Wednesday, October 31, 2007

T minus 30 days

October 31st, 2007

I apologize for the lack of updates for those of you still checking in...I've been working and not blogging.

Our chimney is about 18" shy of being code compliant, our refrigerator didn't fit in the framed opening, looks like we're going to run out of siding, the refrigerator door arrived with the hinges on the wrong side, the cabinetry opening in the bathroom is too small to fit our cabinet, door hardware isn't in, not all of our lights have shipped yet and I might have to put handrails and guardrails on my basement stair...everything is...well, what I expected at this stage. Lots of little finicky things to focus on right now, nothing too major, perhaps details I'll miss in another 6 weeks when I put this beast to bed.
It's really a great thing to see the floor in the house and watch the minimal details working in concert. I'm obsessing over the lack of cleanliness on-site both inside and out. Maybe it's a control thing. The bottom of the drywall finishing is taking much longer than anticipated and it's keeping us from finish painting the walls, which is keeping us from installing all of the light fixtures. Who wants to paint around hundreds of receptacles, it's much easier to paint before installing the devices.
The siding crew, Bob & 'H' both think the house looks like its clad in corduroy, vertical seams on the roof, horizontal on the wall.
I love corduroy.

Long-house, short-chimney...please fix.

Access panel removed to install the chimney

Inside photos soon, Laura & I will work together (thanks Sophie) for only the second time during the entire project this Thursday evening, stainless backsplash here we come.
Heat this Friday...we need it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

On the inside...

October 21, 2007
Just days away from the original move-in date...we're not in bad shape, but our boxes are staying put. Our builder offered to split next months rent with us because it's not quite in move-in shape, every little bit helps.

Holding us up...first, the LP gas installer can't make it until November 1st and we really need heat. Second, the floor has taken longer than expected. Be wary of buying things online, a sample doesn't indicate the quality of a full box (or 47) of prefinished floor. They have a good system in place now so we're hopeful by the end of the week we'll have all of the floor in.

The siding install has begun. It's exciting to see the exterior materials coming together. I will say, Hardiplank isn't a replacement for wood siding. You have the option to get the smooth face or the wood-grained face, uh...right, smooth it is. Attaching this siding must be done by blind nailing which leaves the lower edge free to move and expand which means it doesn't always lay totally flat like a true wood siding would. However, it doesn't require any finishing which is wonderful news at this point and a long finish warranty means years of maintenance free use.

On the interior, I've been painting the pocket doors and the pivot doors, love this hardware from Stanley. These will be mounted on jamb-liners to produce a concealed panel look to the doors.

Also, I've been cutting my 16x16 limestone tiles in half to create 8x16s. While I love the look of the 1/2 running bond and the rectangular geometries, it's a huge hassle cutting every tile and the slipped bond makes every cut where it meets the wall different. Day one of tiling I was able to do the prep work, cutting tiles, and the layout and bedding of tiles on one side of the laundry room. Day two, I built the mud base for our shower tray, the walk-off area outside of the shower and bedded the rest of the tiles in the laundry room. I'm thankful I push a pencil around most of the day, tiling makes for sore backs and arms. I'm going to seal the tile as soon as I can and start the waterproofing in the shower and tub/shower areas tonight.

Master shower with deck mud base and walk-off area to the right...

Tile to right side of mudroom, pocket doors on left...

More grainy photography in the mudroom/laundry

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Long-on-house, short-on-time

October 16, 2007
Since we last posted our roof is almost weathertight…the ridge cap is a wee bit small so we’ve ordered another one, in the meantime grace ice & water shield is keeping us dry at the ridge.
The floor installation hasn’t proceeded as smoothly as we would’ve hoped, our contractor contends we’ve purchased a cheap prefinished floor, our wallets think otherwise. After three days of miscommunication and misfires a cork pad mounted to the bottom of the floor nailer solved the problem. Each time they were nailing it was marring the finish. So…up with the damaged boards, down with new, all the while hoping we have enough ‘extra’ to cover the floor. It does call into question the milling tolerances of prefinished flooring. When the tongues and grooves aren’t the same size, you end up with gapping and ultimately more waste and more time picking through the pile of flooring drives up the price. With a fixed price contract that’s okay but in any other agreement it could be more costly than purchasing a higher grade floor.
Cement board underlayment will be installed today at all of the stone tile locations, we’ve been promised a front door today as well. I’ve given up on the bulk of the painting while we wait for our LP gas tanks to arrive and the heating system activated. The exception here are the doors which need paint before our contractor can hang and install the hardware. Slab doors, unprepped for hardware, hinges or locksets…more expensive than prepped doors. Interesting how mass production processes drive the market. We’ll need to install the stone tile before the gas appliances can be delivered, the gas appliances need to be in place before the LP gas line is run on November 1st.
Our trip to IKEA over the weekend was successful. Everything we needed was in stock, only one more trip to replace an incorrectly ordered cabinet…six hours in IKEA is inhumane we were bound to make mistakes. The store in Stoughton, MA is 200,000 square feet of Swedish goodness, and our trip included a full plate of meatballs and a salmon platter. This store is a really a gift to anyone looking to do modern on a budget. Despite your love/hate relationship with IKEA a modest expenditure will outfit your house nicely. We spent more liberally than we thought...thanks to Mom & Dad R. and Dad & Pat G. for your help. Our kitchen will work hard to thank you when you visit.

One of my favorite IKEA picks, AVSIKT doors - frosted glass in aluminum frames

Nights are getting longer and days much shorter, we must be getting close...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Galvalume tastes good

Galvalume roof

It couldn't be intentional, but a seam centered on our door...I'm beaming.

October 10, 2007
This past weekend we were joined by Kim & Patrick and divided kid and house duties accordingly. Kim & Laura were able to corral the kids while Patrick, myself and Metallica (pre-Black album), insulated the first floor system beneath the radiant heat tubing. This was done ‘on the cheap’ as it wasn’t something I was going to initially install. Per strong advice from my heating contractor I decided it was a good thing to change order before the heating season began and the change order paid for itself in fuel expenditures. From an efficiency standpoint it makes perfect sense, but economics are driving most of our decisions right now. The cheap fiberglass insulation is even more toxic than the pink stuff from Dow, if you can believe that. That expended a good part of the day on Saturday. Our builder joined us for part of the day beginning the metal roof installation.

Sunday we were able to get a single coat of paint on all of the ceilings. The sheetrockers left the entire house primed, which was an immense help, so cutting in and painting (for the moment) seemed like an easy task.

Monday I planned on finishing the ceiling painting but with the flooring installation beginning a day early I bounced around picking off odds and ends for most of the day. I started digging the 50’ trench for the LP gas line between the basement and the tank pads, wondering how Maine was ever known for potato farming and thinking Kennebecs are much better suited to this soil than gas lines.

Our move-in date October 31st…21 days from now…not happening, we know. We’ll have running water, a working bathroom and a partially functioning kitchen by then but we’ve extended our lease by another month to allow for some DIY tiling, the rest of the painting, cabinet assembly, oh…and moving of hundreds upon hundreds of boxes across the island to our new home.

IKEA this weekend...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


With the task of painting squarely in front of us we're moving quickly to finalize the color palette that coordinates with our material selections. It's important to gather all of your materials and look at them together, it's best to do this under daylight if possible. Incandescent light especially when used as the primary light source can distort colors quite a bit.

Clockwise from upper left: Taun, white porcelain, stainless steel, Bateig Azul limestone, cocoa matting, 'Swiss Coffee', 'Granite Boulder' (Behr Premium Plus)

We’re relying heavily on the materials for color in our house, the floor, the stone tile, the countertops so our paint colors are meant to complement those materials not take center stage. Here’s the thinking behind the paint selection process. The dark brown wood in the floor will perform the heavy lifting in our color palette. Visual weight is the key here, the floor will ground the rooms nicely and the wall will provide the contrast and background for the floor. Using a color on the walls would change the value and tone of the floor. With a floor this dark adding vibrant wall color can be a difficult exercise without a lot of experimentation which of course equals time and money.

For the walls and ceilings we chose a classic white (Swiss Coffee - Behr) that will complement the browns in the floor, so while it’s ‘white’ it’s not a super-white. We chose Behr Premium Plus Interior paint in an eggshell finish in two colors, one is the primary wall and ceiling color for all exterior walls the other is a deeper accent color used in select locations. With regards to gloss level, the general thinking is that flat paints (while less expensive) show wear and tear much more readily than even one gloss level up. Eggshell (one gloss level above flat) has a light luster, subtly different but it affects wear and won't marr as easily as flat. Satin borders on semi-gloss, not what we're after. People generally reserve flat for ceilings (to hide imperfections) and semi-gloss for trim for cleaning and durability. No trim here though so eggshell it is.

The second part of our paint palette is the accent color reserved for the center block of rooms and the freestanding wall in the master bath. This is a muted warm grey and emphasizes the inward focus of these spaces The grey color we chose (Granite Boulder - Behr) directly references the stone tile and the stainless accents we have in those spaces, but the walls will be a smooth textural counterpoint to the stone and stainless. White plumbing fixtures pop beautifully on the grays.

Special thanks to my colleague, fiber artist and color authority Jennifer Morrow for her consult and advice.