Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Broken pallets = broken tile

August 29, 2007
If a skid of stone tile shows up on your doorstep looking like the above, think twice about signing for it. The shipper's story changed as soon as I signed the waybill about who I contact for a damage claim. Before signing, "contact the shipper's claim's office", after signing, "contact the original supplier". You can imagine what the original supplier said to me. Lesson learned, don't sign if things look sketchy. Looks like they dropped this thing off of a lift somewhere in transit, thankfully only 6 tiles were broken. According to my supplier that's okay because I should've ordered 5-10% more than I needed...yeah right, at $6/sf I ordered about 20 extra square feet, six-16" tiles is 10.6 square feet...see the problem? Being an architect I can order 6 'sample' tiles so if you're ever in a bind...pretend you're an architect, works some of the time. Use terms like AIA, and LEED and you're all set.

While I'm ranting...Here's something I didn't expect my builder to say to me..."Well, if you're particular about where you want your wall mounted light fixtures then you're going to have to install the blocking for the junction boxes. I just planned on mounting them to the nearest stud. That's what we carried in the price." If I'm 'particular'? So the dimensioned electrical plan.... just an idea really, a napkin sketch, a wish list item, not really how I wanted it. It's still early in the project, not time to put up a stink and besides, I want it done correctly. So this weekend with a chop saw and a nailgun I'll be adding blocking between the studs where my sconces will go so the electrician can mount the boxes next week. I'll be tracking my hours so we can have the discussion when the final bill comes in, early winter I expect.
The interior framing looks great and given that two weeks ago I was staring at curing concrete, I'd say we're in good shape.
Kitchen cooking wall

End bedroom looking toward living space

Pocket door to Master Bedroom looking toward living/kitchen

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Subdividing the space

August 26, 2007
I guess from here on out, things start to get smaller on the inside. The photos show a few walls have been framed on the interior. Our builder has laid out the plates on the floor (see the second image below) for many of the remaining walls. To either side of the center of the space will be a hallway which allows circulation at the perimeter of the more inwardly focused spaces of the mudroom/laundry, bathroom and study area. This hallway works to increase the perception of space on the interior, essentially it inverts the typical double-loaded corridor you see in tract housing. Double loaded corridors load rooms to either side of a center hallway.

Bedrooms at far end

Kitchen will be in foreground

Current Partial Floor Plan (eastern half)

We've made some minor changes in our plans for the kitchen. We were determined to make the refrigerator feel more customized and built-in so we added two walls to enclose it and will use a flush panel mdf door on concealed hinges above it to complete the wall. This creates a nice asymmetry to the kitchen and will weight the cooking space differently than the clean up sapce behind it which helps in a small kitchen. We're also making use of IKEA's Grundtal wall shelving in many places, including for dish storage above the cooking wall.

Grundtal Wall Shelving $19.99

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Design detail: Eaves

August 23, 2007
The past few days have been spent preparing for rainy weather forecast for Friday. The roof has been sheathed, Grace TriFlex installed (basically building wrap for the roof), Grace Ice & Water shield at the perimeter, and all of the rafter tails added to make up for the missing truss legs. Small triangular shaped studs were tacked on to the top chord of each truss. This completes our clipped eave profile. Many old farmhouses especially here in New England utilized a version of this clipped eave as a means for preventing ice dams. Uninsulated interior spaces meant a lot of snow melt running off of the roof plane. A minimal overhang meant there was no chance for the melt to re-freeze on a much colder overhanging eave. The inspiration meets reality...our small overhang has been more than doubled by a truss mistake. Such is the messy business of construction. I actually like the proportion of the new overhang though and the critical detail for me is the creation of the knife-edge at the termination of the metal roof, it feels fussed over and direct.

East Elevation

South Elevation

Eave blocking installed

Now that the roof has been made weather-resistant, interior framing can continue inside. The ceiling space has been strapped with 1x2s which provides a place to fasten the sheetrock and will keep the batt insulation in place until the sheetrock has been hung.

Interior walls tomorrow, which will allow the electrical and plumbing rough-in to follow shortly thereafter. Do we really have 8 weeks until move-in?

Yeah, that might be a problem.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Looking around for an economical lighting solution we stumbled across these from a favorite manufacturer of ours, Stonco. We plan to use them as wall sconces at regular intervals in the living spaces mounted with the centerline of the junction box at 6'-0" above the finished floor.

We'll also be using them in selected spaces as uplighting, the bathroom below shows them near the mirror. The lampholder is about $15, the coverplate is $8, all in natural aluminum. Compare with Artemide's Elio...checking in around $800 and we're looking great. Aesthetics aside, I think we'll enjoy the function of these and hardwiring fixtures in the living spaces means we can swap out the fixtures should we tire of them.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

40 Trusses

August 19, 2007
Roof trusses and recessed lights don't work well together. I diagrammed the truss layout for our builder to be sure the two coordinated. If a truss chord aligns with a location where you planned on using a recessed light you can be sure the electrician will find a spot to install it that aligns with absolutely nothing. The trusses arrived configured slightly differently than we planned so a slight adjustment in the soffit overhang will be necessary, a change for the better in my opinion. The top chord of the trusses was supposed to be left 'wild' so our builder could field cut the tail to the length we specified in the detail. They negelected to leave the tail 'wild' which means we'll need to tack on a longer tail. The other addition will be a freize board with a rabbet in it to receive the top 'ragged' edge of the Hardiplank siding. When you cut Hardiplank it tends to leave a fairly rough edge, the trim will hide this and ensure water infiltration won't be an issue.

Next steps: interior framing, electrical, heating & plumbing rough-in, then Laura & I will begin insulating. We couldn't afford sprayed-foam insulation so we're going with faced batts in the walls (R-21) and unfaced in the ceiling with a poly vapor barrier (R-38). The windows are due in this week, the galvalume roofing the first week of September.

Living area scissor trusses

Sig double checking the plans
East End

North Flank - from the septic field

Friday, August 17, 2007


August 18, 2007

While I really miss the view to the forest that I've carved out of our four acres, I don't miss the trips to the land seeing nothing but a foundation. We have walls, we have floor decking, soon we'll have roof trusses and while everything isn't the housewrap...I'm pleased to be able to walk into our home and in my mind's eye pace through the spaces.

Ready for the roof trusses

Sig, plugged in...

We ordered all of our flooring this week, save for the recessed cocoa matting at the mudroom and entry areas this week. Lead time on both the stone tile and wood floor is about a month. That should give us some time to shop for a tile saw...

Bateig Azul Limestone - 16"x16" honed, (cut to 8"x16")

Teak Stained Taun - prefinished

Thursday, August 16, 2007


August 15, 2007
One of the two 80' walls has been framed. The plan is to fasten the sheathing while it's on the deck and assemble a mass of workmen to tilt it into place. I double checked all of the window centers and things checked out perfectly. I spend all day fussing over alignments, and happily these guys used my dimensioned plans. The remaining walls will be framed, sheathed and tilted up today and tomorrow. The roof trusses are in at the lumber yard and will be set on Saturday. We're already rethinking a few things on the interior partition layouts. More on that later.

South Wall

Advantech Decking

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Framing begins

August 13, 2007
Our framing start has coincided with some very rainy weather here in Maine. What is typically our the driest month has turned out to be one of the wettest. Monday they were able to level the sill plates, a green plate (pressure treated) on the foundation and a regular plate on top of specifically for leveling irregularities from the concrete pour. In 80' we're out of level by 3/4"...all taken care of by the top leveling plate. They also set the triple 2x12 girder at the center of the 20' span and temporarily braced it. Tuesday they cut all of the concrete filled lally columns and installed those beneath the girder. They're using full 20' 2x8s to speed framing and lessen floor deflection (it changes it to complex beam instead of a simple beam, which reduces the bending on both mid-spans). I wanted to use 2x8s to frame the floor to keep the overall thickness of the floor construction to a minimum, again to keep the connection to finished grade as close as possible. Framing should move along quickly now as the only opening in the floor for the basement access stair has been accounted for and the rest of the floor is straight 16" o.c. sticks.

East end

South Flank

Friday, August 3, 2007

Ready, set, frame.

Looking East - Master in foreground
Looking West - boys' bedrooms foreground

Progress since last post...
-All slabs poured and foundation backfilled
-Water line routed to basement
-Sewer line connected to tank
-Rough grading complete

-The Bilco outside hatchway access seems to be too high to fit the stairs with proper headroom to get into the basement. Hoping they'll sawcut it down by 1' or so to make access less painful.
-The basement slab needs some grinding where they were careless with overspray. Three pours means there's lots of opportunity for this sort of thing to happen.
-Minor crack in the basement slab needs a patch and an additional control joint to be sawcut.

Overall, things look smart. The grading is quite close to how I imagined it, barely any foundation showing. They promise framing this week, but I have my doubts.