Sunday, September 30, 2007

What is it about the dust?

Corner bead at typical window jamb/sill

Monday October 1, 2007
As some of the photos clearly show, sheetrocking is dusty business. It's absolutely everywhere. Friday the hanging crew was able attach all of the sheets, save for two or three, Saturday they hung the rest and installed all of the corner beading (the white plastic edges) for mudding against. No trim in our house means lots of perfect corners, that's the way I'm picturing it at least.. The mudding and taping should begin tomorrow.

Living Space looking toward future kitchen alcove

The bedroom photo below shows the technique we're using to eliminate the need for base trim. We've attached a 7/8" pine strip at the floor temporarily which the drywall rests on. This gives an edge to mud against and will be removed after the primer has been sprayed. This allows us to slip the 3/4" thick flooring + rosin paper beneath it and still maintain expansion space and a small reveal above it. I've always felt trim is an unnecessary element, mostly from an aesthetic point of view but as with many things in this process of trying to accomplish something a little out of the ordinary, one realizes the true value of trim. The trim allows the drywallers to be less fussy with what they do at the base of the wall and it automatically creates a space for the flooring to expand, the joint is covered by the trim. I still dislike trim, I'm hopeful the drywall finishing is precise enough to pull this detail off.

Bedroom One

The terrible photo below is of the pocket door tracks installed. The hardware set is by Johnson, ball bearing carriers, extra heavy duty set. We've thrown out the vertical framing members that came with the kit and substituted 2x LSL (laminated strand lumber). Engineered lumber is much stiffer and will keep the pocket from moving over time...don't plan to use any KD Spruce (regular framing lumber) for this type of job, it will move over time and your door won't open. The wall is also a 2x6 wall, not the more typical 2x4 which allows for beefier framing around the opening.

We should be painting by the weekend...and more insulation for the floor system this time. I'm just itching to do more of that.

Pocket door I-track at door head

Sunday, September 23, 2007

First day of Fall

1/2 of our roof...~44 panels
Galvalume Plus, standing seam roof by Everlast Roofing

It always seems Fall suddenly appears...we look up from our busy lives and realize there are leaves on the roads, the evenings quickly dip into the 40s, color shows on the mountains, kids decide what they're going to be for Halloween. This year it's a reminder of just how soon we'll be packing our things again this time moving into our new home. Many steps left though so our focus is on the next set of tasks.
Saturday and Sunday were full days of finishing installing R38 in the ceilings, installing blocking in the walls, and fitting a vapor barrier over the entire roof assembly. Vapor barrier always goes on toward the warm side of the ceiling...this prevents moisture laden warm air from ever getting to the cold air in the attic and condensing.
The insulating marathon behind us, this week should bring some drastic transformations. The metal roof has arrived on site in two crates, it's fared better than most of the items I've taken delivery of lately. I have particularly poor luck when it comes to shipping porcelain, or for that matter, anything breakable...via FEDEX, UPS, or INSERT NAME OF COMMON CARRIER. I received 47 boxes of prefinished flooring today weighing in around 3300#, all boxes were in pretty good shape, the usual ding or open box but overall fine.
The roof install should take place this week, drywall will be hung on Wednesday. The plan is hang everything in one day and begin mudding & taping the following day. They're throwing in a primer coat, we're certainly up for painting but after two weeks insulating sweat equity has an entirely new meaning.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Planning ahead

Some things to consider when you think you're done insulating...

Where will you put the towel bars, the shower curtain pole, toilet paper holders, wall cabinets, handrails, thermostats, vent hoods, wall hung plumbing, shelving, closet rods?

All of these require different attention to detail. Handrails, towel bars, ventilation hoods, shelving, poles...these all need solid blocking fastened inside of the framed walls. This provides a place to attach the anchoring hardware each of these items requires. For the most part scrap 2x material (2x4, 2x6) will meet the task. Fasten it at the proper height and you'll have no trouble mounting all of your accessories after the sheetrocking takes place. It can be time consuming and forces you to consider finished details at a stage when the house looks quite unfinished but it's worth it to add blocking even if you suspect you might need it in the future, it's inexpensive and allows lots of flexibility. Think about closet walls, shelving locations, soap dishes, hooks for hanging heavy items. There are a few places where hanging a sheet of 3/4" plywood makes just as much sense, esp. if you haven't finalized the layout of particular items. We're doing this on the wall of our mudroom where we know we'll have hooks, shelves, and perhaps a wall cabinet or two but don't know the exact spot where they'll all be placed.

Speaking of vent hoods we're opting for a lower end model with higher end styling from I purchased it for $329 a few months ago. It lacks the finesse and finished details that a Bosch might have but it's a third of the price, I expected it. The buttons that activate the three speed fan are analog to the core, think of your old tape player - push one button in and the other pops out kind of action. I don't mind it but if you're looking for smooth digital action, this isn't your hood. It claims 860CFM which is more than enough power for our little slide-in range, but I'm doubtful we could stand the noise associated with running it at full speed. The aluminum grease filters are of good quality and it's a listed appliance (UL/ETL listed). Purchasing items on the web can be tricky in that regard, especially when it comes to lighting so be careful, your electrician will be hesitant to install a fixture or appliance that's not listed by a testing agency like ETL/UL. We have to run the ducting in the ceiling space before we finish insulating so this is going over to the site soon.

Finishing up these details before we poly the ceiling over the weekend making way for the sheetrocking next Wednesday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Unfaced fiberglass insulation batts are little packages of misery

R-21 walls / R-38 ceilings

Every time I blink my eyes, I'm reminded of the work we accomplished this weekend. It feels like someone has inserted little blankets of steel wool beneath my eyelids. We've certainly gained a strong appreciation for the work we often take for granted, work like insulating a little 1600sf house...with 200 lineal feet of wall.

Ceiling batts, strapping helps keep it place

Batts everywhere

After meeting with Lester, (our foreman & part owner of Cadillac Builders, our G.C), and the electrician, and the plumber, and the bank representative, and some of our new neighbors...Laura & I spent the remainder of our weekend sweating it out installing insulation. The walls seemed easy enough. Place a kraft faced batt in the wall, staple the edges to the studs, and you're done. Then repeat 149 more times...for the walls. Unfortunately, the batts are only 93" tall, the stud bays are 96" tall. Didn't someone, somewhere along the way figure this one out? So, after about 25' you get the rhythm and can make good time, until you get to a window or light fixture, or anything else that obstructs an open stud bay. Then you cut and fit and staple and stuff into little holes. I'm's tedious work but just about anyone can do it even an architect. At the end of day one we had insulated 130 lineal feet of the walls, about 70' remain.

David..arm wrestling the propervent - a little fuzzy, sort of how I see things now.

Windows are in

Sunday was a beautiful fall-like day and I really wanted to begin the roof insulation. I was joined by David for the entire morning and we were able to finish the vaulted ceiling area, a huge task indeed. Installing the proper-vent (a foam baffle which maintains airflow from eave to ridge) and two layers of 6" batts, one spanning parallel to the truss, the other perpendicular to it.

The remainder of the day I spent working alone, finishing the master bedroom ceiling, installing the remaining proper-vent, hanging recessed lights, blocking and another 160 lineal feet of attic insulation. I'm a bit ashamed to admit it but the climbing up and down has left me a bit sore this Monday.

We have 7 days to finish insulating the walls, install all of the blocking for the plumbing fixtures and accessories (you need a place in the wall to attach mounting screws), install the ceiling vapor barrier, and foam all of the windows.

...and sleep for a few minutes.

Night work

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dispensing with economy

We're all fallible. We admit weakness in spending on this light fixture, a 60% discount...we just couldn't help ourselves.

Sistemalux, Modem Small Six (kitchen island pendant)

Design Public, Weegee 14"h /24"d, $240

There are few places we've decided to spend extra on, there's little room for luxury in our home but the dining and kitchen lighting join the stone tile as money we deemed well spent. The challenge for us with our lighting scheme has been bridging the stripped down utilitarian bent of our wall sconces with the more refined palette of the wood floors, the stainless backsplash and the stone tile. Equally there was the problem of the proximity of the lights serving the dining area (a softer, warmer fixture) and the kitchen lights. Both spaces required pendants because of the vaulted ceiling but we wanted the geometry of the two to be noticeably different.

The 'Modem' fixture works on two levels, first it references the industrial detail and color of the wall sconces and second it sets itself apart from the typical 'hang three glass pendants over an island' aesthetic. This also lets us choose a much larger, softer, shaded fixture for over the dining area...make that two.

Of course spending begets more spending and nice light fixtures beg for a nice table beneath them...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Farm Tek

Repurposing unusual fixtures and materials is a sort of an obsession of mine. I'm not sure these have a place in the Longhouse...but I'm always archiving for future projects. Farm Tek has a deep catalog, lots of potential here...

Brooder lamp holder, $6.95 : Galvanized float bowl, $26.95 : 2" Nylon pulley, $0.95
Quilted insulation curtain (36" wide), $7.23/ft : Galv. tube door frame, $119 : 304 Stainless steel plate molding, 2"x8' (18ga), $10
Plenty of progress to report, more photos soon. All of our windows are in, save for one which mysteriously never arrived. I don't think I've worked on a project where all of the windows arrived on time or without error, consistency is good. The basement stairs are in, plumbing rough-in has begun, the radiant tubing installation is under way and our electrical rough-in continues. Metal roof??? "Next week" ....has a familiar ring doesn't it?

Insulation is being delivered on Friday, Laura & I have a serious two-day date with fiberglass this weekend. The line in the sand is September 24th when sheetrocking begins.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Viking work

Who better than a Viking to endorse your staples?

September 8, 2007
This guy shows up at our place, dons a tyvek suit and 20 minutes later, rim joists foamed. Honestly I had higher expectations of the DIY kit I bought from Tiger Foam . The real purpose of foaming the perimeter of the building at the rim joist level is to short circuit convective air flow near the radiant heat tubing. This provides a vapor barrier and seals all of the imperfections at the sill plate, as a bonus it gives us about an R-7 at the perimeter. We'll still add a little fiberglass to bump it up to the code required R-11. This kit gave us exactly 200 board feet (1" thick, 12" wide, 200' long) but the expansion was quite a bit less than I expected. I could've used about 25% more to really seal all of the sills to the foundation wall top. The installation though was a cinch and I didn't have to wait 3 months for a subcontractor to show and gum up my entire basement. I highly recommend the respirator and leaving to let it off-gas unattended. this...

I finished the layout for all of our receptacles and light fixtures today as well. Our electrician has begun the wiring and our radiant tubing has arrived as well. Good weather this week will allow us install the metal roof and the windows.

Progress is happiness

Thursday, September 6, 2007

We could be 'Greener'...

a long house, not a 'longhouse'...but so good.

September 6, 2007

No posts for a while means only one thing…no progress. I’ve installed all of the blocking for the light fixtures, did some creative editing with locations under the “I can live with that” mantra which translates to not relocating studs in bearings walls.

Unfortunately, we’re at the mercy of other trades currently. Electricians, plumbers, heating system installers, I’ve heard from each of them these exact words, “I’ll probably start on this tomorrow”, now I’m acutely aware of what it means, next week…maybe never.

So, with a little time to reflect I thought I’d post on ways we could’ve been better stewards of our earth's finite resources.

The best thing you can do from a ‘green’ standpoint is cut your energy consumption. So many people focus on green products as the solution. By cutting your overall energy consumption you’re targeting power demands, the extraction of earth’s resources and the delivery of power and fossil fuels to every corner of the globe. This is where it’s at…if you like straw-bale cabinetry, great...install that too but that doesn’t carry the global weight that reducing your energy consumption might.

Practically speaking, where do you start?

Insulation. Create as tight a building envelope as you possibly can. We framed our exterior walls with 2x6s at 16” on center, setting your framing at 24” on center will not only reduce material needs and labor costs but it will give you more space to insulate. Less wood in the wall assembly (which is only about R-1 per inch) and more insulation means less heat loss. We’re using R-21 kraft-faced fiberglass batts in the wall. It’s standard stock at our local lumberyard and R-21 is required by the International Residential Code. If your budget is bigger than ours, go for sprayed foam, preferably closed cell (about R-7 per inch or R-38.5 if you fill a 2x6 wall), environmental trade-offs here too with off-gassing and nasty blowing agents. Stay away from soy-foam, it may be good for the environment but it shrinks after it’s installed. Fiberglass isn’t exactly a user friendly (or earth friendly) material but there are other batt-type systems out there. A colleague of mine building in Bar Harbor is using this product made from recycled denim and cotton waste to insulate. I could only find it up to R-19 so you’re trading on R-value, but using recycled material and installing it without protective gear has definite benefits.

Building siting. Take advantage of solar radiation and prevailing winds. Heat and cool your house by natural processes and you’ll save energy. If your state has net-metering available within your power grid, you might check these guys out. Basically they install a photovoltaic solar system on your house, maintain it, and you fix a buy-back rate for the electricity you generate for 25 years based on the cost of today’s power rate.

Fixtures. Buy energy star fixtures, low-flow plumbing fixtures. Skip the compact fluorescents, they're loaded with mercury. Use dimmers and cut your power consumption instantly. If you like LED lights, they actually make color-corrected bulbs now that are even more efficient than CFLs.

There are many others, google LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and you'll find a residential pilot program that outlines many areas to target with updated building strategies and technologies.

We certainly could be greener, but the infrastructure is there to support upgrades in the future and you only get one shot at siting your the very least we got that one right.

Metal roof and windows next week…
...or maybe never.