Friday, December 29, 2006

Recent Exterior Picture

Here is a recent exterior picture.

It's nice to have the grading done (and even better when the ground stays frozen so the dogs don't get muddy).

The gaps in the siding are for window sills and craftsman style brackets yet to be made. The porch roof rafters you see had to be installed prior to siding going up, not sure when we'll get to that roof (or the other metal roofing on the bumpouts).

What do have to do is get the steps installed in the front and finish the deck. Not sure how we'll handle the railing for the inspection. . . .

Stay tuned - not long now - lots going on inside.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Great Room Box Beams

It was a busy weekend. The wood nailers were already installed, but on Friday I finished up the wiring and, at the end of the day, we had most of one big beams (made with 1x10s) up and all of one small one (made with 1x8s).

I told the builder that I'd pre-build all of the small beams so they could be cut to size and that I'd prep as much of the large beam parts as I could over the weekend. Then we could all work together on Monday to put up the parts.

Saturday morning, I set up a long table with a 16' 2x10 and a couple of 16' 2x4's on edge. I organized all the parts and tools and got started. The small beams all have a "routered" dado to accept the bottom panel. To my surprise, I had the parts all done (cut, routered, glued and nailed) before noon so I just started putting them up. With some help from the wife on the long parts, it was all done by 5pm on Sunday. (this also includes a "break" Satruday night were we grouted the kitchen tiles).

There is a lot of nail-hole filling and seam caulking to do, but I think these just look awesome! The pictures don't do justice to how it changes the feel in the room.

Plus, it gives me a place to mount lights (including track lights on the side of some outer-most beams) that don't create spots for warm air to leak out. Sure, there are a couple of IC cans and a couple of HVAC supplies in the ceiling, but much less than I would have had if I had to put all the lighting through the ceiling sheetrock.

(PS - white painted MDF trim may be scoffed at by some, but, for my skill level, it is wonderfully forgiving with a little caulk and putty. . . Also, in case anyone is wondering, the beam support nailers are screwed into the trusses and to some preinstalled supports between trusses with 4" screws)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Master Suite (or, for the PC, "Owner's Suite")

Coming through the foyer "airlock" door, there are three directions to go.
Straight leads into the GreatRoom
Right leads into the Powder Room
Left leads to the Master Suite.
This image is looking from just inside the Powder Room door into the Master Suite. The door straight ahead is into one of the closets, the door to the left is into the bathroom.

This is the view into the master bath. It is hard to capture details on this room at this point, but we'll post new pics when the fixtures are all in place. On both sides just inside the door will be the two vanities. We wanted to enclose the toilet in its own little room, but I didn't think we had the space to do that.

Looking the other direction, this is the view of the hall with closets on both sides and out to the sliding door at the back (lake side) of the house. As we played with layout ideas, we thought it would be best to maintain this long sight line, but still prevent a view into the bedroom when just passing by outside. Building one large closet was the other option that we decided against.

These last two pics are of the main part of the bedroom - taken from opposite corners.

Foyer, Office, and Powder Room

The front door does not open into the center of the foyer, it is offset to one side. This first picture is what you'd see when coming through the front door and looking left. You can see the 3 square windows on the left and the door that leads out into the greatroom on the right. We put a door on that end of the foyer to act as an "airlock" in the Winter. It will be a single panel, interior door with a glass panel. We just want to stop a big dump of warm air to the outside. We don't have a side door so all visitors will enter through the foyer. We plan on tiling in here so it is easy to maintain.

This is the view looking back towards the front door. The angled door to the left is the entrance to the office.

This is the view from the office out into the foyer. The doorway just to the right is the pocket door that leads into the Powder Room. If you go through our "airlock" door, there is regular door that opens into the Powder Room from the other direction.

This is a view from the office through the Powder Room.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A 360 View in the Great Room

The "doorway" in the lower left is the pantry mentioned in the last post. You can see the support post from before, too. The doorways in the loft are the two upstairs bedrooms. We are planning on a cable rail railing to keep the view open. In the upper right you can see the first of three pairs of the Southern facing clerestory windows.

Moving to the left from that photo; you can just make out where the stairs come up from the mudroom. You can also just see the door into the bonus room from the stair landing.

Continuing left, this area will be where we put the dining table.

We've "pre installed" a footing under the basement slab directly below the gap between the two large sliding doors. The hope someday is to put a Tulikivi there.ämmityslaitteet?OpenPage

Continuing left, in this picture you can see the recessed outlet for the TV. The plan is to put a flat TV on a heavy duty hinged panel. The panel will pivot the TV out and into the room (sort of towards where the picture was taken from). You can also see another pair of the cleresory windows.

Interior Shots, Mudroom and in to Kitchen

(I need to figure out if there is a cleaner way to do thes layouts. This may be hard to follow. I've done some searching on adding captions but have not found any useful info yet.)

Our primary way into the house will be from the garage into this mudroom. The door at the back of the mudroom leads out to the back yard. You can just make out the dog door to the right of the regular door. The elevated platform will hold the front loading washer and dryer. To the left of the W/D, in lieu of a regular wash tub, is a full size tub for bathing the dogs. Since this is on the same slab as the garage, we were able to include a floor drain. In retrospect, the only thing I wish we'd have done a little differently would be to provide a toe kick in front of the dog tub. We plan on putting a pad on the small ledge to kneel on, but it would have been netter to be able to belly-up. If it is enough of a hassle it will get later modified.
If you were to turn left in the previous picture, you'd be able to enter the stair area to get into the house. Those stairs lead down to the basement or upto the kitchen. This picture is what you'd see if you walked into the stair area and then turned left again to go up to the kitchen. I am sure the small shelf will quickly accumulate the discarded contents of our pockets as we enter the house. ;-)

Up the stairs as they curve right and you'd be coming up into the kitchen. The door opening on the left is the pantry and it will get a pocket door. This view will ultimately not be this "clear". You are looking "through" where the fridge will be. (The passageway at the far end of the photo is from the foyer area.) Up the stairs and a slight jog to the right will be the path into the kitchen.

And, finally for this post, this is the view from the back corner of the kitchen, out over the island and into the greatroom. The island will get a sink and a DW. The post will be wrapped with a decorative column.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Retaining Walls

These are necessary for us to get the slope of the final grade as we desire. Stacking up these blocks is not that hard (granted, someone who knows what they're doing could probably get tighter joints, but I think these are OK). I had 4 full pallets to work from, roughtly 1 ton per pallet. I used about 3.5 pallets/7000# of stone.

The hard part is not the stone, but rather the gravel that's piled behind the walls. I had some gravel "pre-piled" by the excavator behind where the wall was to go. However, I had to move about 20 wheelbarrow loads over from the main pile. The ground was sloppy-muddy so I could not take a direct route from pile to wall. That shovelling and transporting was the hardest work of this job. There just was not enough of it to warrant a skid steer rental, but boy what I would have given to have one for just 3 or 4 trips. . . .

We have matching "thin veneer" stone that will be applied to the columns.

For the record: Any variations in wall straightness or setback angle; those aren't mistakes, that's "rustic".

Monday, October 30, 2006

Passed Rough Framing and Mech Insp and Spray Foam Pics

As the title indicates, we passed our rough framing and mechanical inspection today. Now we can get the vapor barrier up and call in the rockers. After that, the'll blow the insulation in the attic spaces and we can fire up the heater. This could happen as early as 5-7 days from now.

We ordered a couple of 600 BF spray foam kits from TigerFoam to do the overhangs. Wow is that messy work! Even with the Tyvek suit and stuff I am struggling through some spot hair removal as I pick the pieces off of my wrists and neck.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


OK , finally, some new pics to post.

The small open areas in the siding below the windows are for sills and the open areas up near the gable overhangs are for craftsman style brackets.

We might be ready for mechanical and framing inspection by the end of next week. It's getting cold up here, so I want to get moving on the insulation so we can get the heater fired up.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Status Report

There just have not been that many picture-worthy changes, but here is a status report.

The windows all look great. The last windows that need to go in are in the basement. We had made some changes from the orignal plan. We doubled the size of the basement windows by changing the single casements into doubles. I'm not sure what happened, but either I forgot to confirm the order or they never got ordered in the first place. In any event, they showed up today and should be in this week. They will help establish the line for the water table and siding.

We've been prepainting the trim before it goes up. The builder has started on the soffit and fascia. We've placed the ledgers for the front porch and back deck in preparation for the start of the siding. . . Lots of small changes.

We are about 1/3 to 1/2 done with the wiring. I talked with the electrician regarding the general layout about a week ago and have been working on my own pulling wire since then. We will work together on Wednesday. That may do it or I'll try and wrap it up by the end of this coming weekend (I hope). It won't be too long after that we'll call for inspection of the framing and mechanicals - after that the drywall should start.

The next pictures should have a lot of great changes, but that's about it for now. Lot's going on, but not a lot to show for it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Windows going in and a funny story about "extra" concrete.

Not much daylight left in th evenings . . . .

The windows should all be in by the end of this week. This is exciting because some of the rooms have never even had Rough Openings. Due to the nature of SIP panels, if the load above is below a certain amount, the RO can be cut on-site leaving only 1' of SIP intact above as a sufficient header. These new openings will really let the light into the master suite area and upstairs bedrooms.

The garage and basement slabs are in and they look great. I told the masons to clean out the truck chutes and dump any extra concrete into the block piers for the front porch. Well, they had enough extra to FILL the two larger ones. I figure they weight about 4000 pounds each now. They are built on a footings 8' down (same level as basement footings), but I sure hope the don't start sinking now! They did the filling the day they did the basement slab, before they came back for the garage, we put 4" block to carry small slabs that will carry the posts to support the porch roof. We formed up those slabs so when we lay the next (and last!) 4 courses, they will start just above the finished decking. I think these are really going to look sharp once the stone veneer (or cultured stone) is applied.

I feel sorry for the poor bastard 50 years from now who says, "lets knock out these piers and change the look of the front porch".

We made good progress on wiring this weekend (see next post) and started painting the trim to prepare for install. A local electrician is advising. I've hired him for consults and a few days of labor; however we'll do most of the wiring ourselves. It will probably be a couple of weeks before we'll call for the next inspection (framing and mechanicals), in the meanwhile, the builder will finish the windows and start on the soffit, fascia, and trim.

How to install outlet boxes in a SIP walls

During the plan stage, you mark up your drawings with every location you think you might want an outlet or switch on an outside wall. When the panels are being manufactured, they cut vertical chases into the foam at those locations; and then mark the OSB top and bottom. As the builder is setting the panels, we drills holes through the bottom plate and through the top spacer and 2x6.

I made a template for my router by tracing around a face-mount box with a marker. By cutting to the outside of the marker line, the hole is the right amount "oversize" so I can use a collar round the router bit. Here are pics of the sequence during install.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sorry for the Delay - Mechanicals and Slabs

The shingles have started and the HVAC and Plumbing rough are mostly done. I am not totally satisfied with the mechanicals and am going to try to have a few minor changes made.

The vertical shot shows the HVAC chase looking towards the kitchen and loft. The run on the left is the supply to the bonus room - ot does not go to the second floor, but rather runs through a soffit off to the left. The middle run is the upstairs supply; right is the return.

The other two pics show the prep for the basement and garage slabs. Foam and rebar in the garage; and a rough in for a basement bathroom.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Gables and Stairs

Not a lot of major stuff lately, but things are moving ahead.

The HVAC rough-in started today, and we finished the stairs from the first to the second floor. Those were a real head-scratcher because of the landing and doorway that will go through to the bonus room.

The distance from the first (finished floor) to the landing was divisible with a 7" rise. The distance from the landing to the second finished floor was divisible by 6-5/8". Not the best way to do a set of stairs, but it seems to be OK.

My thought was that a slightly shorter step up after a landing (going up) would be safer than a taller step. Further, on the way down and after the landing, the slightly longer step down does not seem noticeable. I am going to post this over in the Breaktime forum at the Fine Homebuilding website to see what some experts say.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Not much to say about this one. It was a long day, but I'm not complaining since we had a crane. The rafter tails are not long enough so we will be scabbing on some extensions prior to sheathing. They plan on completing most of the sheathing by Friday.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Site Supervisor

This little hummingbird built a nest not 6' off the ground and 20' from the house. The wife was the first to spot it. We think she's sitting on some babies.