the bathroom you can see the "greenboard" which is used in areas that will have moisture or high humidity. It's sure a lot harder to take pictures now that the walls are rocked. I think every previous picture that I've taken of the tub I took from the laundry room, through the wall.
Here's the bedroom with the curved window bump-up. The arch hasn't been sheeted yet but just having the ceiling closed really helps give an idea of how the finished room will feel.
Also, the dormer windows were installed yesterday. They'd been keeping the spaces open because they provided nice easy access to the roof, but with the weather turning rainy and the drywall going in, it didn't make sense to leave them open any longer.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pocket Doors Framed

Both the pantry and the front entryway have pocket doors, and both were framed in yesterday. This is one of the last peices needed to really see the definition of the rooms as separate spaces, so it's fun to have it done. Here's the Pantry:
Also, the sheetrock was "stocked" in the house, meaning there are big stacks of it leaning up against the walls in just about every room. You can see it in both of these pictures. I'm not sure exactly when the hanging crew is going to start, but it shouldn't be too long from now. Talk about defining the rooms as separate spaces...

I had to make one design change to keep us in line with the budget - we had originally wanted to have rounded "soft-line" corners for all the walls, but yesterday we decided to go back to regular 90º corners. It will only save a couple hundred dollars on the sheetrock instalation, but will also make the trim placement and painting much easier. We were looking at the soft-line corners as a way of making it hurt less to run into them, mostly, but of course any corner will hurt if you bang your shin into it hard enough. Robin also says that the 90º corners are more durable, and if they do get damaged are much easier to repair, so that makes more sense for the long run.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Shhh... Insulation

Insulation all went in on Thursday and Friday. It really changes the feel of the house, it's very, very, veeeerrrrry quiet inside the house now. The blown in stuff is really interesting. First they staple up this fabric mesh stuff, kind of like interfacing, over all the wall spaces. Then they poke small holes in the fabric and stick the blower thing (I imagine it looking like a vaccum cleaner attachment) through the hole and blow in the insulation. The insulation itself looks like a cross between dryer lint and those little styrofoam pellets that are used to stuff "bean" bags. It packs into the wall cavities and thoroughly fills in around the pipes, wires or other stuff that runs through the walls.
In a few areas they used the regular batt style insulation, for instance in the smaller spaces like above the window framing. The attic will be done with the blown in stuff after the sheetrock is up on the ceilings of the second floor. The sheetrock will be the floor for the insulation.
The inspector is coming out today to sign off on the insulation, and then we'll be 100% ready for drywall. There may be a little delay before we get to the top of the job list for those crews (hanging, taping, & sanding) though.

In the meantime, I will be starting the renovation of the inside of the bathtub. This weekend Cary and I painted the final exterior coat: black. I know, I liked the red too, but it really didn't work with all the other colors in the interior design, and also the color it dried to didn't look nearly as nice as when it was wet. Black looks pretty classy, as you can see. I'm thinking the feet will be white, but that's not a sure thing yet.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Design Specs

Here are the design elements, room by room. Robin e-mailed me the specs and I went to all the manufacturer's websites and clipped pictures of the various elements, then combined them together into room-specific swatches. Pretty nerdy, huh? It was so much fun I kind of got carried away. :)

All the light fixtures, doorknobs, and most of the plumbing fixtures throughout the house will be oil-rubbed bronze, which is basically a matte dark brown.

You'll notice that most of the rooms have the same color of walls, a warm tan (it's called Boardwalk) with a darker tan (Desert Beach) for the trim. We may paint some rooms or accent walls with different colors at some point, but with the pro painters it costs extra every time you have them change colors. That's because they have to clean out their equipment each time. So for now we just have one color scheme for the bedrooms and one other for the rest of the interior.

The doors will be painted the same colors as the walls. The bedroom doors will have the bedroom wall color (Embassy Green) on the inside and the hallway color (Boardwalk) on the outside.

The hearth area will be done with the same black slate as the sunroom floor, in 16" square tiles. There'll be a decorative band of 2x2 multi-colored slate tiles between the top black tile and the next one down, just for fun.

In the bathrooms, there will be tile for the backsplashes around the vanities. The downstairs bath will have mainly white glass tiles with a thin black tile outline. The upstairs will have 4 different colors of tile mixed randomly together. The colors are red, yellow, blue and green, in tones that coordinate with the colors in the mexican sink.

I suppose I don't have to tell you that I'm beside myself with excitement, and can hardly wait to see it all installed...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Interior Design

It's so great meeting with Robin, she had everything all laid out for each room ready for me to look at right when I got there. Paint swatches, tiles, laminate chips, carpet, everything. I don't know about you, but I could spend a year wandering through a design showroom picking up samples of stuff I like and never actually getting anywhere. The problem isn't that I'm picky, it's exactly the opposite: I like everything. With the exception of hot pink and chartruese, there aren't really any colors that I could just cross off my list of paint possiblilities. I like tiles, I like stone, I like carpet, I like wood. There are a tiny number of things I just don't like, but that's maybe - MAYBE - 15% of the total available possibilities in the showroom. There's way more stuff that I can't afford than stuff I don't like.

And then there's putting stuff together so it looks like it was meant to go together. It's always been a mystery to me - if I like - really really like - all these things separately, why do they look so horrible when they're all in the same room? I can dress myself without making people laugh, but that's about as far as it goes.

So, anyhow, Robin not only lays out stuff that looks nice together, but she also checks everything first to make sure I can afford it. It's such a relief knowing I can pick from the options before me without having to constantly check the price tags.

So what did I pick? Well, it's pretty hard to describe colors in words. (Just ask my poor co-workers, I've been trying all day.) So instead of trying to tell you I'll get the actual color names or codes or whatever from Robin and post actual swatches here on the site in the next day or so. It's better for everyone that way, trust me.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just Shinglin' Along

Steve's got quite a lot of the front porch wall shingled now, and I'm totally loving it. I can't wait until next spring, when I'm sitting on the porch in the evening drizzle, snug and dry (and well lit!) under the big porch roof. I'm thinking there'll be room to string a hammock between the posts...
Here's another view of the shingles, from the front. It's going to look so great, especially once the soffits are done and the posts are sheathed and it's all finished.
Unfortunately, yesterday Steve dropped something and cracked the upper pane of the right hand window. It's not a huge crack, you can't even see it in the picture above, but it will have to be replaced. I'm sure that windows get cracked or broken during construction all the time, but regardless, Steve felt pretty awful about it. Mark called me in the afternoon to tell me, so I wouldn't think it was vandalism or anything like that. He's going to take care of replacing it. I'm not sure if that means the whole window of if they can just replace the one pane that's cracked, but either way I have no doubts he'll make it right.

Next step for the interior is insulation, we're going with a blown-in fiberglass insulation with a R value of 23. It will cost a little bit more than the usual fiberglass bats which are only R21. Which doesn't seem like too big of a difference - it's only 2! - but it's actually about 10% better. Which I think will be worth it in the long run.

Tonight I'm meeting Robin to go over and finalize some of the interior materials and colors. That should be a lot of fun - and rest assured you'll read all about it here tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Everything's Underground

The utility ditches are closed! Lee the excavator guy filled in the trenches, coved the septic tank, and smoothed out everything, including the pile of dirt that came out of the foundation hole. Now it's all smooth and level, and ready for the fall rains and some seed. Well, actually we'll probably have to do a bit more work before we get to the seed... but it's a lot closer now than it was before.
Needless to say, before the utility ditch was filled in the water line was laid in it, and connected up at both ends. That's right, we've got water in the house! The loop of blue hose in the picture below connects what will be the washing machine supply to one of the drain pipes. I turned the valve on (just for a minute, to see what would happen), and sure enough there was water running through it! Weeee!

The propane, cable and phone aren't actually connected up yet, but it'll just take a technician a few minutes to do. No hurry for that anyway. In other progress, Steve started putting the shingles up on the front wall, around the door. I'll get some more pictures of that in the next day or so. It's starting to get dark a lot earlier these days, and last night it was dark enough by the time I got over the closing of the ditch that my picture of the shingles didn't come out. :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Clawfoot Tub Primed

Yesterday I finally finished grinding rust off of the old clawfoot tub, and got a coat of primer on it. I was a little surprised to see that the Anti-Rust enamel primer is fire engine red. I expected more of a dull brick red. This isn't the final color (we haven't decided yet what color it will be) but it will seal and protect the cast iron from further moisture damage. And it doesn't look half bad! Cary climbed up in the rafters to take this picture:
Here's a close up of me touching up the edges. The primer went on easily and formed a nice even finish. It was thick enough to cover over and smooth out some of the smaller dings and imperfections in the metal, but didn't cover up too much of the detail on the feet.
Note the discoloration of the porcelin - once the outside of the bathtub is finished I'll have to turn it over and start restoring the enamel on the inside. That will be a big job too, but for now I'm just happy that the grinding is done. :)

Friday - Doors!

Last Friday the front door and the sunroom door were installed. They are still in their protective cardboard and plastic wrappers, and there are no knobs yet, but it's still neat to see them in place. Here's the front door: You can just make out the design of the window, it has three panes. All three exterior doors (front, sunroom & mechanical room) are Codel Smooth Fiberglass.

Here's a veiw from the kitchen, you can see that the sunroom door is in place. It has one large window in it, nearly the whole upper half of the door, but you can't see it yet.
Also, the sliding glass door between the kitchen has been flipped around so that the opening is on the correct side. I don't know if I mentioned it here on the blog before, but the framers had inadvertantly installed the two sliders in the wrong spots. One opens to the right, and one opens to the left, so with them switched both openings were on the wrong side. We've been aware of it for a while, but it hadn't really been a priority to switch them, yet. It's nice to have it done now though. :)

The other thing that was done on Friday is the phone, cable and propane tubing were laid in the utility ditch. It's a good thing too, because it rained Friday night and Saturday morning, re-filling the ditch with water. The water pipe still has to be laid in the ditch, and everything still needs to be connected up. It's starting to feel like we better get these ditches closed up soon, before the weather really changes for the season. Hopefully later this week that will happen.

We had visitors again this weekend, Cary's cousin Andre and his wife Trudel came down from North Vancouver on Saturday and checked out the house. Andre was interested in seeing the pond, so he and Cary bush-whacked through the swamp while Trudel and I looked around the house. We also picked and ate blackberries from our resident blackberry tangle. Yum. Then on Sunday Cary's parents and Grandma Marjorie came out and met us at the site, so we could do the guided tour this time. I sure do love showing off the place. :)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Electrical Inspection Passed

See that? It's the happy sticker that the inspector left on the inside of the electrical panel to show that we passed. There will be additional inspections, of course, but this is still a milestone. Now we can cover over the walls and fill in the ditch (well, once the other ditch dries out - more on that below).

Below is the whole fuse box, you can see the little green sticker in the middle of the door. You can also see the nice neat labeling of each circut on the door. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I've ever seen a fuse box that was clearly labeled like this before. It's a thing of rare beauty... In my experience, there's usually a bunch of indecipherable chicken scratch and crossed out bits - and that's when you're lucky enough to find labels at all. Most of the time, you just have to flip the switches one at a time and then go see if the lights are still on or not. :)
And here's the outside of the fuse box, with another official inspection/permit document taped to it. The cardboard sign reads "Caution, panel is HOT!!"
'nuff said.

Steve has nearly finished shingling the eastern porch wall. Just one more course along the top will do it, but that will probably need to wait until the soffits have been sheeted. The stain really does give them the appearance of naturally aged cedar. It really looks great with the trim around the windows and everything.
The utility ditch for everything other than the electricity is still holding a lot of water, so nothing has been layed in it yet. Even after a week of dry weather in the 80's, there's still 6-8" of murkey water in the bottom of the trench. Maybe by next week it will have dried out enough - if not, we're going to have to bring in a pump or somebody's going to have to get really muddy. My soil is so clay-ey... it literally holds water like a bucket. Brian Bird, the potter, actually made me some flower pots with our clay. I see many, many years of soil amendments in my gardening future.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

D'oh! Almost forgot the cat door!

That's right, we nearly overlooked the single most important new house feature: cat access. Luckily, Cary realized our folly in time, before we went too far with the siding or got into the sheetrock. Whew! Otherwise, we'd be pathetic door-opening slaves (and not particularly well-trained ones) for the rest of our lives, and nobody, human or feline, wants that.

Instead of putting a cat door in the human door, we're going to put it through the wall of the mudroom/front entryway. It will look nicer, cut down on the cat-darting-underfoot factor, and allow for better insulation than a door-mount. We haven't completely decided what brand we'll use, but we're leaning towards using the small Hale brand one. It seems to have the best insulation and general sturdiness of all the ones I've looked at so far.

Currently, two of our three cats enjoy free access to the outdoors via a ramp that Cary built for them which runs from the balcony of our apartment out into a maple tree. From there they can climb down a leaning tree to another board which takes them to the ground. Here's Sprout enjoying the view:
Unfortunatly Iggy can't use this ramp, since he only has three legs. So he has to ask us to open the door when he wants to go outside, and then back inside, and then outside again... We're all pretty excited about having a house with a cat door directly to the outside that ALL our cats will be able to use.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Shingles Started

...and electrical rough-in finished! Here's a picture of the electric, phone, cable and ground wires coming into/out of the mechanical room. The fuse box is on the inside of the wall, just waiting for the inspector to come sign off on it.
And here are the first few shingles going up on the front porch wall.
My mom came through town today (she bought me lunch - thanks mom!) and stopped by the house site on her way to grandma Joy's house. She called to tell me that Steve was working on putting up more of the shingles today, and she really liked the way they looked. I'm really looking forward to getting out there today and seeing for myself what he acomplished.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Aaaahhh - Long Weekend

We stayed in town and played host all weekend - lots of fun, even in our tiny apartment. Of course, no visit with us is complete without a tour of the house site. Here's Baby Moira, her Auntie Charlotte and Mom Tombi checking out the upper floor...
Moira's Dad Nick and our friends Janet and Gabe also came out and took the tour over the weekend, but somehow managed to evade my camera. Cary's Mom and Grandma also visited, although they took the self-guided tour this time. :) Next time we'll have to coordinate in advance...

In progress-related news, on Friday the fuse box was installed
Also on Friday, Steve put up the first little patch of siding, and blocking for the exterior light fixtures (that's what he's working on in the shadow). Today or tomorrow the electrical will be finished...

I also got a really nice still-in-the-box Baldwin entry doorknob & lock set from my uncle Fred's wife Debbie's son-in-law's yard sale. Not that I actually went to the yard sale, but Fred called me at 8 am on Saturday to see if I was interested in it. (He said, "So, has anyone ever called you at 8 am on a Saturday to talk about doorknobs before?" - I had to admit it was the first time.) It's really nice. I'm not sure if we can use it or not, we had already looked at and picked out a doorknob but I'm not sure if it's been ordered. Still, for $25 it seemed like too good a deal to pass up, so I took it. If I can't use it, I can resell it for at least what I paid for it, no harm done.

UPDATE - We probably can't use the doorknob. The doorknob itself hasn't been ordered, but the door HAS - and it was bored to fit the one we'd picked from the catalogue. The Baldwin one probably has a 5+" distance between the lock and the knob, and the door was made to fit one with a 3+" distance. I'll double check the Baldwin when I get home, but it's doubtful. Oh well. Like I said before, I bet I can resell the Baldwin without any trouble...